Anastasiya "Nastya" Podunovich completes 5 years of service with the State of Alaska
Nastya started working for the State in the summer of 2007 as a long term non perm Research Analyst with the Quality Assurance Unit here at SDS. She is currently the manager of the Research and Analysis Unit and has worked diligently to build a team of highly skilled analysts that assist Senior and Disabilities with all of their reporting needs. Nastya is active on many committees and projects within SDS and is vital to each of these endeavors.
Nastya and her family immigrated to the United States from Belarus in 1994 when she was 14 years old. She lives next door to her parents in Wasilla. She asked her husband David to their high school prom and they have been together ever since. Nastya and David are now the proud parents of Mariya “Masha”, a researcher in training.
Nastya enjoys jogging, fishing, dogs and horses, weekends in Girdwood and Homer, and spending time with family. SDS is lucky to have such an intelligent, dedicated, and detailed woman at the helm of Research and Analysis.
Congratulations, Patrick Walker!
On May 1, Pat Walker will step into the position of Quality Assurance Unit manager that Lynne Keilman-Cruz vacated to take on a broader quality oversight role for SDS.
“I enjoy the job, getting out and speaking to the providers and clients,” Pat said.
As manager, his focus will shift more to investigations, something the unit has increased in recent years.
“We’re taking a more assertive stance on ensuring our clients get the best services” that providers can offer, Pat said.
He’ll also oversee unit staff as they conduct case record reviews, oversee critical incident reporting, review mortalities, conduct complaint investigations and monitor and report on data.
And, of course, he’ll maintain the strong investigatory partnerships SDS has with the DHSS Medicaid Program Integrity Unit and the Department of Law Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Along with his years of experience, Mr. Walker brings with him initiative, excellent customer service skills and a dedication to recipients, their families and providers.
Congratulations, Pat! Thanks for stepping up to help us take SDS operations and client safety and satisfaction to the next level.
Sam Cornell: Dedication with adventure!
When Sam is not working in the rivers and glaciers of Alaska, this is what he likes to do. The other thing he likes to do is work at SDS with a bunch of really great people. Thank you Sam for your dedication and commitment to Senior & Disabilities Services
Donna Nechetsky: "Reining" in 5 years of service!
Please join us in congratulating Donna Nechetsky in completing 5 years of service to the State of Alaska. Donna is an Office Assistant II with the Nursing Facility Level of Care - NFLOC unit.
She has been working for the State since 2005 beginning her career with the State of Alaska at API for a short time, later returning to work with SDS.
When she is not working at SDS, Donna loves to take long walks. Donna was walking at lunch one day and a local newspaper photographer took this photo when she met Star the Reindeer.
Donna Moved here from PA, but she is originally from Iowa.
While she was in Iowa, she was in the movie “Field of Dreams”, during this shooting, she met Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Earl Jones, Timothy Busfeld. She was an extra in the gym scene- in case you want to look her up- The Field of Dreams is of course her favorite movie. Donna also took film class and graduated with Mark Steines, the current host of Entertainment Tonight. Donnas continues to love to go to movies or rent movies with friends.
Her Hobbies are her 3 Himalayan pure bred senior cats. They came with her to Alaska from Pennsylvania and keep her busy in off-work hours, along with visits or chats online with friends.
Congratulations Donna for your five years of state service
Tim Barnes: Gear head of the Admin Unit!
Tim was born and raised in Soldotna/Kenai in 1977, graduated from Kenai High in 1995, took accounting courses at UAS in the early 2000’s, has worked for various state agencies (DEC/DPS/DOA/F&G) in accounting/administrative services, and has been the happiest working at DSDS for the past 3 years.
Tim is a gear head and loves all things that drive on 4 wheels especially big old cars. Tim also enjoys camping, music, movies, good food and good company. Tim has lived in New Mexico and California, but Alaska and its beauty always calls him back. Tim has lived in Anchorage for 8 years, prior to that he lived in Juneau for 4 years. Tim grew up eating dirt at the Alaska race tracks; his father has always been an avid sprint car/stock car driver which explains why he’s a gear head.
Tim is a valued member of the SDS team and is one of the go-to people in the Admin Unit when anyone has questions.
Congratulations Tim, for 10 years of service to the state!
Sue Darby: 5 successful years of state service!
