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photobanner, oilrig, pipeline, backpacking, logdeck DNR Commissioner     State of Alaska > Natural Resources > Commissioner's Office

Commissioner Sullivan

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Dan Sullivan was appointed Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by Governor Sean Parnell in December 2010 and was unanimously confirmed by the Alaska Legislature in April 2011.  In addition to leading the 1,100 professionals who make up DNR, Sullivan is responsible for managing the state’s vast energy and natural resources and overseeing regulatory activities on approximately 100 million acres of uplands, 60 million acres of tidelands, shore lands, and submerged lands, and 40,000 miles of coastline.

The State of Alaska is blessed with a stunningly beautiful environment and a world-class natural resource base.  The mission of DNR is to develop, conserve, and maximize the use of Alaska’s natural resources consistent with the public interest.  Central to this mission, DNR manages one of the largest portfolios of oil, gas, renewable energy, minerals, timber, land, and water in the world.  

Alaska Attorney General
From June 2009 until December 2010, Sullivan served as Alaska’s Attorney General where he led the 500 professionals of the Alaska Department of Law.  Sullivan was appointed Attorney General by former Governor Sarah Palin in June 2009 and was unanimously confirmed by the Alaska Legislature during its 2010 session.  His primary focus as Attorney General was to end Alaska’s epidemic levels of sexual assault and domestic violence.  He spearheaded Governor Parnell’s “Choose Respect” strategy and campaign to encourage all Alaskans to work together on this urgent issue.  Sullivan also focused on natural resource development and management issues.  Under his leadership, the Department of Law undertook an aggressive strategy of initiating and intervening in litigation aimed at halting federal government overreach into the lives of Alaskans and protecting the state’s economic future and responsible resource development interests. 

As Attorney General, Sullivan served as the chair of the Governor’s Rural Action Subcabinet, co-chair of the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission, and co-chair with the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court of the Alaska Criminal Justice Working Group.  He also served on the Governor’s Resource Development Subcabinet and was a trustee on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. 

Federal Government Service
Prior to becoming Attorney General, Sullivan served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs. His nomination by President George W. Bush for this position was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate in May 2006, and he served until January 2009.  In this role, he was a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top U.S. government officials on the formulation and execution of international energy, economic, trade, finance, transportation, telecommunications, and Arctic policies.  Sullivan also led and managed the 200-employee State Department Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs. 

As the Assistant Secretary of State, much of Sullivan’s work focused on international energy issues.  He served as the U.S. Governing Board member of the Paris-based International Energy Agency – the world’s premier energy security organization.  He and the State Department bureau he led worked closely with the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects on Alaska gas pipeline issues.  He strengthened U.S.-Canadian energy ties as the co-chair of the U.S.-Canada Energy Consultative Group, and advanced U.S. geo-strategic interests through his work on the development and implementation of major gas and oil pipeline projects in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region. 

Sullivan also was responsible for overseeing and leading several complex international negotiations of strategic importance to the United States, including sovereign debt restructuring accords, aviation liberalization agreements, and serving as the primary negotiator for the President at the Group of Eight (G8) Summits. Prior to serving as the Assistant Secretary of State, Sullivan was a Director in the International Economics Directorate of the National Security Council and National Economic Council staffs at the White House.

Legal and Academic Background
Sullivan is one of a select number of Alaskan attorneys who has held judicial clerkships on both the highest federal and state courts in Alaska.  He was a judicial law clerk for Judge Andrew Kleinfeld of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Fairbanks from 1997-98 and for Chief Justice Warren Matthews of the Alaska Supreme Court in Anchorage from 1998-99.  Following his judicial clerkships, Sullivan joined the Anchorage office of Perkins, Coie, LLP. His practice focused on corporate transactions and commercial litigation and he represented a variety of clients, including Alaska small businesses and Native corporations. 

Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, earning a bachelors degree in Economics, where he was a Harvard College scholar during each of his four years.  Sullivan graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, earning a Juris Doctor and Masters of Science in Foreign Service joint degree.  He was an articles editor on the Georgetown Law Journal, and during his final year at Georgetown, served as a law clerk/intern for Judge James L. Buckley on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  

U.S. Military Service
Sullivan has served in the United States Marine Corps since 1993 on active duty and in the reserves as an infantry and reconnaissance officer, including with Second Battalion, Fifth Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, and for several years with Anchorage-based Echo Company, Fourth Reconnaissance Battalion – the Marine Corps Reserve’s premier cold weather reconnaissance unit.  In recent years, Sullivan has been recalled to active duty twice: from January to March 2009 to help draft a regional strategy report for the Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) General David Petraeus, and from December 2004 to April 2006 to serve as a strategic advisor to CENTCOM Commander General John Abizaid.  Sullivan currently serves as the Commanding Officer, Delta Company, Anti-Terrorist Battalion, 4th Marine Division, which has Marines based in Alaska and Montana.

Awards, Honors, and Personal Information
Sullivan is the recipient of numerous professional, academic, and military awards, including the White House Fellowship, the National Security Council Outstanding Service Award, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sullivan was born in Fairview Park, Ohio.  He has been married for 16 years to Julie Fate Sullivan of Fairbanks.  They moved to Alaska in 1997 after Sullivan completed active duty service with the Marine Corps.  They have three daughters.