Who We Are

 

The mission of Alaska Arts Southeast Inc., better known as the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, is to build community in Alaska by providing opportunities in arts, culture and recreation in an inclusive, educational and inspirational environment.

ROGER SCHMIDT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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Roger Schmidt has been the Executive Director of Sitka Fine Arts Camp (Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc.) since 2000. During this time, the summer program has grown from a two week camp serving 40 adolescent students to a ten week program serving 1,000 students ages five to adult. In 2010, Roger negotiated the donation of the historic Sheldon Jackson School which had closed its doors in 2007. Subsequently, he has overseen the restoration of the campus by harnessing the support of thousands of volunteers and donors. Under Roger’s leadership, the Camp has grown to include a year long arts advocacy program that offers a performing arts series, a statewide teacher training institute, after school arts classes for all ages, and a vibrant young performer’s theater program. In addition, the Campus has become an important part of the economic future of Sitka as a home for many conferences and conventions.

Roger grew up in Sitka and attended the Sitka Fine Arts Camp as a student from 1980-1984. The arts have been a central part of Roger’s life. He graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory with degrees in philosophy and trombone performance with additional music studies at the Aspen Music Festival, Pierre Monteux School and internationally in London and at the Bruckner Conservatory in Austria. As a musician he has worked in the San Francisco Bay area as well as toured throughout Alaska and other parts of the United States.

Roger is also an avid traveler and adventurer. His trips have included a 3-month solo kayak trip from Vancouver B.C. to Sitka, Alaska, a kayak crossing of the Bering Strait, a Patagonia Ice-Cap ski crossing, and a year-long sailing trip from Siberia to Uruguay. He is the 2004 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Arts Education and in 2007, under his direction, the Camp received the Coming Up Taller Award at the White House. In 2012, he was inducted into the Alaska Hall of Fame and received the Sitka Arts Advocate of the Year award. Roger is also a fellow of the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program and a graduate of the Aspen Executive Seminar.

KENLEY JACKSON, PROGRAM DIRECTOR

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Kenley Jackson has been working at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp since the Fall of 2008. She grew up in West Virginia and earned a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. She has dabbled in many visual art forms and especially enjoys printmaking. Her Art Book called “Once Upon a Time I Hated Birds” has been featured in special exhibits in Minnesota and Iowa. When not working for fine arts camp, she enjoys exploring the wilds of Sitka and cooking.

RHIANNON GUEVIN, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

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Rhiannon Guevin graduated summa cum laude from University of Puget Sound’s School of Music, where she received a BM in Vocal Performance with Honors in Music. During her time at Puget Sound she performed in opera scenes and full-scale productions, including the roles of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Miss Titmouse in Too Many Sopranos!, and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance. She was the fall 2011 winner of the University of Puget Sound’s  Concerto/Aria Competition. In summer 2011, she traveled to Kunming, China, where she played The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for the China Yunnan Opera Festival. More recent roles include Zerlina in Juneau Lyric Opera’s production of Don Giovanni, Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years. Rhiannon has studied voice with Dr. Dawn Padula and Joseph Evans. In addition to her administrative duties with the camp, Rhiannon teaches opera at SFAC’s High School Camp and provides vocal coaching for SFAC’s Musical Theater Camp. During the year, Rhiannon serves as the Musical Director for SFAC’s Young Performers Theater program and teaches private voice lessons. Rhiannon has served as an adjudicator for the classical voice sections at Alaska’s State Solo and Ensemble Music Festival.

Administrative Staff:

Roger Schmidt, Executive Director

Kenley Jackson, Program Director

Rhiannon Guevin, Operations Director

Zeke Blackwell, Theater Director

Mary Boose, Event and Rentals Manager

Jennifer Carter, Director of Teacher Training

Nathan Lafriniere, Maintenance & Facilities

Savannah Richmond, SPAC Production Manager

Andrew Sherman, Administrative Assistant

Victor Wong, Maintenance & Events

Bill Workman, Facilities Manager

WT McRae, Summer Theater Director

Board:

