Meet the Research Team

Denise A. Dillard, PhD

Denise A. Dillard, PhD

Director of Research

Denise Dillard is Inupiaq Eskimo descent and was born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage. She has conducted post-doctoral quantitative and qualitative research since 1998 and is a licensed psychologist. She oversees the direction of a variety of research projects in behavioral health, cancer, pharmacogenetics, health disparities, patient-centered outcomes and other areas. Dillard works with Southcentral Foundation’s Board of Directors as they review and consider approval of research involving Alaska Native people in and around Anchorage. Additionally, she serves on the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board. She lives in Anchorage with her son Reid, close to her immediate and much of her extended family. She enjoys spending her free time camping, fishing, quilting and other crafts, participating in hot yoga and attending live sporting events — most notably her son’s baseball games. View Dillard’s Curriculum Vitae

Kahoney M. Monsen

Kahoney M. Monsen

Manager of Research

Kahoney Monsen is of Tlingit and Aleut descent and grew up in Anchorage. She has worked at Southcentral Foundation since 2009 and has managed several departments. She oversees research, data services and program evaluation, assisting with increasing support and awareness of their work. She is happy to know all research at SCF ties back to the mission and vision of the organization to better meet the needs of customer-owners. She lives in Anchorage with her son and daughter, and with her immediate and extended family nearby. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, traveling and spending time with family.

Jaedon Avey, PhD

Jaedon Avey, PhD

Senior Researcher

Jaedon Avey is a third generation Alaskan, whose family moved here in 1951. He has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, adult instruction, and therapy and psychological assessment. Avey has been with SCF Research since 2013 and contributes to projects on depression management, tobacco pharmacogenetics, screening for psychological trauma and alcohol sobriety. Avey volunteers on the board of directors of the Alaska Psychological Association and the University Kiwanis Club (Keystone Kops of Fur Rondy). He lives in Anchorage with his wife, young daughter and much of his immediate family. He enjoys camping, hiking, woodworking, game nights, yard sales and baseball. View Avey’s Curriculum Vitae

Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka, PhD MPH

Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka, PhD MPH

Senior Researcher

Vanessa Hiratsuka is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and is also Winnemem Wintu, from Northern California. For more than 16 years, she has conducted quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research in American Indian and Alaska Native health systems. Her focus is community-based participatory research within an Alaska Native managed, patient-centered medical home primary care center in urban, rural and frontier communities to reduce health disparities and promote health and wellness in a culturally appropriate manner. She lives in Anchorage with her husband, Tom, and their two children. She enjoys crafting and giving homemade gifts to her friends and family. View Hiratsuka’s Curriculum Vitae

Renee F. Robinson, PharmD, MPH

Renee F. Robinson, PharmD, MPH

Senior Researcher

Renee Robinson is of Slavic decent and was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She is a licensed clinical pharmacist and has achieved the rank of Commander serving in the United States Public Health Service. She has conducted both quantitative and qualitative research since 1998, addressing the diverse needs of the Alaska Native Community she serves. Stationed at Southcentral Foundation since 2008, she has worked closely with stakeholders to conduct customer-owner-driven research pertinent to the communities she serves, including development of an iPad application to help individuals share in depression management decisions. She enjoys spending her free time doing yoga, pilates, running, hiking, crafting, camping and fishing. View Robinson’s Curriculum Vitae

Jennifer L. Shaw, PhD

Jennifer L. Shaw, PhD

Senior Researcher

Jennifer Shaw is from Lawrence, Kansas and has lived in Alaska since 2003. She is of Ashkenazi Jewish and French-Canadian descent. Since 1998, Shaw has conducted mixed-methods applied health research on diverse topics ranging from health care access for children of new immigrants, to medication adherence among adolescents with leukemia, and the role of cultural activities in Alaska Native (Dena’ina Athabascan) youth wellbeing. Joining SCF in 2010, Shaw works closely with behavioral services and has led research efforts at SCF on suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention and treatment, specimen banking, pharmacogenetics and depression management. While she misses big prairie thunderstorms, fireflies and family in the Lower 48, she loves camping, hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing in Alaska with her husband and their two giant Bernese Mountain Dogs, Princess Buttercup and Kismet. View Shaw’s Curriculum Vitae

Charlene Aqpik Apok, M.A.

Charlene Aqpik Apok, M.A.

