SESA provides consultation and training to support the unique educational needs of individuals and the Alaskan communities that serve them.
Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education
Alaska Council of School Administrators
Alaska Department of Education Designee
Olivia Yancey has been working at SESA since 2014. She has had the privilege of serving Alaskans as an Education Specialist of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Program Administrator for the Low Incidence Disabilities Program, and currently as SESA’s Executive Director. Prior to working at SESA, she taught students who were Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing in Wyoming and Maryland school districts. She earned her B.S. in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (K-12) from Barton College, and a Master’s in Education of the Deaf (MDE) at Vanderbilt University. A lifelong learner, Olivia obtained a graduate certificate in educational leadership from University of Alaska Anchorage and a certificate in nonprofit management from The Foraker Group. In Olivia’s spare time, she likes to go on adventures with her dog. As an administrator her primary goal is to support SESA specialists as they offer technical assistance to school teams and community members in rural and rural remote locations of Alaska.
Katie Groller grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and after spending years living “outside” has returned home and joined the team as an Executive Assistant at SESA in May of 2022. During her travels, Katie lived and worked in Albuquerque, Denver, Seattle, Palm Springs, and Phoenix. She says she learned that she would rather deal with a cold winter than a hot summer anytime. Her background in television news has taught her how to handle any situation and change direction at the drop of a hat. Katie loves being the favorite aunt of her niece and nephew and isn’t above offering bribes to keep the title. She is also an avid reader and film buff who always has a recommendation. At SESA she looks forward to supporting the staff to help children across Alaska.
Yuya joined SESA as Educational Technologist in 2012. He was born and raised in Sapporo, Japan. He studied Physics, computer science and education. Before he joins SESA, he worked as the technology coordinator for Hokkaido International School where he taught basic computer skills and applications for 7th to 9th graders, engaged in training staff and assisted with technology for the school. He enjoys spending time with his family and doing outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, biking and picking berries. He is interested not only in technology, but also in fostering cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and Alaska.
Abby is from a small town in Ohio and recently joined SESA. Prior to moving to Alaska, she graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree. Abby advocates for communication access in a modality that best suits the student's needs. In her spare time, Abby likes to travel, swim, and be outdoors.
Alison moved to Anchorage in July of 2022 from Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas and received her degree in Linguistics. Following this, Alison worked in Finland and Australia as an Au Pair before moving to Massachusetts where she began working in a residential school for children on the Autism Spectrum. While in Massachusetts she received her Master’s of Education with a Designation in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Simmons University in 2019. Alison then returned to Kansas where she spent 3 years working in a middle school Special Education classroom. In her free time Alison likes to read, spend time with her dog, and watch Kansas basketball.
Amy Topmiller is one of SESA’s Multiple Disabilities Specialist that is entering her 6th year with the agency. She grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Science degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2016, she obtained National Board Certification for Exceptional Needs. Her teaching experience includes both therapeutic day and public-school settings working with a wide range of students. In her spare time, Amy enjoys walking her dog, working on home improvements, and biking.
Angel Black, SESA's Vision & O&M Specialist since 2016, also started working as the Project Coordinator for the Alaska Deafblind Project in 2019 and was named Director of the Project in August of 2022. Originally from Norman, Oklahoma she moved to Alaska in June 2016 sight unseen, and now calls it “home”. Education: B.S.Ed in Cross-Categorical Special Education K-12, M.S.Ed in Blindness Low Vision from Missouri State University, Nationally Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist from Portland State University. Before moving to Alaska, Angel taught varied ages and classes of students in Special Education while focusing on those students with low vision and blindness. Angel’s desire is to evaluate the learning needs of students with visual impairments/deafblindness and to personalize local educational programs to support them. With this type of support students with visual impairments/deafblindness can receive all the benefits of a comprehensive education while also teaching them strategies to live full, and independent lives.
Autumn graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with an M.Ed. in Exceptional Student Education. Additionally, she earned a graduate certificate in autism spectrum disorders from UCF. Autumn completed cultural classes at Ilisagvik College in Utqiagvik. Currently, she is working towards earning her Ph.D. at Grand Canyon University. This is Autumn’s second year at SESA. She has 16 years of special education experience and is excited to connect Alaskans with resources about autism.
Brian joined SESA in 2018. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. He received his Master’s of Education degree in Special Education from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Before teaching, Brian worked in the field of community mental health, where he supported children with severe emotional disabilities. He worked in the Anchorage School District for ten years before becoming an Education Specialist at SESA. Brian’s primary goal at SESA is maximizing student independence. In his free time, Brian enjoys fishing, hunting and ice hockey.
Erin Land is originally from a small ranching community in Wyoming. Erin attended The University of Northern Colorado and received her dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education with an emphasis in Sensory Regulation. She has taught for seven years in Limerick, Ireland, and Anchorage, Alaska. She enjoys reading, walking her cats, and traveling with her husband in her free time. This is Erin’s first year as an Autism Specialist for SESA.
Jennifer Schroeder moved to Anchorage in the fall of 2011 from Massachusetts. Prior to living in Anchorage Jennifer taught students with moderate to severe disabilities in rural Alaska, Kansas and Massachusetts. She is originally from MN and graduated from Winona State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. She has degrees in both Elementary and Mild/Moderate/Severe Cognitive Impairment special education. Jennifer also holds a Master’s Degree in Assistive Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys riding one of her bikes, baking and reading.
