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January 26, 2022
Contact: Karla G̲a̲tgyedm Hana̲’a̲x Booth, [email protected], (907) 677-1700                                       


Dgheyey Kaq’; Dena’inaq ełnen’aq’ qilan (Anchorage, Alaska; lands of the Dena’ina) – First Alaskans Institute (FAI) is pleased to announce our 2022 Indigenous Leadership Continuum Fellows: Pakak Sophie Boerner (Iñupiaq) will serve as our 6th Al Adams Young Political Leader Fellow, while our 15th Public Policy Fellowship cohort includes Shakagook Marlis Boord (Lingít), Julee Douglas (Lingít) and Averie Wells (Tsimshian/Iñupiaq/ Yup’ik). These two fellowships facilitate the learning of tribal, federal and state political processes and governance structures, bringing more Indigenous knowledge and advocacy into these critical areas.

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. The fellow honors the namesake 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. This unique opportunity builds leadership capacity through supporting a commitment to one’s culture, peoples and home community. 

The Public Policy Fellowship is based in the Alaska State Legislature. The Fellows are immersed in the state lawmaking process, contributing to their host offices while deepening their understanding of Alaska’s issues. They will sharpen their leadership skills and advocacy while serving as ambassadors of their communities. Since 2008, the Public Policy Fellowship has placed 45 Fellows in 16 Legislative and Executive offices. FAI selects Native leaders who can jump right in and swim upstream through the fast-moving waters of the legislative session. Many alumni have gone on to pursue careers and leadership roles, and engage in high level policymaking, community organizing, and political affairs at all levels.

Please join us in welcoming our 2022 Fellows:

2022 Al Adams Young Political Leader Fellowship

Pakak Sophie Boerner. Photo by Pakak.

Pakak Sophie Boerner (Iñupiaq) was named after her Aana and Daata, Pakak and Nuuyuukan. Her great grandparents are Henry and Lucy Jackson and grandmother is Marie Pakak Jackson. Her parents are Verne and Tassilo Boerner. Pakak’s heritage plays a significant role in how she identifies herself and her direction in life. She holds a double Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Languages, with a focus on German from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is currently working on her master’s thesis in Cultural Anthropology focused on exploring data use in policy from Leipzig University located in Germany. Her hopes for the future include advocating for Indigenous rights within public health. She enjoys beading, skin sewing, hiking, berry picking, cooking traditional meals and spending time with family. As a 2021 Public Policy Fellow in the Alaska State Legislature, she was placed at the office of Representative Ivy Spohnholz and gained a greater interest and appreciation for the policy making environment. Pakak is placed with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan in Washington, D.C. and will become familiar with the federal legislative process and the priorities of the Alaska delegation.

2022 Public Policy Fellowship

Shakagook Marlis Boord. Photo by Bobbi Jordan

Shakagook Marlis Boord (Lingít) lives on Lingít Ani in Sitka. Her parents are Seetlein and Duk.aan, also known as Melonie and Clancy Boord. Her grandparents are Gaaw and Akashook, also known as Pauline and Albert Duncan. Shakagook earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Fort Lewis College, and plans to continue schooling focusing on Indigenous health. She is grateful for family and community role models who helped her to get to where she is today and appreciates learning from her grandparents about identity, values, and Lingít ways of life. She values the fact that in Lingít culture people are taught to hold each other up, listen with care, and live in harmony with each other and the land. Through the years she has gained greater appreciation for the land and what it provides by learning to harvest seaweed, gumboots, herring eggs, making seal oil, hunting deer and gathering berries. She enjoys spending time with family, hiking, four-wheeling, baking, Ravenstail weaving, cedar weaving and beading. Throughout the pandemic she was a COVID-19 screener and tester and currently serves as a Youth Commissioner for the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. For this session, Shakagook is placed with Representative Josiah Patkotak (Iñupiaq).

Julee Douglas. Photo by David Douglas

Julee Douglas (Lingít) was born in Ketchikan. She belongs to the Eagle Clan, from the Split Killer Whale House (Tsaagweidí). Her parents are Sandra Bohannon and Jerry Mueller, and her grandparents are Agnus Roundtree and Harvey Bohannon. Her siblings are Ron and Rick Mueller. Julee is a proud grandmother and loves spending time with her three grandchildren at the beach, berry picking, and hosting sleepovers. She does not take spending time with them for granted and is grateful for it. She found her passion for serving others while going through her own journey of recovery and healing. She believes that every human has a profoundly important story to tell and must be given the chance to share it. She brought this belief into her work as a recovery coach, telehealth coach, coordinating crisis interventions, and developing and leading therapeutic relapse prevention initiatives by connecting with clients, intently listening and providing unconditional support. She believes planting the ­seeds of wellness will lead to healthier families, communities and vibrant cultures. For this session, Julee is placed with Senator Donny Olson (Iñupiaq).

Averie Wells. Photo by Aliyah Wells

Averie Wells (Tsimshian/Iñupiaq/Yup’ik) was born and raised in Anchorage. Her parents are Karla Weise and Clinton Wells, and her maternal grandparents are Eileen and John Weise with roots in Metlakatla and Bethel. Her paternal grandparents are Rhoda and Harold Wells with roots in Kotzebue. Averie is a junior majoring in Political Science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She enjoys learning more about her cultures and values the traditions of storytelling and listening which has caused her to be more open, understanding, and optimistic. She prioritizes being outside, engaging in political conversations and spending time with her family dog, Stevie, who has been a source of comfort during this pandemic. She strengthened her advocacy voice through the 2021 Alaska Native Policy Center Fellowship, 2021 Summer Internship Program and as a 2021 Elders & Youth Conference emcee. She previously served as a Statewide Elders & Youth Council Representative for the Southcentral region and hopes to be a lawyer and travel the world. For this session, Averie is placed with Representative Tiffany Zulkosky (Yup’ik). 

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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].

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