Lila and Paul Donley moved to Anchorage in 1950. Dave Donley was born in 1954 and grew up in Spenard. Lila was one of the first five school nurses hired by the Anchorage School District. Paul was a union carpenter and home builder. Dave attended Willow Crest Elementary, Romig, Central, and Mears Jr. Highs.
Dave graduated with honors from Dimond High School in 1972. He attended the University of Oregon and University of Washington School of Law. He worked on the Alaska Pipeline construction as a firefighter and logger. He passed the Alaska Bar Exam on his first try in 1979. He was admitted to MENSA in 1986.
Dave was elected to represent Spenard in the State House in 1986. He served as Labor and Commerce Chair twice and Judiciary Committee Chair. He was elected to the State Senate in 1992. He served on the Senate Finance Committee and was Co-chair and Vice Chair. He was a leader in reducing state spending and protecting the Permanent Fund during the low oil prices ($10/barrel) of the late 1990s. He championed Alaska Hire (including the successful 1988 State Constitutional Amendment), anti-crime legislation, crime victim’s rights, consumer protection, government reform, better funding for Anchorage schools, and equal pay for women.
Many important state laws we today take for granted, were authored/prime sponsored by Dave Donley.
Just some of these successful laws include crime victim's rights, tougher mandatory sentences for violent crimes, Consumer protection laws, government reform like whistleblower protection laws to protect insurance consumers, improvements to school bus safety, workplace safety the "no frills poison act" getting rid of the costly and wasteful IM auto testing, improved anti-animal cruelty law, a historic increase for funding for Anchorage schools, neighborhood revitalization, and the 1988 State Constitutional Amendment supporting Alaska Hire.
After leaving the Senate, Dave was Chief of Adjudication and hearing officer for the state from 2003 to 2008. Dave retired from the State of Alaska and Laborers’ Local 341 in 2008. He then worked for Hope Community Resources, Inc. and practiced law.
In 2009 Dave was commissioned as a State Military Officer in the Alaska State Defense Force and currently is a Colonel serving as Chief of Staff and Staff Judge Advocate. As a state military officer Colonel Donley successfully completed extensite FEMA emergency and disaster response training including courses for the highest level of state emergency response management.
In April 2017, Dave was elected to the Anchorage School Board. He chaired the School Board’s Communications Committee and now serves on the Governance Committee. In January 2019 Dave was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration where he has overseen the Public Defender Agency, Office of Public Advocacy, Office of Administrative Hearings, Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, and the Division of Risk Management. Dave serves on the State Emergency Response and Commission, as the Commissioner designee on the Governor's Disaster Cabinet, and as the current State Corona Virus Response Taskforce.
In April 2020, Dave was re-elected to the Anchorage School Board. He received the most votes of any candidate in the 2020 Anchorage Municipal Election.
Dave and his wife Jamie have three children: a son who graduated from Service High and twins who in 2020 will complete Sixth Grade at Northern Lights ABC School.