Board of Advisors
The purpose of this board is to assist UAF in meeting its responsibilities to its stakeholders, its communities, to Alaska and beyond. The UA Board of Regents' policy outlines the responsibilities of the UAF Board of Advisors to include advocacy for the university; guidance to the chancellor on ways the university can increase its responsiveness to local, state, national and international needs; assist the university in explaining its mission and needs to the public, and recommend changes to policies and regulations.
Chair: Jason Gootee
Jason Gootee serves as vice president of sales and strategic market development at Moda Partners, a health insurance company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. He previously served as Moda’s director of Alaska sales and service.
Gootee earned a bachelor's degree in English from UAF in 2005 and an MBA from UA Southeast in 2013. He is a past president of the UAF Alumni Association. Gootee and his father, Robert, created the Gootee Family Hockey Scholarship in 2017, now supported by an endowment fund that will help UAF student-athletes long into the future.
Gootee oversees growth and expansion of business for Moda companies throughout Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Texas. During his more than 17 years in the industry, Gootee has become recognized as a leader who is deeply committed to helping communities transform the way they provide and pay for health care.
A passionate outdoorsman, Gootee sets the healthy-living standard for his employees by maintaining an active lifestyle. However, much of his current running, he confesses, involves chasing his four young children around the house with the assistance of his wife, Katie.
Denali State Bank
Victoria Denning is the chief administrative officer and a senior vice president at Denali State Bank.
Denning joined Denali State in 2012 as human resources manager. She was then promoted to human resources and marketing manager in 2018. She assumed her current position in January 2023.
Denning earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages with a minor in political science from UAF in 2006. She was a UAF scholarship athlete for volleyball during the 2001-2002 season.Denali State is a Fairbanks-based, community-oriented financial institution offering a broad array of retail and commercial lending and deposit services. As chief administrative officer, Denning oversees a variety of administrative functions at the bank, including human resources, marketing, community relations, training and development, bankwide culture, and other related special events and projects.
Wendy Dominique served 17 years on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education, including two years as president.
Dominique works as a student services professional for UAF and is executive director of Al-More Inc., a nonprofit that assists in tutoring and mentoring students in the borough.
Previously, she worked 36 years in various government positions, ranging from clerk to budget analyst. She holds an associate degree in business administration.
Dominique is an advocate for diversity, equality and inclusion, and she works tirelessly to find ways to improve and provide options for all children. She is often the voice for those who are less represented or lack the full resources available to others.
Dominique is the proud mother of three boys who graduated from Fairbanks borough schools. Her eldest son played in the National Football League, her second eldest works for HilCorp, and her youngest son lives in Ireland. She has four grandsons.
She is also known as the master of time organization and multitasking, as she devotes herself to her family, her grandsons and their many activities, her friends, and many community and state organizations.
Carnegie Mellon University
Alex Hills is the distinguished service professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where he joined the faculty in 1992.
At Carnegie Mellon, Hills conceived and built the world’s first wi-fi network. He told the story of that feat in his book, “Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio.”
In Alaska, Hills worked in the 1970s and 1980s to build public radio stations across the state and to bring television and telephone service to small villages. That story is in his book, “Finding Alaska’s Villages: And Connecting Them.”
Hills has traveled to 60 countries and seven continents as a guest lecturer and consultant.
In his 52 years in Alaska, Hills did a few other things, too. He was the founding general manager of Anchorage’s first public radio station, a professor at UAF and a UA vice president.
An inventor with 17 patents, he is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame. He was named Alaska’s Engineer of the Year in 2007. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Chidiebere “Chidi” Igbokwe
Chidi Igbokwe is a reliability advisor for BP’s production organization.
Igbokwe started his career at BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. in 2006 as a petroleum engineer. Since then, he has worked in numerous technical and leadership positions across Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. He currently works in Houston, Texas.
Igbokwe earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the Federal University of Technology Owerri Nigeria and his master’s in the same field from UAF in 2006.
As a reliability advisor at BP, Igbokwe is responsible for developing reliability strategy, workflows, insights and tooling necessary for running efficient operation across BP’s global portfolio. He also supports the production organization’s senior leadership team. He received BP’s Helios Award in 2011.
Igbokwe is a member of the UAF College of Engineering and Mines Advisory and Development Council and chairman of the UAF Petroleum Engineering Industry Advisory Board. He also was BP’s U.S. university recruiting lead for the University of Alaska.
Igbokwe previously served on the boards of the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Alaska chapter and the Anchorage International Rotary Club.
Igbokwe is an avid soccer player and traveler.
Meg Nordale serves as president of GHEMM Company, a Fairbanks-based general contractor in commercial construction.
Nordale grew up in Alaska. Appreciating all of the state’s opportunities, she returned to Fairbanks after earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a focus on finance and marketing, from the University of Denver in 1982.
Nordale joined GHEMM in 1994 after a long career in insurance and risk management in Fairbanks. She became the firm’s president in 2015.
Outside of GHEMM, Meg is active in the community of Fairbanks and serves a number of civic organizations, including the University of Alaska.
Meg and her husband, Bob Schruf, enjoy being in the great outdoors, whether it be a hiking, skiing or fishing adventure or working in their yard at home.
They share those adventures with their six adult children and are now beginning to share those family adventures with their newest members of the group, the grandkids!
First Alaskans Institute
Ayyu Qassataq serves as vice president of the First Alaskans Institute, where she
has worked since 2010.
