Peter Segall / Juneau Empire 
Juneau Pioneer Home resident Phyllis Woodman, left, sits with the home’s administrator Gina Del Rosario, right, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Del Rosario is retiring and friends and colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace.

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire Juneau Pioneer Home resident Phyllis Woodman, left, sits with the home’s administrator Gina Del Rosario, right, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Del Rosario is retiring and friends and colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace.

‘Only one Gina’: Pioneer Home administrator announces retirement

Colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace

A calling brought her to the job in the first place, she says, but now the head of the Juneau Pioneer Home feels it’s time to move on.

Gina Del Rosario, Juneau Pioneer Home administrator who’s spent 30 years with the state of Alaska, is retiring, and according to friends and co-workers, it’s going to be hard to replace her.

“There’s only one Gina,” said Marja Miller, assistant administrator at the Juneau home.

Del Rosario has approached her job at the Pioneer Home with religious zeal. A devout Catholic, Del Rosario said her faith helped guide her to the role and drove her dedication to the work.

“It’s really more than a job, it’s more like a vocation, more like a ministry,” she said.

Originally from San Rafael, in Bulacan province in the Philippines, Del Rosario has worked in seven different departments in Alaska state government over 30 years, starting as a clerk in the governor’s office. She also served in the Departments of Public Safety and Revenue, and 16 years with the Department of Larbor and Workforce Development.

In a statement, Deputy Commissioner of Family, Community & Integrated Services at DHSS Clinton Lasley said the department was fortunate to have had Del Rosario as an administrator.

“Gina has touched so many lives through her love for and dedication to the Elders that have made the Juneau Pioneer Home their home,” Lasley said.

Del Rosario had been doing more managerial work, she said, which was attractive to her as a young mother. But her father’s death from cancer in 2011 affected her deeply and made her want to pursue work she found more meaningful.

“Every time I stopped at the stoplight (at Egan Drive and Vanderbilt Hill Road) I thought what an honor to be working at the Juneau Pioneer Home, where so many people need your time and attention. How lucky are the people working there,” she said.

Del Rosario guided the Juneau Pioneer Home through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing a facility whose residents were among the most vulnerable to the illness. Under normal circumstances, an array of visitors are allowed in the home, from family members to volunteers and entertainers. But all that had to be stopped during the pandemic, as the Pioneer Homes became closed off to anyone but staff who were being tested weekly for months, she said.

Juneau Pioneer Home Administrator Gina Del Rosario, was in her office on Thursday, April 29, 2021, but her bags were literally packed. Del Rosario is retiring soon and a replacement has not yet been named. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Juneau Pioneer Home Administrator Gina Del Rosario, was in her office on Thursday, April 29, 2021, but her bags were literally packed. Del Rosario is retiring soon and a replacement has not yet been named. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

“She has been a friend as well as an admin and has seen us through many things,” said Phyllis Woodman, an eight-year resident of the home. “She has been consistently for us. She’s just that type of person.”

When the pandemic hit, Del Rosario and other staff found ways to keep residents connected with their families. Last April, staff at the Juneau Home were able to buy two new iPads to help residents stay in contact with loved ones who could no longer visit. Last year, one family member played guitar for his mother just outside of the window of the Pioneer Home.

[Through the talking glass: Technology helps connect Pioneer Home residents and loved ones]

The Pioneer Homes were the target of state budget cuts in the years leading up to the pandemic, and Del Rosario has helped residents and their families through those changes. In 2019 the Dunleavy administration made changes to the fee structure of the Pioneer Home, raising rates between 40% and nearly 140%, but lawmakers passed a bill reducing those rates after public pushback.

Who’ll replace Del Rosario is an open question. Miller said she was offered the job, but said she is comfortable in her role as assistant administrator. The position of administrator at the Pioneer Homes is appointed by the governor, Lasley said, and a name, which was not disclosed, has been submitted to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for his consideration.

In her retirement, Del Rosario said she may go back to teaching Sunday School, and feels a calling to “spend more time in the Scriptures.”

Del Rosario said she was eligible to retire last year but with the pandemic ongoing the timing wasn’t right. She said she wanted to spend more time at home while her children were still young.

“I know that is time for me to focus on a smaller family who have been put on second priority in my life,” she said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

Most Read