Commissioner Joe Balash
Effective November 13, 2013, Joe Balash was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.
Balash was most recently Acting Commissioner of the Department, appointed to that role on September 25, 2013. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Commissioner responsible for overseeing the divisions of Oil and Gas and Geological and Geophysical Surveys as well as the Mental Health Trust Land Office, the State Pipeline Coordinator's Office and the Gas Pipeline Project Office. He is also a member of Governor Parnell's gas-line team.
Before being appointed to serve as Deputy Commissioner, Balash served in the Office of the Governor as special assistant to the Governor for energy and natural resource development issues. In that position, he coordinated policy on behalf of the Governor's office, the departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, and the Alaska Energy Authority. He previously served as staff to the joint Legislative Budget and Audit Committee and he was Chief of Staff to the Senate President.
Balash earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Government from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. He grew up in the Air Force and graduated from Ben Eielson High School in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is married with two beautiful daughters.
Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels
Ed Fogels is responsible for overseeing five divisions -- Agriculture, Forestry, Mining, Land & Water, Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Support Services – as well as the Office of Project Management and Permitting.
Fogels has worked in the department for more than 24 years. Before being appointed Deputy Commissioner, Fogels served as the director of the Office of Project Management and Permitting and as the State's Mining Coordinator responsible for the permitting and administration of all large mining projects in Alaska. Prior to that, Fogels managed the Alaska Coal Regulatory Program and the Land Disposal and Homesteading programs. He spent several years as the department's Resource Planner in the Fairbanks location.
Fogels earned a bachelor's degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. He is married to Luann, the school nurse at South Anchorage High School, and together they have a beautiful daughter. Ed enjoys skiing, mountain biking, fly-fishing and cooking with Alaska Grown products.
Deputy Commissioner Bob Swenson
Effective November 25, 2013, Bob Swenson is responsible for overseeing the divisions of Oil and Gas and Geological and Geophysical Surveys, the Mental Health Trust Land Office, the State Pipeline Coordinator's Office and the Gas Pipeline Project Office.
Swenson received degrees in geology from the University of Montana and the University of Wyoming and he began his geologic pursuits in Alaska in 1991, analyzing oil and gas resource potential in frontier areas, Cook Inlet, and the North Slope for ARCO and ConocoPhillips.
Swenson left the private sector in 2004 to become deputy director of geologic research for the Department of Natural Resources, and in 2005, he became the Alaska State Geologist and DGGS Director. In that capacity, Bob led DNR’s geological research effort and served on federal and state advisory boards that deal with energy and mineral resources and geologic hazards.