July 2017

Three women – each of them helped by Doyon Foundation scholarships – earned doctorates in 2017, demonstrating their commitment to lifelong learning and the sustaining powers of heritage. The Foundation is honored to have helped them along their path to graduation.

“Our three Ph.D. graduates this year are inspiring role models and incredible assets for our state,” says Doris Miller, the Foundation’s executive director. “There are many needs and opportunities in our region, and we are pleased to play a part in growing our own to fill these roles. We at Doyon Foundation are honored to support our past, present and future students, and we are proud of each and every one of them.”

Anna Sappah: “Discipline is simply remembering the goal”

Anna’s birth parents are Margaret Aucoin Meseck of Chignik and Donald Meseck. Her maternal grandmother is Katie Andre of Chignik. Anna’s adopted parents are Joseph and Agnes Deer. Joseph was from Chevak; Agnes was the daughter of Olivia and Andrew Johnson of Holy Cross. Anna’s hometown is Anchorage. 

Anna“I’m a passionate advocate for addiction treatment and recovery services,” says Anna. She graduated in April 2017 with a doctorate in psychology from Alaska Pacific University.

A longtime employee and volunteer in the behavioral health field, Anna’s policy and advocacy work focuses on people confronting both substance abuse and mental health disorders. She held a graduate student scholarship awarded by the Foundation.

“Work-life balance was the most difficult challenge while I was a full-time student,” she recalls. “Staying grounded in my family and culture helped.”

Anna is a clinical supervisor at Alaska Wisdom Recovery, an Anchorage-based center for substance use disorder and mental health treatment. Her plans include continuing in her current position, working toward certification as a licensed professional counselor, and eventually becoming a university professor focusing on addiction studies.

Anna believes in self-care that includes managing time and priorities: “I adore spending time with our four kids and 14 grandchildren.” She dances and sings with the Northern Lights Intertribal Pow Wow Drum and enjoys beading, berry picking, gardening, and fishing with a family business, Sappah and Son Guide Service. She’s active with local recovery groups.

Her advice to other students: Take time to take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Talk to others if you’re feeling overwhelmed and follow your course syllabus like a roadmap to success: “Discipline is simply remembering the goal.”

Charleen Fisher: “Always strive for your dreams!”

Charleen’s parents are Margaret Ann Fisher of Beaver and the Rev. Scott O. Fisher of Falls Church, Virginia. Her maternal grandparents are Charlotte and Salvin Adams; her paternal grandparents are Kitson and John R. Fisher. Charleen is a member of the Foss family of Iliamna and Pedro Bay. Her family includes her husband, Darrel Salmon; daughters Shelby, Julia, Allyson and Shani; and grandson Hunter. Her hometown is Beaver. 

CharleenOn track to graduate in August, Charleen is pursuing a doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Her discipline aims to reframe, reclaim and revitalize Indigenous knowledge systems. “It’s a new field that researches our own rich, beautiful cultures and documents them properly without bias,” Charleen says. In May, she earned an education leadership certificate from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Her Ph.D. path was a long one, Charleen recalls. She taught in K-12 schools for more than 10 years and spent nine years as a principal/teacher. Remaining committed to her doctorate and leadership credential meant choosing part-time work and giving up full-time positions that she enjoyed – a disruption, she says, that both she and her family learned to accommodate. She has held several positions with the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, where she works today as director of the Native American Career and Technical Education Program.

Charleen credits the Foundation with providing scholarship help so that she could achieve her education goals. She also encourages students to apply for funding that helps them present their work at conferences, as she did while at UAF. When she’s not focused on school, she enjoys time with family, including her grandson, Hunter. “Always strive for your dreams!” she says.

LaVerne Demientieff: “It was comforting to know I could rely on Doyon Foundation”

LaVerne Demientieff is the daughter of the late Rudy and Alice (Frank) Demientieff of Holy Cross and Anvik; she is the granddaughter of Stanley Demientieff and Edith Bifelt, and Joe Frank and Marcia Reed. LaVerne was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Nenana and Anchorage.

LaVerne_Bio_PicA single parent who worked throughout college, LaVerne received Foundation scholarships leading to a doctorate in social work in 2017 from the University of Utah. “The financial support went a long way,” she says. “It was comforting to know I could rely on Doyon Foundation to help when I needed it.”

LaVerne, who is among the Foundation’s board of directors, believes that learning is healing. “Remember who you are and be who you are in all the different situations you find yourself in,” she advises. “Build relationships with peers, instructors and staff along the way. You never know what door those relationships might open for you.”

LaVerne is a clinical associate professor in social work at UAF, where she has taught since 2006. Earning her doctorate brought to mind the many faces of family and friends who over the years encouraged her or helped emotionally and financially.

“I’m grateful to each and every one,” she says. “No one succeeds alone. Raising my son and being so busy was a challenge. He sacrificed just as much as I did so that I could earn my degrees. I believe we did this together.”

LaVerne enjoys walking, hiking, fishing and berry picking with family and friends. Her plans include becoming fluent in her Athabascan language, Deg Xinag, and continuing to focus on wellness and healing efforts with Alaska Native communities. Her research interests are language, wellness, healing and trauma. She is UAF faculty adviser to the Alaska Native Social Work Association and a member of the language revitalization committee of the Doyon Foundation board. “I’m honored and grateful to be able to give back to my community and people,” she says.

