AFN 2016 President’s Award Honorees

FAIRBANKS, AK – Every year AFN honors those who have made outstanding contributions to their families and the Native community. Please read on for a list of this year’s AFN President’s Awards honorees (scroll to the bottom of the page for brief overviews of each award and 2016 recipient):


Dr. David Baines – Anchorage, Alaska

Dr. David Baines was raised in Metlakatla and is a member of the Tlingit and Tsimshian Tribes. Now in his 33rd year of practice, he is a family medicine doctor in Anchorage and is affiliated with Providence Alaska Medical Center. Over the course of his accomplished career, Dr. Baines has worked in family practice for the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Northern Idaho, the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, a community health center for American Indians and Alaska Natives in Seattle, and the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services center in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. He has seen well over 500,000 patients and delivered more than 1,000 babies. He also served as a faculty member at the Alaska Family Medicine Residency and as a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington.

Dr. Baines has been recognized for his efforts to incorporate traditional medicine into modern healthcare and to promote health and wellness among American Indians and Alaska Natives on both a local and national level.

Other Nominees
Aquilina Active, Nanwalek | Bernice Aviuk Kaigelak, Nuiqsut | Anne Marie Narog, Kodiak | Marlene Smith, Kotzebue

Roger Lang Youth Leadership

Anthony Lekanof – Anchorage, Alaska

Anthony Lekanof was born in Anchorage and raised in St. George Island. His parents are Phillip and Desiree’ Lekanof and his grandparents are Stefanida Lekanof and Anthony “Bone” Lekanof. Anthony attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School and is currently a student at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where he is pursuing his goal of becoming a commercial airline pilot. His dream is to start his own flying business to serve his native Alaska.

Anthony has a deep passion for politics, leadership, and public service. He has worked as an intern for the U.S. Senate under Alaska’s Senior Senator, Lisa Murkowski, and has served on the Board of the Alaska Association of Student Governments as a Region V Representative.

Always ambitious, Anthony announced his run for his village corporation board of directors at the age of 19, and he currently serves as a Director of the St. George Tanaq Corporation, where he participates in strategic planning, government services, and other activities.

Other Nominees
Devlin Anderstrom, Yakutat | Dehrich Schmidt-Chya, Hilo, HI
Joshua Gumlickpuk, Dillingham | Timmothy Ferreira, Point Lay
Nicholas Hanson, Unalakleet | Parker Pickett, Anchorage

Hannah Paul Solomon “Woman of Courage”

Shirley Lee – Fairbanks, Alaska

Shirley Lee is originally from Evansville and is the daughter of Helen and Russell McConnell. She has four sisters: Marilyn Callahan, Donna Cofield, Sharon McConnell, and the late Doris Bailey. She has been married to Gary Lee for 36 years and together they have six children and ten grandchildren. Shirley often says, “We are all servants and should always serve others,” and she leads by example in her efforts to support her community and the people most in need.

Shirley is one of only a few ordained Native women priests of the Episcopal Church. Her primary ministry has been devoted to working with Alaska Native male inmates. Together with her husband, she travels to various prisons throughout Alaska and out of state to visit, mentor, and guide them, including supporting their reentry into society. Shirley has been deeply involved in the movement to free the Fairbanks Four. She also works with families and law enforcement to hold an annual gathering of remembrance for victims of unsolved homicides and raises awareness of unsolved cases.

Shirley has shown her strong commitment and compassion for helping the Alaska Native people and making our communities healthier and safer places to live.

Other Nominees
Elizabeth Fleagle, Fairbanks | Norma Ballot, Selawik | Elizabeth Kudrin, Anchorage | Lillian Nageak, Barrow | Vicki Soboleff, Juneau | Leah Gallahorn, Anchorage

Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service

Berdell Akootchook – Suffolk, Virginia

Berdell Akootchook was raised in Kaktovik, Alaska. He is married to Katrina Danielle Brown. He has a daughter, Kya Ahlers. Berdell is the son of Bert Akootchook and Rita Fischer-Akootchook. He has three brothers and one sister: Bobgerard, Roy Robert, Ray, and Riannon.

Petty Officer First Class Berdell Akootchook reenlisted in the U.S. Navy in the spring of 2016 and is currently deployed. He has served in the U.S. Armed Forces for over 12 years.

Over the course of his military service, Berdell has earned a host of commendations, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 2 Gold Stars; Navy Unit Commendation; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation; Navy “E” Ribbon; Navy Good Conduct Medal with 3 Gold Stars; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star; Navy Arctic Service Ribbon; Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star; Rifle Marksmanship Medal; Pistol Marksmanship Medal; Submarine Warfare Device; and the Information Warfare Device.

Other Nominees
Walter Sampson, Kotzebue | Walter Hotch-Hill, Wasilla | Sherman Thomas, Northway | Elizabeth Kudrin, Anchorage | Gregory Golodoff, Atka

Eileen Panigeo Maclean Education

Tiffany Jackson – Sand Point, Alaska

Tiffany Jackson was born and raised in Sand Point, Alaska and is a member of the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe. Her parents are Dick and Edith Jacobsen, and she is married to Charles Jackson. She and Charles have three children: Wolf (16), Hawk (10), and Willow (4). Tiffany studied at Stanford University and American Sentinel University.

