Arth Brown III - President
I dropped out of college the first time and joined the Carpenter Joint Apprenticeship. During my apprenticeship, I quickly realized that the more knowledge gained, the more opportunities opened. Rising through the ranks, I went from the field to the office as an estimator and project manager. The office required a new set of skills and I needed more credentials. I returned to community college some ten years after the first time. Nervous but determined, I registered for a full load. My employer said, no raises until I earned a degree. Working full time, family and children at home, I was determined not to fail. After three years of evenings, online, and Saturday classes, I did it! My AAS was now transferrable to the next step. After three years without a raise, I was faced with, “That’s not a real degree.” Now even more determined, I pushed forward. I completed my bachelor degree in four consecutive semesters, again working full time. A career shift and using my new degree, received an Alaska Type M Teaching certificate for vocational education. My new found peers were quick to remind me, that I was “not a real teacher” since I did not have a teaching degree. Challenge accepted. Attending UAS, I completed the MA in Teaching program. After a few not-so-stellar educational leaders, it was time for additional skills and education. In twelve months, I completed my MA in Educational Leadership. All of this has lead up to my current position as Dean of Vocational Education and Workforce Development at Ilisagvik College. I have a strong desire to give back to those who started in the same shoes. Everyone deserves an opportunity to thrive in life. At Ilisagvik College we say; More education, More options, More out of life.
Cari-Ann Carty - Vice President/Immediate Past President
Cari-Ann was appointed executive director of the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium in March of 2015. In addition to having more than 20 years of leadership experience in Alaska, Cari-Ann has an abundance of enthusiasm for education and a deep passion for Alaska. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Alaska Pacific University, and a certificate of nonprofit management from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Prior to her appointment as executive director, she held several positions at APICC, including program coordinator, manager, and deputy director. Cari-Ann is a life-long Alaskan, born in Adak. She has spent most of her life residing in Anchorage, but has also lived in King Cove and the Mat-Su Valley.
January O'Connor - Treasurer
Tlingit and raised in Kake, Alaska, January attended elementary and middle school in Kake, Alaska. Moving to Juneau as a teenager, she transitioned to Juneau Douglas High School and graduated in 1997. After high school, January attended Reed College in Portland, OR and obtained a BA in Psychology in 2002. Four years later, she returned to Alaska to obtain her Masters in Teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau in 2006. January worked with the Rural Alaska Honors Institute for eight summers helping youth from across the state in obtaining college credits and college experience over a six-week period on the campus of UAF. She also directed the Take Wing Alaska program with the Alaska Humanities Forum as Program Director which worked with adolescents from the Yukon Kuskokwim school districts. The program worked with the students over a two-year period through a series of three cross-cultural immersions to explore leadership, educational and training opportunities through experiential and humanities based activities and cultural and identity exploration. She also co-founded and is a co-owner of Raven’s Group LLC which is a consulting group that provides grant writing, education and youth programming, and evaluation services for educational programs. January started her PhD in Indigenous Studies through University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fall of 2017 and is also a Research Assistant on the Indigenizing Salmon Management project.
Lora Volden - Secretary
Lora Volden has worked at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 2001 and is currently the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services. Lora has previously served as the University Registrar and as the Director of New Student Orientation. Lora’s father was born and raised in Fairbanks and her grandfather drove trucks on the haul road. Lora grew up hearing many stories about Alaska, so when her husband asked her what she wanted to do after they were married, she said live in Alaska and they have been here ever since.
Lora has 25 years of experience in higher education and has previously worked at institutions in Colorado, Idaho, and Minnesota. As a first generation college student, Lora is passionate about removing barriers and simplifying processes for students.
She has a Master of Counseling- Student Affairs and College Counseling from Idaho State University, 1997. B.A. Applied Psychology from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, 1992.
Dr. Pearl Brower
B.A. Anthropology and B.A. Alaska Native Studies from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004. Masters in Alaska Native and Rural Development from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010. Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies, with an emphasis in Indigenous Leadership from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, May 2016.
