Welcoming New IARPC Staff & Fellows

Larry Hinzman January 13, 2022

IARPC has three new members to help us serve the Arctic research community, state and federal agencies, and the public better! In order to improve communication and collaboration between federal agencies and Indigenous communities in the Arctic, we are welcoming @Mellisa Johnson as our new Indigenous Communication and Engagement Specialist, and @Craig Chythlook and @Harmony Jade Sugaq Wayner as new Indigenous Leadership Fellows. Funding for these positions is made available by the generous support of IARPC agencies.

Please join us in welcoming them to IARPC!

Mellisa Maktuayaq Johnson: Indigenous Communication and Engagement Specialist

Mellisa Maktuayaq Johnson is Inupiaq born and raised from Nome, Alaska. As a tribal member of Nome Eskimo Community, Mellisa has a strong passion for protecting, respecting, advocating and maintaining traditional Indigenous ways of life. Inspired by Elders, community members, and her family, Mellisa works to share with others the importance of maintaining culture and heritage in language revitalization efforts, climate advocacy, and incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into different systems. She previously worked as Executive Director with Bering Sea Elders Group (2018-2022), has sixteen years experience with tribal health, and currently works with the UAA ANKS department as Adjunct Professor in Inupiatun, the language of the Inupiat. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Services Administration with a minor in Human Services from Alaska Pacific University and is also a USAF veteran.

Mellisa will begin working with IARPC on February 14.

Indigenous Leadership Fellows: Harmony Jade Sugaq Wayner and Craig Chythlook

This paid fellowship seeks to increase opportunities for Indigenous individuals to lead IARPC collaboration teams.

Craig Chythlook will co-lead the Arctic Observing Systems Collaboration Team. Harmony Jade Sugaq Wayner will co-lead the Marine Ecosystems Collaboration Team. We are excited to see where they take the teams over the next year.

Craig Chythlook

I am Yup’ik from the Bristol Bay region, in southwest Alaska. I grew up in the fishing community of Dillingham, Alaska, and continue to make it back every summer/fall for our subsistence and commercial salmon fisheries. I have spent my whole life hunting and fishing in the Bristol Bay region and this last year completed my 18th season running my commercial drift salmon operation, in the Nushagak district. Currently, I am working as one of three Indigenous liaisons for the Food Security Working Group and a part-time student living with my family in Fairbanks, Alaska. I am currently looking to finish my Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a minor in Rural Development here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Food Security Working Group is a growing network focused on Indigenous food security and food sovereignty in the Arctic, and with my degree I hope to continue my work coordinating engagement with Alaska tribes, communities, Indigenous leaders, scholars, and researchers focusing on Indigenous food security issues.

Harmony Jade Sugaq Wayner

I am Alutiiq/Yup’ik and of mixed European ancestry from Naknek Native Village but grew up in Naknek, Anchorage, and Unalaska. I am a commercial fisher in the Bristol Bay salmon fleet, and a marine scientist focused on sustainable rural food systems to promote Indigenous values and well-being in Alaskan villages. I worked at sea with NOAA on their Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Survey in 2017 and was an Indigenous co-author to the AMAP report under publication on societal implications of climate change. Currently, I live in Ísafjörður, Iceland, and am a graduate student in the Coastal and Marine Management program at the University Centre of the Westfjords. Upon graduation in Spring 2022, I plan to move back to Alaska and serve my home region at the intersection of Indigenous and western fisheries sciences. In my free time, I enjoy preparing traditional foods like smoked fish with my family, nordic skiing, berry picking, and a good cup of tundra tea.

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