Alaska Public Media and Well Beings team up for a community conversation about preventing youth suicide in a state with one of the highest per-capita rates in the nation. Healing from the contributing factors facing young Alaskans is strengthened by attention. Focusing on innovations, insights, and deep listening to those who have struggled with and offer support for mental wellness, this interactive event offers hope and help.
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About the Host
Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Media. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 12 as the park announcer for baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 27 years. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR, Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
About the Panelists
Kelvin Pace is a Licensed Professional Counselor and one of the four AASECT Certified Sex Therapists in Alaska. He graduated with a master’s in clinical psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2009. Kelvin is a former medic and paratrooper with the United States Army and has lived in Alaska for over 20 years. Kelvin is the owner of KpaceCounseling, LLC where he serves clients in private practice. He does contract work with Full Spectrum Health as a behavioral health clinician where he works with an integrated care team delivering evidenced based care to persons of the LGBTQ+ community. Kelvin has worked for a local non-profit delivering mental health services to children and young adults that have suffered from complex trauma. Learn more about Kelvin Pace’s work.
Claire Rhyneer is a senior at West Anchorage High School. She joined MHATS (Mental Health Advocacy Through Storytelling) in fall of 2019 and has participated in three live storytelling events as a storyteller, a facilitator in-training, and a co-facilitator. MHATS offer two semester-long, youth-led, courses every year, working to end stigma surrounding mental health. The MHATS program educates high school age students about mental health and helps members develop their stories of mental health triumph to be told live. As a co-facilitator, Claire develops and teaches curriculum about mental health and storytelling, leads weekly meetings, story-coaches, and plans live events.
Justin Pendergrass is the suicide Prevention Specialist for My House, a local nonprofit organization that operates as a drop-in center for homeless teens in the Mat-su Valley. In his short 28 years, Justin has overcome some of life’s unwinnable circumstances. After becoming homeless at the age of 16, his already neglected mental health spiraled out of control and into a world of self-medicated relief. Weeks before his 19th birthday, Justin found himself fighting an all too familiar depression that threatened to take his life. Now he spends his time working with those who are still fighting to overcome the same adverse experiences that he had come up against all those years ago. With some non traditional methods, Justin has found success in teaching others how to grow through the pain to find a purpose. Learn more about My House.
Cynthia Erickson in Tanana, Alaska created My Grandma’s House, a nonprofit with a mission to expose the issues of child abuse and neglect that many Alaska Native children face. It raises funds to bring resources to fight against high rates of sex abuse and suicides in rural Alaska. Her journey started in 2013 when a string of suicides affected her. Learn more about My Grandma’s House.
The Well Beings Tour is a series of community-based outreach events hosted by local public media stations across the country to demystify and normalize mental health matters, address discrimination and stigma, and encourage compassion