Sam Skaggs
President
Skaggs is a Registered Investment Advisor and financial planner dba Verdant, LLC, with his partner Amy Volz. Sam has over 30 years’ experience managing investment portfolios and offering financial planning advice. He received his BA in Environmental Studies from Hampshire College, in 1975 then promptly moved to Fairbanks to manage a musk ox farm with the University of Alaska. Like most Alaskans, Skaggs has many work experiences before settling on finance, including: a building contractor of super-insulated homes and making the StrollerPack- made to- last child carriers out of welded aluminum and sold worldwide with Juneau inventor John Ingalls. Sam has been president of his family’s small foundation since 1986 which has granted over $2.5 million to Alaskan non-profits. Skaggs has extensive nonprofit Board experience including: The Nature Conservancy of Alaska, Musk Ox Development Corporation, Alaska Conservation Foundation, Pacific GIS/ Ecotrust, and the Juneau Sailing Foundation where we co-started a US sailing youth program serving 100 kids a year. When not working inside, Skaggs is an avid skier, hunter, hiker, and sailor. Sitka is now home, and 3 of his children attended SFAC starting in middle school through high school. “Working with the Board and Staff of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp is one of the best experiences of my life” Skaggs says.
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Mollie Kabler
Vice President
Susan Litman
Treasurer
Susan Litman is the co-owner of Precision Boatworks, a boat repair and boat building business in Sitka.  She lives on an island and commutes to town by skiff. She is on the board of Friends of the Performing Arts and is treasurer of the Sitka Jazz Festival. Her son attended the Sitka Fine Arts Camp and is a video editor in New York City. She enjoys long distance walking and gardening.
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Mary Goddard
Secretary
Mary Goddard, Board Secretary is an Alaska Native Artist. Her art includes contemporary carved and woven jewelry using traditional material and metals, it includes installation art, film and television projects and her blog Plantguru.org which shares knowledge and cooking tips about indigenous plants. Mary received a degree of completion at school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She worked on various film television productions such as Fireproof, The Grace Card, ABC’s show Lost, and she was also a Producer and Camera Woman for the show Coast Guard Alaska. Mary not only has a passion for the arts, but also for youth, she worked as a Family Teacher for Father Flanagan’s Boys and Girls Home and she continues to be involved with community outreaches. Currently Mary lives in Sitka with her husband Lucas and her son Ryker. She is continuing to work on art and film projects. You can follow her at www.alaskamary.com
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Wendy Alderson
Member
Wendy Alderson has been on the AASE board since 2011. She started out as the volunteer coordinator shortly after AASE was awarded the Sheldon Jackson Campus and after passing the baton on to SFAC staff, she joined the board as a way to stay involved. She is originally from Montana and graduated from Rocky Mountain College in 1985 with a degree in liberal arts. She has lived in Sitka for 30 years. She and her husband own and operate a commercial fishing boat, the Oceancape. She has a 15 year old daughter who has attended camp every year since first grade.
Bio
Jerry Lewanski
Member
Starting out from the University of Minnesota, way back in 1974, with interest and degrees in Social Work and Child Psychology, I worked at a Camp and Treatment Center for kids in trouble. Conflicted with a direction in life, I redirected myself into a second passion with the outdoors by becoming a Park Ranger and National Outdoor Leadership Student. Curiosity and adventure drove me to McGrath, Alaska from the heart of Minneapolis and to work at public radio station KSKO, as a DJ, work with the Iditarod School District and become member of the Kuskokuim Valley Rescue Squad. A move to Anchorage in 1985 as Chief Ranger in Church State Park, later as Superintendent; and then under Governor Frank Murkowski as the Director of State Parks concluded a wonderful career in recreational land management. However, I was never far from working with kids. Softball coaching, advisor to a Junior Sled Dog Club, I got completely mesmerized with running sled dogs in the bush, and instructor for a grade school outdoor skills program at the Birchwood Camp filled some free time. I could never separate myself from music though. I lost count of the music classes I squeezed into my life at UAA, while occasionally playing sax with the school jazz band and our small group at parties and bars. Oh, did I mention I attended professional baking and pastry school at the San Francisco Baking Institute and now own a couple of fun bakeries with the Fire Island Rustic Bake Shops. I am honored to be a board member and hope to help the Sitka Fine Arts Camp into the future.
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Martha Pearson
Member
Martha Pearson is the Director of Health Promotion at SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).  Her position is dedicated to establishing and enhancing health promotion strategies in the entire region of Southeast Alaska. SEARHC’s model is to strengthen clinical systems to promote access to Quality Clinical Care. Martha also works with geographically diverse communities in southeast Alaska to support local organizations making policy level changes in Active Living, Tobacco Prevention and Healthy Eating. In addition to working in health promotion, Martha serves on the Board of Alaska Arts Southeast, is an avid local performer and is mom to a talented dancer/singer/actor/almost middle schooler daughter whom she and husband Jeff are lucky to raise in Sitka. Martha earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, a Master of Arts in English Literature from George Mason University, and a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Alaska.   Her other work experience includes grant management, women’s health, non-profit leadership, health education, lifestyle coaching and corporate business skills training. Martha has worked in Alaska since 1996 and for SEARHC since 2002.  Prior to her time in Alaska, Martha worked in the Washington, DC metro area.
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Marya Pillifant
Member
James Poulson
Member
James Poulson is a photographer who grew up in Sitka. He helps run the Sitka Sentinel, which is his family-owned daily newspaper. He has been involved in many historic restoration projects in Sitka including restoring Tilly Paul Manor adjacent to the Sheldon Jackson campus for adaptive re-use as a hostel and the many on going restoration projects of the Fine Arts Camp. He is married to Kristen Homer, who volunteers at camp. They have two school-age children, Lucy and Addie, who are active in the arts and, not surprisingly, love attending camp. His interest in the Sitka Fine Arts Camp began when he was a camper in the 1970s.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and art history from Colgate University. He is a member of the Sitka Historic Preservation Commission. He is slowly pursuing a Master's Degree in historic preservation at Boston Architectural College.
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We thank the many wonderful photographers who have contributed the wonderful images on the website.  Thank you, Jayleen Beedle, Susan Bein, Lee Draper, Scott Fassett, Bobbi Jordan, Clark Mishler, Cassandra Olson, James Poulson, Caitlin Roseum, Margo Roseum, and Berett Wilbur.