September 19 2010The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is pleased to announce Debra O’Gara, JD, has been hired as Director of Planning and Development. “Speaking not only for myself but also for the organization, we are very excited to have Debra joining us,” SEARHC President/CEO Roald Helgesen said. “She brings a unique set of skills to SEARHC with her legal background.” Debra comes to SEARHC from the Central Council of the Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council), where she served as a tribal court magistrate for child support. During three years with the Central Council in Juneau, Debra conducted hearings and issued orders concerning paternity, child support and enforcement of support orders. At the same time, she spent two years with the Alaska Court System as a Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) and Adult Guardianship Mediator and Family Group Conference Facilitator. Before moving to Juneau, Debra spent two years in New York City providing legal assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence. She also spent 12 years with Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Tacoma, Wash., with her last five years as senior prosecutor and juvenile presenting officer and her first seven years as a staff attorney. Before that she spent two years as an assistant prosecutor for the Northwest Intertribal Court System in Edmonds, Wash. Debra holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in Eugene, Ore., that includes an environmental and natural resources law certificate and an ocean and coastal law certificate. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she won the Office of Minority Affairs Student Recognition Award. She is an active member of the Alaska State Bar, the Washington State Bar and an inactive member of the New York State Bar. She also has Bar admissions for several Northwest tribal courts. Debra grew up in the Seattle area, but she spent the summers in Mountain Village, a Yup’ik village on the Yukon River where her mother was born and raised. Debra’s Tlingít name is Djik Sook, and she is a Raven Frog of the Teeyhíttaan clan. She is the niece of William Paul and great granddaughter of Tillie Paul Tamaree of Wrangell. “I am very excited to be joining the SEARHC staff and look forward to the opportunity to put my skills and experience to work for the programs and the Southeast communities,” Debra said. Debra enjoys beading, reading, watching movies and weaving. She has been basket-weaving for about three years and recently learned how to do raven’s tail and Chilkat weaving. She is a Big Sister to a creative 11-year-old Tlingít girl who just started the sixth grade, and she is foster mother to a special 16-year-old boy and Eagle Shark who is a junior at Juneau-Douglas High School.