Brower is currently the President of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only Tribal College. She has been with the College since 2007 working in External Relations, Institutional Advancement, Student Services, and Marketing. She has served as President since 2012. Prior to working for the College, Brower managed an education and culture grant for the North Slope Borough for three years and worked as the Museum Curator of the Iñupiat Heritage Center.
Brower grew up in both Barrow, Alaska and in northern California practicing a subsistence lifestyle in both areas. She has two daughters, Isla, who is 7, and Sindri who joined the family in January of this year, and along with her husband, Jesse Darling, lives in Barrow, Alaska where she loves to be close to her culture and community. Brower was named one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015.
Brower is active in her community in Barrow, on the North Slope and statewide. She serves on the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board, serves as the Alaska Native representative on the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network, serves on the Alaska Airlines Community Advisory Board, on the Foraker Group’s Operations Board, as a Commissioner for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, and is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Tribal College Journal.
Whitney Brown, a strategist fueled by data-driven decision making, connecting with diverse perspectives, and a passion for education, currently serves as the Student Affairs Assessment and Strategic Projects Director at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She brings ten years of progressive leadership in higher education administration with experience developing, managing, and supervising a wide range of educational programs and strategic initiatives designed to promote the successful transition and holistic development of diverse students.
Whitney has in-depth experience with strategic planning, assessment, research, admissions marketing and communication, recruitment strategy, enrollment management, staff development programming, and curriculum development. Whitney has served the past six years on the Board for the National Association for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) and is eager to deepen her engagement with the Network and contribute to leadership conversations around access to and attainment of higher education in Alaska.
Whitney holds a Master of Public Administration and Education Policy and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University at Albany.
Born in Kodiak and raised in Anchorage, Tara Knight moved to Fairbanks in 2009 to pursue her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After completing her undergraduate program, Tara went directly into the Master of Arts program in English at UAF and began her career in higher education by working as a graduate writing instructor. After completing her master’s degree, Tara completed a Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising from Kansas State University while working as an Administrative Assistant in the Office of Disability Services and teaching writing courses as an adjunct at UAF. She is currently working on a second Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Languages while working as the UAF Admissions Counselor for UA Scholars and for the Anchorage, Mat-Su, and Kenai regions.
Tara has worked with a diverse population of students throughout the various positions she has held at the university and within the community, giving her insight into the varying educational needs of Alaska’s population. In addition to Tara’s professional experience in Disability Services, she is also personally close to individuals with disabilities as her oldest brother has Down syndrome. Because of her professional and personal connection to individuals with disabilities, Tara wants to see credentialing and professional development opportunities become more accessible to this population. Tara also volunteers in the women’s holding facility at the Fairbanks Correctional Center as a writing instructor and believes attention needs to be given to making higher education accessible to those who are incarcerated or are reentering society after incarceration.
Rebekah Matrosova first served the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education from 2007 to 2008 as the Outreach division K-12 Program Specialist. Ms. Matrosova returned to the agency in 2010 as Outreach Program Manager and was promoted to her Director position in June 2013. Ms. Matrosova’s professional experience includes serving as International Exchange Programs Coordinator for the University of Alaska Anchorage’s American Russian Center and as Team Lead of a technical writing team for a major financial software platform. Ms. Matrosova holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism & public communications, as well as languages, and a Master of Public Administration in public management from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
As Director of Outreach & Early Awareness, Ms. Matrosova oversees the agency’s initiatives to promote successful career & education planning statewide, including: programs to establish early awareness of the individual and collective benefits associated with postsecondary attainment; career & education planning tools, resources, and direct services; and public messaging to promote awareness of resources including state financial aid programs. Ms. Matrosova directs the activities of the outreach team and coordinates development and delivery of agency and multi-partner collaborative initiatives aimed at developing Alaska’s capacity to produce college and career-ready citizens.
