DHAT attracts Lower 48 trainees

Rasmuson Foundation
DHATS graduating 2015

2015 graduating DHATs

The dramatic success of Alaska’s Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program in bringing dental care to rural Alaska has attracted attention and interest from all over the nation. This summer, dental therapists from lower 48 tribes begin training in Alaska to provide dental health services in their own communities.

Among the trainees at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Educational Program is a member of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, of the Skagit Valley in Washington State. The Swinomish program was announced June 30, at the NCAI mid-year conference in St. Paul, MN, by Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“Alaska has seen great success in solving a Native problem with a Native solution. We want to export that success to our community, which is why we are sending a Swinomish Tribal member to Alaska this summer to begin her dental health aide therapy training,” Cladoosby said.

Time is now to address alcohol impacts

Rasmuson Foundation
Jeff Cook serves on the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors.

Jeff Cook serves on the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors.

Rasmuson Foundation Board member Jeff Cook published this guest commentary July 11 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

I am a life-long Alaskan who was born and raised in Fairbanks, and there are few things that are more important to me than the health of my community. As a board member at Rasmuson Foundation, I am pleased with the newest partnership between the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Recover Alaska that will address the impacts of excessive consumption of alcohol on the Interior.

Alcohol and substance abuse in our state continues to have significant economic, social and health impacts — contributing to a loss of job productivity, an increase in health care costs, juvenile delinquency, homelessness and health complications, to name a few. The financial impact on the Alaska economy is approximately $1.2 billion. Alcohol use and abuse is the most important health issue for Alaskans, with abuse of other substances identified as No. 4.

The issue of excessive consumption of alcohol is too complex for any one entity to address alone. Recover Alaska, a multi-sector action group formed by concerned citizens and funded by a number of stakeholders including the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Mat-Su Health Foundation, State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and Southcentral Foundation, is dedicated to reducing the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption in Alaska. (You can learn about its efforts here.)

With a focus on making systemic changes rather than addressing isolated symptoms of the issue, the News-Miner project will take an in-depth look at the over-consumption of alcohol in the Interior in a series called “Paths to Recovery: Solving Alaska’s alcohol problem.”

The series may not always be easy to read, there will be controversy and it may hit too close to home for some. But the most difficult conversations we have — both personally and professionally — are about alcohol.

The partnership brings the talents of investigative journalists to the issue and provides a public platform on which to report their findings.

jennifer jolis says: July 13th, 2015 at 1:39 pm
As long as I've been here (a long time) alcohol abuse has been a topic of concern for Alaskans. I'm glad to see the Rasmuson Foundation, Doyon, SouthCentral and so on, working with the News Miner to address it. But what I have noticed over the years also is that somehow, even though the impacts might be most visible there, all these efforts focus on Alaska Native alcohol abuse. Yes it is rampant, yes, it is excruciating as it destroys families and villages. But alcohol is and has been a significant issue for non-Native Alaskans as well--and somehow that doesn't seem to get addressed. My hope is that this series will loo closely at those living in the urban areas as well as it does at those living in villages. I am not diminishing the impact of alcohol in the lives of many Alaska Natives, but if we do not address the problems it poses across the entire spectrum of society in Alaska we are doing a disservice to our people. READ MORE
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Time to close Alaska’s gender pay gap

Rasmuson Foundation

Guest post by Hilary Morgan, CEO, YWCA Alaska

In 1963, the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, prohibiting pay discrimination on the basis of gender. More than 50 years later, the pay gap has narrowed at a dismal pace. Nationally, women are currently paid an average of 78 cents for every dollar men make. In Alaska, that rate drops to 67.8 cents for every dollar and the gap closed just 5 cents between 1990 and 2014.

Hilary Morgan

Hilary Morgan

In a state where 48% of workers are women, the gender pay gap has a large economic impact. As a group, women who are employed full time in Alaska lose approximately $1.2 billion every year due to the pay gap. The gap exists in every major Alaska industry and in all regions of the state. Families, businesses and the economy suffer as a result. Alaska employers commonly refer to Alaska’s labor “puddle” rather than labor pool. In a state already facing a shortage of qualified workers, gender pay inequity poses yet another hurdle for companies trying to attract the most talented employees, of all genders.

The pay gap is also increasingly important as women play a growing role in their families’ economic security. Women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40% of households. Yet mothers are paid just 69% of what fathers make. For single mothers, it’s even worse. Single mothers in Alaska make 62.8% of what single fathers earn. And 20.5% of single mother households fall below the poverty line. Closing the pay gap would enhance financial stability for families across the state while providing businesses a much needed economic boost.