Please join us in celebrating Sue Darby’s completion of more than 5 years of service to the State of Alaska. Sue is currently an OAII with the Provider Certification & Compliance unit. She continues to enjoy working with providers, helping them and SDS find solutions to existing challenges in order to improve services to recipients. Sue has been a vital part of the Provider Certification & Compliance team since 2008, handling regulation, staff and process changes with grace and flexibility while keeping the workflow moving and documents in order. She is a skilled lead clerical person to the many DVR and MAAST participants the unit has had and also serves as our “go to” person when computers or copiers fail us, or (in her words), she is the resident “computer geek”. Prior to SDS, Sue worked at Nine Star Education & Employment as a computer instructor and career Development mentor.
Sue has been the owner of Sue’s Tiny Costumes since 1996, which showcases her unique talents as a doll costume designer and takes up some of her free time. She is also the mother of two and enjoys taking computer classes for continued learning and growth. Sue’s strong work ethic and good humor is appreciated by her coworkers and we congratulate her on 5 successful years with the State of Alaska!
Julie Albert: 5 years of dedicated service
Congratulations to Julie Albert on 5 years of employment with Senior and Disabilities Services. Julie is an ICAP assessor in the IDD waiver unit and is a wonderful representative of SDS. She is positive, hard-working and detail oriented. She has experience in processing waivers, DD eligibilities and in completing ICAP assessments. Julie is much appreciated by all who work with her. Staff really appreciate Julie’s calm demeanor and unique laugh.
Julie came to Alaska from North Dakota. Her Alaskan adventure has included meeting her wonderful husband who is a bush pilot, having her beautiful son, Jack, and growing her own garden of organic fruits and vegetables. Julie loves to travel and spent time in Europe when she was in college. Thanks Julie!
Alison Seymour: 20 plus years of state service!
Please join us in congratulating Alison in completing more than 20 years of dedicated service to the State of Alaska. Alison is currently an assessor with the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) unit. Alison continues to thoroughly enjoy the opportunities she has every day to meet and work with Alaskans who experience disabilities and their families. Her vast knowledge of the Medicaid waiver and grant programs is very valuable to new and current staff. She is an amazingly patient teacher and is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the IDD program as she trains new employees. For the I/DD team, Alison is a wealth of valued and “weathered” knowledge and experience. Her good humor and wonderful demeanor are appreciated by families, staff, and providers statewide.
Alison said she “survived” the raising of two adult sons, who are 20 and 22 years of age. Alison’s interests outside of work are hiking with her wonderful dog, Draco, berry picking, slaying salmon and working in her garden. She is an amazing flower arranger and has dabbled in floral design for weddings. She is much loved by the I/DD team who are lucky to work with her!
Anita Halterman: 15 years of state service!
Anita has worked for the State of Alaska for 15 years. Her service includes McLaughin (Administrative Support), Public Assistance (Eligibility Technician, Quality Assurance technician, Supervisor for a Medicaid team, Analyst for Denali Kid Care, and Health Care Services (Medicaid Analyst, Regulatory Specialist). She put her state service aside to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration for two years. She returned to work for Senior and Disabilities Services as a Reviewer for nearly seven years. Anita is a great addition to the Personal Care Assistance Unit staff. She rolls her sleeves up and is especially good with Fair Hearings.
The center of her world is her grandchildren, chickens, the farm, and her husband. She is working on her Master’s degree in Business Administration. Anita is involved in social service projects - improving the quality of life for foster children and those less privileged. Kudos to Anita!
Barbara Dick: Protecting Alaskan adults, children, and families since 2006!
Barbara Dick has been working for the State since 2006. She started as an Adult Protective Services Investigator and was promoted to Intake Supervisor in 2010 and promoted again to Intake Manager in 2011. After graduation from the Minnesota State University with an emphasis in Women’s Studies and Sociology, she worked as a Child Protective Services worker and an Eligibility Worker for children and families. In 2005, Barb and her husband, Jeff moved to Alaska where she was hired as a team leader for the ARC of Anchorage.
Currently, she is enrolled at the University of Alaska in the Masters Program for Social Work. She has an eight year old Beagle named Sam, who is one of her greatest loves. In her spare time she likes to shop, lunch with friends and spend time with her husband.
