Director of Indigenous Programs
Tribal affiliation: Iñupiaq
Sandra Kowalski has been director of Indigenous programs in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education since January 2018. Sandy is Iñupiaq from Buckland and Kotzebue, where she was both a teacher and a principal. In Kotzebue, she served as one of the initial planning team members for a tribal school startup and later served as director of Nikaitchuat Ilisagviat, her home community’s tribal Iñupiaq language immersion school. When Sandra later became principal of June Nelson Elementary School in Kotzebue, she recognized the many positive academic, social and emotional outcomes of students who transitioned over from the tribal immersion school to the public school. Sandra believes strongly that Indigenous youth prosper when immersed in relevant language and cultural experiences. After moving her family to Fairbanks in 2007, Sandy was a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. As director of Indigenous programs at UAF, she finds meaningful work in supporting Indigenous programs and studies and particularly enjoyed hosting the Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute in May 2018. Sandra is also a member of the Alaska State Board of Education, representing the Fourth Judicial District. Her term expires in March 2023.