Faculty and Staff
LaVerne Demientieff is the daughter of the late Rudy and Alice (Frank) Demientieff of Holy Cross and Anvik, Alaska, and the granddaughter of Stanley Demientieff and Edith Bifelt and Joe Frank and Marcia Reed. LaVerne is Deg Xit’an, Athabascan on her mother’s side and Koyukon Athabascan, Yupik and Russian on her father’s side. Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, she was raised in the small roadside town of Nenana and in big city of Anchorage, as well as at her family's fishcamp along the Yukon River. LaVerne is grateful to have the magical memories of fishcamp as part of her childhood where she observed the hard work her parents put in on a daily basis to provide for their family of ten children and teach their children the importance of relationship to the people, as well as to the land and animals.
LaVerne currently resides in Fairbanks, Alaska, and has one son, aged 23. She describes herself as being on both an individual and collective wellness journey, and works daily toward creating healing and wellness in her life through exercise, healthy eating, practicing mindfulness, and nurturing relationship and connection with others. She believes that because we are all interconnected in the world that the energy of healing and wellness in her life ripples out and positively impacts her family, community, ancestors and future generations.
Since high school LaVerne has wanted to be a helper. She started off as a Natural Helper at West Anchorage High School where she graduated. She was inspired to pursue social work following in the steps of her later sister Darlene, who died from cancer at the age of thirty-eight right after graduating with her Bachelors in Social Work (BSW). LaVerne graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with her BSW and went on to receive her Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, with a concentration in social and economic development and with an emphasis in management. She graduated with her PhD in Social Work from the University of Utah, College of Social Work. The title of her dissertation was Deg Xit’an Athabascan Conversations on Wellness: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Radical Possibilities of Relationships. LaVerne is currently working as a Clinical Associate Professor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bachelor of Social Work program; she is also a licensed master social worker through the State of Alaska. She has found an increasing passion and interest in health and wellness research and practice and enjoys teaching students and sharing her love of learning and people. She believes these areas of interest will allow her to work on behalf of the people and communities in Alaska; as well as work towards awareness and understanding of diversity, wellness and social justice.
Retchenda George-Bettisworth, DSW, MSW is Clinical Professor, and Statewide BSW Rural Cohort Coordinator. She has been working in the field of social work for over 20 years, focused in the areas of child welfare, work-force retention, and social work education and administration. Dr. George-Bettisworth is committed to providing access to quality higher education for students in rural and remote areas, and culturally relevant practice for all individuals.
Christina M. Ireton, LCSW, MSW, is a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Field Director for the UAF Social Work Program. Christina has been working in the field since 2010 when she graduated with her BSW from Radford University, and prior to that completed her A.A.S. in Human Services. In 2015, she graduated from the distance-based advanced standing MSW program through the University of Southern California (USC) with a concentration in Community, Outreach, Programming and Administration (COPA). She began her career working with victims of violence in a domestic violence shelter, and she has worked extensively as a client advocate and community-based case manager for victims, people with disabilities, and people with mental health issues. In addition, she has implemented community-based violence prevention programs including Girls on the Run in the Fairbanks community, coordinated fundraisers, and provided clinical social work on an inpatient behavioral health unit working with adults. Additionally, she has served on various community committees, coalitions and board of directors.
Christina currently resides in Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband and young son. Adventure and a larger perspective on life brought her to Alaska from rural Virginia in 2011. Her desire to pursue her MSW and become a professor came from serving as a field instructor for social work students. She has a deep desire to see students be well prepared for the social work field when they graduate, and watching students progress and grow brings her true joy.
Christina is a strong proponent for practicing self-care, especially as social workers who spend their lives helping others. She believes there is both peace and strength in the outdoors, in the mountains, and the land beneath our feet that grounds us as humans and as helpers. Christina’s own life experiences and work with diverse clients across the spectrum of social work gives her a deeper understanding of the complexity and influence of our experiences as humans. She is dedicated to lifelong learning and volunteer work, giving back to our neighbors and our communities.
Carol has been with the Social Work program since 1996. She is a 1984 graduate of UAF, with a B.A. in Foreign Languages, minoring in Music, and received her Master’s in Education, Special Education from UAA in 2004. She has lived in Fairbanks for the majority of her life, is married and has three children. In her spare time she enjoys listening to Southern Gospel music, dancing, singing, playing violin, and tennis.