Rural Alaska

New YK Delta women's philanthropy group will help traveling Bethel doctor

BETHEL — A new women's group is forming in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to support both local and global causes.

More than three dozen women showed up earlier this month for the kickoff of YK Delta Women in Philanthropy. Women of various backgrounds — lawyers and doctors, teachers and social workers, retirees and those just starting out — responded to the invitation to form a women's giving circle.

"This is a movement, ladies," one of the organizers, Vicki Malone, told the group.

Researchers have found that women donate differently than men, she said. The Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University says women are more likely to give because of political or philosophical beliefs or because they are on an organization's board.

"They don't just want to write a check at a cocktail party," Malone said.

Monica Charles, who was at the kickoff meeting, said she wants to be part of it, and wants to make sure that other Alaska Native people are too. Too many times, well-meaning Caucasians decide how things should go for Native people, she said.

"I know there are people out there in villages who will contribute and will provide that voice that will reach the Delta," said Charles, a former teacher who now works as an advocate in court.


Tiffany Zulkosky, another founding member who, like Charles, is Yup'ik, said the goal is to create an inclusive group for women to be invested in their community.

Women will pool and invest donations, then together decide on causes to support, said Michelle DeWitt, another founding member and executive director of Bethel Community Services Foundation. That existing organization will accept the donations, provide investment strategies and handle the accounting for the new Delta women's group for a 2 percent fee.

Donations will be split between immediate needs and the creation of endowments.

Half of what is raised will go for global projects and for the first three years will be directed to Bethel doctor Jill Seaman's work in Africa, her South Sudan Medical Relief project. It will go to CrossCurrents International in Ohio, an organization that Seaman has relied on in the past.

The rest will go to local and regional projects.

Organizers of the YK women's group say those who want to learn more can visit

They also urge Amazon shoppers to switch over to AmazonSmile uses existing account information, and Amazon donates half a percent of the purchase amounts to the shopper's chosen charity.

Lisa Demer

Lisa Demer was a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch News. Among her many assignments, she spent three years based in Bethel as the newspaper's western Alaska correspondent. She left the ADN in 2018.