Diana Birkett Rakow leads Alaska Airlines’ public and government affairs, sustainability, community engagement, PR and internal communications – with teams in Seattle, San Francisco, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington D.C. Together, they are responsible for advancing Air Group’s business growth, employee engagement, and legacy of responsibility and corporate citizenship. In her own words, her main goals are “…powering ideas, people, purpose and brands through trust and connection.”
In this installment of Frank Discussions, Diana and Frank discuss Alaska Airlines’ company ethos, and their dedication to corporate responsibility, philanthropy, and showing up authentically in the community. Diana details the ways Alaska’s commitment to community has evolved facing a global pandemic that curtails opportunities for in-person volunteer activities. As with many everyday activities, all company volunteering has gone virtual; from writing letters to seniors and others who are currently homebound, to Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Technicians engaging in Q&A’s via Instagram or Facebook live, as well as leaning into supporting educational equity programs that advocate for remote learning. Public health and safety is a large part of Alaska’s commitment to corporate responsibility and they’re working hard to ensure their employees, clients, and airport staff are as safe as possible admist the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank and Diana’s conversation naturally ventures from advocacy and equity into racial and social justice, and Alaska’s role as a community leader on this topic. Diana explains how recent events have galvanized Alaska’s commitment to the representation of BIPOC in leadership, creating an inclusive culture, and modeling public leadership.
Finally, they discuss corporate responsibility vs. the bottom line and how leading with compassion and a bent toward justice and environmental impact makes a company more attractive to potential employees who are making values-based decisions. Diana wholeheartedly affirms that a company’s dedication to community boosts profits – and social responsibility is paramount in bolstering both a healthy corporation and a vibrant community.
Diana Birkett Rakow
Vice President, External Relations, Alaska Airlines
Diana joined Alaska Airlines after almost two decades in health care and public health at Kaiser Permanente, Group Health, and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in Washington DC. Most recently, Diana served as vice president of public affairs, communications and brand management at Kaiser Permanente of Washington through its acquisition of Group Health, and as executive vice president of public affairs and marketing and president of the Group Health Foundation.
Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and master’s degrees in public administration and public health from the University of Washington. In addition to the Greater Seattle Chamber, she serves on the boards of the Pacific Science Center and Association of Washington Business.