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AFN keynote speakers to offer strong leadership

June 9th | Carey Restino Print this article   Email this article  

Alaska Federation of Natives preparing for

upcoming 2017 AFN Convention in Anchorage

By Carey Restino

The Arctic Sounder

It may be summer, but the Alaska Federation of Natives is thinking about this fall and the upcoming 2017 AFN Convention in Anchorage.

This year's keynote address will be given by two speakers, who will co-deliver the address to the 4,000 or so delegates and attendees of the convention, which will be held Oct. 19-21 this year.

Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Don of the Alaska Army National Guard and Sergeant Jody Potts, Public Safety Director for Tanana Chiefs Conference will present the keynote speech.

"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 our people."

Both speakers hail from rural communities. Don grew up on Nunivak Island before moving to Fairbanks to attend college. He went on to travel the world as a soldier, then earned his master's degree in business, joining the Alaska Army National Guard in 2005. In April of this year, he was selected to be promoted to colonel, a promotion that comes before the senate for confirmation later this year.

Don has served in numerous leadership positions throughout Alaska, including serving as the chairman of his village corporation. He has also received many honors and awards, including the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a position with which he traveled to five European countries and met with political, academic and business leaders. He has also been appointed to the Museum of the American Indian advisory committee to help develop a Native American veterans monument on the grounds of the museum.

Potts, a village public safety officer and director of public safety for the Tanna Chiefs Conference, is Han Gwich'in and comes from the Native Village of Eagle. She serves on the governor's tribal advisory council and is a board member of Native Movement. She studied indigenous studies and environmental management at Northern Arizona University and graduated with a bachelor of science degree and has held the title of Miss National Congress of American Indians as well as Doyon Youth Shareholder of the Year in the late '90s.

In addition, however, she is an ironman triathlete who has competed around the country, and when she's not running, swimming and biking, she's driving a dog team.

The theme of this year's convention is "Strength in Unity: Leadership, partnerships, social justice, which planners say underlines the importance of a statewide unified approach to the many shared challenges and opportunities the Native community is facing this year.


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