Author

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu covers justice, education, and culture for the Alaska Beacon. Previously, she spent eight years as an award-winning journalist, reporting for the Juneau Empire, KTOO Public Media, KSTK, and Wrangell Sentinel. She's also been Public Information Officer for the City and Borough of Juneau, lead facilitator for StoryCorps Alaska based in Utqiagvik, and a teacher in Tanzania and Bhutan. Originally from New York, Lisa is a first generation Chinese American and a mom of two young daughters. She can be contacted at [email protected]

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé in Juneau, Alaska, on July 20, 2022.

Weeks from restarting, schools across Alaska are struggling to find teachers

By: - July 21, 2022

Bobby Bolen is trying to fill around 50 teaching positions at the North Slope Borough School District. “This is our focus 24 hours a day right now – to get classrooms staffed for students,” Bolen said. Bolen is the brand-new human resources director at the North Slope Borough School District, which has around 2,000 students […]

This image shows someone dialing 988 on a cell phone. The three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crisis support is operational in Alaska and across the nation as of July 16, 2022.

Alaskans can now dial 988 to reach mental health crisis hotline

By: - July 16, 2022

Alaskans who find themselves in a mental health crisis can now call or text 988 to access a trained crisis counselor. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to individuals of all ages. The three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crisis support became operational in Alaska and across the […]

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks on the state budget at a news conference on June June 28, 2022, in Anchorage. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaskans will get PFD checks slightly earlier this year, governor announces

By: - July 15, 2022

The state of Alaska will begin distributing payments of around $3,200 to eligible Alaskans on Tuesday, Sept. 20, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Facebook Friday afternoon. That amount includes this year’s Permanent Fund dividend as well as a one-time energy relief payment.  Eligible Alaskans who selected direct deposit on their Permanent Fund dividend application are […]

Heidi Teshner is acting commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Screenshot is from the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development virtual meeting on July 13, 2022.

Alaska school board picks deputy Heidi Teshner as acting commissioner

By: - July 13, 2022

The Alaska Board of Education and Early Development on Wednesday appointed Heidi Teshner acting commissioner for the state’s education department. Teshner, who was most recently deputy commissioner, is filling the department’s top position following Michael Johnson’s resignation June 30. Board chair James Fields said the board wasn’t in any rush to pick a permanent commissioner. […]

Around 200 people attend the abortion rights rally at Marine Park in Juneau on July 9, 2022.

Record number of Alaskans turned out Saturday to support abortion rights

By: - July 12, 2022

More than 4,000 people attended the Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Alaska rally in Anchorage this past Saturday, making it the largest abortion rights event the nonprofit has ever held, according to its director. The Delaney Park Strip event was also the largest rally in Alaska against the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade to […]

Children pick up their school lunches. (Amanda Mills/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Universal free school meal program going away for about half of Alaska’s schools

By: - July 7, 2022

During the pandemic, public schools were able to provide free meals to all students, regardless of income, due to federal waivers. Starting this fall, that access is going away for about half the schools in Alaska that participate in the federal school meal program.  Families attending these schools will return to pre-pandemic ways of getting […]

Alaskan Chilkat and Ravenstail Weaver Lily Wooshkindein Da.Áat Hope and weaving assistant Nadezdha Hughes work on a full-size ceremonial Chilkat dancing blanket in Hope’s studio in Downtown Juneau on July 5, 2022.

Tracing a lineage of Chilkat weavers in ‘A Life Painted in Yarn’

By: - July 7, 2022

It’s called Between Worlds. And it features a diving whale. “Peering through the bones of this diving whale pattern is this ancestor with her face and hands pressed against the veil between worlds,” Alaskan Chilkat and Ravenstail Weaver Lily Wooshkindein Da.Áat Hope said. “Because we talk about the Chilkat dancing blanket as the veil that […]

Abortion-right protestors march by the Anchorage federal building to protest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. The protest was assembled just hours after the court released its ruling on June 24.. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

With post-Roe focus on abortion access, Alaska advocates plan events for Saturday

By: - July 6, 2022

Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Alaska is holding events in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer and Juneau on Saturday focused on abortion access advocacy. The goal of the events is “so that people know how to get involved and that they’re not alone,” said Rose O’Hara-Jolley, Alaska state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Alaska. “We’re going to […]

Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist sprays water on a neglected gravesite near Lawson Creek on Douglas Island, Juneau, on June 17, 2022. Hasselquist and other volunteers have been working for over a year unearthing and restoring gravesites in the area.

Neglected and forgotten: Volunteers work to restore Native gravesites in Juneau

By: - July 5, 2022

Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist plays a song from her phone at a gravesite near Lawson Creek on Douglas Island in Juneau. She rests the phone down on the ground. “It was a T’aaḵu Kwáan song, the wolf song. I suspect that he’s of the T’aaḵu Kwáan, and so I’ve played the song to honor him and […]

The offices of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services are seen in Juneau on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Seeking efficiency, Alaska breaks its health agency into two new departments

By: and - July 1, 2022

The state agency that led Alaska’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been dissolved. As of Friday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is now two separate agencies: the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. The split, first proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in late 2020, is intended […]

Sally Monserud Hall, seen on June 28, 2022, is on the west quad of the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

College of Health building renovation aims to increase number of grads, address worker shortage

By: - June 29, 2022

A renovation to the University of Alaska’s College of Health building is slated to result in almost double the amount of graduates in three programs, slightly easing the current healthcare worker shortage in the state. The University of Alaska Anchorage is in the early planning stages after receiving a $4 million federal grant. The grant, […]

Constitutional convention ballot question in November becomes focus in Alaska’s abortion fight

By: - June 28, 2022

With the overturning of Roe, reproductive rights advocates in Alaska are encouraging voters to vote no on a constitutional convention during the general election this coming November, while abortion opponents are encouraging voters to vote yes. The right to have an abortion in Alaska is protected through the state constitution’s provision on privacy, as recognized […]