About Us

Southcentral Foundation is an Alaska Native-owned, nonprofit health care organization serving approximately 70,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people living in the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and nearby villages.

Incorporated in 1982 under the Tribal authority of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., Southcentral Foundation is the largest of the CIRI nonprofits, employing more than 2,700 people in more than 80 programs.

Southcentral Foundation’s Vision is a Native Community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness; its Mission is to work together with the Native Community to achieve wellness through health and related services. The organization has developed and implemented comprehensive health-related services to meet the changing needs of the Native Community, enhance culture and empower individuals and families to take charge of their lives.

In 1997, Southcentral Foundation completed the assumption of ownership and management of primary care and other programs located in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center. Since the beginning of the assumption of services, Southcentral Foundation instituted significant philosophical changes and other changes in the design and administration of these programs. Southcentral Foundation instituted a total system-wide transformation of care, increasing the quality and adaptability of programs —and more importantly—the accountability of providers and customers alike. Alaska Native people are in charge of designing and delivering health care.


Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care is recognized as one of the world’s leading models of health care redesign and is a recipient of the 2011 and 2017 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. “Nuka” is an Alaska Native word that means strong, giant structures and living things. It is also the name given to Southcentral Foundation’s whole health care system, which provides medical, dental, behavioral, traditional and health care support services to more than 70,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people.

In the Nuka System, strong relationships between primary care teams and patients (known as customer-owners) have helped manage chronic diseases, control health care costs, and improve the overall wellness of the people we serve. Recognizing that individuals are ultimately in control of their own lifestyle choices and health care decisions, Nuka focuses on understanding each customer-owner’s unique story, values and influencers in an effort to engage them in their care and support long-term behavior change.

The focus on relationships extends beyond health care delivery. To ensure whole system transformation, each key work system was redesigned – including workforce development, compliance, human resources and finance – to ingrain an organization-wide focus on relationship-building and shared decision-making.

We offer health care organizations value-based solutions for data and information management, integrated care, behavioral health, workforce development, improvement, innovation and more. Attend a Nuka Conference, request a speaker, participate in trainings and consult with Nuka experts on varying elements of whole system transformation.


A Native Community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.


Working together with the Native Community to achieve wellness through health and related services.


SCF’s operational principles provide guidance from customer-owners when improving systems and/or developing new programs or services. Our mission and goals emphasize working together with individuals, families and the community, which means our systems and services are built on RELATIONSHIPS. We believe that multidimensional wellness can only occur effectively in a relationship-based system of care designed by and for the customer-owner, when, where and how they want it.


After the system transformation that established the Nuka System of Care, SCF saw a dramatic decrease in ER visits and hospital discharges for customer-owners. SCF saw a 44% decrease in ER visits from 2000 to 2004, and a 63% decrease in inpatient discharges during that same time period. SCF has sustained these improvements, with an overall 31% decrease in inpatient discharges from 2000 to 2019.

By improving the overall health of the population, SCF’s Nuka System of Care slowed health care spending dramatically. Between 2004 and 2009, annual per capita spending on hospital services grew by only 7 percent while primary care spending remained below the national index.

Nuka is an Alaska Native word used for strong, giant structures and living things.

SCF’s Nuka System of Care is a relationship-based, customer-owned approach to transforming health care, improving outcomes and reducing costs. The Nuka System of Care is very unique and receives increasing national and international recognition for its effectiveness.

Any health care organization – regardless of where they are on the value-based payment spectrum – can benefit from the operating principles and systems on which the Nuka System of Care is built. For example, the Nuka System of Care can serve as a model for integrated health systems or accountable care organizations engaged in system redesign around a strong primary care platform or those already engaged in risk-based payor contracts. Other providers will benefit from incorporating Nuka System of Care principles and systems – such as robust behavioral health services, team-based care, and data-driven management tools – as they develop population health strategies and prepare for value-based reimbursement.

The Nuka conferences are ideal for anyone interested in learning best practices from a health care system that has reduced cost, improved health outcomes and increased customer and employee satisfaction.

