Movers and Shakers for Aug. 22
Anchorage Bariatrics hired Dr. Maryna Chumakova-Orin. Orin joins Anchorage Bariatrics from the Duke University Medical Center, where she was a fellow in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery for one of the strongest fellowship programs in the world. She will be Alaska’s first female bariatric surgeon. Originally from Belarus, Orin completed her medical school training at Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University, earning a medical doctorate degree. She was worked at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic Foundation for her general surgery training, where her passion for bariatric surgery only grew stronger as she worked with some of the leaders in the field.
Dr. Pearl Brower will lead the development and implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies at the University of Alaska. Brower will be senior advisor for Alaska Native Success, Institutional Diversity and Student Engagement, and will report directly to the president. She has been tasked with coordinating recommendations developed through the Alaska Native Success Initiative and to foster partnerships between the UA system and the Alaska Federation of Natives, the 13 regional Native corporations and their foundation partners. Brower will be available to advise the president, chancellors and other university system leaders on these critical issues including engaging with the Alaska Native Studies Council, UA for Racial Justice, and other university affiliated groups to develop strategies for progress. Brower holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous studies with an emphasis on Indigenous leadership and has 13 years in higher education leadership, most recently as president of Alaska’s only Tribal College, Ilisagvik College. Prior to her tenure as president, Brower served as Ilisagvik’s Dean of Students and Institutional Development; Director of External Relations &Development; and, Special Assistant of External Affairs and Marketing for Ilisagvik. She also managed the college’s Foundation and was responsible for facilities planning capital campaign and facilities activities.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced new staff members to both her Washington, D.C. and Anchorage offices. Joining Murkowski’s D.C. office are: Kate Williams Sterne; Aaron Thiele; Chris Griffin; Jamie O’Connor; Maya Becker; Abigail Hemenway; and Brian Dusek. Williams Sterne returns to the office as deputy chief of staff and legal counsel. She graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a juris doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. She previously served as Legislative director for Sen. Ted Stevens, oil and gas counsel for the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Murkowski, and counsel for Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn. Kate has also served in a number of roles in Alaska including as an associate attorney, Legal and Regulatory Affairs Manager for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, business manager for a leading commercial construction company, and most recently assistant attorney general for the State of Alaska. Thiele joined the office in January as a legislative assistant handling Energy and Natural Resource issues. He previously served as a senior advisor in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of the Interior, where he worked on issues pertaining to United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Prior to joining the Department of Interior, Thiele previously worked in the House of Representatives and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. Griffin joins the office as a legislative aide assisting with a portfolio of energy issues, including the Department of Energy, renewable energy, climate change, energy efficiency, and nuclear energy. Griffin previously served as a member of her U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff, where he was also a legislative aide working on public lands and natural resource issues. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University. O’Connor joined the office several months ago as a legislative assistant for fisheries, oceans, and sciences. O’Connor has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public communication from the University of Alaska Anchorage. O’Connor previously served in the office of Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2015-16 as senior staff assistant and internship coordinator. O’Connor previously served as the Working Waterfronts Director for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council in Homer as well as serving on the Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Becker joined the office as the 2021 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego, both in earth sciences. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Oceanography, and her dissertation research is centered on ice–ocean interactions on Antarctica’s largest floating ice shelves. Hemenway recently joined the office as a legislative correspondent. Previously, she served as a staff assistant for the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Miami. Dusek joined the office as deputy press secretary. He graduated from Colorado State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. Dusek previously was an intern for the CBS News communications team, an intern in Sen. Sullivan’s office in the summer of 2019, and an intern in Murkowski’s office in 2017.
Joining Murkowski’s Anchorage office are: Cordelia Kellie; Hannah Ray; Leann Sommer; and Hannah McCue. Kellie joined the office as special assistant for Rural Affairs. Her career has included communications and external affairs, Tribal education, rural community development, legislative affairs on the state and federal levels, language and cultural instruction, and building regional and statewide rural and Alaska Native relationships through grassroots community organizing. She received her bachelor’s degree in English language and rhetoric and a minor in communications from UAA. She is a 2021 NANA Richard A. Baenen Award winner for outstanding service to the Northwest Arctic. For her work in language revitalization and community building, she has also received the 2020 AFN Eileen Panigeo Maclean President’s Award for Education and was 2020 Olgoonik Corporation Shareholder of the Year. Ray is relocating to the Anchorage office after being promoted to deputy Communications director. She has served in Murkowski’s D.C. office as press secretary since 2017. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in communication and public relations from the University of Central Arkansas Honor College. Prior to working in Murkowski’s office, Ray served as the Community Events manager for the American Cancer Society in Anchorage. Sommer joined the office as the Alaska state scheduler. Sommer holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration: tourism and hospitality management from Fort Lewis College. Most recently Sommer was the director of Sales at the Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown and received two awards during her time there: The 2020 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Native American 40 Under 40 and the Alaska Hotel and Lodging Association 2019 Sales Manager of the Year. McCue joined the office as a staff assistant. McCue recently graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, specializing in conservation, resources and sustainability with a minor in chemistry. McCue previously interned in Murkowski’s Anchorage office in 2020 and the D.C. office in 2017.
Penny Gage is the Tech Deployment Track lead at Launch Alaska, heading up Launch Alaska’s flagship program to help companies from across the world focused in food, water, energy, and transportation deploy their technologies in Alaska. Gage brings a diverse background in economic development, entrepreneur support and training, federal and state government, the nonprofit sector, energy policy and international affairs.