Intel Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program

$10,000 and paid internship in Summer of 2018

Complete applications due on August 25, 2017


– Full Time Graduate Student for the 2017-2018 academic year

– 3.0 GPA or higher

– Enrolled member/citizen or a descendant of an enrolled member/citizen. Official Documentation identifying the student must be provided. (AI/AN, Canadian First Nations, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islander)

– Applicants must be interested in and willing to participate in a paid internship with Intel in Summer 2018.

– AISES membership

– Applicant must be pursuing a degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. Chemical Engineering and Material Science will also be considered.

Additional Requirements (besides the typical letters of recommendation, resume, photo, and other stuff required by the online application system):

– Please describe how you intend to use your degree of study in the computer science sector. (up to 500 words)

– Please upload a Cover Letter. The Cover Letter should express interest in the (paid) internship portion of the Program, which is completed in Summer 2018.

UAF’s Department of Alaska Native Studies & Rural Development is seeking an Alaska Native graduate student (current or prospective) to join their team. Students could pursue Master’s or Ph.D. studies in Rural Development, Indigenous Studies, or Fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Student must be based in Alaska, but location is flexible. Students must be willing to travel to rural communities across Alaska. We offer two full years of funding (tuition, stipend, and benefits). Expected start date is fall 2017. Interested applicants should contact Courtney Carothers or Jessica Black. Applications, including CV, statement of interest, copy of transcript(s), and names and contact information of three references should be emailed to by August 11.

Please contact Courtney Carothers at clcarothers@alaska.edu or 907-375-1412; Jessica Black at jcblack@alaska.edu or (907) 474-7434 for more information.

The Doyon Foundation 2017 Graduate Yearbook is now available on the Foundation website!

2017 grad yearbook collagePacked with photos and profiles, the yearbook celebrates our 2017 graduates including:

  • 1 pre-school
  • 36 high school
  • 3 certificates
  • 22 associate’s degrees
  • 19 bachelor’s degrees
  • 5 master’s degrees
  • And 3 doctorate degrees!

Download your copy of the 2017 Graduate Yearbook now!

Have an addition or correction? Please send them to foundation@doyon.com or call 907.459.2048.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) is offering three Native Languages for fall 2017, Dena’ina, Ahtna and Yup’ik. All three courses are distance and face to face, so students can join the class if you are not located in Kenai. All three courses are 4 credit GER classes and are offered in the evenings.

Also, please note that Kenai Peninsula College is offering a scholarship sponsored by Alyeska Pipeline. This scholarship is for students enrolled in: Process Technology, Industrial Process Instrumentation, Welding and who are Alaska Native Students. The flyer will direct students to the department where you can find the application and deadlines.

You can register for class online at


and login or if you are a Non-degree seeking student you can login into "Just want to take a class" at

https://uaonline.alaska.edu/banprod/owa/twbkwbis.P_GenMenu?name=bmenu.P_TakeAClass .

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call my office at 907-262-0213 or the student services office for assistance in registering at 907-262-0330.



May 23, 2017 (Anchorage, Alaska) – First Alaskans Institute (FAI) is pleased to announce the opening of registration and call for proposals for our 34th annual statewide First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth Conference taking place October 16th – 18th, 2017 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Each year, we strive to deepen our understanding of the issues and challenges of our time, promote tremendous pride in our cultural identities, and create shared understanding around our responsibility to contribute to our cultures and communities through the transference of knowledge between our precious Elders and our youth.

Our 2017 Conference theme “Part Land, Part Water – Always Native.” speaks to how our identity as indigenous peoples is informed by our deep connection to our lands and waters, no matter where we live, and recognizes that Alaska always has been – and always will be – a Native place. Our theme was crafted using the thoughtful contributions and ideas of our 2017 Statewide Elders & Youth Council, FAI staff, and other members of the community.

Our conference will be preceded by a special “Warming of the Hands Gathering” on Sunday, October 15th from 12:00pm-5:00pm, featuring Men’s and Women’s Houses and regional breakout sessions – a favorite offering of many past participants. We are excited to again host “Chin’an: A Night of Cultural Celebration” on Monday evening, featuring the incredible talents of those in our community who step up to share their gifts with the world!

We are accepting presentations/workshops and arts/cultural offerings proposals through July 21st, 2017. Proposals should be clearly tied to the theme and purposes of the Conference and be grounded in the celebration of who we are as Alaska Native peoples. We prioritize proposals that encourage active participation, and seek presenters that are open to collaboration as we work to craft an indigenized, thoughtful, and exciting conference agenda. You can find more information and forms attached, on our ellatonuchuk or (907) 677-1700 for more information.

Discounted Early Bird Registration is now open online through October 2nd with full price registration available afterward through the conference dates. In response to past E&Y and AFN Conference resolutions, and recognizing the rich learning that occurs during our conference, many school districts offer excused absences to students attending. Please help us spread the word by sharing our Facebook and Twitterposts – we can’t wait to see you in October!

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At First Alaskans Institute, we know we are responsible for carrying more than 10,000 years of ancestral knowledge into the future with rigor, humor, resilience, vigilance, and love. To learn more about us and what we do, please visit our website at www.firstalaskans.org, contact us at
907-677-1700 or info to learn more.

2017 Elders and Youth News Release – FINAL.pdf

2017 EY Call for Proposals.pdf

Alaska Native Language Speakers Native Artists and Culture Bearers 2017.pdf


Tanana Chiefs Conference is offering programs for high school students interested in health careers and advocacy. Click on the below links or email edward.alexander@tananachiefs.org for more details.

Hands On Health Careers

Tribal Youth Advocates

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