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About Us
Our Story

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.

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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

Mission

The mission of the Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance is to provide help and inspire hope by engaging our diverse communities in education, advocacy, and support for Alaskans affected by eating disorders. 

We believe that full recovery from eating disorders is possible at any age or stage. We believe those living with or recovering from an eating disorder are strong beyond measure, and so are their loved ones. We believe in body positivity and health at every size.

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Vision

Alaskans thriving in supportive, informed communities with access to effective, compassionate treatment for eating disorders. 

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Values

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Eating disorders don’t discriminate, and neither do we. 

Integrity: We are committed to transparency, accountability, and use of best practices in our operations and programming.

Respect: We value all voices and acknowledge the dignity of all people.  

Collaboration: We are most effective when individuals, families, professionals, and communities are invested and aligned.

Bravery: Making intentional change requires bold actions. 

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AKEDA at a Glance

Who is the Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance? We are a statewide nonprofit led by a board consisting of individuals with lived experience, medical and mental health care providers, a dietitian, business and nonprofit professionals, and others who are dedicated to helping Alaskans address and overcome eating disorders. We do this through education, support, advocacy and promotion of body confidence.

 

Our activities include Family and Friends Support Groups, an Adult Support Group, Provider Professional Development Courses and Conferences, Community Education, Advocacy on eating-disorder issues and funding, Body Confidence programs and Partnerships with individuals and organizations across Alaska. AKEDA receives donations from hundreds of Alaskans who care about this critical issue, as well as foundation and corporate sponsors. We welcome you to join with us. 

Addressing a Critical Health Challenge in Alaska

Eating disorders are wildly misunderstood, complex psychological, biological and social illnesses that pose serious health and physical risks to individuals. Help for those who are struggling with this brain-based disorder in Alaska are extremely minimal, with a limited network of health care providers to identify and treat eating disorders or provide support and information to families and friends. As a result, individuals and members of their support network often struggle with isolation, despair, and serious health risks.

 

Given the fact that 9% of individuals struggle with an eating disorder and that eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of any mental illness second only to opioid addiction, eating disorders are an unidentified public health crisis in our state. While there are grave risks for individuals, research shows that early intervention provides the best opportunity for recovery and can prevent serious long-term psychological and health risks. 

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