My name is Jessica Williams and this is my second year at SESA. I spent 16 years as a Special Education teacher working with students in Iowa, Nebraska, and 8 years in Alaska, primarily in the Anchorage School District. I look forward to traveling to other communities in Alaska and my goal is to build relationships with teams and communities throughout the state while providing services that best meet their needs. I believe that all students can succeed with the right supports in place. In my spare time, I enjoy getting outside, spending time with friends and family, and FaceTiming with my grandkids.
John Barrowman originally came from a small town in the Californian foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. He moved to Oregon to attend college at the University of Oregon where he completed his bachelors degree in psychology and a minor in special education in 2009. It was during his bachelors that he was inspired by a guest lecturer to enroll in a program called Project PASS (Preparing Autism Specialists for Schools). He completed Project PASS in 2010 and completed a licensure program for early childhood special education/early intervention and his masters in 2011. After completing school, John moved to Alaska and remained in the Northwest Arctic region working in schools as an intensive needs special education teacher and traveled to support students in the outlying villages for four years. John has been with SESA since 2015 and enjoys being able to bring services to where they are needed. He enjoys fishing, hiking, and cooking.
Kelly is new to SESA, joining our team in August of 2023. She comes with over 20 years of experience working in the profession of Education. This includes as a classroom Special Education Teacher, Instructional Coach, Professional Development Facilitator, and school Administrator in public schools. She has her Masters in Special Education and Educational Leadership. Kelly has been a resident of Alaska since 2016 after moving from Florida. In her spare time, she likes to go kayaking, fishing (especially ice fishing), and cook savory dishes. Kelly’s primary goal as an Autism Specialist is to support all teachers and students by providing evidence-based strategies and tools that ensure teacher and student success inside the classroom and the community. She believes in person first thinking and celebrates individuality to determine the most appropriate interventions and tools to support all learners.
Kristina Bower moved to Alaska in July 2021 from Kuwait, where she worked as a special education teacher for an international school. While there, she assisted in setting up one of the first inclusion programs in the country and worked with school staff and families to promote better education for children with disabilities. Prior to moving to the Middle East, Kristina taught special education in Texas, where she worked primarily with students with moderate to severe disabilities. She graduated with a Master of Science in Educational Psychology from Baylor University in 2015 and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education (EC-12) from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013. This is Kristina’s third year at SESA. In her spare time, she likes to travel and explore Alaska with her fiance and their two dogs.
Lyon has worked at SESA since 2006 as an Emotional Disabilities Specialist providing consultation,
training, and technical assistance to school district staff and families. He has been working in the field of
education and school psychology since 1992 and holds national certifications in applied behavior
analysis and school psychology, as well as a license to practice applied behavior analysis in the State of
Alaska. Lyon started his career in San Antonio, Texas, and later worked overseas for the Department of
Defense Dependents Schools. He has also worked for the Hawaii Department of Education’s School-
Based Behavioral Health Program in Leeward District (Oahu). Lyon’s goal is always to assist those
students experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges in ways that help them be more
successful in the educational environment. In his spare time, Lyon and his super-awesome wife enjoy
travel and outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and water activities.
Meriah Cory moved to Anchorage (started working with SESA) in the winter of 2011 from Kazakhstan, where she served in the Peace Corps. She worked with government and non-governmental agencies to develop life skills programs for youth with mild to severe disabilities. Meriah graduated from Montana State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science. She has degrees in both elementary and special education. In 2021 she graduated from George Mason University with a master’s in Assistive Technology.
Allena has been a team member at SESA since March of 2022. Having lived in Alaska all her life, Allena graduated from Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School and is currently pursuing her Bachelorette degree in Business Management and Marketing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her experience is in administrative assistant support spanning the scope of non-profits to fast-paced corporate settings. Allena believes not just in advocating for her community but in groups like education, the military service member population, Alaskan small businesses/economy, and the personal development of each citizen (regardless of their socioeconomic class or background). Her hobbies include taking portraits of family, friends, and events, tending to her plants, and traveling. Allena’s primary goal as a program assistant is to support SESA specialists so that they can continue to serve the greater Alaskan communities.
Brandie Clark moved to Alaska from Texas, where she attended West Texas A&M University graduating in 2016 with a B.B.A. in Computer Information Systems. In her spare time, Brandie enjoys spending time with her husband and spoiling their dogs. As a program assistant, Brandie’s primary goal is to provide support to the SESA staff as they serve the state of Alaska.
Christine Collier has been a part of the SESA support team since 2013. Originally a Southern California native, she has lived in Alaska for almost 10 years. Upon moving to Alaska, Christine decided she wanted to be a part of an organization that served a greater purpose. Her years of administrative experience, combined with the desire to help others, allowed Christine to find the right fit for her at SESA. In her free time, Christine enjoys trying to keep up with her 4-year-old son, husband, and two dogs. There is nothing better than exploring Alaska with family and friends!
Claire Agni joined SESA in 2022 after 7 years at Anchorage Public Library. Born and raised in Anchorage, Claire is excited to continue to serve her hometown and state. She earned her Bachelor of Art in Liberal Studies from Alaska Pacific University in 2009, and her Master of Science in Library and Information Science, as well as, an Advanced Certificate in Archives, from Pratt Institute in 2013. In her spare time, Claire enjoys playing with her dog, baking, traveling, and listening to K-Pop.
A new hire into the Tech Assistant position at SESA, Garrett is an avid tech enthusiast with a wide range of experience. In his time out of the office, he enjoys Unity development, life with his partner, and is pursuing a certification in C++. As the Technology Assistant here at SESA he is dedicated to implementing and maintaining the equipment required to ensure smooth operation for both staff and students.