Without a large, community-wide effort, the gender pay gap in Alaska will not close until 2142. The personal choices of women cannot explain the persistence of gender pay inequity. The pay gap exists in all industries, is present within occupations, and persists regardless of educational attainment. In fact, Alaska women with bachelor’s degrees make almost $8,500 less per year than men with associate’s degrees or only some college education.

In May of 2014, the YWCA Alaska Board of Directors resolved to eliminate Alaska’s gender pay gap by 2025. YWCA Alaska’s Gender Pay Gap Initiative concentrates on the economic implications of the gap. Instead of promoting legislation, the initiative focuses on changing the societal, educational and economic dynamics that contribute to the gender pay gap. The YWCA is working directly with businesses, organizations and their leaders to create gender-balanced workplaces. We’re also working to further educate women and girls on career choice, salary negotiation and the subtle nuances of gender bias.

YWCA Alaska believes that by giving businesses the tools to build gender neutral policies and helping prepare women and girls to enter the workforce, the gender pay gap in Alaska can be eliminated. The Initiative is quickly gaining community support and momentum. By working with the statewide community, YWCA Alaska will be able to transform Alaska’s workplaces to not only guarantee equal pay and opportunity for working women, but to also ensure that Alaska businesses are able to find and recruit the talented workers they need to enhance the state’s economic growth.

Expanding opportunities for Alaska artists

Rasmuson Foundation

Jeremy Pataky, owner of Overstory Consulting, manages aspects of the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program. In this guest post, he encourages Alaskan artists to apply to this unique opportunity.

Guest post by Jeremy Pataky

Alaska artist Gretchen Sagan with Ann Filemyr, formerly of IAIA, Sanjit Sethi of Santa Fe Art Institute, and Liz Maugans of Zygote Press. Sagan's residency in Santa Fe was in early 2015. Photo by Nathaniel Wilder.

Alaska artist Gretchen Sagan with Ann Filemyr, formerly of IAIA, Sanjit Sethi of Santa Fe Art Institute, and Liz Maugans of Zygote Press. Sagan’s residency in Santa Fe was in early 2015. Photo by Nathaniel Wilder.

It’s been just two years and counting since the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program launched, and already, its impact has proven strong. Quilt artist Maria Shell worked with communities surrounding the Brightwalk Arts and Ecology Campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Her workshops invited participants to incorporate their personal quilt blocks into a mural-sized quilt that tells their collective story of how rapid re-development in their community affects their lives. Alaskan artist Gretchen Sagan created enough new work for a solo show while in residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, while also learning to frame and stretch her own canvases. North Carolina visual artist Marek Ranis conducted artistic research into the anthropology of climate change throughout Arctic Alaska and built ongoing relationships here that has brought him back again and again since his residency in 2013.

Library funding requires more innovation than ever

Rasmuson Foundation

Kenai Community Library

The State of Alaska’s serious budget deficit will have effects in every corner of our state. Back in the day when Alaska’s financial coffers were flush with oil money (think early 1980s), the state paid for just about everything. Since the disastrous plunge in oil prices of the mid 1980s, most of our local capital projects have been funded through innovation and collaboration. The current outlook for state funding doesn’t mean community needs will disappear. But it does mean project supporters will have to be more creative than ever.

It takes a village might be considered a cliché in some quarters, but it reflects a truth about how many of the best things in our state, in our communities, are built. It’s not one person or one organization or one grant. All of us together make things happen. It’s even more true now.

Where was the oversight?

Rasmuson Foundation

Janet Brown is President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. This post from her blog Better Together is relevant not just for arts organizations, but all nonprofits and those who guide them, support them, and celebrate them.

Guest post by Janet Brown

iStock_000018168566LargeFrom large major institutions to small nonprofits, one of the critical responsibilities of volunteer board members and funders is to assure best practices in fiduciary and organizational management. When a management issue arises that threatens the stability of a nonprofit arts organization, “where was the oversight?” is often the question on everyone’s lips. There are some common misperceptions and unfortunate “group think” that prevent or discourage adequate oversight by board members. Here are a few:

President’s report April 2015

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

Several committee meetings were held to discuss revisions to Title 4, Alaska’s alcohol statutes, before the legislature adjourned. Senate Bill 99 was introduced by Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Kenai), and its companion House Bill 185, was introduced by Rep. Bob Herron (D-Bethel). These revisions are a key strategy of the Recover Alaska initiative, and are characterized as one of the largest, most complicated bills presented to the legislature in many years. It is expected that both bills will be considered during next year’s legislative session.

