Storyknife Board and Staff

Dana Stabenow, President
Paula Martin, Vice President
Rhonda Sleighter, Secretary
Patrice Krant, Treasurer
Pearl Brower, Member at Large
Katherine Gottlieb, Member at Large
Amy Tannahill, Member at Large

Dana Stabenow, President


Dana Stabenow was born in Alaska, and has lived there all her 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.

Paula Martin, Vice President

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.

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.


Patrice Krant

Patrice Krant and her husband sold their house in Atlanta upon her retirement from The Coca-Cola Company, and became full-time RVers with plans to tour America. Their first destination was Alaska, arriving in April of 2012. They are still here. (If you live in Alaska, you understand.)

Patrice was raised largely in New England, and has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maine, as well as an MBA from Georgia State University. Her career path was haphazard at best. As examples, she was the first female full-time firefighter/EMT in Maine, the sales director for a trucking software company, and The Coca-Cola Company’s global procurement executive for all ingredients.

An avid quilter (delighted to have two of her quilts hanging at Storyknife), incessant traveler (pre COVID-19), and nascent gardener, Patrice also enjoys philanthropy, and is a founding member of the Homer chapter of 100 Women Who Care. Her board experience includes the president’s Board of Visitors at the University of Maine, the University of Maine Foundation, and the Pratt Museum.

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 the former 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.

Amy Tannahill

Amy Tannahill is a lifelong Alaskan with ten years’ experience in marketing and communications and program and project management. Currently working for the Alaska Forum, an environmental education-based nonprofit in Alaska, Amy serves as the Communications and Events Director. Prior to joining the Alaska Forum, Amy spent 7 years working in the Marketing Department of First National Bank Alaska.In her free time, Amy enjoys spending time in the great Alaska outdoors and enjoying a good book by a campfire, lake or river.  

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.

Maura Brenin, Chef

Maura Brenin grew up in Vermont. Her mother introduced her to the kitchen when she was too small to hold a knife. Her mother, a devout Macrobiotic, spent hours preparing food with tremendous intention and love for their family. They ate locally, organically and holistically. Maura learned early that a simple meal could contain magic, to heal the soul and uplift and comfort the body.  She has always sought opportunities to work closely with food. 

Maura moved to Southeast Alaska in 1998 and opened her first restaurant in 2003, Maura’s Cafe and Fine Catering located in Historic Old Town Homer nestled closely next to the Bunnell Street Arts Center. Maura raised her son Asa in her kitchen, amidst bubbling cauldrons and sizzling pans.  She joyously spent fourteen years with her doors wide open to the amazing community of Homer.  In 2016, she welcomed her second son Henry and sold her restaurant. She has been privileged to continue cooking In Homer as a private chef.

Storyknife Writers Retreat
PO Box 75
Homer, AK 99603

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