AFN Announces Keynote Speakers for 2017 Convention

The Alaska Federation of Natives is pleased to announce the selection of keynote speakers for its 2017 Convention, October 19-21, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Don of the Alaska Army National Guard and Sergeant Jody Potts, Public Safety Director for Tanana Chiefs Conference, will co-deliver the keynote address to the approximately 4,000 delegates and other attendees at the convention, which is the largest representative gathering of Native peoples in the United States.

“We are honored that these two distinguished Alaskan leaders will speak at our convention,” said AFN President Julie Kitka. “Along with the theme, the keynote address really sets the tone for what the statewide Native community is striving to do on behalf of our people.”

Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Don, Alaska Army National Guard

Wayne grew up on Nunivak Island and attended college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was a part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Graduating from college with a degree and an officer’s commission in the U.S. Army he traveled the world as a soldier. Wayne earned a master’s degree in business and joined the Alaska Army National Guard in 2005. In late 2013, he was promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel. In April 2017 he was selected by the Department of the Army for promotion to Colonel. He will be promoted to Colonel once his promotion list is confirmed by the senate later this year.

Wayne has been recognized for his leadership skills numerous times, being named a “Top 40 Under 40,” for the national center for American Indian Enterprise development and Alaska Journal of Commerce, serving as the chairman of his village corporation and achievements in the military. In 2011 Wayne was selected by the German Marshall Fund of the United States for the Marshall Memorial Fellowship. As a recognized leader Wayne and a select group of leaders from around the United States traveled to five European countries to meet with political leaders, academics, journalists, artists and business leaders from around the world. In 2016 Wayne was elected to the Calista Corporation board of directors. In 2017 he was appointed by the Museum of the American Indian to a national advisory committee to help develop a Native American veterans monument on the grounds of the museum.

Sergeant Jody Potts, Village Public Safety Officer and Director of Public Safety, Tanana Chiefs Conference

Jody is Han Gwich’in from the Native Village of Eagle. A Doyon, Limited shareholder, she serves on the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council and is a board member of Native Movement. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Indigenous Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Management. In 1998 she was crowned Miss National Congress of American Indians.  She was named the Doyon Youth Shareholder of the Year in 1999.

Jody is also an Ironman triathlete who has competed in triathlons around the country.  She has been a dog musher and world traveler.  She enjoys hunts with her children, doing beadwork and skin sewing, Indian dancing, canoeing, running and swimming.  Jody believes in maintaining a balance of her traditional culture and our modern world.

The 2017 Convention theme, “Strength In Unity: Leadership—Partnerships—Social Justice,” underlines the importance of a statewide unified approach to the many shared challenges and opportunities the Native community is facing this year.  The three supporting concepts of leadership, partnerships and social justice reflect areas of emphasis for AFN both in the convention’s agenda and in the statewide Native organization’s priorities.

The AFN Convention is the largest meeting of its kind in Alaska and serves as AFN’s annual business meeting. Delegates are elected on a population formula of one representative per twenty-five Native residents in the area and delegate participation rates at the annual convention typically exceed 95 percent. Policy guidelines and advocacy statements are set by the dozens of resolutions passed by voting delegates at the Convention. Each year, the AFN Convention draws between 4,000–5,000 attendees. The proceedings are broadcast live statewide via television and radio and webcast to 70 countries worldwide.