Board of Trustees
Christopher R. Cooke - chair
Originally from Southern Ohio, Mr. Cooke came to Alaska as a VISTA lawyer in 1968 after graduating from Yale University and the University of Michigan Law School. He was admitted to the Alaska Bar in 1970. He lived and worked in Bethel for more than 30 years where, both as a private attorney and for 10 years as a State Superior Court Judge, he traveled extensively to Alaska’s small towns and villages. Moving to Anchorage in the late 1990s, Mr. Cooke continued to represent clients primarily from rural Alaska until retiring in 2016. Mr. Cooke’s prior public service includes the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, Alaska Bar Association’s Board of Governors, Alaska Humanities Forum Board, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and the Alaska Commission on Rural Governance and Empowerment.
Anita M. Halterman - vice chair, audit & risk committee chair, finance committee chair
Anita is an Eagle River resident with over thirty years of experience working in federal, state, and local government. She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and spent most of her career working for the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Anita also served as Chief of Staff for an Anchorage Legislator before becoming an account executive for Deeptree, a risk management firm located in Palmer. She has been and continues to be active in her community, currently serving as a Director for the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame, a Director for the Alaska Collaborative for Telemedicine & Telehealth, and as a Commissioner for the Municipality of Anchorage Women’s Commission. Anita is interested in improving behavioral health in Alaska and brings a unique, well rounded perspective to the Trust.
Rhonda Boyles - secretary
A longtime resident of Fairbanks, Rhonda is a retired restaurant owner who has held many leadership positions in the Fairbanks business community, and who served as the Mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough from 2000-2003. Once honored as Fairbanks Business Person of the Year, Rhonda has served on many boards and commissions, including as Chair of the University’s Statewide Vocational Education Advisory Board and Board Chair for the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. Later in her life, she worked for the Alaska Pioneer Homes and most recently as a caregiver for her late husband, Vern, who suffered from Diffuse Lewis Body Disease and its associated dementia. Rhonda currently resides in Anchorage.
Verné Boerner - program & planning committee chair
Verné has been the President and CEO of the Alaska Native Health Board since 2013. She is Iñupiaq and an enrolled tribal member of the Native Village of Kiana. She is a Native American Research Center on Health (NARCH) Fellow and received her Master of Public Health from Oregon Health and Sciences University. She has over 23 years’ experience in tribal health including 13 years serving on a tribal institutional review board including primary reviewer responsibilities and has served as a co-lead investigator. She is a firm believer in community-based approaches to best tap the existing strengths and resources these resilient populations already possess to garner a greater understanding of the overall health needs and priorities of indigenous peoples.
(bio information to follow soon)
Annette Gwalthney-Jones brings more than twenty years of managerial experience in human resources and social services to the board of trustees. Her career background includes program work and leadership within many Trust beneficiary serving organizations in the Anchorage area, including the Arc of Anchorage, and the Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial Home. This experience coupled with an extensive background in human resources and internal development and training will bring a valued perspective to the work of the trustees. Having lived and worked in the Bethel area prior to moving to Anchorage, she also has an understanding of the provision of services to beneficiaries in rural communities. Trustee Gwalthney-Jones currently resides in Anchorage.
John Sturgeon - resource management committee chair
John resides in Anchorage and has an extensive background in forestry, having worked for the US Forest Service, as the State Forester for the Alaska Division of Forestry, and in the private forestry sector. He also formerly served as the CEO of Ouzinkie Native Corporation. Trustee Sturgeon has served as a trustee for PNW Medical University and the Nature Conservancy of Alaska, and as a director on the Board of Forestry, Alaska Forest Association, the Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Resource Development Council. He was awarded the Governor’s Conservationist of the Year Award in 2017.