Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula staff enjoy collaborating with Project GRAD LA!

Learning & the Brain Conference 2016: PGKP enjoys a great weekend with Project GRAD Los Angeles exploring how to better develop growth mindsets




UNITY Mid-year Conference 2016: PGKP Student and Family Support team explores the Native mindset and how to link it to learning and youth leadership

PGKP’s dedicated and highly trained staff includes an Executive Director/Program Manager, campus-based academic coaches, Student Family Support staff, part-time tutors and two contracted professionals for administrative support.










Meet Jane, Bonnie, Jennifer, Oceana, Luana, Chris, Eric, Caleb, and Kenny!










Jane Beck, Executive Director

Bonnie Pierce, Campus Family Support Manager

Chris Etzwiler, Instructional Coach

Eric Knudtson, Instructional Coach

Caleb Kresl, Instructional Coach

Oceana Wills, SFS Liaison

Luana Stovel, Bookkeeper

Jennifer Freeman, KPNYL Coordinator/CFS Liason

Kenny Daher, Postsecondary Success Coordinator




Jane Beck; Executive Director


Educational Background:

  • University of Maine at Orono; BS Anthropology, minor in Spanish (1981)
  • University of Alaska Anchorage; BS Secondary Education; Foreign Language (1990)
  • Educational conferences, continuing ed classes, webinars, to expand skill set




Something I LOVE:  I love bringing live music into my home!

Something I FEAR: I fear having significant danger come to my kids.

Something I DO: I entertain a lot, sharing a great view of Kachemak Bay, beautiful food, and laughter.

Something I am LEARNING: I began learning to play the guitar at 54. I’m not great, but it’s fun.

Something that is HARD for me: It’s hard to watch others suffer and not be able to help.

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: I would like to return to Spain and travel more extensively through Europe.



Bonnie with grandchildren Nolan and Amalia


Bonnie Pierce; Student Family Support Manager


Educational Background:

  • I learned tribal traditions from birth being raised within my California Salinan Tribe, my Native American dad, and an Italian Mom. My two grandmas were leaders in cultural diversity; along with a large immediate and extended family, including many visiting youth. My family always seemed to be low on dollars yet had a very large emotional bank account they shared with all who entered our door.
  • I grew up going to school with the same set of kids through my K-12 years Educational conferences, continuing ed classes, webinars, to expand skill set
  • California University at Chico; Liberal Arts and Social Science (Special Ed minor) and two teaching credentials (Elementary and High School).
  • With a passion for kids, I switched careers to Social Work where I worked/managed for 27 years in our county’s Staff Development (Education) SW department.
  • Raising my children in my home town, I earned a tribal liaison certificate in San Francisco, where I could advocate for tribal family unity programs in our court system, as well as partnering with our tribal neighbors.
  • One month after hearing I would be a grandmother, I left (retired) as soon as I could to move to Alaska to take on my grandmother role and found my current position with Project GRAD in my passion area supporting youth.  My three birth children are close by, so I have the pleasure of continuing to learn in their close company.


Something I LOVE: I would have to say LOVE equals Heart and Soul which equals SPIRIT of the individual and how we manifest that in our physical world we live, which is where my own heart lies and my passion follows.

Something I FEAR: I believe our world focuses too much on the ‘Fear’ word; an indication to me that as a whole people we are having too many mind to mind conversations (logic, technology, test), instead of focusing on quality heart to heart conversations between each other.  To be an anchor for youth, adults (especially in the education system) must first connect at the heart level before they can be successful educators for our youth. Since our children are our legacy, I pray adults include children’s wellbeing in their conversations about the effects seven generations out on our planet.  Children are our most important resource that needs to be preserved and protected.

Something I am LEARNING: Currently, my family is studying organic game raising on our land, so I am learning how flesh-eating beetles are a fun way to compost in a hunting/fishing family,  and how smart my daughter is  teaching our family to use Agriculture Science knowledge to be better land stewards.

Something that is HARD for me: Winters in Alaska after living for 50 years along the beach on the Central Coast of California (I am 61 years old).

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: Last year I held a canvas while a Pacific coast dolphin painted on it so I feel the need to top that one. And since Sea World will no longer allow anyone to pet the tongue of Shamu (he killed his last trainer); I am thinking it might now be a visit to Spain to watch the Running of the Bulls ceremony.  I love exploring different cultures.




