Travis Hedwig, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage
Travis is an applied cultural/medical anthropologist and assistant professor of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He received his BA in anthropology from SUNY Plattsburgh (minor in music), MA in applied anthropology from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Ph.D. in medical anthropology from the University of Kentucky. His primary research interests involve impairment/disability and health inequality at the intersections of public policy and everyday lived experience. He received a National Science Foundation dissertation enhancement award for his work on the racial and cultural politics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in Alaska and continues to examine structural inequalities associated with FASD across the continuum of care. Travis has worked on issues of housing and homelessness, child welfare, adolescent health, family and kinship studies, suicide prevention, community-based approaches to alcohol risk prevention and mental health promotion, and health advocacy. He is passionate about teaching and learning and enjoys the challenge of translating research into practice.
Kim Jackson, Ph.D. Vice President
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor & Master Addiction Counselor
Kim Jackson is an Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor, and Master Addiction Counselor. She has lived and worked all over the US, including in Washington DC, Texas, Maryland, and Colorado. She earned a PhD in Human Rehabilitation/Statistics from the University of Northern Colorado, and an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from California State University. She lived in Alaska in the 1990s and earned a BA in Human Services from Alaska Pacific University. Kim enjoys cooking Sundays dinners for her family, travel, bowling and aspires to learn to fish. She volunteered to join the board to give back to the great city of Anchorage and community that supported her academic endeavors throughout undergraduate and graduate school.
Michael I. Jeffery, J.D.
Retired Superior Court Judge
After living in India almost five years, Michael Jeffery moved to Barrow (now, Utqiagvik) Alaska in January 1977 to start the Alaska Legal Services Corporation office. After nearly six years with ALSC, he was appointed the North Slope’s first Superior Court Judge. After a 32-year judicial career, he reached the constitutional age limit of 70 and had to retire in December 2014. He became energized in 1996 about the disconnect between FASD and the justice system and started to adapt to reduce the unintentional injustice. His continuing efforts were recognized in state-wide media outlets and awards, including from the Alaska Federation of Natives. He assisted in the successful effort to have FASD recognized in Alaska as a possible “mitigating factor” in sentencing for serious crimes. As an active member of statewide FASD committees, he helped produce Alaska’s FASD 5-Year Plan. He has trained groups in “FASD 101” and has given FASD/justice system presentations in Vancouver, BC; Alaska; several other states, and a 2019 Rotary-sponsored training team journey to Western Australia. He joined the board of the Alaska Center for FASD to assist in public education and community service for persons and families affected by FASD. Previously recognized as a member of the national NOFAS Hall of Fame, he is now the board’s liaison to NOFAS’s Affiliate Network. He is a long-time drummer in an Eskimo dance group. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Barrow and in his faith community. He is married to Esther and they are blessed with three grown children. He graduated from Stanford University and the Yale Law School.
Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
Elizabeth Joseph lives in Kongiganak which is located near the mouth of the Kuskokwim River (southwest of Bethel). She works for Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in their local Clinic as an Office Assistant. She is married to an amazing man who is her #1 support system - Joseph (Joe) Joseph. They are raising 6 children - 4 boys and 2 girls with ages ranging from 11 months to 15 years. Three of the children were exposed to alcohol prenatally. Their oldest son, Jordan, came into their life as a foster child and when he became available for adoption, they did not have the heart to give him up to another family. He has introduced them to the challenges of parenting a child with an FASD, is their inspiration, and they are trying to create a foundation for his future success. It has been a rough road for the past 14 years living in rural Alaska with few services for children with disabilities. Elizabeth became involved with this new non-profit because she would like to see more services offered to these children and find ways to help rural parents/caregivers find their centering point.
Erika Mary Johnson Board Secretary
Erika was born and raised in Alaska and now lives on beautiful Kodiak island. Since March 2006, she has been building a career in the disability services field, working as a direct care provider, a case manager for both home and community-based waiver (HCBW) and grant recipients and, since April 2016 as a care coordinator. She has experience working with a variety of individuals, from those experiencing autism and FASD to children with complex medical conditions to individuals with co-occurring mental health and developmental delays to seniors experiencing dementia and Parkinson's. From February 2016 thru April 2018, Erika also used her skills as an intern at the Providence Kodiak Island Counseling Center, where she provided therapy services to individuals who experience substance use disorders. Erika has served on the Board of the Alaska Center for FASD since July 2018 and is pleased to be part of this dynamic group.
