The Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance (AKEDA) was co-founded by Beth Rose and Jenny Loudon and incorporated as an 501(c) 3 nonprofit in September 2019.
Beth and Jenny had known each other for more than 15 years as members of a book club. However, despite being friends for years, they never knew they had another hidden connection — both had survived eating disorders when they were teenagers and later fully recovered. As adults, they also learned they had each supported a family member experiencing an eating disorder. Jenny and Beth began discussing the hardships, challenges, and lessons each had learned while navigating eating disorder treatment and resources in Alaska.
Common themes emerged in these discussions:
The loneliness associated with trying to navigate an illness where secrecy, shame, and stigma often keep people from connecting in ways where they can help each other;
The difficulties associated with finding local eating disorder treatment;
The challenge of accessing higher levels of care, since only outpatient care is available in Alaska — if one can even find providers;
The lack of support available to families and individuals experiencing eating disorders;
The lack of awareness in the general community about what eating disorders are, their seriousness, or how people can help.
Beth and Jenny began researching ways that they might help other Alaskans experiencing eating disorders so that they wouldn’t have to face the same challenges they had experienced alone. They spoke with other national and regional organization providing eating disorder awareness and resources in their communities to learn about their successes and challenges. They reached out to other interested Alaskan individuals and non-profits to discuss options. After all this, they determined that the best solution was to create a non-profit organization to focus on addressing needs in the state.
In September 2019, the Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance (AKEDA) was formed as a nonprofit. An article describing the catalyst for AKEDA and the steps taken to form this nonprofit was published in the renowned Gurze-Salucore Eating Disorders newsletter.
Founding board members at the very first AKEDA board meeting included (from left to right): Katie Kajdan Bell, LPC, ATR, Board Vice-Chair; Jenny Loudon, MPA, Co-Founder and Board Treasurer/Secretary; Beth Rose, MPA, Co-Founder and Board Chair; Grace Schumacher, RD, CEDRD, Board member