Participants have included:

  • Executive leadership
  • Directors
  • Managers
  • Direct Client / Patient Services
  • Specialists
  • Board Members / Owners
  • Coordinators
  • Consultants
  • Analysts / Associates
  • Administrative Support
  • Interns / Fellows
  • Instructors / Educators
  • Researchers

You should consider attending if you:

  • Are seeking proven solutions, best practices and tools to address challenging organizational issues in this rapidly changing industry
  • Would like to see a vision for the future of health care
  • Are interested in learning new skills
  • Would like to network with other health care organizations

Core Concepts is a required training for all Southcentral Foundation employees, as it provides foundational tools to build relationships. Employees learn communication tools that underline respect and empathy with peers and customer-owners.

SCF has been operating with the key elements of a successful Accountable Care Organization (ACO) for more than 15 years. In fiscal year 2015, 49% of SCF’s income was through third-party payments, 43% was through a grant with the Indian Health Service, and 5% was through grants. While SCF has access to non-traditional sources of revenue, it is important to understand that it also faces unique challenges. The community SCF serves has historically dealt with complex health issues such as chronic disease, poverty, and trauma-induced mental health concerns; however, the Nuka System of Care is working with the community to address these issues.





75th - 90th




Karen Caindec

Karen Caindec

Chairperson, 2022 - present; Director, 2004 - present
Roy M. Huhndorf

Roy M. Huhndorf

Vice Chairman, 2022 - present; Director, 1995 - present
Thomas Huhndorf

Thomas Huhndorf

Secretary, 2022 - present; Director, 2019 - present
Charles Akers

Charles Akers

Treasurer, 2022 - present; Director, 2008 - present
R. Gregg Encelewski

R. Gregg Encelewski

Director, 2022 - present
Sandra Haldane, BSN, RN, MS

Sandra Haldane, BSN, RN, MS

Director, 2022 - present
Dr. Jessie Marrs, MD

Dr. Jessie Marrs, MD

Director, 2021-present
Dr. Terry Simpson, MD, FACS

Dr. Terry Simpson, MD, FACS

Director, 2003-present
Lisa Wade

Lisa Wade

Director, 2021-present


April Kyle

April Kyle

Southcentral Foundation President/CEO
Ileen Sylvester, MBA

Ileen Sylvester, MBA

Executive Vice President of Executive and Tribal Services
Doug Eby, MD, MPH

Doug Eby, MD, MPH

Executive Vice President of Specialty Services
Lee Olson, CPA

Lee Olson, CPA

Executive Vice President of Finance and Facilities, Chief Financial Officer
Michelle Tierney, PhD

Michelle Tierney, PhD

Executive Vice President of Organizational Development and Innovation/Chief Compliance Officer


Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (2017, 2011)

National Institutes of Health Tribal Health Research Office Storytelling Challenge (2017)

Anchorage School District Spirit of Tomorrow Award (2014)

Level III, Patient Centered Medical Home™ three-year recognition – for SCF’s Anchorage Native Primary Care Center (2009-2012, 2012-2015, 2015-2018), Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center (2015-2018), McGrath Regional Health Center (2015-2018) and Nilavena Subregional Clinic (2015-2018). McGrath and Nilavena are rural Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The Patient Centered Medical Home standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement.

Indian Health Service Director’s Award (2012)

Alaska Cultural Humanitarian Award (2012) – presented by the Alaska Psychological Association

Cerner Consulting Project Excellence Award (2011)

League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business Award (2010)

Alaska Performance Excellence (APEX) Award (2009)

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services SAMHSA Science & Service Award (2009) for behavioral health/primary care integration

Joint Commission accreditation (ANMC hospital and primary care center) a nationally recognized symbol of quality

Magnet® status for nursing excellence (ANMC hospital) an honor bestowed to only 5 percent of U.S. hospitals

Level II, Trauma Center (ANMC hospital) – reverified in 2019 as a Level II Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). ANMC was Alaska’s first Level II Trauma Center – first receiving verification in 1999.

Level II, Pediatric Trauma Center (ANMC hospital) – verified in 2018 as a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).