Sandy Parnell became the First Lady of Alaska when her husband, Sean Parnell, was sworn in as Alaska’s 10th governor on July 26, 2009. Governor Parnell was elected as Alaska’s lieutenant governor in November 2006, and previously served as a state senator and state representative.
As a mother and active member of her community, the first lady is committed to the well-being of Alaskans. Mrs. Parnell has volunteered her time to several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, for which she raised funds and helped build homes for low-income families. The first lady has also enjoyed volunteering for her church and her two daughters’ schools.
Mrs. Parnell is an advocate for the Governor’s Performance Scholarship (GPS), a merit-based program Governor Parnell proposed in the 2010 legislative session. GPS is aimed at incentivizing students to take a more rigorous curriculum and earn scholarships for Alaska universities and job training programs.
To prepare young Alaskans for the more rigorous high school curriculum ahead, Mrs. Parnell is focusing on the foundational skills of literacy and the love of learning among elementary students. Partnering with the Scholastic Books Reading Ambassadors’ Program, she looks forward to sharing the joy of reading great books by personally distributing books to schools around the state and reading to and encouraging students.
The first lady is also advocating for the deaf community, including promoting the use of video phone technology in state government and calling for early detection and support for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The first lady and her daughter, Grace, have enjoyed taking American Sign Language courses together at the University of Alaska.
Mrs. Parnell earned a degree in business administration from the Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in 1984. While a student there, she met her husband, Governor Parnell. The couple married and moved to Alaska soon after the governor finished law school in 1987.
The Parnells have two teenage daughters, Grace and Rachel, and a yellow Labrador retriever named Annie.