Researcher

Charlene Apok, a former RAISE intern, was born and raised in Anchorage. She is Iñupiaq and her family is from the Bering Straits region. Charlene’s experience works closely in community healing and wellness in the circumpolar north with an interest on gender relations. She received her BA from the University of Washington cum laude with her honors thesis Storytelling is Healing. After completing her MA project, resilient spirits, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Charlene rejoined SCF in the research department. She and her son, Evan Lukluan, enjoy spending time with family, being outdoors, and traveling. View Apok’s Curriculum Vitae

Julie A. Beans, MPH

Julie A. Beans, MPH

Researcher

Julie Beans was born in Anchorage and raised on the lower Yukon in St. Mary’s and Pilot Station and on the Oneida Nation reservation in Wisconsin. She is Yup’ik (Yupiit of the Andreafski) and Oneida from Wisconsin. She has a research background in toxicology, analytical chemistry and genetics research support. At SCF, Beans has worked on a wide range of research projects covering topics including: diabetes, chronic illness, pharmacogenetics and suicide. She is involved with SCF Research projects on many levels, including: grant writing support, data collection, data management, data analysis, results dissemination and study coordination. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, road trips and reading. View Beans’ Curriculum Vitae

Lisa G. Dirks, MLIS, MAdm

Lisa G. Dirks, MLIS, MAdm

Researcher

Lisa Dirks is Unangax (Aleut) from Atka. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative studies for more than 10 years. She has worked on a variety of research and evaluation projects on topics pertinent to behavioral health, cancer, pharmacogenetics, public health, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and mind-body health. At SCF, She provides research support through qualitative and quantitative data collection, management, analysis and dissemination. Lisa enjoys traveling, especially to places close to water. View Dirks’ Curriculum Vitae

Kelley Jansen, MS, MAC

Kelley Jansen, MS, MAC

Researcher
Kelley Jansen is of Aleut and Dutch descent and was born and raised in Mukilteo, WA. She comes from a multi-generational fishing family with deep roots in Alaska. Kelley moved to Anchorage after completing her BA in Psychology and has been working at Southcentral Foundation since July 2011. In 2016, she completed her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health. Her work experience is in treating substance use and mental health disorders and she has a research background in systemic and social issues — primarily behavioral health disparities affecting indigenous people. Kelley and her husband, who also works at SCF, live in Anchorage with their three dogs. Her interests include long-distance running, intersectional feminism, painting, and traveling the world.
Michael R. Ryan-Todd, MBA

Michael R. Ryan-Todd, MBA

Researcher

Michael moved from Texas to Alaska in the summer of 2016. His experience in market research spans a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals/biotechnology, technology, consumer packaged goods, and as a market research supplier. He has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, forecasting/demand planning, market sizing, and portfolio analysis. With a natural curiosity about what drives human behavior and a strong service orientation, he was attracted to a career in research because it blends his social and technical passions into a single role where he can help others. Michael joined SCF Research in January 2017 and contributes to projects on a variety of healthcare topics in his role. He has three grown children and a grandson living in Texas, and enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing (both alpine and Nordic), camping, hiking, and exploring Alaska. Michael volunteers with the Wounded Heroes Project and the Kenai River Foundation, helping wounded military veterans discover Alaska and adjust to civilian life. View Todd’s Curriculum Vitae

Krista Schaefer, MPH

Krista Schaefer, MPH

Researcher

Krista Schaefer grew up in the Midwest and while her family resides in Indiana, they are global citizens—having lived in East Africa, Scandinavia and Southeast Asia. Schaefer’s research experiences include program evaluation of the integration of family planning and environmental issues in Kisumu, Kenya, HIV mathematical modeling, and women’s health initiatives. She contributes to projects on tobacco pharmacogenetics and blood pressure management at SCF. Schaefer happily moved to Alaska in the fall of 2016. She is married to a talented family physician at Providence Hospital and they enjoy all outdoor activities along with books, travel and cooking. View Schaefer’s Curriculum Vitae

Kyle Wark, M.A.

Kyle Wark, M.A.

Researcher

Kyle Wark was born and raised in Hoonah, Alaska. His mother’s family is Tlingit (Deisheetaan Raven/Beaver clan), and his father is non-Native from Seattle (later adopted into the Chookaneidi Eagle/Wolf clan). He became an anthropologist to study his Tlingit people, and has primarily researched the impacts of colonization on Alaska Native health and wellbeing. Kyle joined SCF in July 2017, and will be working on projects related to genomics, genetics, and social determinants of health. He has lived in Anchorage since 2008, and enjoys reading, playing Go (an ancient Chinese strategy game), picking berries, and spending time with his family. View Wark’s Curriculum Vitae

R. Brian Woodbury

R. Brian Woodbury

Researcher

R. Brian Woodbury grew up in northern Michigan, but has traveled broadly—first as a practical nurse in the U.S. Army and later as a manager of community health projects in Nepal. Brian has supported basic science research on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction, and public health and health policy research on the treatment of cardiac arrest, vision impairment and eye disease, and the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. Brian joined Southcentral Foundation in 2017 and will be supporting projects related to community-based participatory research. Brian is an avid reader and outdoorsman, and enjoys spending his weekends exploring the natural beauty of Alaska. View Woodbury’s Curriculum Vitae

Daniel S. Shrader

Daniel S. Shrader

Supervisor

Daniel Shrader has spent most of his life in Anchorage and is of Inupiaq Eskimo and Aleut decent. In his role, he validates and coordinates the work of research administrative personnel to include program coordinators, and works closely with research managers and senior researchers on project requests and needs relating to administrative work. Since joining SCF Research, Shrader has had the opportunity to see how research projects work to improve the overall health and wellness of Alaska Native people. He enjoys spending time in Alaska’s great outdoors with family and friends, and his hobbies include hunting, boating, hiking and classic cars.

