Visiting elder professor honored for promoting community health and wellness

March 30, 2018

Leona Long

Wilson Justin and Sandra Kowalski at the Raven's Ball. Photo by Steven Becker.
Wilson Justin and Sandra Kowalski at the Raven's Ball. Photo by Steven Becker.

Wilson Justin, a visiting elder professor, was recently honored with one of four Luminary Awards from the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

The Luminary Awards recognize individuals for their dedication and contributions to the Alaska tribal health system and their communities. Justin received the Community Spirit Award for his decades of work promoting health- and wellness-related education within the Alaska tribal health system.

“For Wilson, community service isn’t volunteering, it’s a way of life,” said Sandra Kowalski, UAF's director of Indigenous programs. “His example inspires others to make a difference in their communities and pursue lifelong education. We our fortunate to have Wilson serve as UAF’s visiting elder professor this spring semester.”

The awards were presented during the 11th annual Raven’s Ball on March 24 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. Other recipients included: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, President’s Legacy and Leadership Award; Aurora Johnson, Distinguished Provider Award; and Julie McNulty, Distinguished Provider Award (posthumous). Proceeds from the gala support the foundation’s mission to improve the health and well-being of Alaska Natives.  

A respected culture bearer of Ahtna knowledge, Justin is known for his advocacy for culturally responsive health- and wellness-related education. As the health director of the Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium, he spent more than two decades working to bridge the distance between Western and traditional medicine. He is a sought-out lecturer for community groups and university classes about governance, communication and community health.

Justin is available as a guest lecturer for UAF classes and local community groups through April. To arrange a presentation with Justin, fill out this form or contact