Partnering with WICHE since 1955
WICHE Commission Chair, President/CEO, The CIRI Foundation
Susan Anderson, president and CEO of The CIRI Foundation and a WICHE commissioner representing the state of Alaska, was elected vice chair of the WICHE Commission in November 2019. Anderson has worked for The CIRI Foundation since October 1999 and has been its president/CEO since April 2000. The foundation’s mission is to promote individual self-development and economic self-sufficiency through education and to maintain pride in culture and heritage among Alaska Natives in the Cook Inlet region and their descendants. Its staff manages postsecondary scholarships and grants, research and other education projects. Anderson has advanced the work of the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force: Alaska’s Early Childhood Investment and served as the chair of Best Beginnings Early Learning Council which was formed to implement the task force recommendations. She also serves on the board of Alaska Children’s Trust. Prior to joining the foundation, she was manager of the continuing education programs for SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering, a not-for-profit scientific organization. Anderson also consulted with National Alliance for Photonics Education in Manufacturing partners around the United States to facilitate communication and effective implementation of programs among universities, technical institutes and industry members. She received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s in adult education administration from Western Washington University.
Senior Fellow, National Association of System Heads
Jim Johnsen is the Senior Fellow for the National Association of System Heads. His passion for the value of higher education in economic development, civic engagement, and social mobility spans a career in higher education, government, and private industry.
His most recent leadership role was President of the University of Alaska System (UA) from 2015-2020, where he led the system through an historically challenging period marked by severe cuts in state funding, declining enrollment, and the COVID-19 pandemic. His accomplishments include leading UA’s response to a federal Title IX review, increasing consolidation and coordination of academic and administrative units, implementing pay equity and market salary adjustments for faculty and staff, proposing federal legislation to remedy UA’s historic land grant deficit, advocating public support for higher education, supporting numerous initiatives to drive student success, negotiating a resolution to major budget cuts with the governor, creating a long term vision for UA’s future as of 2040 and goals for 2025, and leading UA’s first ever statewide philanthropic campaign.
Jim’s education includes a BA in politics from the University of California Santa Cruz, an AM in political science from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Commissioner, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education
Donn Liston is a retired Alaska teacher and an experienced journalist. Mr. Liston worked for the Anchorage Daily News as a Staff Writer and photographer during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Over the course of his career, he has taught in Juneau, Haines and Anchorage. He lived in Yakutat during part of his youth. He worked as an aide to two Alaska Legislators, once during the 1983 legislative session and again in 2018. Mr. Liston has resided in Alaska since 1962 and is married to Waneta Borden Liston. He taught Adult Basic Education in Mt. View and Wasilla over 9 years. Today, he is a professional Alaskan writer and storyteller and enjoys being a creative voice for other Alaskans.
Mr. Liston has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Alaska Southeast. Between 2003 and 2019 he held an Alaska Type A Teaching Certificate. In addition, Mr. Liston was the recipient of BP Alaska’s 2013 Teacher of Excellence award.