Tamara L. Hedlund

Tamara L. Hedlund

Program Coordinator

Tamara Hedlund grew up in the Iliamna lake region, and is Athabascan and Yup’ik and has lived in Anchorage since 2011. She coordinates SCF’s Tribal Review process which includes working with the research oversight committee for research project approval. Since joining SCF Research, Hedlund has had the opportunity to see how research projects work to improve the overall health and wellness of Alaska Native people. She enjoys spending time in Alaska’s great outdoors; hobbies include hunting, sewing and creating.

Aliassa Shane

Aliassa Shane

Program Coordinator

Aliassa Shane is Shoshone-Paiute and Aleut. She was born in Boise, Idaho, and grew up near San Diego, California, while her father served in the military. She worked with the California Native American Research Center for Health while earning a bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. At SCF, she supports the department manager on grant administration. She is currently attending the University of Alaska Anchorage for her Master’s in Public Health. Her hobbies include traveling, listening to live music and trying new things.

Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker

Program Coordinator

Andrew is Haida, Athabascan, and Inupiaq. He was born and raised in Anchorage, AK with heritage from Hydaburg, Nondalton, and White Mountain. Andrew joined SCF in July 2011, in the Medical Services Division, and has since then assisted with Administrative duties throughout various departments, joining the Research department in July 2016, in which he has found an interest in the Pharmacogenetics field. He enjoys socializing with all individuals and is looking forwarding to working with Research department throughout his experience here.

Brianna R. Lengele

Brianna R. Lengele

Administrative Support

Brianna Lengele is Athabascan and was born and raised in Anchorage, AK. Her mother was born in Cordova, but raised in Anchorage, and her father was born in Oregon. She found out about SCF Research through the Administrative Support Training Program (ASTP), found it extremely interesting, and wanted to know more about it. Her role as an administrative support is to assist researchers and other team members on multiple projects. Brianna has one cat and two dogs, and enjoys walking them in her free time. She loves to go camping, hiking, snow machining, and anything else that has to do with the outdoors.

Lisa M. Martinez

Lisa M. Martinez

Administrative Support

Lisa Martinez is an administrative support for the Research Department at Southcentral Foundation. Lisa has worked with SCF Research previously in 2012, then left to work with adolescents in a voluntary mental health program run by SCF that aligns with our mission and vision. Lisa has recently returned to the Research department and is continuing where she left off in assisting the researchers with various projects, and recruitment efforts. With a strong background in customer service she enjoys the recruitment process for research studies, interacting with our native community, and working closely with Southcentral Foundations internal customer owners. She was born in Paterson, NJ, but was brought up mostly in Anchorage, AK. She is of Yup’ik and Colombian descent with family originating from Kipnuk, Alaska and Medellin, Colombia. Lisa lives in Anchorage with her partner Anthony and their 4 daughters. Her most enjoyable research experience was working during large recruitment efforts at events like the Gathering. Lisa enjoys spending her free time with family, spending time outdoors, beading, art, reading, music and movies.

Angelica C. Phillips

Angelica C. Phillips

Administrative Support

Angelica Phillips is Yup’ik, and was born and raised in Bethel, AK. Phillips was introduced to Southcentral Foundation’s Research department through the Administrative Support Training Program (ASTP) and quickly grew interest in the department. As an administrative support in the Research department, she assists researchers and other staff to help complete different tasks associated with multiple projects. Phillips has been with SCF since January 2017 and plans to grow within SCF. She enjoys hiking, networking, and learning more about her Native culture.

John David Richardson

John David Richardson

Administrative Support

John David Richardson is Yupik born and raised in Anchorage Alaska. JD is the youngest sibling of three and also an Uncle. He has been with SCF since February of 2016. He started as an intern with the Native Men’s Wellness Program and transitioned to admin with the Learning Institute. He is an International Studies Major and International Business Minor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. JD enjoys walking his dog, hiking, traveling, language learning and Fantasy Football. His favorite football team is the Tennessee Titans.

Devon T. Sigourney

Devon T. Sigourney

Administrative Support

Devon Sigourney is Athabascan in Anchorage and was born at the Elmendorf Air Force Base. He graduated from Bartlett High School in 2016 and started working from the Research Department in January 2017. He enjoys traveling and experiencing new places.