Lori Gaetzman: 11 years of dedication to the State of Alaska!
Lori Gaetzman began working for the State of Alaska over 11 yrs ago. She started with Department of Transportation at the airport, then Child Support Enforcement, finally settling in Senior & Disabilities Services for over 10 yrs. At SDS Lori started as an Administrative Clerk, moved up to a Senior Service Technician and then a Health Program Associate. Her attention to detail is greatly appreciated by the providers that she helps trouble shoot billing issues.
Lori loves the fact that SDS services help’s thousands of individuals in need, live a better quality of life. She will be graduating this fall with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Management. When not working or attending school, she likes to quilt, garden and is always working on her house. She raised 2 children and has now started traveling to exotic parts of the world, such as her recent trip to Iceland.
Thank you Lori for your hard work and dedication!
Franklin Osgood: Superstar!
Franklin has been with the State for close to seven years. Academically, Franklin started college with the goal of becoming a nurse but switched to social work. Franklin has two amazing daughters, ages 4 and 10. He also has an older son who lives back east. Franklin would tell you that he is old but we would all disagree. Franklin likes nothing better than his visits with his girls.
Franklin enjoys all sports (watching now), movies, playing video games, and music. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to SDS!
Rita Walker: Rita to the rescue!
Rita has been an SDS employee since 2003 starting as the Nursing Facility Transition Coordinator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Transitions Grant. The grant expired in 2006 and the program was continued as a state funded program.
As an employee with the state for over 10 years, Rita has been with the Waiver program, the PCA program and the NFLOC program.
In her time off from SDS, she enjoys spending time with her son, daughter and 6 grandchildren, going to all their sports activities. She sews and quilts with a group of close friends. She also enjoys traveling to visit her 94-year-old mother and other family members in Texas and to other warm sunny climates.
Judy Peacock: 5 years of dedicated service to the State of Alaska.
Judy has been an employee for the State of Alaska since February 2005. All Judy’s employment with the state has been with Adult Protective Services (APS). Before coming to APS, Judy was an advocate with STAR (Standing Together Against Rape). Judy reports that her greatest accomplishments are working on the Alaska Pipeline and traveling the western parts of the United States in her van and with her wolf dog, Raven. Judy is a hard worker and does and outstanding job ensuring the safety of vulnerable adults. In Judy’s spare time she likes to engage in her new love, on-line shopping. Congratulations Judy!
Brenda Martin: Senior Services Technician with the NFLOC unit.
Brenda has been with the State of Alaska for 6 years. The first 5 years were with PCA as an Office Assistant II. This last year she has worked as a Senior Services Technician with the NFLOC unit. She loves working for Senior and Disabilities Services and seeing great accomplishments happen on a daily basis. She loves the people she works with, which includes the whole division.
Brenda has 5 children, one son and four daughters and has 4 delightful grandchildren. In her off time, she likes to shop for fabric and buttons, read, play the piano and is currently involved with a bunch of cub scouts. It is with great joy that we recognize Brenda for her contributions to SDS!
Sandra Jenkins: APS "fashionista" with a wicked sense of humor!
Sandra Jenkins has been with Adult Protective Services since 2009. She was promoted to Intake Supervisor in 2012. She started her state services with the Office of Children’s Services in 2007 and received her Master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma in 2003. Sandra has a passion for working with people and helping others, along with a wicked sense of humor. When she is not spending time with her precious grandchildren, she can be seen dancing away her stress, singing her songs from her awesome Smartphone, or plotting revenge on an unsuspecting co-worker who decided to play a trick on her first!!!
Sandra is a huge asset to the APS team as well SDS. She has a knack to making you smile when you need it most. And she is APS’s resident “fashionista”!!
Cathie Sharp: Delightful and irreplaceable
Cathie Sharp has been with the State of Alaska over 10 years. All of her State Service has been with the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services. Almost every phone call, delivery, letter and visitor comes into contact with Cathie. Many will agree she is the heart of our division. She has a wealth of knowledge and a friendly disposition. She is always willing to help other associates with a smile and a positive attitude. According to her supervisor, she is “a delight to work with and irreplaceable.”
