Commissioners

Chitose, Japan

Hiroko Harada

Hiroko Harada

Inducted into the 2023 Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame and Professor Emerita of Japanese at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Hiroko is a passionate language teacher. Including her graduateschool teaching assistant Gme, she taught K-16 Japanese learners for over 40 years, of which 25 years at UAA. She is a recipient of the 2022 Japanese Foreign Minister’s CommendaGon, the 2021 PNCFL Postsecondary Language Educator of the Year Award, and the 2015 American AssociaGon of Teachers of Japanese Teacher Award. She has been on the Sister CiGes Commission board for many years as a Chitose representaGve and has established a strong bond with Chitose.

Elizabeth Nerland

Elizabeth Nerland

Elizabeth Nerland is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications currently serving as the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for Chugach Government Solutions. Elizabeth has honed her marketing skills in a myriad of industries including government contracting, commercial, oil & gas, travel & tourism, finance, non-profit and education. Elizabeth served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage at the College of Business and Public Policy teaching graduate and undergraduate marketing courses. She earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Alaska Anchorage; a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts (BSBA) in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in corporate communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An engaged community member, Elizabeth has been a supporter and volunteer for many nonprofit organizations including Knik Little League, Nine Star, Catholic Social Services, Armed Services YMCA, CYSA, and more. Additionally, Elizabeth was a participant of the Miss Alaska Organization during which time she served as the Miss Anchorage ambassador traveling to Anchorage’s sister city in Chitose, Japan. Elizabeth and her husband, Drew, live in Eagle River with their four children and two dogs. Family adventures and becoming world citizens, whether through travel, sports activities or homeschooling, has become a keystone of the Nerland home.

Darwin, Australia

Robin Brooks

Robin Brooks

Robin Brooks moved to Alaska in 2008 and lives in Anchorage with her husband, two children, and a box turtle. She has a background in international education, including work as a university study abroad advisor and a volunteer with several high school exchange programs. She is delighted to pursue more opportunities for cultural exchange and understanding with all of Anchorage’s Sister Cities. There are great programs in the works between Darwin and Anchorage, and she’s looking forward to strengthening the connections between our communities.

Claudia Fonseca Farias

Claudia Farias

Claudia Farias was born and raised in Brazil where she maintains close ties with her family and friends. After primary school she received a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urbanism from University Federal of Pernambuco, followed by studies in French at the University Charles-de-Gaulle in Lille France, and an Associate of Science in Computer Aided Drafting at College of Southern Idaho. After moving to Alaska in 2002, Claudia pursued her passion working in the architecture field for 15 years. In June of 2018, Claudia started her 2nd career working in public service for the Municipality of Anchorage. As a code enforcement officer and plan reviewer, Claudia has the responsibility of ensuring public safety as well as the protection of our communities most valuable assets and infrastructure. With a passion for helping others, Claudia regularly volunteers with organizations and groups dedicated to improving our community. Claudia believes “volunteer work” is a great benefit for the mind and soul and creates a deeper sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Volunteer work also provides a road path to expand a network of likeminded individuals who exchange knowledge and culture within our diverse community. Claudia is excited about being part of the Sister Cities commission because she sees this organization as an opportunity to promote cultural, education, business, economic development, and trade exchange between Anchorage and all Sister Cities. She is a dedicated advocate of expanding Anchorage’s global connections with Recife, Brazil and other cities.

Harbin, China

Anna Vernaya

Lucy Bauer

Jin Chen

Jin Chen

Ms. Jin Chen is the COO/CFO and co-owner of Alaska Skylar Travel. Born and raised in China, Jin moved to Alaska after her sophomore year at China University of Petroleum. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting and her MBA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jin pursued a public accounting career for three years before joining Ms. Skylar Jiang in the spring of 2015 to develop the largest Chinese-focused tour operation in Alaska. Since she joined the company, Alaska Skylar Travel revenue has grown more than tenfold, and staff has expanded from 10 to 50 employees. Jin’s other ventures include a Us-China trade consulting firm, a cosmetic brand and a winter gear rental company.

