Diana Birkett Rakow is the new VP-external relations at Alaska Airlines, succeeding Joe Sprague, who left Sept. 1 after a 17-year stint.

Diana Birkett RakowDiana Birkett Rakow

She was VP-PA, communications and brand manager at Kaiser Permanente, joining the managed care consortium with its acquisition of Group Health Cooperative.

Rakow led Group Health's 75-member strong PA/marketing team and its budget in excess of $25M.

Earlier, she worked three years on the US Senate Finance Committee.

At the airline, Rakow is in charge of corporate communications, government relations and community outreach teams in Alaska, Hawaii, San Francisco and Seattle.

The Alaska Air Group (Alaska Air, Virgin America and Horizon Air) flies 40M passengers a year to about 120 destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.