Who We Are

  • 2019 Summer Staff
  • Project Staff
  • 2018 Summer Staff
  • Board of Advisors
  • Collaborators

2019 Summer Staff Team

  • Jenell Paris, Faculty is Professor of Anthropology at Messiah College. She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University, with a focus on African American urban life. She teaches at Messiah College, a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, in areas including research methods, gender studies, and cultural anthropology. She comes to Outer Coast with her partner James and their three children, Oliver, Wesley, and Max.
  • Lance Twitchell, Faculty carries the Tlingit names X̱’unei and Du Aaní Kawdinook, and the Haida name Ḵ’eijáakw. He lives in Juneau with his wife and bilingual children, and is from the Tlingit, Haida, and Yupʼik native nations. He speaks & studies the Tlingit language, and advocates for indigenous language revitalization. He is an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast, has a Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language Revitalization from Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and also is a Northwest Coast Artist, musician, and filmmaker.
  • Sol Neely, Faculty is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation living in the Raven Bioregion of the Pacific Northwest and the traditional homeland of the Tlingit (Lingít Aaní). In 2009, he earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University’s Philosophy & Literature program, where he wrote his dissertation on practices of restorative and critical pedagogy. As an Associate Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Alaska Southeast, he teaches courses in cultural studies, literary and critical theory, philosophy, and Critical Indigenous Studies in an interdisciplinary context. He has published in a variety of journals and books on a wide range of topics. Most recently, he is serving as guest editor for the journal Screen Bodies, developing a special issue on the topic “Screening Indigenous Bodies.” He is also working on a book-length manuscript that develops an Indigenous phenomenology as shaped by Indigenous cosmopolitan histories and oral literary traditions. In Fall 2012, Dr. Neely started a prison education program called The Flying University, which brings university students inside the local prison for mutual and collaborative study. This program very quickly became a reentry effort, helping formerly incarcerated students reenter community through educational opportunities. For Fall 2019, Dr. Neely will be on sabbatical, during which time he will research and write at Western Carolina University’s Cherokee Studies Program before traveling the northern route of the Trail of Tears to Tahlequah, Oklahoma for Cherokee National Holiday.
  • Claire Helgeson, Lead Residential Teaching Assistant is returning to the Outer Coast team again this summer after serving as an RTA for the inaugural Summer Seminar last year. Claire will be leading a team of four this summer, supporting students in their academics, self-governance, and residential life. Claire grew up in Seattle, Washington and moved north to Juneau to pursue an undergraduate degree at University of Alaska Southeast in Alaska Native Studies and Languages, with a visual arts emphasis. She has one more semester left at UAS and walked in graduation a few weeks ago.
  • Anastasia Ciuguun Pleasant, Residential Teaching Assistant is Yup'ik and Inupiaq from Bethel, Alaska. Anastasia has a background in working with children and diverse cultures around Alaska in non-profit sectors and corporate branches. As a student at UAS she interned at the legislative office with Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky. Outside of the classroom and her professional life she enjoys spending time with family, outdoors, and new experiences.
  • Brian Conwell, Residential Teaching Assistant is from Dutch Harbor, a small fishing town in the Aleutians, and is finishing up his first year at Harvard College. He hasn’t declared his major yet but is leaning towards History and Literature. Outside of academics, he enjoys studying small claims law and using it in a volunteer setting with the Small Claims Advisory Service (SCAS), planning events with Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association (HAPA), cleaning dorms through his part-time job at Harvard Dorm Crew, playing pickup games of basketball, and volunteering through the Alternative Spring Break program.
  • Brian Doniger, Residential Teaching Assistant grew up in Denver, Colorado camping, hiking, biking, and making music. He has played saxophone for most of his life and especially loves jamming out to jazz, funk, and rock music. As an undergraduate, Bryan studied English at Amherst College, and in the fall he will begin a graduate program in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research.
  • Aaní Perkins, Teaching Assistant (or Aanyaanáx̱ tláa) lives in Sitka and just graduated from Sitka High. She’s studied Lingít for the past 5 years and will be leaving Sitka for college in the fall, most likely to pursue a degree in Native American Studies with some combination of either quantitative social science or mathematics. Aaní will be serving as part-time Teaching Assistant in the Tlingit Language and Indigenous Studies course.
  • Joe Weyhmiller, Teaching Assistant grew up in Craig, Alaska and recently graduated from Boise State University with a B.A in History Secondary Education. He has taken up a variety of roles within schools, including working as a social studies teacher at Initial Point High School in Kuna, Idaho. Joe joined the project staff as a 2018-19 Alaska Fellow based in Sitka.
  • Lakrisha Johnson, Chookán, Teaching Assistant is Sitka Tribe of Alaska's Education Manager. She was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska. She was adopted Chookaneidí, and is child of the Kiks.ádi. She graduated the Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) in 2010, and has been working as an instructor since 2008. In this position, Lakrisha works with 6th through 12th grade students after school, teaching Tlingit songs, dances, and language. For the last three years, she has been working with the Tlingit language along side Kassy Eubank-Littlefiled with elders Daasdiyaa (Ethel Makinen), Gooch Tlaa (Anne Johnson), and L'eiw Tu Éesh (Herman Davis), as a part of the Sealaska Heritage Institute Haa Shuká master/apprentice program. Her goal is to learn as much of the language as she can so she can confidently grow her curriculum and pass along the knowledge to future generations.
  • Jessica Twydell, Service Lead is the Outer Coast Service Coordinator lead. Jessica teaches at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka and holds a Masters degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. In her free time, Jessica can be found in the mountains hiking, volunteering as an EMT with the Sitka Fire Department, or traveling abroad. This summer, she is organizing and overseeing the service pillar of the Summer Seminar.
  • Peter Vu, Service Coordinator grew up in Austin, Texas, a busy hub of music goers, tech workers, and hipsters, among others. He attended college in San Marcos with a focus in Urban and Regional Planning. Peter landed in Sitka shortly after graduation, where he’s been for the past three years. He has spent that time working in schools and currently works at Mt. Edgecumbe High. His new favorite hobby is playing in the ocean, whether it’s swimming, snorkeling, surfing, or just polar plunging.
  • Simon Gorbaty, Service Coordinator grew up in Tacoma, Washington, where he attend high school at the Tacoma School of the Arts. He attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, earning his undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts and his graduate degree in Public Administration. While living in Olympia, Simon co-founded the New Moon Cooperative Cafe, a collectively owned and managed business. In 2015, he moved up to Anchorage and worked as a community organizer before going into the field of the education. He has lived in Sitka for the last few of years, working as the English teacher at Pacific High School.