Originally from the small village of Evansville in the Brooks Range, Ms. McConnell is Inupiaq and has devoted her entire career to working on behalf of the Alaska Native community; educating the general public about Native issues and advocating for Native people through her various work in communications and senior management.
Sharon currently serves as the Executive Director of Denakkanaga, and has been advocating for elders in her capacity since February 2014. Prior to that that she was part of the Doyon, Limited senior management, serving as vice-president of communications from 2008 to 2013, and was Executive Director of Doyon Foundation from 2002 to 2008.
She began her career as an intern reporter for Tundra Times and as a radio announcer at KIAK Radio in Fairbanks in the mid-70’s. She has the distinction of being one of Alaska’s first Native broadcasters being a reporter and anchor at KIMO. She also hosted a national radio talk show in the mid-90’s, the Native American Calling Wellness Edition once a week from Anchorage. She previously owned the production company, Blueberry Productions, with a business partner, which produced numerous live broadcasts, documentaries, and a weekly statewide news program on Native affairs.
Through her work, she was able to attend Sundance Film Festival as a Native producer and had the opportunity to work on a taping of the Antique Roadshow in New York and receive training through the Native America Public Telecommunications Network at WGBH in Boston.
Recently, Sharon was honored by the Emmys for being a trailblazing broadcaster in Alaska. She had this to say, “I remember at an early age growing up in the small village of Bettles that I wanted to work in some capacity on behalf of our Native people. I would grab a hairbrush and practice my ‘broadcasting voice’ in front of the mirror. Throughout my career in both broadcasting and senior management, I’ve been blessed to interview and meet so many inspiring people who work on behalf of our Native people.”
Ms. McConnell is the proud Mother of four grown children and 14 grandchildren. Ms. McConnell enjoyed playing women’s hockey and softball in her younger years. Her passion now is Athabascan bead working, being inspired by the elders she works with.
Sharon is being honored at the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards for being a trailblazing broadcaster in Alaska. Tune in on June 3, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. AKDT at this link: https://www.natasnw.org/
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