Afognak Native Corporation
Dr. Malia Villegas is Alutiiq/Sugpiaq (Alaska Native) with family from Kodiak and Afognak Islands in Alaska and O’ahu and Lana’i in Hawai’i. Malia completed her doctorate in Culture, Communities, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She then completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, as part of a team evaluating the first, national, longitudinal Indigenous education initiative since the 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generations — the Stronger Smarter Learning Communities Project that seeks to improve the leadership culture of schools serving Indigenous Australians.
Malia is committed to improving the educational experiences of Indigenous and rural youth and communities by exploring innovative institutional partnerships and community-based research processes. Her specific research interests include Indigenous philosophies of education, community- and place-based education, sovereignty and nation building, and social and moral development. In 2008, Malia traveled on a Fulbright Fellowship to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to explore the successful Maori higher education initiative to develop 500 Maori PhDs in five years, which became the subject of her dissertation. Malia has also served as a Research Fellow for the Alaska Native Policy Center of First Alaskans Institute, where she worked on research and policy related to Alaska Native education, student success, and community development. She co-edited a volume (with S. R. Neugebauer & K. R. Venegas) entitled, Indigenous Knowledge and Education: Sites of Struggle, Strength, and Survivance in 2008. Malia completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science and Ethnic Studies at Stanford University and received an Ed. M. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.