Tiffany is a strong, effective leader and advocate for children and public education across the local, state, and national levels. She currently serves as the President of the Aleutians East Borough School Board; the President of the Association of Alaska School Boards; and the Pacific Region Director for the National School Board Association. In April 2016, she was the first Alaska Native/Native American elected to the NSBA Board of Directors in its 75 year history.

In her many leadership positions, Tiffany has provided a powerful voice for Alaska Native students. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe. Among her many accomplishments in this role, she has worked to grow the Tribe’s business to provide greater scholarship support, training, and employment opportunities for Tribal students.

Other Nominees

Shgen Doo Taan George, Juneau | Andrea Durny, Fairbanks | Pearl Kiyawn Brower, Barrow | Maria Shaa Tlaa Williams, Anchorage | Dr. Walkie Charles, Fairbanks | Lorena Hegdal, Fairbanks

Small Business

Floyd Leroy Green, III – Rampart, Alaska

Floyd Leroy Green, III is the son of Douglas Green, Sr. and Patty Wiehl. His grandparents are the late Floyd Green, II and late Betty Walker of Galena, and the late Henry Wiehl, Sr. and Elizabeth Wiehl of Rampart. Floyd was raised in Fairbanks and spent his summers and free time in Rampart. Ambitious and eager to pursue his goals, Floyd graduated early from high school at the age of 16 and soon began his career. In 2012, he moved to Rampart to care for his grandparents and provide service to the community. In 2013, at the age 21, he was hired as their tribal administrator and elected First Chief.

As First Chief, Floyd has helped grow the community of Rampart from 8 to over 40 residents; the school has been remodeled and re-opened after being closed for 15 years; a new home was built; a permanent health aide was hired after 15 years; and 8 other employees were hired. Floyd and his team members developed Rampart’s first five-year community plan, which has fostered many new infrastructure developments for the community. Floyd has also overseen the establishment of Rampart’s housing authority, a tribal transportation safety plan, and the restoration of other social service programs to benefit the community.

Other Nominees
Bob & Betty Allen, Sitka | James & Mary Jane Vanderpool, McGrath

Elizabeth Hollingsworth, Atqasuk | Bruce & Ann Davis, Nome

Builder’s Industrial Supply, Inc., Nome

Katie John Hunter Fisher

Louis Vlasoff – Tatitlek, Alaska

Louis “Louie” Vlasoff is the son of Rosalene and Fred Vlasoff. He was raised in the traditional Native village of Tatitlek, a small community located on the northeast coast of Prince William Sound in the Chugach region. Louie attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka and returned to his home village of Tatitlek to engage in the traditional Native subsistence way of life. For Louie, Native subsistence is not only about hunting, fishing, and gathering local resources; it is a customary way to support his community, maintain Native traditions, share subsistence resources, and pass on the local traditional knowledge from one generation to the next.

Louie is among the Chugach Native men and women who have stepped forward and helped his community and the Chugach region weather catastrophic natural and man-made destruction and begin the process of recovery and restoration. Whether helping Natives reconnect to their traditions, bringing fish and game to elders and families in need, providing subsistence platters for the Peksulineq auction, or showing youth how to process game, Louie shares what he knows with everyone who is willing to learn.

Other Nominees
Ivan Williams, Angoon | Carl Jensen, Pedro Bay | Nora Itta, Point Lay | Mike Williams Sr., Akiak | Tom & Beejay Gray, Nome

This year’s AFN Convention is taking place from Thursday, October 20th through Saturday, October 22nd at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. More event details and a LIVE webcast of the event are available at:

Join us on social media @NativeFed with hashtags #2016AFN and #AFN50.

For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact Ben Mallott: 907-321-3217 or


Health Award
The Health Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the health fields, and whose accomplishments have improved health care for Alaska Natives.

Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award
The Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award recognizes a young man of high school or college age who demonstrates leadership qualities and expand their horizons to challenge themselves to become future leaders.

Hannah Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award
The Hannah Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award is given to an Alaska Native woman who demonstrates through her life and work the strengths of our culture and values, and exhibits tremendous courage.

Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award
The Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence and sensitivity as a tribal healer or health care provider and whose accomplishments have most directly affected Native people in their home communities.

Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award
The Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated a strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the education field, and whose accomplishments have improved educational opportunities for Alaska Natives.

Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award
The Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award recognizes an Alaska Native who demonstrates a strong commitment and willingness to serve in the US armed forces in the defense of the Unites States of America.

Small Business Award
The Small Business award recognizes an Alaska Native business owner or manager who has demonstrated success in business with a commitment with their community, which has improved economic opportunities for Alaska Natives.

Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award
The Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award recognizes an Alaska Native who exemplifies and preserves the spirit of successful subsistence hunting, trapping and sharing, and our way of life. Nominees must acknowledge and ensure that the next generation of providers will carry on the traditions and customs in harmony and peace to sustain their extended families.