Community Response and Resilience to Disaster: Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis in Sitka, Alaska



Wednesday, July 28, 2021


10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. AKT
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. PDT
2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EDT


This event took place on Zoom.


This webinar examined how local, state, and federal governments can improve their collaboration with community-based organizations by drawing on the experiences of NGOs in Sitka, Alaska, that were instrumental in addressing emergent challenges in the local community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from local organizations in Sitka shared their experience in responding to the pandemic, including how they interacted with funders and governmental organizations outside of Sitka and how their practices contributed to community resilience.

This talk was designed to help governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and donors involved with emergency response to evaluate their engagement with local community organizations and identify areas for improved partnerships with these groups as the pandemic subsides and communities look to build back better.

Sitka radio station KCAW covered the event and posted a summary.


Katie Riley, Sitka Conservation Society
Riley is the Policy Director at the Sitka Conservation Society and works to support innovative policy initiatives and engagement related to the SCS’s mission to protect the natural environment of the Tongass National Forest while supporting the development of sustainable communities across Southeast Alaska.

Camille Ferguson, Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Ferguson is the Economic Development Director at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA). In her role, she has developed, expanded, and overseen the Sitka Tribe of Alaska's tourism, gaming, transportation, tannery, meeting facility, Gift Shop, and recently opened a new cottage kitchen. Prior to returning to STA, she worked for seven years as the Executive Director at the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), a national non-profit.

Robin Sherman, Sitka Legacy Foundation and Sitka Economic Resiliency Task Force
Sherman is the Program Manager for Sitka Legacy Foundation and Nonprofit Representative to Sitka Economic Resiliency Task Force. In her role, she works with a local advisory board to support Sitka’s nonprofit sector through grants, technical assistance, and convening. Ms. Sherman has experience working in local and tribal government and the nonprofit sector.

Alexandra McKay, Rasmuson Foundation (Moderator)
McKay is the Vice President of Programs at the Rasmuson Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to promoting a better life for Alaskans. A native of Anchorage, Alexandra manages the Foundation’s grantmaking programs and initiatives with a focus on strong advocacy for groups that historically have been underrepresented.