Board of Directors

An experienced group of Unangax̂ leaders and educators make up The Aleut Foundation’s Board of Directors. They provide guidance and support for our mission.

(Click a name to the left to view their biography.)

Chair

Director Kathy (Dushkin) Griesbaum is originally from Nikolski, Alaska. Kathy graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe and attended the University of Anchorage and Fairbanks. Kathy has three sons and currently works as program coordinator for Southcentral Foundation in the Maternal Child Health Department. She worked for The Aleut Corporation for six years as executive secretary and later as Director of Shareholder Affairs. She was a small business owner in Anchorage for five years.

Vice Chair

Colleen Dushkin lives in Anchorage with her husband and two children. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Association of Alaska Housing Authorities, a 501(c)3 membership organization that provides advocacy and education for state and national policy issues, and training and technical assistance to increase capacity of Tribes and Housing Authorities across the state and Hawaii. Colleen was elected to The Aleut Corporation Board of Directors in 2018.

Secretary/Treasurer

Mary is from Spokane, Washington and currently lives in Eire, Colorado. Mary has her Master’s in Education Equity and Cultural Diversity from CU Boulder. She started her career at CU Boulder working for the McNeill Academic Program as a graduate assistant and currently as is an Academic Advisor for the Leeds School of Business. Previously, Mary worked with Native American youth in Southwest Colorado creating programs that focused in leadership and career development.

Director

Director Jessica Borenin is originally from Akutan, Alaska. Jessica has been on The Aleut Foundation Board of Directors since 2007. She has worked at the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc. since 2002 and is currently the administrative assistant for the Administration Department. Jessica supports TAF’s mission and encourages further education and cultural preservation of our people.

Director

Crystal Kdam Idigaa Dushkin is from Atka, Alaska, the daughter of Michael E. Swetzof of St. George Island and Unalaska, and Sally Swetzof of Atka. She is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a B.A. in Anthropology. Crystal lives in Atka with her husband William J. Dushkin and their three children, where she serves as the Mayor for the City of Atka, as the Behavioral Health Aide & Community Wellness Advocate for the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc, and the Director of Cultural Affairs with the Native Village of Atka (Tribe). Through her position with APIA and with the local Tribe, she teaches Unangam Tunuu (Aleut language) in the school and works with a regional language team on the Unangam Tunuu Revitalization Project. Through her position with the Tribe, she has also overseen and coordinated the development of an annual summer Culture Camp held in Atka, Niigugim Tanasxaa, that also welcomes youth and adults from other villages in the region. In addition to The Aleut Foundation, Crystal serves on the Atka City Council, Atka IRA Tribal Council, Chair of the Atxam Corporation Board of Directors, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Restitution Trust, and is the Atka Delegate for the Alaska Native Industries Co-operative Association. She has also served on the Aleutian Region School Board. Crystal is a strong advocate for education and the perpetuation of Unangax language and culture.

Director

Andrew Guenther is originally from and is currently based in the Spokane, WA area. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing from Eastern Washington University. Andrew has spent most of his career focused on business-to-business technology sales and is currently employed as an Account Executive at InflowCX. He is passionate about supporting TAF’s overall mission of enhancing the lives and culture of the Aleut people.

Director

Dr. Michele Yatchmeneff is a Unangax̂ woman who grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle in the rural villages of King Cove and False Pass, along Alaska’s Aleutian chain. She has worked at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 2007, as faculty since 2015, and was promoted to Associate Professor of Engineering in 2021. She has committed her career to improving Alaska Native success and was hired to serve on UAA’s Chancellor’s cabinet in an inaugural position as Executive Director for Alaska Native Education & Outreach in October 2021.

Michele was an Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP), Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), The Aleut Foundation (TAF), and Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA) Scholar at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she earned a BS in Civil Engineering in 2005 and an MS in Engineering Management in 2009. After earning her BS, she began working in Alaska’s construction and engineering industry, specializing in water and sewer projects in remote villages across the state. She also served as ANSEP Deputy Director from 2007 to 2012. Professor Yatchmeneff went on to her PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University, focusing on the motivation and success of pre-college Alaska Native STEM students. Her current research expands that doctoral work to focus on belongingness, Alaska Native education, preparation, and retention. In 2018, Michele received the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, honoring her work on “Alaska Native Belonging in High School Math and Science Classrooms.” This award was the first and only NSF CAREER award granted at UAA. Professor Yatchmeneff recently was rewarded for her work in Indigenous leadership by receiving the national College Board Dr. Henrietta Mann Leadership Award.

Michele has made valuable contributions to the development of both pre-college and undergraduate courses to foster critical thinking, engineering identity growth, and an understanding of real-life engineering projects. Michele is inspiring a new generation of underrepresented students to succeed in college and the engineering profession. She is the only Alaska Native in the world with a PhD in Engineering Education, but she does not want to be the last!

Staff

The Aleut Foundation operates out of an office in Anchorage, Alaska. Our four-person staff is dedicated to helping Aleut students succeed.

(Click a name to the left to view their biography.)

Executive Director

Kyla Morris’ family is originally from St. Paul Island, AK. She is an alumnus of The Aleut Foundation and graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with an emphasis in public relations. She obtained her master’s degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University. Kyla is co-chair of the ANCSA Education Consortium and is passionate about creating cultural and educational opportunities for Alaska Native people. She joined The Aleut Foundation as Executive Director in October 2023.

She has experience in the Alaska Native non-profit sector, private foundations, scholarship and grant programs and grantmaking. She lives in Anchorage, AK with her husband Mike.

Program Coordinator

Naomi Philemonof is from St. George Island, Alaska and was raised by her grandparents Deacon Andronik and Matuska Elekonida Kashevarof. She worked in many positions within her community and found a passion to go back to school while working at her last job. In 2015 she attended AVTEC and earned her administrative certificate. Naomi has been working for The Aleut Foundation as our Program Coordinator since 2016.  She lives in Anchorage with her family and their dog Marley.

Program Coordinator Assistant

Delanie was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and her mom’s side of the family is from Sand Point. She has had the opportunity to spend a few summers there and even got to commercial fish with her grandfather for a season. Delanie is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a B.B.A. in Business Management. Taking Alaska Native studies classes helped her to find a passion for helping others and creating meaningful connections in her community.

Office/Finance Coordinator

Martin is from Nelson Lagoon and Sand Point, Alaska. He is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a B.B.A. in Accounting. He has interned with APICDA and The Aleut Corporation, and previously worked for Southcentral Foundation. As a scholarship recipient of The Aleut Foundation, Martin is dedicated to ensuring all of TAF’s programs run smoothly.