I like helping students figure out what’s holding them back and how to get past it to reach their goals. I have a strong academic background (BBA, The George Washington University; MBA, UNC-Chapel Hill) and it opened doors for me. I travelled the world in my first job with the US Government and my long career with Johnson and Johnson was challenging and rewarding; both jobs were gained directly through academic achievement. What I enjoy about my career now, as both an assistant professor and workforce development instructor at Iḷisaġvik College, however, are the opportunities to explore what held me back and why things that seemed easy for others were so hard for me. I’ve been exploring these areas for 10 years, initially when I was a first-time business teacher in front of 200 Chinese students in Changchun, Jilin and now with much smaller classes in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. In both situations I’ve been working with students who struggled academically at some point and their lack of confidence and frustration with education is still preventing them from reaching their goals. I enjoy teaching classes that are not so much about what you know but about how to use that information more effectively, to work better with others, to communicate ideas more clearly and to overcome the obstacles we put in our own way.
I have worked at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Yuut Elitnaurviat and University of Alaska Anchorage. I currently work at Alaska Pacific University. I have worked in a number of capacities to include, Resident Director, Director of Programs, Care Team Coordinator, English as a Second Language, Early Honors and First Year Academic Advisor.
Prior to moving to Alaska, I was a graduate teaching assistant in Student Orientation and Retention at Oregon State University and acquired my Master’s Degree in College Student Services Administration. I grew up in a village in England and went to school at an American Air Force base where my mom was a school counselor. Education is in my blood and background. I want to contribute my knowledge and experiences to education across Alaska.
Patrick Rose was raised in Soldotna, Alaska. He graduated from Soldotna High School and then graduated from Charter College with Honors with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Business Management and Technology with concentrations in Computerized Accounting and Business Management Practice. He has worked in the postsecondary education industry for over eight years with a broad range of experience, from students services and admissions to financial aid and community outreach. In his current position as Business Development Manager at Northern Industrial Training Patrick works on increasing awareness of vocational training opportunities to community groups, schools and villages around Alaska. Another critical aspect of his role is to develop and maintain relationships with Alaskan employers to quickly respond to industry training needs as well as aid students obtaining employment with Alaskan businesses.
Janelle Vanasse has served in Alaska education for over 25 years. Currently the Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Janelle has focused much of her career in secondary education and helping under-served and low income populations successfully prepare for post-secondary transitions. Prior to Mt. Edgecumbe, Janelle worked in the Lower Kuskokwim School district for 20 years, 10 years as an administrator at Bethel Regional High School. While at Bethel Regional High School, Janelle led school improvement efforts around drop out prevention and building a college-going culture.
During her tenure, the graduation rate improved over 15% and the college-going rate reached 70% as measured by National Clearinghouse. Much of the college-going culture work Janelle engages in is aligned with the Redefining Ready research and includes multiple pathways through high school courses, building student goal-setting and accuracy in self-assessment, providing scaffold ways for students to reach highly rigorous college-prep course work, and early integration of college-navigation skills particularly targeting first generation students. Janelle believes both an understanding of cultural relevance and a deep look at current data is essential to meeting the 65 by 2025 goal.
Monica Wiehl is currently the manager of Arctic Education Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization committed to providing support and assistance to students pursuing higher education. She works very closely with her staff in designing programs to empower Iñupiat students and promoting personal success within themselves and their communities. Monica shares “I believe it is never too early to get our young people excited about education. My goal is to continue outreach to our North Slope communities to get our young people familiar with who AEF is and encourage them to follow their dreams! Whether that be through a professional certification program or a degree program – we what them to know we are here for support.” Born in Ketchikan and raised in Utqiaġvik, Monica shares a cultural background of Inupiaq, Haida and Tsimshian, and is the granddaughter of Wilma Wallace of Ketchikan and Charles Etok Edwardsen of Utqiaġvik.