Qassataq worked with Cook Inlet Tribal Council for nearly 10 years, including as the institutional advancement officer focused on fundraising and strategic and sustainability planning.
Her Western education includes a master’s degree in rural development from UAF and a bachelor’s in organizational management with a nonprofit emphasis from Alaska Pacific University.
Qassataq serves on the Philanthropy Northwest Board and has served in board leadership roles for both the Alaska Native Professional Association and Beyond Borders.
Of both Iñupiaq and Yup’ik descent, Qassataq is the daughter of Doug and Vernita Herdman and granddaughter of Stanton and Irene Katchatag. She is mother to four incredible children: Kutuukhuq, Talialuk, Qanigluk and Inuaałuuraq.
Born and raised between Anchorage and Uŋalaqłiq (Unalakleet), Qassataq grew up spending summers with her family in the village and upriver at camp in the Whaleback Mountains.
Qassataq believes deeply in the power of Alaska Native peoples’ ancestral knowledge and dedicates her life to advocating for the right of Indigenous peoples to live the fullness of their ways of life in perpetuity.
Aaron Schutt has served as president and CEO of Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska, since 2011.
Schutt works with Doyon’s board of directors to set the overall direction for Doyon companies and to provide leadership to the senior management team.
Schutt holds a law degree from Stanford Law School. He also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in the same field from Washington State University.
Before joining Doyon in 2006, Schutt was an attorney at the Anchorage offices of national law firms Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller & Munson, and Heller Ehrman, where he represented tribal and Alaska Native corporation clients in transactional and business matters.
Schutt serves on the boards of Northrim BanCorp Inc. and Akeela Inc. He also coaches youth hockey.
Schutt is Koyukon Athabascan and an enrolled member of the Native Village of Tanana. He was born in Anchorage and raised in Tok. He is married to Marissa Flannery, and together they have two sons and a daughter.
Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation
Marisa Sharrah is the development program manager for the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation.
Previously, she was the CEO of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce and the community relations manager for the former oil refinery in North Pole.
Sharrah graduated from UAF with a Bachelor of Business Administration.
She was born and raised in Fairbanks and North Pole after her parents moved here during the heyday of trans-Alaska oil pipeline construction.
At the hospital foundation, Sharrah assists donors in creating a legacy through philanthropic giving. Such gifts allow the foundation to plan, fund, build and equip the hospital, so we can all continue to receive world-class health care right here at home.
Sharrah finds fulfillment in connecting with community. She’s enjoyed volunteering with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and youth hockey, and is currently on the board of directors for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
Sharrah enjoys RVing throughout Alaska during the summer, and playing hockey and snowboarding in the winter. She and her husband have three grown children, three granddaughters and three very spoiled dogs.
Col. Nate Surrey has served as the U.S. Army’s Fort Wainwright garrison commander since July 2021.
Before assuming the Fort Wainwright garrison commander position, Surrey was chief of the Army Protection Division at the Pentagon. His other roles have included support and flight platoon leader in Alaska, aviation maintenance company commander, professor of military science, strategy and plans directorate chief, assault helicopter battalion commander, and helicopter action officer.
Surrey completed combat tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2007-2008 and Afghanistan in 2011. He has also deployed to the Caribbean Sea region, Kuwait and Europe.
Surrey earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management from the U.S. Military Academy and a master’s in the same field from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He received a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College.
Surrey holds multiple Army commendations, including two Bronze Star medals.
His spouse, Col. Alicia Surrey, serves as the deputy commander for nursing at Bassett Army Community Hospital at Fort Wainwright. They met as lieutenants while both previously stationed at Fort Wainwright from 2000 to 2003. They have three daughters.
Surrey is from Lucasville, Ohio.
Bettisworth North Architects and Planners
Tracy Vanairsdale is president of Bettisworth North Architects and Planners.
Vanairsdale joined Bettisworth North in 1997 and was named president in 2023.
Her architectural expertise is evident in works such as the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, North Pole Branch Library, Tanana Chiefs Conference Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center and Ryan Middle School.
Vanairsdale attended UAF and then finished her bachelor’s degree in architecture at
the University of Idaho through the Western Undergraduate Exchange program.
She has served on boards for the Rotary Club of Fairbanks and the Alaska chapters of the Association for Learning Environments and the American Institute of Architects. She is a long-time supporter of the Golden Heart Community Foundation.
Vanairsdale uses design as a powerful tool to celebrate inclusiveness and nurture connection and a sense of belonging. This principle has been the guiding force behind her designs for Alaska’s diverse cultures.
Vanairsdale was born and raised in Fairbanks, where she lives with her husband David, a proud UAF alumnus, and two spoiled dogs named for favorite Alaska rivers, Tsaina and Copper. They spend most days with Tracy at the office.
Usibelli Coal Mine Inc.
Glen Weaver is the vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Usibelli Coal Mine Inc.
Weaver graduated from UAF in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting.
Weaver started his career with Cook & Haugeberg CPAs in Fairbanks. He left public accounting to take the controller position with Northern Schools Federal Credit Union, where he stayed until joining Usibelli Coal Mine in 1999.
His primary responsibilities at Usibelli Coal Mine include oversight of administrative, risk management, accounting and finance functions of the company and its affiliates.
Weaver also serves on the Accounting Advisory Board for the UAF College of Business and Security Management.
He has held season tickets for Nanook ice hockey games since 1991.
Weaver was born and raised in Fairbanks.
Uqaqti Consulting LLC