AlaskaCAN! Keynote Speakers and Facilitators

Day 1: CREDENTIALS OF VALUE


KEYNOTE SPEAKER Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, Commissioner
Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development

Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter serves as the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Under her leadership, the department serves to provide safe and legal working conditions and advance opportunities for employment. Dr. Ledbetter held several key positions with the department prior to becoming Commissioner. She began her career with the State of Alaska in 2007 as a career development specialist. After two years, she left to become manager of the Mat-Su Job Center, a role she held for eight years. Most recently, she served as regional manager for the Anchorage/Mat-Su Economic Region. Her background as a community leader, dynamic public speaker, and human performance improvement consultant have complemented her experience as a workforce development professional for more than 12 years.

As a United States Air Force veteran, Dr. Ledbetter served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After she and her family transferred to Elmendorf Air Force Base in 2003, they decided to make Wasilla their home. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History/Political Science, a Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training, and a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Ledbetter serves on several nonprofit boards and community organizations, and she is also a member of two academic research organizations. She and her husband Fred are most proud of their children: their 13-year-old daughter and two sons who are active duty in the United States Marine Corps.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER Cathy LeCompte, Director
Alaska Vocational Technical Center

Cathy LeCompte started her career in postsecondary education over twenty years ago as a faculty member on the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. She served as the Campus Director in Ketchikan and then Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage Community and Technical College. She is currently the Director at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC).

She is an experienced and skilled postsecondary leader and online instructor; and has been an online faculty since 2000, teaching undergraduate business and graduate leadership and higher education courses in the UAS School of Business and Public Administration.

With two children aged 8 and 10 and two jobs, she became one of many non-traditional college students at the local community college where she earned several credentials of value including a certificate in accounting and small business administration, an AAS in Small Business Management and an AA in general studies. She attended a commuter college and earned BS in Business Administration and an Executive Masters of Not for Profit Leadership.

Prior careers include small business owner, nonprofit executive and fund development professional, a health club manager personal training, and certified yoga and aerobics instructor, and café manager and barista. She is an Alaskan gardener, avid traveler and proud Grammy.


FACILITATOR Arth Brown III, Assistant Professor – Construction Trades
Iḷisaġvik College

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 at Iḷisaġvik 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 Iḷisaġvik College we say: More education, More options, More out of life.


FACILITATOR Tiffany Caudle, Program Manager
Alaska Works Partnership Inc.

My name is Tiffany Caudle and I’ve been a proud Alaskan since I was 2 years old. I love the outdoors, my rescue dogs, and my beautiful family. With my background in education from a degree in Education at the University of Idaho, I have always had a passion for educating youth about postsecondary opportunities including apprenticeship. I have been working for a non-profit called Alaska Works Partnership that offers free construction training to youth and adults in our community for 12 years.

As the program coordinator, I also do case management and enjoy working with our community members to help them gain skills that lead to better jobs and careers. It is very rewarding to work with youth and adults and offer educational and career guidance that can help to better their lives, and in turn better our great community. I have an ambitious, positive attitude and am always learning and working in creative and innovative ways.


FACILITATOR Felicia Swanson, Education Associate
Alaska DEED/Career & Technical Education

Felicia Swanson is the main contact for federal Carl Perkins related data questions at the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. She has been part of the department for 21 years with the majority of her time spent on the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Team; she has extensive historical knowledge of CTE at the Department and a breadth of experience in navigating the federal supports and requirements of federal CTE funding. Felicia also serves as the Statewide Coordinator for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS).


Day 2: K-16 EDUCATIONAL PATHWAYS


KEYNOTE SPEAKER Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner
Alaska Department of Education & Early Development

Dr. Michael Johnson began his service as Commissioner on July 1, 2016. Commissioner Johnson served in the Copper River School District as superintendent, school principal, district curriculum and staff development director, elementary teacher, and special education program assistant. During his tenure as its principal, Glennallen Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Johnson also is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award.

Commissioner Johnson holds certification in Alaska as a teacher and administrator. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a master of arts in teaching degree in elementary education from Columbia International University, and a doctorate of philosophy in education and intercultural studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER Sana Efird, Executive Director
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

Sana Efird joined the Commission in December 2020 as Executive Director, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education / Executive Officer, Alaska Student Loan Corporation.

Prior to her appointment she served as Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) during three different administrations, currently overseeing a $3.3 billion budget and administrative and operational functions of DHSS including Budget, Fiscal/Revenue, Audit, Human Resources, Facilities/Leasing, Grants and Contracts, and Information Technology. She has also served as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Education and Early Development focusing on Alaska’s Education Challenge to ensure every student across the state has equitable opportunity to learn and succeed. Her credentials include a Master of Arts from Saint Mary’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of South Carolina. Additionally, Sana has been a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, reading specialist, and executive director of a college foundation supporting financial scholarships and loans to help students achieve their educational goals.

She and her husband live and work in Juneau and enjoy all the outdoor activities Juneau has to offer, especially hiking and backpacking with friends.


FACILITATOR Dr. Pearl Brower, President & CEO
Brower Consulting Services

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. Dr. Brower is currently the President and CEO of Brower Consulting Services, and independent consulting service around the state of Alaska. In October of 2020, Dr. Brower left the President of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only Tribal College where she had been at the college for 13 years, the last 8 serving as President.

Dr. Brower grew up in both Barrow, Alaska and in northern California practicing a subsistence lifestyle in both areas. She and her husband, Jesse Darling, have two daughters, Isla and Sindri. Brower was named one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015, the First Alaskans Institute Young Alaska Native Leader in 2019, and received the 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement award.

Brower is active around Alaska. She 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 Chair in 2021, as a Commissioner for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE), and a board member on the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Board of Directors. 


FACILITATOR Julia Renfro, AKCIS Partnership Coordinator
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

Julia helps Alaskans develop Personal Learning & Career Plans (PLCPs) using the Alaska Career Information System (www.AKCIS.org). She encourages parental and community engagement while partnering with school districts, organizations, and industry by sharing her career services; human resources; job center; secondary education and postsecondary education, and corporate training experience.

Julia contributes nationally to CIS system development and the State Leaders in Career Development Coalition. Julia serves nationally as Alliance of Career Resource Professionals (ACRP) President, Career Information System (CIS) Executive Team Chair, and the Technology in Education Co-Chair of the National Coalition for Career Development Advisory Board.

Julia received the 2019 Alaska Association of Career & Technical Education Leadership Award for her work across Alaska bringing awareness to Personal Learning & Career Plans (PLCPs).


FACILITATOR Joshua Bicchinella, Campus President
Charter College

Josh Bicchinella is the campus president for Charter College, a private, independent institution located in Anchorage, Alaska. Josh also serves on the Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education filling the proprietary education seat.  Josh holds a MS in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University and is actively pursuing a Doctorate in Public Administration. As the campus president, Josh is responsible for direct and indirect leadership and operational management of the Anchorage campuses admissions, financial aid, education, student success, and career service departments. As an appointed commissioner for the state of Alaska, Josh is responsible for working with the commission to advocate and support post-secondary participation and education in Alaska. Born and raised in Alaska, Josh is an avid Alaskan embracing all things outdoors. When not actively engaged in work, community activities, or public service, Josh enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and of course hiking.