Board of Directors
Sunshine Community Health Center is fortunate to have a dynamic Board of Directors. Each member brings a unique perspective, but all are united in their commitment to improving health for Mat-Su residents. Members serve two-year terms and may serve up to five consecutive terms.
Sandra has lived in the Upper Susitna Valley since 1978. A 1983 graduate of Susitna Valley High, she raised two daughters in Talkeetna. After working as an air taxi manager in Talkeetna from 1996-2010, she ventured to Antarctica as a lead Flight Radio Operator for nine years. She currently owns/operates a bed and breakfast in Talkeetna and lives off-grid. Sandra served on the board of the Matanuska-Susitna Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1998 – 2005, serving on the executive committee from 2002, and as president in 2005. Sandra’s other experience and service include:
- Appointed to the Mat-Su Borough RASP committee, 2006 & 2007. Regional Aviation System Plan.
- Appointed to the State of Alaska public/private organization: ATIA – Alaska Travel Industry Association 2009 & 2010 and the Marketing Committee with an annual budget of 10 – 15 Million.
- Served on the Denali Arts Council Board of Directors for five years.
- Elected to Matanuska-Susitna School Board 2008
- Served on the Upper Susitna Food Pantry Board 2017, Volunteer – 2021, and also served on the board of Talkeetna Historical Society.
Kathy is a long-time member of the Trapper Creek community. She and her husband came to the area as a young couple in the 70s, built a cabin in the woods, and later moved to Trapper Creek where they raised two children. Kathy’s experience as a teacher at Su Valley high school and as a member of the ambulance service for over 30 years gives her the passion and insight to advocate for accessible health care for everyone. She has previously served as an SCHC board member three times. As a volunteer with the Upper Susitna Food Pantry, Kathy is acutely aware of the unmet needs of our community.
Other experiences include teaching on the North Slope, teaching English in Japan, volunteering at a clinic in Mindo Ecuador, and a lot of traveling outdoors and traveling to many parts of the world. Kathy likes to bike, kayak, hike, paint, and sing. Connecting with friends is a vital part of her life.
Mabel was born in Ohio from a large family of 13 children. She later spent many years in Kentucky working, running a cattle farm and building and running a grocery store. She and her husband lived in Bellingham Washington before moving to Alaska in 1999. Her husband of 27 years, Ron, is a volunteer with the Talkeetna Fire Department.
Mabel’s experiences in Alaska are many, including learning from Native women the art of making beaded amulet bags, Quillows, and fur sewing. Mabel is the owner of Alaska Unique Creations making and selling her beaded jewelry at cooperatives, bazaars and the Alaska State Fair. Mabel and Ron managed the Denali Overlook Inn for many years before retiring in May 2020.
Mabel is involved in many non-profits including the Talkeetna and the State Homemakers FCE, the Talkeetna CERT team and the Fireman’s Auxiliary. She became a Sunshine Community Health Center Board Member in 2019 because she wanted to become more involved with the community and find ways to give back.
Mary is a long time resident of Talkeetna. She worked as Licensed Practical Nurse at University of Wisconsin in the early 1970’s and moved to Talkeetna in 1976. Mary earned her B.A. in Education and taught primary grades at both Talkeetna and Willow Elementary. Presently Mary is retired and keeps busy with grandchildren and art projects.
Want to join the team?
If you’d like to make a difference in your community and help shape the future of healthcare in the Matanuska Susitna Valley, serve on our board of directors. To find out how, click here:
Melitta was born late November in inner-city Manhattan, New York. She always thought Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a marvelous way to celebrate her birthday. She attended nursing school in Brooklyn. Married to her high school friend by then, she was employed as a Registered Nurse in a hospital pediatrics unit and then in an emergency room. A fateful decision was to come to Alaska, five months before the ‘64 earthquake, where she worked at the original Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage as a pediatric nurse and then in the orthopedic and burn unit. Returning to Anchorage and Eagle River in 1969 after two years in Juneau she continued work as office manager and purchasing agent, then changed careers to Realty Specialist/Land Law Adjudicator with the Bureau of Land Management. In that capacity, she traveled to remote corners of Alaska by helicopter to examine, report, and write survey instructions for lands in federal jurisdiction. Concurrently she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. After 30 years in federal service, she retired and continued being her mother’s caregiver for a total of 22 years.
