Meet the BrainWorks Staff
I am the Fairbanks facilitator for BrainWorks. I moved from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Fairbanks in 1998, sight unseen, because I wanted to live in the woods, and I love it here. I have one daughter and one son, and two wonderful granddaughters, and I found the love of my life, Tim, here in Fairbanks and married him in 2006. I love dogs, and had to let my dear Theodore go, after 16 years of wonderful life with him, this year. Someday I will get another dog, I know. I also love anything fiber: quilting, weaving, dyeing, the more colorful the better! And I still enjoy photography, and live in the right place for it!
I have 23 years' experience as a Special Education teacher of self-contained classes in secondary and post-secondary programs in Utah and Alaska. Since 2006, I have been working on contract with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other agencies as a "CRP", or community rehabilitation provider. In 2007, I took on the facilitator job for StartUp/Alaska, another self-employment project, which ended in 2010. We learned a lot from that project, and are replicating the best of what we learned in BrainWorks.
I also have a lot of experience in self-employment. I am at least the 4th generation of entrepreneurs on both sides of my family, and one of the first who is female. I have owned a bookstore, three photography businesses, a coffee/tea/ and spice mail-order business (all these in Utah), and a fabric dyeing and quilting business in Alaska, in addition to my own current vocational consulting business, Employ Ability.
I have extensive experience in Customized Employment, including the Discovery process, and look forward to utilizing these methods in the BrainWorks project. I think Discovery is a powerful tool to learn about who a person really is, including their interests, strengths, conditions, and desires. As the participants in BrainWorks and their support people move through this process, I know they will find it to be very positive and helpful. It can be a long process that at times may go slowly, but along the way, you will discover if self-employment is the best fit for you, and how to create a business that fits for you and your community.
Jackie Stewart has been involved with small businesses in Alaska for over twenty-six years. In 1986 she founded The Great Alaska Catalog, a nationally distributed catalog which provided a market for Alaskan artists and crafters, attending the "Business School of Hard Knocks" for ten years. She honed her marketing skills with two Juneau based businesses; The Alaskan Brewing Company and Alaska Discovery. She was hired in 1999 as Director of the Small Business Development Center (SDBC) Southeast Region and advised entrepreneurs throughout Southeast Alaska for nine years. She was offered a contract with University of Alaska and served as business advisor for StartUp Alaska, a three year demonstration project administrated by UAA Center for Human Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, which assisted twenty-five Alaskans with disabilities launch their businesses.
In October 2011 Jackie attended training and became a certified business coach with the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. She is certified in Employment Services through the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators to provide employment services for people with physical and mental disabilities. She recently launched Business Works LLC, which helps entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. She has counseled over 1,200 clients, assisting with their business endeavors, provided assistance with over 180 business start ups and helped her clients raise over $17 million in business development financing.
She currently provides private business coaching and consulting. She works primarily on contract to University of Alaska Anchorage, Center for Human Development assisting individuals with disabilities launch their business ventures through various research and demonstration projects which include online business training, Microenterprise grants funded by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and now BrainWorks funded by the Kessler Foundation.
Darlene Kawennano:ron Johnson
Ms. Johnson is a member of the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake, Canada. Born to the Turtle Clan, she is a facilitator and leader in small business development, entrepreneurship, and personal empowerment. She is an educator, trainer, leadership developer and motivator for people of all ages, in all places. She has been an entrepreneur for over 25 years and has worked in the areas of arts and entertainment, small business development, counseling and personal healing, education and academia, and numerous empowerment programs. For the last 5 years, Ms.Johnson has focused primarily on professional business counseling and coaching for entrepreneurs and small business owners, teaching various small business courses and on facilitating life, career and professional goals, with individuals wanting to turn their passions to business and profit. She has successfully worked with many non-profit and for-profit organizations and businesses including, but not limited to: law enforcement and public safety organizations; educational institutions; city, county, state, federal and tribal governments; the arts and entertainment industry; conferences; and other special events in the creation, coordination and delivery of workshops, seminars, symposiums, trainings and facilitations. Prior to moving to Alaska, she spent several years in both California and Arizona developing prevention, intervention and treatment programs for youth.
I am pleased to be participating in The UAA CHD BrainWorks for self-employment research project. As an entrepreneur with a brain injury, I know how important it is to have meaningful work.For many of us with brain injuries traditional wage employment just doesn't work.We have skills, abilities and motivation – for many of us self-employment is the right choice.
In 2001 I slipped on pea gravel, fell and struck my head sustaining a brain injury.The injury resulted in loss of short –term memory, loss of reading ability and aphasia as well as other symptoms.In addition, my brain no longer processes sound from my left ear.
In 2005, at the request of a friend, I began writing quilting patterns.In 2010 I launched my business, Raven Stitches.Raven Stitches offers embroidery design collections for the home embroidery enthusiast, embroidery digitizing services, limited embroidery production, and patterns for quilts and accessories designed for embroidery.