Aaron Leggett was born in Anchorage and is Dena’ina Athabascan and is a member of the Native village of Eklutna and currently serves as the president/Chief. He works as the Curator of Alaska History and Culture at the Anchorage Museum. He also serves as an advisor to the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and is a member of the board of directors for the Cook Inlet Historical Society and the Alaska Historical Society.
In his career, Aaron has played a vital role in indigenous curation in Alaska. He was instrumental in bringing the first exhibition of the Dena’ina Athabascan people … “Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi: the Dena’ina Way of Living” … to the Anchorage Museum in 2013.
Building on knowledge obtained from his Dena‘ina grandmother and after earning a degree in anthropology from the University of Alaska Anchorage, Leggett set out to change the historical narrative. He has authored numerous scholarly articles and co-authored publications about the Dena’ina language and people.
Hiroko Harada has been on the ASCC board for three terms since 2010, and has established a close relationship with Chitose, Japan. She is Professor & Coordinator of the Japanese Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and also Director of the Center for Japanese Language & Culture, which was established in memory of Monty, her student who died in the 2011 Tsunami in Japan. A recipient of the 2015 American Association of Teachers of Japanese Teacher Award, she has developed and expanded the Japanese Program (now the second largest Program after Spanish in the UAA Department of Languages), revising curriculums, building the Japan Center Tea Room, establishing exchange programs with two universities in Japan, co-founding Annual Alaska Japanese Speech Contest (2003) and Alaska Association of Teachers of Japanese, and also (co-)organizing numerous cultural and educational events,including Hiroshima-Amchitka Legacies, The 75 Commemoration of the Battle of Attu, Cyber-Ethics Conference and Tea Ceremony events. She is the author of Aspects of Post-War German and Japanese Drama (1945-1970): Reflections of War, Guilt and Responsibility (2000), and co-author of a Japanese Textbook entitled, Monty’s Kakehashi (Bridge) to Tomorrow (2014), and also a translator of two books for the U.S. National Park Service Alaska Regional Office. She is also a first violin player in the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.
Erin Kirkland has lived in Anchorage since 2005, and is a freelance travel writer, guidebook author, and youth outdoor education guide. She has been a member of the Anchorage Sister Cities Commission since 2019, and currently serves as vice-chair. An avid explorer and advocate of global family travel, Erin is a representative for the Darwin, Australia sister city relationship, and hopes to foster future connections among children of Anchorage and Darwin through educational, cultural, and recreational avenues. Erin and her husband have two sons, age 26 and 15.
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.
Now a marketing and video production specialist, James has lived in Anchorage since 2013. Alaska was the final stop in his long-time broadcast news career, which he spent anchoring and reporting across the country. As a Sister Cities Commissioner for Harbin, James is excited to help renew our proud relationship with our friends in China. James and his wife Tarah have four kids between the ages of nine and 19.
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
Nan Ha is originally from South Korea and has lived in Alaska since 1982 and lived in Anchorage since 1990. She is currently a Real Estate agent and working for the State of Alaska. She is also serving as a Board of Director for Anchorage Asian Culture Center and Korean National Unification Advisory Council. She is very excited to serve as a Sister Cities Commissioner for Incheon, Korea.
Yohyon Pharr immigrated from Korea in 1971, became a U.S. citizen in 1973, and arrived in Anchorage in 1982. Her career has been in all phases of banking. She is currently a senior Mortgage Loan Originator at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. Yohyon was one of the earliest members, and served on the Board and as Vice President, of Bridge Builders. She has served on the Community Advisory Board of the Anchorage Daily News, and on the Board of Directors, and Multicultural Committee, of the United Way of Anchorage. She was a founder, Board member and president of the Korean-American Coalition, Alaska Chapter, a Commissioner of the Incheon Sister City Commission, and appointed by the President of Korea to the National Unification Advisory Council. She has been on the Board of the Korean Language School, and an advisor to the Korean American Community of Anchorage. She is currently on the Board of the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center. In 1999 Yohyon received a Certificate of Appreciation for her community service from the Municipality of Anchorage, in 2003 received the “First Lady’s Award” and was recognized as a YWAC “Woman of Achievement,” in 2004 participated at the Governor’s request in a fiscal policy conference of 55 Alaskans, and in 2006 was the Chapter MVP of the Korean American Coalition. She received the Volunteer Award from the Korean Prime Minister for serving the Korean community abroad.
My interest and involvement in cultures, inclusion and equity and empowering women started a long time ago growing up in San Francisco, California. These passions were important as an educator (retiring after 44 years with the ASD) and as a community volunteer (including but not limited to participating as a Loussac Library Advisory Board member, as an Anchorage Museum of History and Art docent, as past Board President of Bridge Builders of Anchorage) so it seems to be a natural progression to be involved in the Sister Cities Commission and continue in the areas that have marked my life. I look forward to this new challenge and the opportunity to forge new partnerships.
Alex is originally from Northern Ireland and has lived in Anchorage since the early 2000s. She is excited to serve as a Sister Cities Commissioner for Whitby, England. Alex works in the regulatory compliance field and has been fortunate enough to travel throughout Alaska for work. Alex looks forward to strengthening our relationship with Whitby.
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.