Cathie is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where she met her husband Jack. With his Fraternity brothers in tow, Jack serenaded Cathie as he proposed. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. They also have an adorable Collie named Shelby.In recent years, they have been working on remodeling their home. In Cathie’s spare time, she enjoys singing with the Anchorage Concert Choir and she is an avid reader.
Jan Bragwell: Beloved member of the NFLOC Unit
Jan Bragwell is a beloved member of the Nursing Facility Level of Care unit. She has worked as a nurse assessor and supervisor with SDS for over 7 years. During that time she has traveled extensively across the state conducting assessments. Jan is SDS's expert hearing representative, winning clients, providers and judges over with her knowledge, wit, sense of humor and southern charm. Before becoming a State of Alaska employee, she worked for many years with hospice clients and their families assisting them in the dying process. Jan is a rabid Alabama Crimson Tide football fan, loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. When she isn't rooting Crimson Tide, she can be found reading The Good Book.
Judith Bendersky: 22 years in Public Health and our very own Medicare expert!
Judith has worked in public health in Alaska for 22 years. In Indonesia she worked in a national family planning project, then worked with rural Alaskan children’s services, school safety and substance use prevention, then entered State service staffing the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Ed. She is currently Health Program Manager II with the Medicare Information Office which combines her love for connecting people with good information, good healthcare and serving aging adults. Judith enjoys sharing her passion for all things Medicare with the public. In her spare time Judith prioritizes outdoor exercise by being an organizer with the Anchorage Adventurer Meet up group. She loves to hike, bike, snow-shoe, ski, kayak and fish and when it’s too cold to be outdoors she’ll opt to ballroom dance or do dance aerobics. She’s looking forward to the day her son returns from Afghanistan and daughter gets back to Wyoming and is married to Jim Landon.
Christina Anaruk: 6 years of state employment!
Christina Anaruk has worked for the State of Alaska since 2006; at the Office of Children Services and Senior and Disabilities Services. In many of her work roles as a Senior Services Technician she supports the Adult Protective Services Unit and is an integral part in maintaining the General Relief Program which provides funding for individuals who require financial assistance for assisted living care, she has demonstrated that she is able to easily adapt new and changing procedures into ongoing systems. She is always willing to help, she never hesitates to volunteer to provide assistance. When she is not caring for those of us at SDS she is the mother of five children, two girls 15 and 13 years old, and three boys, 10, 8, and 5 years old. She enjoys fishing in the summer and taking at least one planned vacation during the winter season with her family. We feel very lucky to have her as part of our team!
Marilee Rivas: Managing the division's travelers.
Marilee Rivas began her state career in September 2000 with the Department of Natural Resources with the Alaska Conservation Corp. She has since held accounting and administrative positions with the Department of Administration and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. Here at SDS, Marilee works closely the division’s travelers and manages the travel functions in Anchorage as well as provides assistance to the Juneau and Fairbanks travel coordinators.
Outside of work, Marilee loves spending time with her family including her husband, Oscar, her two daughters and two beautiful grandsons. Some of their favorite times are spent enjoying outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and riding one of many family motorcycles. Marilee shares her passion for motorcycles with her husband. The pair frequently ride with friends to local rallies as well as to national events such as the legendary annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. As a motorcycle enthusiast, Marilee is an active member of the Anchorage chapter of the Alaskan Bikers Advocating Training and Education program. She readily participates in the group’s fundraisers, promotes the organization’s products and contributes to the ABATE Rider Education Program.
Jeanné Larson: She's "a keeper"!
Jeanné Larson started working for the State of Alaska in 2006 with the Medicare Information Office. She spends the majority of her timing on the phone providing one-on-one counseling of individuals who are confused by Medicare! She also enjoys speaking to groups and helping people through the Medicare maze.
Jeanné has worked in the Medicare Information Office for over 7 years and has a wealth of knowledge garnered from her 6 years of health care organizational experience with one of the leading health insurance providers in the Nation prior to joining the State of Alaska.
Jeanné was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska where she fell in love with and married Alaskan hockey legend Dean Larson. Dean and Jeanné have 3 daughters and they all love to camp and fish like true Alaskans. Like the many fish caught by Jeanné, she’s “a keeper”.
Tony Bove: 5 years of state service helping adults in need.