Jin serves on the board of directors of Visit Anchorage and Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, on the Alaska Tourism Industry Association marketing committee, and as Commissioner for Anchorage’s Sister City partnership with Harbin, China. She regularly appears as a guest speaker at her alma mater the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Incheon, South Korea

Yeon Min

Yeon Min

Yeon Min is from Korea. She has lived in Anchorage since 1983. She worked in the IT field for over 30 years and retired from the State of Alaska. She loves the diversity and natural beauty of Alaska. She is excited to serve as a Sister Cities Commissioner especially for Whitby, England. She is looking forward to sharing the natural beauty of Anchorage and developing a strong relationship with the people of Whitby.

Emily Cho

Emily Cho

Emily Cho was appointed to the Anchorage Sister City Commission in 2023. She is one of the representatives of Incheon, South Korea. Emily has been with Rasmuson Foundation since August 2017, starting out as an intern. She transitioned to a full-time position in November 2017 and currently serves as communications associate. Emily works to stay involved with the Korean Community in Anchorage. She is a member of NexGen, a young Korean/Korean American group, where she volunteers her time at various events and helps connect the younger generation with the older generation. Emily served as Anchorage chapter leader of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and as a volunteer teacher for high schooler students at St. Andrew Kim Parish’s Saturday school. In June 2023, she was named Young Professional of the Year by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Group. Emily is passionate about helping her community, uplifting young people and connecting with her culture. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their over 30 houseplants in Anchorage.

Magadan, Russia – SUSPENDED

Tromsø, Norway

Tetyana Robbins

Christopher Deen

Christopher Deen was born and raised in the picturesque foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, his journey has been one of exploration and commitment to making a difference. My passion for the natural world led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science, grounding me in the study of our planet’s processes and systems. This foundational education fueled your interest in global affairs, guiding you to earn a master’s degree in international relations from American University in Washington D.C. Throughout your educational career, you gained valuable experience through various internships and positions around the globe, which provided me with hands-on skills and insights into different professional fields. One of these positions, led him to Norway which established a connection that he carries on today as the Anchorage sister cities commissioner for Tromsø. Currently, his serves as a grants advisor for an Anchorage-based tribal health organization, where his expertise contributes to improving the health and well-being of Indigenous communities throughout southcentral Alaska. In this role, he is able to apply his analytical skills and knowledge of global systems to secure funding that supports vital health initiatives and capital projects that benefit rural communities. His unique blend of scientific knowledge, international relations expertise, and business acumen positions him as a versatile professional with a passion for making a meaningful impact on the world.

Whitby, England

Lisa Lansdale

Lisa Lansdale

Lisa Lansdale grew up in Alaska and her interest in the Commission accelerated after she was a Rotary Exchange Student in Anchorage’s Sister City, Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, for a year. Her large Sister Cities Art Mural is hanging in Darwin’s International Airport where she got to see it again when she returned as a School Principal on a Professional Exchange with a school in the Darwin area. As the Commissioner to Whitby, England, Lisa also has ties to the United Kingdom as she exports products from her small business in Alaska to the UK. She has also had a “penpal” in the UK for over twenty years that she has visited; they share common interests in history, photography, and the Royal Family. Lisa has ardently represented Alaska in a variety of overseas settings, both personally and professionally, and she is so excited to be serving now as a Commissioner. She is a parent to seven children and finds great joy through family time, business, writing, and creating art; Lisa lives in Chugiak with her husband, Robert. She is an Investigator for the Human Rights Commission through the State of Alaska and owns Whispering Cricket LLC, which designs, manufactures, and sells gaming accessories, cross body bags, art kits, and bamboo organizers to US and UK markets. Lisa is also a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA,) supporting and representing the interests of individual foster youth when they are in state custody. She highly recommends the Miners and Trappers Ball each March, as the best costume party on the planet, and feels lucky to live in such a beautiful state. She is grateful and honored to serve Anchorage on the Sister Cities Commission.

© 2024 Anchorage Sister Cities Commission.