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.
Former President, University of Alaska System
Jim Johnsen was appointed to serve as the 14th president of the University of Alaska on July 28, 2015. His experience includes service as an executive with Alaska Communications and with Doyon, Limited. Johnsen also served the University of Alaska between 1996-2008, in several executive roles including vice president of administration and chief of staff. Johnsen is passionate about higher education and economic opportunity, having served as chair of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, vice chair of the Alaska Student Loan Corporation, vice chair of the University of Alaska Foundation, commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, member of the Alaska State Committee on Research, and member of the Board of Directors of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. As UA president, he serves as a commissioner on the Denali Commission, is a member of the Alaska Aerospace Corporation board, the UA Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. His education includes a B.A. in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a master’s 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.
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