Board of Directors
Sandi Pahlke, President
Sandi has been an educator in the Juneau School District for 23 years. She is also the mother of two. She writes, "I have learned that mental illness affects everyone's lives whether it is a friend, a family member, or oneself. As a society, we need to become better educated, offer better health care, and help one another. My hope is that through my work with NAMI I can help make someone's life a bit better." Sandi has served on the board since 2013 in various capacities and helped establish and is a state trainer for NAMI's parent education program, NAMI Basics.
Knowing loved ones and friends who live with mental illness, Sara feels a strong commitment to do what she can to help erase the stigma associated with mental health issues. Sara is pleased to be able to work with NAMI Juneau in their efforts to improve the quality of life for all those in our community. She and her family have lived in Juneau for 22 years. She has spent time as a volunteer, an advocate for public education, and has served on the boards of AEYC-SEA, Perseverance Theatre, and Juneau’s Year of Kindness. Sara is also a co-founder of The Hasty Half fun run and enjoys running, CrossFit, reading and cooking in her spare time.
Bonnie Chaney, Treasurer
Bonnie recently retired from over 25 years working with the City and Borough of Juneau and is now looking forward to being a more active member of the NAMI Juneau community. Primarily she wishes to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness issues and help family members learn about the resources available to them. We all know individuals and/or their family members dealing with mental health challenges and she feels that by working together, we can change people's lives. Bonnie is the Finance Chair, helped establish and is a state trainer for NAMI's parent education program, and serves on the fundraising committee.
Debbie came to Alaska in 1973 to begin her elementary teaching career in St. Mary's, an Eskimo community off the Yukon. She has three wonderful children with husband Dick Fagnant and delightful grandchildren. Debbie retired from the Juneau School District in 2011 and now has more time for ceramics, hiking with friends, visiting family, and reading good books. Debbie wears many hats for NAMI Juneau and is committed to supporting others through NAMI's various family education and support programs.
Susan previously worked on staff at REACH, Inc. with the organization’s Care Coordination program and later served as Director of Quality Assurance. Prior to that, she had two careers – one in High School Special Education, working with students struggling with Emotional Disabilities, and the other as a Business Operations Manager at Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Susan has a BA degree in Psychology and an MS degree in Special Education. Now that she has retired, Susan desires to serve at NAMI to support and help the Juneau community. Specifically, she hopes to contribute to both educational and business activities of NAMI, having been previously involved in curriculum development, suicide awareness/prevention, individual and family issues related to mental illness, as well as government contracts, proposals, and grant activities. She is excited to serve at NAMI.
Jem was raised in the Philippines and migrated to the US in 2009. Since then, Jem has called Juneau home and is raising her family here. Working as an educator in both the US and in the Philippines, Jem has seen mental health challenges affect the lives of people from all walks and backgrounds. She knows that taking an active role as a board member of NAMI, Jem will become more educated and able to empower others in our community. As a school counselor, a parent, and a community member, it is Jem's mission to be a voice and an advocate for families who are needing guidance in the mental health area.
Rob is honored to join the NAMI Juneau board membership. He is deeply committed to the NAMI mission of education and advocacy to positively influence mental health public policy and is delighted that his recent retirement from the City & Borough of Juneau affords him time for this important work. Rob has benefited directly from NAMI Juneau’s presence in coming to terms with the challenges of family members who are living with mental illness, and he looks forward to deepening his understanding while helping others along this road.
Aaron Surma, Executive Director
Program & Outreach Coordinator
Megan is passionate about supporting those with mental illness, raising awareness about mental health, and learning about all things mental-health and behavioral-health related. She is currently earning a Master's of Art Therapy with hopes to pour what she learns back into the community of Southeast Alaska and help others on their path to wellness through art.