Organizing Task Force
A team of experienced Alaskan activists who are working to organize and implement the Youth Congress.
Shelby Surdyk, Project Manager
Shelby grew up in Skagway, Alaska. In 2007, she and a high school classmate organized a theater project called Students Educating for Nuclear Awareness. The project culminated in a 3-day World Nuclear Awareness Conference hosted at the University of Alaska Southeast in 2008. She continued to make the health impacts of low-dose ionizing radiation exposure a focus of her undergraduate studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and her M.S. thesis at the American University of Beirut. She is now living in Juneau where she is working on a Veterans for Peace project to organize a youth conference on nuclear disarmament.
Rich Moniak is treasurer of the Juneau Chapter of Veterans for Peace. He joined VFP in 2006 while his son was serving his second deployment in the Iraq War. A retired civil engineer, Rich now writes a weekly column for the opinion page of the Juneau Empire. He is a local coordinator for the U.S. State Department YES program which brings Muslim exchange students to the US. He was an editor for the Seattle based Voices in Wartime Education Project, traveled to Gaza with a Code Pink led peace delegation in 2009, and was a panelist representing Military Families Speak during the 2007 Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq.
Statement of Hope: I have come to believe that living a faith and spiritual life of non-violence based on restorative justice towards all humans and this earth is essential. A restorative, as opposed to a punitive approach to our personal, community, national, and international relations is our only hope of providing a path to a just world. Atomic weapons are both the symbolic and the actual threat that can end life on our planet. I believe the possibility of using these weapons is now as great as at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The global elimination of this threat is imperative. As I reach 85 years of age, I realize that this task must be passed on to the more energetic, informed and tech savvy youth. My hope is that this conference will ignite in our youth the determination and confidence to use their skills and new found tools to create a clear and effective voice for a non-violent nuclear free world.
My generation tried. May the younger generation be more successful.
Amy moved to Alaska in 1966 to conduct applied anthropology research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 1981, she moved to Juneau with her husband, a Vietnam war veteran, where they raised their two daughters. In Juneau, they joined community efforts to oppose US interventions in Central America. As an Associate member of the local chapter of Veterans For Peace, Amy worked on a truth in recruiting project in the local high schools. She also helped start Juneau People for Peace and Justice in the fall of 2003. She protested and was arrested at the White House in the build-up to the Iraq war.
Don Gotschall spent his early career as a hydropower engineer, designing and estimating the cost of dams and powerplants for economic comparison with other types of power generation in Alaska. Later, he served as a construction manager for the city of Juneau’s municipal projects. After his third retirement, he led volunteer construction projects in Alaska, Mississippi, Texas, Mexico, and Guatemala. His commitment to peace and nonviolence is shaped by his military service after college – several years in the military was enough to convince him that killing people does not solve problems. His current hobby is turning wood bowls, which sometimes turn out to be “art by accident”.
Judith Maier first came to Juneau, Alaska in 1956 on a Methodist Church work camp. She fell in love with a local and spent her life in Juneau, working as a teacher, tending her garden, and raising four children. She founded the group Juneau People for Peace and Justice and has worked to promote a culture of peace in Alaska by facilitating high school exchange programs for students from Russia as well as Muslim-majority countries. During the Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980’s, she was a regular protester at the Nevada Test Site.