Tackling underage drinking

Cassandra Stalzer, Communications Director

“But everybody else is doing it.”

It’s rare the parents who haven’t heard that from their resident teenager. But it’s more than just a rite of passage in high school. Young peoples’ perceptions of what their peers are doing play a significant part in how they justify risky behaviors.


According to social norms theory, people’s behavior is strongly influenced by their perceptions of the attitudes and behaviors of their peers. In Alaska, most teens choose not to drink in a typical month. Most Alaska teens think they do.

The Alaska Wellness Coalition (AWC) is kicking off a media campaign today to reduce and prevent underage drinking among youth by providing Alaska teens with information about healthy norms. The campaign is informed by

Thank you Rie Munoz

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

In the entryway to the Elmer Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks is a massive mural painted by Rie. It depicts the missionaries of Alaska and contains the most wonderful representation of young Jenny Olson (later Rasmuson) arriving in Yakutat, Alaska, to begin her missionary work.

munoz mural

Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson with a mural by Rie Munoz. Jenny Rasmuson is depicted in the lower left corner of this painting, which hangs in the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Some years ago, while searching (unsuccessfully) for a flattering photogragh of Jenny for a Foundation project, I remembered that image. (Many of the Rasmuson family’s historic photos were lost in the 1964 earthquake.) I reached Rie through her good friend, artist Diana Tillion, and asked her about the source material for her depiction of Jenny. I believe she said something like, “Are you kidding me? That was 20 years ago. I don’t have a clue.”

A few years later, I had the opportunity to meet Rie in Juneau. She had been selected to be the 2007 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist, the most significant artist award made annually by the Foundation. We hosted a reception for Rie at the Baranof in Juneau, her longtime hometown. I had the honor of standing with her many friends and family to see her recognized as an Alaska original, an Alaska treasure.

Her brilliantly colored paintings of Alaska life are iconic. I especially have always loved the paintings of regular people and their activities in rural Alaska where Rie spent part of her time over the years.

We have lost a wonderful part of Alaska life this week. Happy sailing, Rie Munoz. Thank you for bringing joy into Alaska lives through your unique talent and vision.

George Cannelos says: April 10th, 2015 at 7:06 am
Diane, When I deplaned for the first time in Alaska in 1975 at the Juneau airport, I was greeted by Rie's large mural of Tlingit dancers. A few weeks later I was dispatched over to Tenakee Springs where we held our business meeting in the bath. Rie had just painted her first "Ladies in the Bath at Tenakee", one of my favorites. Then, as I began traveling in rural Alaska, she painted "Ptarmigan Telegraph". Over the years, as I fell in love with the state and its people, Rie's images were always there, somehow proceeding me or following me. I always associate life in village and rural Alaska with her work. Sail on, indeed! George Cannelos . READ MORE
Ira Perman says: April 10th, 2015 at 1:52 am
Thank you for remembering Rie Munoz. I met her a few times over the years and I always smile when I look at her watercolor paintings of life in Alaska as she saw it. By coincidence, I just ran into the photograph above on the state's VILDA website. I found it while searching for information on the Comity Plan - a plan led by Sheldon Jackson in the late 1800's to divide the territory of Alaska into exclusive geographic areas for the mission work by the many denominations of the day. The impact of the Comity Plan and the mission work that followed is evident across Alaska to this day. READ MORE
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Just 38 hours left

Rasmuson Foundation

PCG041 Time is TickingMidday on Friday, Pick.Click.Give. passed the $3 million mark in the amount of charitable donations pledged by Alaskans. This is exciting not just because were 24% higher in revenue than this time last year, but the number of Alaskans participating in the program had grown by 32%.

Alaskans should take pride in the fact that Pick.Click.Give. has one of the highest participation rates of any philanthropy campaign or “giving day” across the country. On an average day, more than six percent of filers are choosing to share a little with a nonprofit organization important to them.

Research shows that Alaska has risen from last place among all the states in charitable giving. The 30,078 individuals that participated in Pick.Click.Give. as of Friday are one big part of that movement.

There are about 38 hours left to file. If you haven’t already, please join those making Alaska a better place through charitable giving.