Volunteer work consisted of over 20 years with Alaska Health Fairs in many locations providing healthcare information. During one trip with them to Kuparuk on the North Slope, she joined the Polar Bear Club by swimming in the Beaufort Sea. Now living in Willow she is a member of Willow CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Willow Garden Club, Willow Historical and Wildlife Foundation, Willow Homemakers (FCE), and Willow Iditaquilters, and joined the Sunshine Community Health Center Board of Directors to continue serving her community.
For fun, Melitta watches and feeds wild birds, walks and plays with her dog, raises houseplants, experiments with recipes, learns from Great Courses, reads, and goes camping. Skiing brought her to Willow to have closer access to snow and the joys of the outdoors.
Werner (Vern) Rauchenstein
Vern was one of the original founding members of the Sunshine Community Health Center in 1986. He has volunteered as a board member several times during SCHC’s history. Vern also founded the Swiss Alaska Inn in 1976 which continues to operate in Talkeetna. He brings his business skills and historical knowledge to the team.
Sharon was born in Amsterdam NY, after graduating from college served as ED for Guilderland Community Center, in Guilderland, NY; Outdoor Program Director for the Mohawk Council Girl Scouts; and then ED for the Voluntary Action Center in Glens Falls, NY, where she operated a suicide hotline among other programs.. Sharon moved out west in 1992, first to Alaska to co-mange a remote fishing lodge in Thorne Bay, Prince of William Island. Moved back to the lower 48 to serve as the ED for a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program in Taos, NM. Went from NM to WY where she headed up the Division of Victim Services under the Office of the Attorney General. After working in the AG’s office Sharon moved on to served as ED for the WY Primary Care Association and then started a Community Health Center in Cheyenne, WY. Served as contract instructor for the Joint Center on Violence/Victim Studies at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. Sharon moved back to AK in 2007 to serve as Executive Director of Sunshine Community Health Center, and while there started the Sunshine Transit Service, after retiring from SCHC she served as interim ED in Seward, AK assisting them in the start-up of a Community Health Center.
Sharon has a master’s degree in Public Administration and has conducted statewide and national training on health care services, victim services, grant writing, strategic planning, and developed curriculum on Performance Management; staff appraisals; motivating staff and volunteers.
Rachel grew up in Puget Sound in Washington state. She attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg. She met her future husband Steve while at Central and they were married after she graduated with a degree in elementary education.
Rachel taught at the elementary level in Washington state and Texas before moving to Eagle River Alaska in 1971 where she taught for 24 years. During that time Rachel and Steve raised their 3 children. After retiring in 2001 they moved to Willow and built a new home.
In 1982 they acquired a salmon set net permit for Northern Cook Inlet. It developed into a family business with their middle son Steve who teaches at Su Valley high school. They catch and sell salmon to upper Susitna valley residents.
Rachel has volunteered at Talkeetna Elementary and feels that volunteering for the Sunshine Health Community Center is a small way to contribute to the families in the area.
Annie Thomas-Landrum is the Associate Director of Health Workforce at the Alaska AHEC at UAA and is the owner of Managing Me Enterprises. She became a 3rd generation nurse oh so long ago in 2004 and is gradually coming to grips with how old that makes her. Annie has worked in many areas of healthcare including neurosurgical ICU, labor and delivery, international relief and medical aid, home health and hospice, travel health, healthcare marketing, inpatient mental health, nursing education, and large-scale contact tracing. In 2020, she completed her MSN in nursing leadership and administration and authored the Resilience Recovery Program after experiencing her own crisis of burnout and compassion fatigue. Her work focuses on deepening our connections to ourselves and one another, and using that connection to change the systems we work within.
Like her career, Annie’s family has been shaped by love rooted in a radical embrace of who everyone in the family truly is. She and her husband Cris Thomas have been married for 15 years and have two amazing girls together, Abbie and Emma. After discovering they had different sexual orientations several years into their marriage, Annie and Cris transitioned their marriage to a companionship marriage as they sought to love each other for exactly who they both are. In the summer of 2022, Annie married her second husband Scott Landrum, with whom she shares a beautiful romantic monogamous marriage. Together, they all live together in their home in Talkeetna, Alaska with way too many animals Annie has collected from all over including two dogs, a cat and a bunny to date. Annie’s daughter Emma is planning on mounting an exciting campaign to have their cat elected as the next Cat Mayor of Talkeetna, so stay tuned for updates!
Now Recruiting New Board Members
As our board members’ terms end, we are enlisting potential new members. If you want to help improve the health and wellness of Mat-Su Alaskans, this is a terrific opportunity for you! We are looking for potential board members with expertise in long term planning, governance, risk management, finance, and health care quality.
Click here to learn more.