In June, former Alutiiq Museum Director Sven Haakanson said
his goodbyes to the organization, and announced his plans to move to
Washington with his family. Now, after more than two months, the museum
will begin its next chapter of leadership with Alisha Drabek, who was
recently hired as the archaeological repository’s new director.
Drabek is a Kodiak local, and has a rich family history within the archipelago.
“Well I am a tribal member from Afognak and my grandmother is
from the Village of Afognak and my father is also the president of
Natives of Kodiak for over 20 years.”
While she has cultural and family ties to Kodiak, Drabek has
made a name for herself within the community since returning in 1999.
She said she originally came back to work as a tribal administrator for
the Native Village of Afognak, but her work expanded to language and
cultural education programming throughout the region.
Drabek is already a familiar face at the museum, and has been
collaborating with the organization on various projects since her return
to Kodiak more than a dozen years ago. Those include various
publications and Alutiiq language programs.
Her passion for Alutiiq dialect began as a language apprentice to
various Kodiak Elders. Since then, she’s helped create the Alutiiq
courses offered at Kodiak High School and Alutiiq studies program at
Kodiak College, including writing the grant that funded the program.
“And right now I’ve been serving as the half time project
manager supporting that program at Kodiak College. And when this
opportunity came up, I was hesitant to leave the college and all the
great work that I’m able to be involved in there, but I also felt that
the full time opportunity to engage across the region and not be only
focused on college age students was just too great to pass up. And after
they chose me I’ve negotiated with the college to continue in that half
time position until they have a replacement for me and at least see
them through the end of this grant year so that project transitions
Drabek joins the museum as it completes strategic planning
discussions involving staff, the board of directors, and community input
through surveys. She said she recognizes that the community and board
have a clear vision of what they see for the museum, and she wants to
pursue that shared vision.
“I feel that of course my
background in Alutiiq language, movement, cultural revitalization,
education movements, those will obviously come to play. I personally
have long term goals for education of the language that I’m sure I will
contribute. And ultimately they all contribute to community wellness. So
I think that I bring a lot to the relationships that I have existing
and the work that I’ve put in play elsewhere and through the museum
because I’ve been involved here for years.”
In general, she said there are so many chances to collaborate across
organizations and communities in the region and she’s looking forward
to taking a more active leadership roll in facilitating those potential
Drabek’s first day of work was Monday. She will be working half time
at the museum as she wraps up her grant year with the Alutiiq studies
program at the college.