Letter from the Director:
August 10, 2017
My name is Jordan Lewis and my family are Aleut from the Native Village of Naknek and Cannon Beach, Oregon. I am excited to announce I have stepped into the role of Director for the National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders (NRC-ANE) at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I grew up learning from Elders, listening to their stories, observing their work ethic and treatment toward others, and reflecting on their lessons to be healthy Native peoples. It is an incredible honor to serve in this position and bring the NRC-ANE to the forefront of developing resources (training education, research) to support our Elders, families, and communities to age with dignity and respect.
I would like to share about my family and background so you can know more about me how I got this stage of my life, personally and professionally. My parents are Cliff and Janis Lewis of Naknek and Cannon Beach, my maternal grandparents are the late Gordon and Anisha McCormick of Naknek, and my maternal great grandparents are the late Paul and Anna Chukan of Naknek. My paternal grandparents are Alden and Muriel Lewis of Portland and Cannon Beach, OR. I have three younger siblings, Walter, Ecola (and her husband, Chance), and Ceara. My family have contributed to the person I am today, the career I have chosen, and fuel my passion to visit and work with our Elders.
Professionally, I am an Associate Professor with the University of Alaska Anchorage, WWAMI School of Medical Education. I am trained as a cross-cultural community psychologist and social worker, and a credential professional gerontologist (CPG). My work with Alaska Native Elders spans many years in numerous capacities, including direct service with Missouri Division of Aging, nursing home volunteer, legislative staffer in Washington, DC, working at state and local capacities with policy, education, and program development, and tribal health programs in rural and urban Alaska.
My elder-centered, community-based research identifies characteristics Alaska Native Elders state contribute to their ability to age well and become role models for others. Using the lessons, experiences, and stories of our Elders, I partner with communities and Elders to develop culturally-tailored health promotion programs to improve the health across all generations. These programs include rural and urban tribal long-term care programs, AIAN dementia caregiver education, Elder peer-based alcohol program, and intergenerational programs to support aging in place. I received my Bachelor degree in social work (BSW) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1999, my master degree in social work (MSW) from Washington University in St. Louis in 2000, and my doctoral degree (PhD) from University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2009.
The Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging (ACL/AoA) currently funds three Resource Centers for Older Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. These centers provide culturally competent health care, community-based long-term care, and related services. They serve as the focal points for developing and sharing technical information and expertise for Native American organizations, Native American communities, educational institutions, and professionals working with elders. It is my vision to develop and grow the NRC-ANE to be an Elder-centered and community-based resource center where Elders’ and communities’ voices are solicited, respected, and heard and the NRC-ANE resources meet the needs of our families, communities, and agencies while honoring and respecting cultural values, teachings, and beliefs.
This letter serves as my personal introduction, and a request for you to share your ideas, recommendations, hopes and dreams for Alaska Native Elders, and anything else you wish to share. The NRC-ANE will be developing resources (training, education, research) to help you care for our Elders, but we also want to highlight your successes to share with others. What is working well in your family, community, and/or agency you wish to share? What are your training and education needs? While we are a National Resource Center, I wholeheartedly believe we can learn a lot from each other, support our successes, and work through challenges collaboratively. As the Director, I am only successful because of the team and support I have from you, so let’s partner and make a difference in Alaska Native Elder health with the development of culturally responsive health care, community-based long-term care, and related services and resources.
I look forward to this new and exciting role and welcome your feedback and thoughts about the NRC activities and direction. Visit our website for periodic updates and resources. I look forward to working with all of you, and hearing your ideas, stories, and recommendations.
Thank you for all you do with our Elders.
Jordan P. Lewis, CPG, MSW, PhD (Aleut, Native Village of Naknek)
Associate Professor, WWAMI School of Medical Education
Director, National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders
University of Alaska Anchorage, College of Health