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For Immediate Release
January 17, 2020
Contact: Karla Gatgyedm Hana’ax Booth, [email protected], (907) 677-1700

2020 AL ADAMS YOUNG POLITICAL LEADER & PUBLIC POLICY FELLOWS ARE SELECTED

Anchorage, Alaska – First Alaskans Institute (FAI), a statewide Alaska Native nonprofit focused on advancing Alaska Natives for the next 10,000 years, is pleased to announce the selection of our 2020 Al Adams Young Political Leader and Public Policy Fellowship cohort. Our 4th Al Adams Fellow is Samuel Hiratsuka (Unangax̂/Winnemem Wintu/Navajo). Our 13th Public Policy Fellowship cohort includes Angela Kaiyira Jenkins (Yup’ik/Koyukon), Bonnie Morris (Haida) and Megan Lukmak’ Warren (Tlingit). 

The Al Adams Young Political Leader Fellowship launched in 2013 to honor the late Iñupiaq statesman from Kotzebue who exemplified genuine and culturally-connected political leadership throughout his life. He served as a Trustee of FAI and continues to have a presence in memoriam through this fellowship program, inspiring a new generation of leadership through his legacy. This unique opportunity builds leadership capacity while supporting a commitment to one’s culture, peoples, and home community. The fellow honors the namesake as well as FAI by living up to the high expectations of hard work, exemplary behavior, performance, and engagement in this fellowship and all of the opportunities it affords, while supporting the advancement of the Native community.

The Public Policy Fellowship is based in the Alaska Legislative and Executive branches. The Fellows are immersed in the state lawmaking process, contributing to their host offices while deepening their understanding of Alaska’s issues. They will strengthen their knowledge, and sharpen their leadership skills and advocacy, while serving as ambassadors of their communities. FAI launched the Public Policy Fellowship in 2008 and has placed 34 Fellows in 15 Alaska Legislative and Executive offices. 

In selecting Public Policy Fellows, FAI seeks Native leaders who can jump right in and swim upstream through the fast-moving waters of the legislative session. Desired outcomes of the fellowship include familiarity in this environment to be stronger advocates for their communities and issues they care about. Many of our alums have continued on to pursue careers and community leadership roles directly utilizing their fellowship experience. They are involved in high level policymaking, community organizing, and in political affairs at the tribal, federal, state, local and international levels.

We are proud to introduce the 2020 cohorts:

2020 Al Adams Young Political Leader

Samuel Hiratsuka by Brough Cosgrove

Samuel Hiratsuka (Unangax̂/Winnemem Wintu/Navajo)
Samuel Hiratsuka grew up in Anchorage. His parents are Tom and Vanessa Hiratsuka from Anchorage and Stockton, California. His grandparents are Ken and Clare Hiratsuka from Ekuk village and Chicago, Illinois and Wilson and Jackie Tsosie from Fish Point on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona and Big Bend Rancheria in California. Samuel is a sophomore at American University majoring in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics & Government. His dedication to his culture and relatives extends beyond state and regional ties. He is a leader of the Advocates for Native Communities student organization and co-leader for an Alternative Spring Break that is bringing American University students to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Reservation to explore Federal Indian relations. An avid news consumer, Samuel loves talking about Alaska politics, culture and more. He enjoys fishing, hiking and long drives. Senator Dan Sullivan will host Samuel for the spring session in Washington, D.C. and give him the opportunity to explore Alaska Native and rural Alaska issues. 

2020 Public Policy Fellowship

Angela Kaiyira Jenkins by Jovell

Angela Kaiyira Jenkins (Yup’ik/Koyukon)
Kaiyira is from Emmonak and her namesake is Angela Anicia Tucker, the sister of her apa’urluq (grandfather). Her parents are Josephine Benedict of Emmonak and Dario Notti from Galena. Her grandparents, Elizabeth and Cornelius Benedict, raised Angela for her first 10 years in Emmonak. She was later adopted by Kimberly and Wallace Jenkins of Anchorage. Kaiyira is grateful to practice Yup’ik traditions such as speaking Yugtun, providing for her family, and having her first dance. She attributes her Yup’ik values and culture for carrying her through tough times. She attended the University of Alaska Anchorage for Marketing but took a break to work and raise her daughter, Addison. For the last two years, she was the Resource Development & Marketing Coordinator for the RIVR (Rising Indigenous Voices Radio). She enjoys volunteering, yuraq (dancing), finding new indigenous music, reading and spending time with her daughter and family. Representative Tiffany Zulkosky will host Kaiyira where she will support work on issues relating to tribal compacting, rural public safety, rural public health, and village relocation.

Bonnie Morris by Rasmuson Foundation

Bonnie Morris (Haida)
Bonnie is of the Eagle moiety, Ts’eehl Laanaas clan from Hydaburg. Her great-grandparents were Louisa and Hugh Cogo, and Peter and Lena Bell. Her grandparents were the late Rosalind and Donald Bell, Sr. Her mother is Mary Morris (Bell) of Hydaburg. Bonnie recently completed a three-year Haida language program and was the Hydaburg community liaison for Sealaska Heritage Institute. She supported the Prince of Wales Wellness Coalition grant by planning the framework and hosting community events as the project coordinator. She is a student in the Tribal Management Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and later plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Rural Development. She currently sits on the Ketchikan Youth Initiatives Board of Directors. She is passionate about sustaining Haida education, language, culture, heritage and values for youth, families and her community. Bonnie is an alum of the 2019 FAI Summer Internship Program, various FAI dialogues, and our Alaska Native Civic Engagement Training. Representative Dan Ortiz will host Bonnie where she will be responsible for supporting his work on the Tribal Affairs Committee.

Megan Lukmak’ Warren by Todd Loomis

Megan Lukmak’ Warren (Tlingit)
Lukmak’ is of the Raven moiety, Coho clan and Frog house, and her family originates from Dry Bay, Alaska. She was born and raised in Anchorage and is a citizen of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Her grandmother is Barbara Fleek who grew up in various communities in Southeast Alaska and her grandfather is Wayne Fleek from Juneau. Her mother, Adrienne Fleek, was raised in Yakutat and her father Kirk Warren is originally from Detroit, Michigan. Lukmak’ recently graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She interned with First Alaskans Institute’s Alaska Native Policy Center in 2018, United Nations in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Legal Department. Her goal is to attend law school with a focus on tribal law. She is passionate about advancing indigenous peoples’ right to sovereignty on the local, national and international levels. She enjoys hiking, berry-picking, fishing, shrimping, playing piano and cooking. Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson will host Lukmak’ and give her the opportunity to provide information on issues relating to Alaska Native people and how legislation effects our community.

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About First Alaskans Institute (FAI):  At FAI 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 visit our website at www.firstalaskans.org, contact us at 907-677-1700 or email [email protected]