Storyknife Board and Staff

Dana Stabenow, President
Pati Crofut, Vice President
Rhonda Sleighter, Secretary
Nora Elliott, Treasurer
Pearl Brower, Member at Large
Katherine Gottlieb, Member at Large
Paula Martin, Member at Large
Jeannie Penney, Member at Large

Dana Stabenow, President


Dana Stabenow was born in Alaska, and has lived there all here life. She received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Alaska in 1973. After a trip abroad, she began work for Alyeska Pipeline at Galbraith Lake and later for British Petroleum for six years at Prudhoe Bay. In 1982, she began to attend the University of Alaska’s Master of Fine Arts program, graduating in 1985.

In 1989, at the instance of her friend Katherine Gottlieb, she applied for a residency at Hedgebrook, a women’s writing residency on Whidbey Island in Washington. She was among the first year’s residency cohort. Dana credits that experience with giving her the confidence to pursue whole-heartedly her writing career. In fact, her first novel Second Star was published by Ace Science Fiction in 1991. The first Kate Shugak novel, A Cold Day for Murder, was published in 1992 and won an Edgar award in 1993.

There are now three Star Svensdotter novels, four Liam Campbell novels, twenty-one Kate Shugak novels, two thrillers set on USCG cutters, a short story collection, a collection of the Alaska Traveler columns she wrote for Alaska magazine, and Silk and Song, a novel about Marco Polo’s grand-daughter traveling the Silk Road west between 1322-1327. Next up is a novel featuring Cleopatra’s fixer, the Eye of Isis, and following that the 22nd Kate Shugak novel.

Pati Crofut, Vice President


Pati Crofut  is an Anchorage businesswoman and entrepreneur, and is the founder and president of Arts on the Edge, the organization supporting the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Women’s String Orchestra.


Nora Elliott, Treasurer


Nora is an accountant and has been an Alaskan resident for 40 years. She is an avid reader and plays a wicked game of Scrabble or Carcassonne. She makes incredible melt-in-your-mouth creamy fudge.  She loves adventure travel (hiking, biking, rafting). However, it would not be unusual to find Nora poking around some old moss encrusted graveyard on her travels; her passion is genealogy and digging up family history. Most of all she loves people; she always makes time in her busy day to go to lunch and visit with a friend.

Rhonda Sleighter, Secretary


Rhonda Sleighter is a lifelong Alaskan, a graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a retired paralegal, and an avid reader. Rhonda worked on the steering committees of Left Coast Crime 2001 and Bouchercon 2007.  She believes in Storyknife and looks forward to participating in this endeavor.


Pearl Kiyawn Brower


Dr. Brower is currently the President of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only Tribal College.  She has been with the College since 2007 working in External Relations, Institutional Advancement, Student Services, and Marketing. She has served as President since 2012. Prior to working for the College Dr. Brower managed an education and culture grant for the North Slope Borough for three years and worked as the Museum Curator of the Iñupiat Heritage Center.

Dr. Brower grew up in both Barrow, Alaska and in northern California practicing a subsistence lifestyle in both areas.  She has a daughter, Isla, who is 6 and along with her husband, Jesse Darling, lives in Barrow, Alaska where she loves to be close to her culture and community. Brower was named one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015.

Brower is active in her community in Barrow, on the North Slope and statewide.  She is Board Member of the Friends of Tuzzy Library and is a co-founder of Leadership:Barrow.  She serves on the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board, serves as the Vocational/Tribal representative on the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network, serves on the Alaska Airlines Community Advisory Board, on the Foraker Group’s Operations Board, as a Commissioner for the State of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, and is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Tribal College Journal.

B.A. Anthropology and B.A. Alaska Native Studies from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004. Masters in Alaska Native and Rural Development from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010.  Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies, with an emphasis in Indigenous Leadership from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, of May 2016.

Katherine Gottlieb


Katherine Gottlieb is President and CEO of Southcentral Foundation, the non-profit health arm of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. Visiting Scientist at Harvard University. MacArthur Award recipient. CIRI shareholder, Old Harbor tribal member, Seldovia tribal member, mother of six and grandmother to many more.

In the spring of 1988, the Anchorage Daily News ran a story about a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island in Washington state called Hedgebrook. Dana Stabenow read it and thought, How wonderful for some lucky writer. Katherine read it and called Dana and said, “You should apply for that.” Dana said, “Are you crazy? They’d never take me.” Katherine called again the next day and said, “Did you apply?” And the next day. And the next day. Her diligence worked, because Dana applied, was immediately accepted, and became one of Hedgebrook’s first residents in October 1988.

In 1993, Dana Stabenow’s first Kate Shugak novel (Fun fact: Shugak is Katherine’s mom’s maiden name) was nominated for an Edgar Award. Katherine went to New York City to accompany Dana at the awards ceremony. Before they went downstairs to the banquet, she gave Dana an ivory storyknife brooch which Dana wore onstage when she won.

Hedgebrook, to which Katherine nagged Dana to apply, was the inspiration for Storyknife, and, with her gift of that brooch, she named it, too. It seems only a natural progression of events that she is now a member of Storyknife’s Board of Directors.

Paula Martin

paula martin

Paula J.S. Martin has been campus CEO, dean, director, vice-provost, Fulbright scholar or full professor for a number of colleges and universities.  Her path radiated from strong disciplinary roots in entomology, attaining three degrees (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.) to then metamorphosing to leading interdisciplinary environmental programs (Emory University and Juniata College) and later managing academic affairs for higher education institutions (such as Kenai Peninsula College). Her writing has mirrored her academic path, from early work on biting fly repellents in the Journal of Medical Entomology to discourse on the academic nuances between environmental science and environmental studies in the CUR Quarterly, and a recent tracts on “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Scholars” in multiple editions of the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity.

Her path’s reflection can also been seen with the nonprofits has worked with, from being the aquatic insect expert for the Little Juniata Fly Fishermen Association to serving as a board member of the Kenai Watershed Forum.  Paula was born in Buffalo and is now a fortunate Alaska transplant, living in Homer where her husband, cat, dog, and many friends can be found.

Jeannie Penney

Jeannie Penney has been involved in supporting the arts community and women’s issues in Alaska since moving here in the late 60s. She is a resident of Soldotna and was the founder of the KRSA Women’s Classic. Senator Ted Stevens named Jeannie “Premier Hostess of Alaska.”

Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Executive Director


Erin Coughlin Hollowell is a poet and writer who lives at the end of the road in Alaska. Boreal Books published her full-length poetry collections Pause, Traveler (2013) and Every Atom (2018). She has been awarded two Rasmuson Foundation Fellowships, a Connie Boochever Award, and an Alaska Literary Award. She was appointed full-time executive director of Storyknife in 2018.

Storyknife Writers Retreat
PO Box 75
Homer, AK 99603

Be Part of Storyknife