Jennifer Lee Freeman; KPNYL Coordinator


Educational Background:

  • California Polytechnic State University; BS Ag. Science (2007
  • Cuesta College- San Luis Obispo; Associate of Arts General Studies/Transfer (2003)
  • Morro Bay High School- Morro Bay, CA; College Prep, 4-H & FFA (1993)


Something I LOVE: Being outside in the Sun

Something I FEAR: Bears

Something I DO: Daydream

Something I am LEARNING: How to farm in Alaska

Something that is HARD for me: Going to bed before “Pumpkin Time”- Midnight

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: Travel to exotic beaches


Oceana Wills; Student Family Support Staff


Educational Background:

  • Lewis & Clark College; BA English Literature






Something I LOVE: I love playing music with friends around campfires and making art.

Something I FEAR: I’m afraid of losing people I love and (not always but sometimes) heights.

Something I DO: I’ve been fishing in the Egegik district of Bristol Bay since I was 15. I used to set-net and now I work on a drift boat in the summer.

Something I am LEARNING: I just started learning how to play hockey! I am very appreciative of all the padding and especially the helmet.

Something that is HARD for me: Speaking loudly and leaving my comfort zone although lately, leaving my comfort zone has been very rewarding.

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: I want to write and illustrate a graphic novel someday. I also hope to do a lot more traveling and become fluent in Spanish.




Luana Stovel; Bookkeeper Extraordinaire


Educational Background:

  • Various college classes and an in-depth understanding of financial and non-profit record keeping programs






Something I LOVE: Life in Alaska with my nearly perfect husband.

Something I FEAR: Loss of loved ones.

Something I DO: DJ on public radio

Something I am LEARNING: The deep satisfaction of staying in the present.

Something that is HARD for me: Any form of bigotry.

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: An extended European vacation.



Chris Etzwiler; Academic Support Coach



Educational Background:

  • Montana State University; BS Elementary Ed. (1996)
  • Continuing Ed. to maintain teaching certificate


Something I LOVE: My family. They mean the world to me.

Something I FEAR: I don’t like scary movies, especially ones with lots of blood.

Something I DO: I coach elementary basketball. I really enjoy watching the happy faces of the players when they learn a new skill.

Something I am LEARNING: I am learning how to become very good at trolling for fish.

Something that is HARD for me: Being patient is definitely hard for me.

Something that is on my BUCKET LIST: I would like to visit New Zealand.





Eric Knudtson; Academic Support Staff


Educational Background:

  • University of Oregon, BS Biology and Computer Science (1982)
  • University of Alaska Southeast, Teaching Credential (2007)






Something I LOVE:  Spending time with family and friends, especially outdoors.

Something I FEAR:  My son having a hard time.

Something I DO: Paddle kayaks.

Something I am learning: To meditate.

Something that is hard for me: Taking risks socially.

Something that is on my bucket list: Living in another country.


Kresl Staff Photo

Caleb Kresl; Academic Support Staff


Educational Background:

  • University of Alaska- Southeast; BLA English and History (2013)
  • University of Alaska- Anchorage; AA General Studies (2011)
  • Bowling Green State University; Master’s of Liberal Studies




Something I LOVE:  I love to travel, especially long road trips.

Something I FEAR: I fear missing out on opportunities to experience new things or visit new places or meet new people.

Something I DO: I do a lot of cooking, grilling, baking, etc.

Something I am learning: I am learning to write screenplays.

Something that is hard for me: It’s hard for me to handle bad drivers on the road.

Something that is on my bucket list: A visit to Prague, Czech Republic, ideally around the winter holidays.



Kenny Daher; Postsecondary Success Coordinator


Educational Background:

  • University of Tampa; BS Biology and Marine Science (2008)
  • University of New Hampshire; MS Integrated Ecosystem Sciences (2012)





Something I LOVE:  I love connecting to the Alaskan outdoors on sea kayak trips.

Something I FEAR: I fear not balancing my love of living in Alaska and my desire to stay close to my Massachusetts family.

Something I DO: I fly fish, run, hunt and backcountry ski.

Something I am learning: I am learning about Alaskan Native history in Southcentral AK, and that makes paddling around Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula more fascinating.

Something that is hard for me: It’s hard for me to spend long periods working at a desk.

Something that is on my bucket list: I would like to visit distant relatives in Lebanon.