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 as an Education Specialist of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and now serves as the Program Administrator for the Low Incidence Program. She earned her B.S. in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (K-12) from Barton College, North Carolina. Upon graduating, Olivia worked as an Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (K-6) and Deaf Education consultant (K-12) in Wyoming. She earned her Masters in Education of the Deaf (MDE) at Vanderbilt University. Before moving to Alaska, Olivia taught middle school mathematics to students with hearing loss who had a variety of communication modes. 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
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
At SESA she looks forward to supporting the staff to help children across 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 5th 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
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 Holt recently relocated from Utqiagvik to Anchorage to join the SESA team. During her time in Utqiagvik, she taught at Barrow High School. Prior to living in Alaska, Autumn graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with an M.Ed. in Exceptional Student Education. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from UCF. Additionally, she received training at UCF to complete a certificate program earning an autism endorsement.
Autumn has 15 years of experience as a Special Education Teacher.
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.
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.
Kelsey Koenigs, hails from a small Maine coast town, Old Orchard Beach, and has been with the agency since 2018. Prior to moving to Alaska, she received her B.S in Deaf Studies from Boston University, Massachusetts. Her junior year of undergrad was spent at Gallaudet University studying and immersed in American Sign Language. Following graduation, she worked at The Children’s Center for Communication- Beverly School for the Deaf before deciding to return to Boston University to pursue an EdM in Education of the Deaf and become a certified Teacher of the Deaf (K-12). She then moved to Colorado Springs, to complete an intensive practicum at Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind based on the bilingual- bicultural approach to Deaf Education. Kelsey advocates that a strong language foundation, whatever the modality may be, is essential for cultivating academic growth, social-emotional development, and self-advocacy in D/HOH student.
Originally from Minnesota, Kendra received her Bachelor of arts degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. She later returned to the University of Minnesota where she earned her Master’s of Education in Early Childhood Special Education, focusing on autism early intervention across cultures and individualized routine-based instruction for families. Kendra relocated to Alaska in 2016 and began working as an Autism Education Specialist for the Alaska Special Education Service Agency (SESA). She spent four years traveling to rural and remote areas of the state providing support and training to school districts servicing students ages 3-21 with autism spectrum disorders. Kendra transitioned to the Alaska Resource Center in August 2020. She is currently working as the AARC program coordinator, providing autism education and training to self-advocates, families, first responders, and community professionals throughout the state.
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 second year at SESA.
Luke Martin is originally from Atlanta, Ga where he attended the University of North Georgia and received a Bachelors of Science in Early Childhood and Special Education. Although Luke only moved to Anchorage in July of 2022, he is very excited to experience the cultural diversity that the area and the surrounding communities have to offer. Prior to moving to Alaska, Luke has multiple years of classroom experience in both a general and specialized education setting. Luke is passionate about the inclusion of individuals of all abilities in every aspect of life, especially Education. His primary goal at SESA is to inform and aid teachers with the appropriate tools and resources to allow their students to discover their Least Restrictive Environment. In his spare time, Luke enjoys playing tennis, hiking, disc golf, and basketball.
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 at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. 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.
Shane Phillips grew up in Michigan, attended university in Illinois, and moved to Alaska in 2018. Shane attended Southern Illinois University and earned a B.S. in Special Education. During his time at SIU, Shane was the President of the Student Council for Exceptional Children and participated in events that advocated for individuals with disabilities. After earning his degree, Shane taught for two years in Southeast Alaska. In his free time, Shane enjoys hiking, hockey, rock climbing, and being outside. Shane enjoys being able to work with teams all around the great state of Alaska.
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
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.
Hello, my name is Lauren Yow, and I am a lifelong Alaskan. I am
currently attending Columbia Southern University to earn my BS in Psychology and following, to obtain my MA. With previous experience working alongside outside communities of Anchorage, providing assistance to individuals who seek support
for developmental obstacles is a passion of mine, so continuing to support a program that embraces present and future challenges. As a staff member at SESA, my main goal is to support my peers and the expanding communities of Alaska. Outside of the office, I enjoy working out, spending time with my family and two dogs, and experimenting with new recipes.
Miguel has been a part of SESA since 2016. He was born in California and has lived in Anchorage
for almost 17 years. Upon receiving his Associate’s in business technology, Miguel received the
opportunity for an interview at SESA. Since, he has enjoyed his time at SESA and the work
specialists do has motivated him to pursue his career in becoming a special ed. teacher with a
background in technology and Spanish.
On his free time, Miguel enjoys playing with his dog, Joji, and exploring the wilderness that is
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.