C3 Program Contacts

North Slope Region

Amanda Dale: (907) 272-5503 | adale@akhf.org

Erica Kahn: ekahn@akhf.org

Lisa Ragland: (907) 272-5332 | lragland@akhf.org

Northwest Arctic Region

2020-21 teachers - Denali Whiting
(907)770-8404 | 

2019-20 teachers - Kirstie Willean
(907) 362-1229 |


Southwest Region
Amanda Dale: (907) 272-5503 | 

Zach Lane: zlane@akhf.org

Alaska's high teacher turnover rate is closely linked to student outcomes.  Since 2012, the Alaska Humanities Forum has successfully addressed this challenge through our Creating Cultural Competence (C3) model.


Newly hired teachers participate alongside local youth, elders, other regional culture bearers, and peers in an orientation, cultural immersion camp, and debrief experience during the summer prior to the start of their school year under the structure of a university-level multicultural studies course.

The Alaska Humanities Forum partners with three Alaska Native corporations and eight school districts across three rural regions to provide a cross-cultural learning experience. Through the program, teachers bridge relationships and make connections that help them to gain a deeper connection to the people, communities, and region where they will be teaching in rural Alaska.

Program Regions and Partners:

North Slope Region
Partners: North Slope Borough School District; Arctic Slope Regional Corporation

Northwest Arctic Region

Partners: Northwest Arctic Borough School District; Maniilaq Association

Southwest Region

Partners: Kuspuk, Lower Kuskokwim, Lower Yukon, St. Mary’s, and Yupiit School Districts; Calista Education and Culture, Inc.

C3 is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Alaska native Education Program.

A 2017 five-year study shows significant impact:

  • Twice as many C3 teachers were retained in LKSD compared to non-C3 teachers; in NWABSD, 1.7 times as many C3 teachers were retained compared to non-C3 teachers.

  • The C3 induction model becomes cost effective by year 2 or 3, depending on the scale of teacher replacement in a district.

  • Increasing cultural competency, as the C3 Project does, increases teachers' grit and growth mindsets.

Cross-Cultural Experience

Orientation, immersion, and debrief to gain knowledge of the region as well as local communication, learning, and teaching styles.

Earn Graduate Credit
Free enrollment for teacher participants in multicultural studies course required for Alaska certification or renewal credits.

Experiential Learning
Cultural immersion experience with local Elders, youth, and community members alongside your peers.

All Expenses Paid

Airfare, meals, accommodations, and course credit are covered by the program.

Program Staff

Lisa Ragland

Education Program Coordinator

I grew up in Madison, WI and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  I first came to Alaska in 1988 for a summer job in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Years later, I’m still here, having found adventure, career, family and friends.  I worked as a field researcher for several federal land management agencies on habitat and endangered species studies.  I was also a commercial set net fisherman in Prince William Sound for twenty years and raised my family in Anchorage.  I enjoy being outside, hiking, skiing, gardening and tending to my flock of chickens. 

Denali Whiting

Education Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Sisualik and Qikiktagruk, Alaska along the Kotzebue Sound, I spent most of my time outside of school at my family’s seasonal camps harvesting and subsisting. I earned my degree in Alaska Native Studies with a minor in American Sign Language from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I currently live and work in Anchorage, with regular visits home to continue subsisting and connecting with my community and Iñupiaq culture. I incorporate the Iñupiaq Values in everything I do, including my work here at the Alaska Humanities Forum.

Kirstie Willean

Education Programs Manager

As a young teacher from Northern California, I landed in the village of Kivalina to begin my rural Alaska teaching experience. I still remember those first greetings on the runway… “Are you the new teacher?”  “Welcome to Kivalina.”  And, so began my love of and connection to students and  communities in rural Alaska.  After 25 years serving Alaska’s students and then coordinating education programs for maximum security inmates, I began assisting new classroom teachers as an Alaska Statewide Mentor.  While mentoring, I participated in the C3 program which lead me to this amazing work.  My heart is connected to this land, its people, and to helping new teachers create connections while growing their own Alaskan stories.

Zach Lane

Education Program Coordinator

My family roots are in Point Hope, Alaska and Cleveland, Ohio.  I lived in Kotzebue, Alaska until I was two and then returned when I was 12. I graduated from military school and attended college at the University of Alaska Anchorage where I earned my BA in Journalism and Public Communications with a Minor in Alaska Native Studies. I was drawn to the indigenous community at UAA - it was a tight community that focused on indigenous students bettering themselves through education. The similar work done at the Alaska Humanities Forum is what attracted me to work here.

Erica Kahn

Education Cultural Specialist

Uvlullautaq - Good day! I come from Utqiaġvik on the Arctic Slope of Alaska. I received my associates degree from Ilisaġvik and a bachelors degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of Hawai’i, where my studies focused on cultural identity, sovereignty and decolonization. The following year, I returned home after graduation and my brother harpooned his first whale. I come from a big whaling family, and with that comes respect to all things, recognizing responsibility and valuing traditions. 

Amanda Dale

Education Programs Manager

I was born and raised in Anchorage. I have a bachelors degree in Mass Communication from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon and a masters degree in Lifelong Learning from Aarhus University in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was while living and working abroad for a decade that I started to realize the power of listening to understand and asking meaningful questions.