Catherine Mannix Board Treasurer
Special Education Teacher/Collaborator, Anchorage School District
Catherine Mannix is a special education teacher who has worked in the Anchorage School District for the past 17 years, at the preschool and middle school levels. She has practiced in the field of education in various capacities, and at all grade levels, since graduating in 1980 with a B.S. in Education from Western Illinois University. Catherine has worked with students coping with the effects of FAS and FASD since her earliest days in the classroom in Montana. She has been a consistent activist pursuing grants and training for staff and families regarding FASD. Catherine participated for many years on the Anchorage School District FAS committee and co-produced an online FASD resource for district teachers. She has worked on various boards and brings this experience to pursue her greatest passion: recognizing and appropriately addressing the educational needs of students with FASD, while raising community understanding, acceptance, and support for students and their families. “Until all teachers and society at large have a deep understanding and respect for the prevalence of brain-based differences of students, the school system will continue to wound FASD affected individuals and their families. Students must be recognized for the strengths they possess and accommodated for their weaknesses. Success must be measured beyond the limits of current standardized testing.”
Marilyn Pierce-Bulger, MN, FNP, CNM Interim Board President
FASD & MCH Consultant
Marilyn is a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse-midwife whose nursing career began in Bethel. She has 45 years’ experience in maternal and child health providing care, in management, creating services, and consulting. She worked for many years at the Alaska Native Medical Center/Southcentral Foundation and created Nutaqsiivik, a home visitation program, to address the post neonatal infant mortality health disparity for Anchorage urban American Indian/Alaska Native infants. She discovered that 28% of the high social risk clients served by the program either had an FAS/FAE diagnosis or were living and parenting unsuccessfully due to an undiagnosed cognitive impairment. She has worked as a consultant for the State of Alaska, University of Alaska (UAA) Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)/Native American Management Services- Healthy Native Babies project. She founded and managed the Anchorage FASD Diagnostic Team in 2009 and FASDx Services LLC (2014-2020) to support the team referral process. She founded the Alaska Center for FASD with the help of her daughter, Kelly Mistry in 2017. Her passion continues to be FASD prevention and appropriate services and supports for those who live with FASD and their families.
Lauren Risby Intake Coordinator
Lauren was born and raised on the land of the Dena'ina and can’t imagine a more beautiful place to call home. She attended the University of Idaho and University of Alaska Anchorage earning her degree in Psychology (minor in nutrition). Lauren is currently working on her Master of Social Work (MSW) to be able to better advocate on a policy level and is on track to graduate in spring of 2021. She did her MSW practicum placement with the Alaska Center for FASD in spring of 2020 and was so passionate about their mission and creating FASD informed communities of care that she decided to join the board. Lauren has been working at Denali Family Services since 2006 providing individualized community-based services to youth and families under a trauma informed model of care and is also a facilitator for Parenting with Love and Logic. Lauren draws her energy and passion from the individuals, families, and communities she works with and is a firm believer that people are experts of their own experience. She continues to be humbled by the resiliency and strength exhibited by those she serves and considers it to be an honor to be part of their journey. In her down time Lauren enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, watching movies, reading, gardening, and you will most likely always find Lauren with knitting needles in her hands.
Dena’inaq ełnen’aq’ gheshtnu ch’q’u yeshdu. (Dena’ina)
I live and work on the land of the Dena'ina. (English)
Gina is an adult with FASD who received a diagnosis 3 years ago. She went to a presentation about FASD with a friend who invited her to go to ‘prove’ that she did not have an FASD. What they learned there was an ‘ah ha’ moment for Gina and sent her in search of a diagnosis for answers. Very few of the current FASD teams are seeing adults (most have pediatric providers participating so it is out of their scope of practice) but she found support from Vicki Tinker, the Coordinator at Frontier Community Services in Kenai/Soldotna. After a false start with a bad neuropsychology experience in Anchorage, she was able to sit down with someone who could describe her brain-based strengths and challenges and provide her with a diagnosis. She is married, has two children, is parenting successfully and runs two businesses. But life has not been without its’ challenges as her story includes leaving a tumultuous home at age 16, substance use as a teen, multiple (some abusive) marriages, being taken advantage of during financial transactions with her business, and years of depression and blaming herself for her limitations. With the new information after diagnosis, she is better able to understand and forgive herself for things she cannot do. This allows her to move through the world with less self-criticism and more acceptance of her life and abilities. She needs her home/life to be very organized and structured, understands there will be good brain/bad brain days, and wants to support others who have FASDs.