Debra has deep roots in Alaska. She is Dena’ina Athabascan from the Fishtail clan and a member of the Knik tribe. Her grandmother set up her fish camp on the beach of Cook Inlet on what is now JBER, and she fed her 13 children with the fish she caught there. Debra was born in Palmer and raised in Anchorage, and aside from the time she spent at school, Debra has lived her entire life in Alaska.
Debra went to Washington State University to get her MBA, and after she had finished getting her education, she came back to Alaska to start her career, along with her husband Rusty Gump, who had completed his education in veterinary medicine.
Upon her return, Debra went to work for the Community Economic Development Corporation working on rural economic development. She helped set up a tannery in Shishmaref, worked on tourism projects in Gambell and Savoonga, and helped set up a fishery in Port Graham that is still in operation today.
She also worked in the oil and gas industry, working at Peak Oilfield Service and then Alyeska pipeline, working on their Alaska hire and Alaska Native hire programs. Debra has extensive experience putting Alaskans to work, and helping Alaskans acquire the skills and training they need to find good jobs, including her time as Chair of the Alaska Job Training Council.
Most recently, Debra retired as Director of Operations at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where she helped young Alaska Natives rediscover their language, tradition, and culture, so could then teach tourists visiting the Center. Debra watched as young Alaska Natives developed the confidence and poise to talk to visitors about their culture and teach those visitors about Alaska Native traditions.
Last year, Debra retired from a long career in executive management for corporations and non-profits. Fed up with the lack of progress in Juneau and deeply concerned by the toxic environment in Washington DC, Debra decided to run for Lt. Governor because state government is the last line of defense for women’s rights, Native rights, workers rights, and more.
As a mom, a wife, and a businesswoman Debra is intimately familiar with the challenges facing women, families, and small businesses here. She is running for Lt. Governor because Alaska is at a crossroads: do we settle for the same short-term band-aid approaches that got us into the fiscal, education, and safety crises we’re now in or do we embrace a bold vision to create a diversified, sustainable Alaskan future?