John (Tony) Bove, moved to St. Mary’s, Alaska from Texas in Sept. ’06 after accepting a position with the Office of Children’s Services with the State of Alaska. In June 2011, Tony moved from Barrow, Alaska to the big city of Anchorage after accepting a position with Adult Protective Services. Tony became aware of Adult Protective Services while working in the rural areas and seeing vulnerable adults that were in need of protection and services and having no idea whom to call. As fate might have it, he later was talking with a friend who had been working with Adult Protective Services and this sparked his desire to want to help adults in need. When the position in Anchorage opened for an investigator, he jumped at the opportunity and looked forward to the adventure.
Tony is an avid cat and dog lover. He owns two dogs and one cat and would adopt more if he could. His ultimate dream is to open an animal shelter and find good homes for unwanted pets.
Susan Spriggs: 6-plus years of state employment!
Susan Spriggs has worked for the State of Alaska since 2007. Susan has spent her five years of state employment working with vulnerable adults for Adult Protective Services in the Fairbanks office. Prior to accepting employment with the State, Susie resided in Hawaiiwith her two boys, enjoying the warmth and sunshine. However, Susie felt something missing in her life and came to the realization that there is no substitute for Fairbanks, not even Hawaii, so she came back to Alaska.
Even though her family roots are planted in Fairbanks, Susie has a long professional history steaming back to 1975 when she began working for the pipeline in Fairbanks. She has spent the majority of her professional career as a paralegal but her most rewarding, challenging and happiest years have been with the State of Alaska. Susie has built an impeccable reputation and an unmatched connection with the vulnerable adults of Alaska. All she has to say is “This is Susan Spriggs” and everyone knows who she is. She is funny, smart, makes the workday fun and interesting-never boring.
Susie has 5 children (all boys); 6 grandchildren (all boys), but we know who runs that family. She loves nothing more than having all her family in the same place. Susie is an avid gardener, winning consecutive admiration awards for the prettiest yard in the neighborhood.
Cheers to your services, and many more years to come. Congratulations on your 5 years of service Ms. Spriggs, keep up the good work!
Patrick Walker: Working for the state of Alaska since 2002.
Patrick Walker has worked for the State of Alaska since 2002; at the Department of Public Assistance and Senior and Disabilities. Prior to working for the State of AK, he served at Elmendorf Air Force Base. In many of his work roles, he was performing quality assurance related duties. He is currently an HPMII who conducts provider desk reviews, on-site reviews and provides technical assistance and education to agencies so that they can deliver the highest quality services to participants while maintaining compliance with certification requirements. In his off time, he enjoys competitive dart throwing, making wine, telling corny jokes, speaking German with his wife and spending time with his grandkids.
Mariya Tuchkova: Accepted the challenge in 2006
Mariya Tuchkova was born and raised in Magadan, Russia. She moved to Alaska in 1997 and received full U.S. citizenship in 2008. Mariya started her career with the division in 2006 and accepted the challenge to become the first state care coordinator as part of a pilot project that same year. Through her job’s many evolutions, Mariya stuck with it to its current primary function of coordinating out-of-state recipient transitions and serving those recipients considered the most difficult to serve. Mariya was married last year on the beach in Hawaii to Jesse Teal and they are expecting their first son to be storked-in this July! Mariya loves to travel abroad but her most recent hobby is raising and training her new Doberman puppy (Opie).
Stephanie Welsh: Adult Protective Services lead investigator
Stephanie Welsh was born and raised in Alaska. She began her career in social services in 1999. Prior to coming to Adult Protective Services in 2007, she had worked as a direct care provider, case manager and care coordinator at several different agencies. Stephanie’s primary role with APS is lead investigator. In 2011, her responsibilities increased when she became the lead on Assisted Living Home investigations.
Stephanie is an avid gun lover and often goes to the firing range to release stress. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two cats and a very active black lab puppy. In the summer, you will often see her out on her four wheeler, tearing up the trails.
Sybil Blue: More than 15 years experience with the waiver program
Sybil Blue began working with the waiver program when it was in its initial phases. She now has more than 15 years experience with the program. Her experience and expertise allows her to work across units on a variety of projects and she is always willing to help out in any way she is able. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, zumba, and spending time with her dogs. She is an avid dog lover and owns a Yorkie or two. Sybil is looking forward to being able to retire and would like to travel and, of course, go to Disneyland.