Meda DeWitt, MA, TH
Meda’s Tlingit names are Tśa Tsée Naakw, Khaat kłaat, adopted Iñupiaq name is Tigigalook, and adopted Cree name is Boss Eagle Spirit Woman “Boss.” Her clan is Naanyaa.aayí and she is a child of the Kaach.aadi. Her family comes from Shtuxéen kwaan (now referred to as Wrangell, AK.) Meda’s lineage also comes from Oregon, Washington, and the BC/Yukon Territories. Currently she lives on Dena’ina lands in Anchorage, Alaska with her fiancé James “Chris” Paoli and their combined family of eight children.
Meda’s work revolves around the personal credo “Leave a world that can support life and a culture worth living for.” Her work experience draws from her training as an Alaska Native traditional healer and Healthy Native Communities capacity building facilitator. Meda believes that at its core, Alaska Native culture is one of wellness, and that traditional holistic practices are integral to the reclamation of her peoples’ identity. Meda works globally as a cultural consultant and Indigenous facilitator, providing in-person and distance delivery trainings on traditional health-based practices through partnership with tribes, health corporations, educational instructions, and communities. She is currently the Executive Director of Alaskans Take A Stand (c3).
Education includes a BA in Liberal Studies: Southeast Women’s Rites of Passage summa cum laude (2017) and Master of Arts Program (MAP) in Traditional Healing Program Development (2019), both at Alaska Pacific University, earning the MAP Student of the Year. Meda is currently attending Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: Indigenous Studies doctoral program (2021 - in-progress.)
After having experienced trauma, homelessness, addiction, recovery, and then getting housing and support from a Housing First pilot program, Cassandra went to Portland Community College in 2010 in order to try out life and success after active addiction and homelessness. After dropping out of school and coming back from a significant trauma relapse, Cassandra worked on becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor. She began peer mentoring for Outside In, the nonprofit that helped her in her recovery. While there, she helped to develop another burgeoning Portland non-profit that gives marginalized youth a place to use their collective voice, called Outside the Frame. She decided she’d rather be better able to use her story than most clinicians are allowed, so with a lifetime of experience, a few years of college, and ten years strong in addiction recovery, she set out to make peer mentoring a career.
Cassandra has lived in Alaska since December 2015, and has worked in the peer recovery community in Alaska for three years. She is a late diagnosed neurodivergent person who struggles with her symptoms, but believes in the awesome power of stewardship, integrity, inclusiveness, intersectionality education and awareness, community, identity, paying it forward, service, and advocacy.
Cassandra enjoys video games, forests, oceans, mountains, meadows, bad puns, colors, music and sounds, pondering, reading, cinema, philosophizing, daydreaming, imagination, laughter, cartoons, learning, trivia, the macabre, art (ALL art,) animals, and stuff.
Dahsuri (Dash) Togi
Dahsuri (Dash)is a LGBTQIA+ individual born and raised in American Samoa currently residing in Anchorage Alaska. She is the Anchorage Youth Task Force Coordinator, an Americorps VISTA, an entrepreneur and national youth advocate. She believes in implementing authentic youth voices to inform and expand youth services as well as decriminalizing stereotypes around homelessness.
Dash dedicates her life to serve and amplify youth voices partnering with Covenant House Alaska, Alaska Humanities Forum, Spirit of Youth, Anchorage Youth Development Coalition and many other organizations in the community. She hopes to use her platform to encourage more young people to fight and strive for success. She asks herself every day “are you going through it or are you growing through it?” Live your truth and do the damn thing!
Dana Hilbish is a gardener who is driven by the changing of seasons, a good neighbor who values others, and a thoughtful mentor for people on the journey of recovery. Dana discovered her true self and allowed herself to heal while going through treatment for alcohol misuse at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. Though she was incarcerated for 21 years, she says the worst prison she endured was being trapped by abuse and addiction. She believes that we need to see people for their whole selves, not just for the labels that are attached to them. She brings to Mosaics a wealth of lived experience and deep insights.
Erica Purruq Khan
Erica is an Alaska Native Iñupiaq and Pakistani born and raised from Utqiagvik, Alaska. Erica’s pronouns are she/they, whereas it derives from the idea that our names are gender less. Her Iñupiaq siñi’s are Purruq and Masu and Erica’s family on the North Slope are the Panningona’s. She received her Associates from her tribal community college at Ilisagvik and continued to earn her Bachelor’s in Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Erica serves on the board for Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, SILA, and is currently on several collaborations projects with Bright Shores Creative Decolonization, LLC, as a multi-medium artist. She currently works with Special Education Service Agency supporting students and educators statewide.
“I’m currently thinking of different versions of myself — mostly past versions of myself in the work that I do, to help guide me in the direction of mental health and wellness in the communities that I serve. Some of those ways are working with our senses, whether that's visualizing versions of ourselves, feeling things, or simply being on the land. My vision is to be inclusive of everyone’s thoughts — in that, we honor that a thought comes from somewhere, we should celebrate our diversity.”
Tavra. That is all.