Tonie Protzman, whose Native name, Yethnhahnilats, means “makes her life strong,” is an enrolled descendant in the Turtle Clan of the Oneida Tribe in Oneida, WI. Tonie was raised and remains in Anchorage, Alaska with her Iñupiat Eskimo daughter, Paisley.
Protzman holds a Master of Science (MS) degree in Clinical Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Justice and Psychology both degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She was a PhD Candidate with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Clinical Community Psychology Program with rural and indigenous emphasis, as well. Since graduating with her MS, Protzman has worked in the nonprofit and public sectors of behavioral and mental health. Currently, Protzman is the Assistant Operations Manager at the non-profit Christian Health Associates (CHA), where she is also the Program Administrator at Cornerstone Recovery (CHA is the parent company). In addition, she is also the Executive Director of the Alaska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Prior to NASW, Protzman was the Executive Director with the Alaska Psychological Association (AK-PA).
Protzman shares she has a vocation to work with individuals and communities struggling with alcohol use disorders (AUD). She is passionate about reducing stigma associated with alcohol misuse and disseminating information/access to AUD services and care to Alaska communities. Protzman is a Governor Dunlevy appointee to the State of Alaska Mental Health Board. She also sits on the Anchorage Behavioral Health Coalition.
Protzman’s role with CHA will be to update and implement program standards and compliance, while her role as the Program Administrator with Cornerstone Recovery will be to develop the agency’s strategic/succession plans, to further develop procedures and implantation of the agency infrastructure in alignment with State of Alaska 1115 Waiver and subsequently Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Standards, as well as and clinical group development to include wellness, recovery and resiliency education. Goals also include to develop and implement a maintenance and continuing care program (aftercare services) tailored to the needs of the client. Long term goals also include developing the “Love Boat” an intensive outpatient treatment program geared towards the working professional as well as designing and implementing recovery-oriented services and supports that fit the needs of the community.
Protzman’s role as NASW Executive Director will be to increase membership, develop the chapter’s strategic/succession plans and to advocate for social workers in both traditional and non-traditional roles in Alaska and Washington, D.C. She plans to expand continuing education resources that address cultural trainings specific to social worker licensing requirements and to strengthen local presence and impact around the state of Alaska through development of relationships with statewide prevention program partners.
As a first-generation college graduate, Protzman is a devoted mentor, supporting historically underserved populations in Alaska studying higher education. Protzman mentors’ students and professionals new to the behavioral health field with the University of Alaskan Anchorage and with the Women’s Power League of Alaska.
Protzman is a dynamic and powerful American Native woman who is passionate about reducing stigma in Alaska communities regarding receiving behavioral/mental health services. She dreams of one day to have a world stigma free of receiving such services – “it should be the same as going to your routine medical appointment.” Protzman has solid business expertise serving in association management and advocacy while networked throughout the State of Alaska and beyond. Tonie is active in her community, serving on several national and statewide boards and committees that address stigma associated with alcohol misuse.