Annette moved to Alaska at age five, living in Kotzebue and Bethel before relocating to Anchorage in middle school. She has a BA in Sociology from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. In addition to Annette’s work as the state coordinator for the Unmasking Brain Injury Project, she has also volunteered with local community and children’s theater groups. Annette enjoys making jewelry and dancing, most recently taking up tango which she now knows is "just walking". Annette is described as “a young woman with grit, perseverance, and pragmatism - always seeking a resolution to support her vision and cause.”
Alaska State Coordinator, Unmasking Brain Injury Project
Melanie is a management consultant specializing in technology and business transformation strategy. She believes that strategy and people skills will differentiate the technology leaders of the future. Her 20 year global career has spanned both IT and Business Leadership, leading teams in the UK, Algeria, Moscow, Mumbai, Tripoli and the US. She holds a CIO of the Future graduate certificate from UC Berkley & Boston University and is a licensed private pilot. Melanie believes that you can find an adventure in every day if you know where to look! She has three life goals: to build an international career, to be someone's crazy aunt and to collect fabulous tales to tell when she's old.
Owner, Tern Consulting LLC
Steven is an active duty military medic who specializes in Medical Readiness and promoting public health. He has lived in Anchorage for four years and is actively involved in the community through volunteer roles with Pride Foundation, the USAF LGBT Observance Committee, and Anchorage Alaska Aides Association. Steven is described as “a self-starter, always looking for ways to improve himself, the work place, and his peers.”
Non-Commissioned Officer Mental Health Administration, United States Air Force
Cami’s passion for education, science and outdoor learning has been the focus of much of her life in Anchorage for the past 35 years. In addition to school and education communities, she has been involved with and deeply influenced by the yoga community – she recently finished a 300 hour yoga teaching certificate program. She reflects, “The adventure began in mid-January and involved a dog, a boyfriend, and a red Dodge Omni. We loaded all our worldly possessions in the car and drove from Denver to Anchorage. We had no plan or objective aside from adventure. 35 years, 3 children, 2 dogs, and a successful teaching career later the Alaskan adventure continues alongside the same guy who agreed to drop out of grad school and come to Alaska with me.”
Retired Teacher, Anchorage School District
Kate is an environmental and community advocate who has lived and worked around the world. Her core values are Conscious Consumption and Support Local. With an undergrad in Ecology and a Masters in Conservation Biology, she trawled for ocean plastics in the Sargasso Sea, worked with farmers, cheetahs, and birds in the Kalahari Desert, studied coral reefs on a small Pacific island and battled lionfish in Bermuda. With her young daughter and South African husband, Kate hopes to grow permanent roots here in Alaska. Kate intends to leverage connections and novel solutions from around the world to promote respect, unity and joy in both her local and global communities.
KATE DU PLESSIS
Joshua is a Tribal member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Prior to joining CITC in June 2018, Joshua was with Southcentral Foundation (SCF). He has spent the last 20 years working in the tribal health system ensuring that Alaska Native and American Indian people have access to high quality healthcare that is based in their own values and meets them where they are. Josh is described as “an energetic, compassionate, and hardworking leader.” He is currently completing his M.B.A at Alaska Pacific University.
Chief of Staff, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. (CITC)
Christina has lived in Alaska for 25 years. Her father’s military career allowed her to spend much of her youth living across the country and overseas. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed in Adult Education from UAA where she taught ESL classes as an adjunct professor and has worked since 2000. Her current work includes grant management for UAA faculty-student community engaged projects, and sparked her strong interest in learning about non-profit management and leadership. Christina has an affinity for the arts and serves on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Center for the Book. Commercial fishing and fly fishing set the rhythms for her family, including her dog Albi (short for Albus Dumbledore).
Administrative Manager / Certificate Manager, University of Alaska Anchorage
Grace is a first-generation Alaskan who grew up in Talkeetna, Alaska, and holds a bachelor's degree in Human Services from UAA. Before coming to the Forum she worked in prisoner reentry, an issue close to her heart. She currently serves on the Justice for All Steering Committee, a joint effort with the Alaska Court System to provide tools to increase accessibility in navigating the justice system. Grace loves creating the cozy conditions for great story sharing, through food and hospitality for friends, family and strangers alike.
Public Programming Manager, Alaska Humanities Forum
Mikey is a photographer, storyteller, and community builder. He was born and raised in Anchorage and has lived here his entire life. He owns and operates the Wool Sock Project, focused on sharing and humanizing the individual stories of people struggling with homelessness through photography and conversation. He also co-owns and curates an artist collective and gallery "Akela Space".
Photographer/Community Advocate/Youth Leader
Tasha is Tlingit and a Program Manager with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In her spare time she can be found volunteering in the community around education, public safety and homelessness and she has a soft spot for community challenges that disproportionately affect minorities. Tasha has taken on roles on committees and working groups and testifying within different levels of government-community councils, assembly, school board, state legislature, and even traveling to DC and meeting with US Representatives and Senators. One of her favorite activities is playing cribbage with her son Patrick.
Program Manager, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Grace grew up in Boulder, Colorado which has had a large influence on her belief around the importance of community, caring for the Earth and activist participation to ensure that her community is the best it can be for the long term. She is an engineer and Mom who believes in participatory citizenship. She has a master's degree in engineering as well as an MBA from a top twenty business school. She volunteers with Best Beginnings, Anchorage Master Gardenrs, and the Parks and Recreation Commission, and enjoys learning, gardening and spending time with her family.
Program Manager, PSJH Health System
Teresa was born and raised in Valdez, Alaska - growing up in a small town in Alaska had a large impact on her identity and her values as an adult. “Having a strong sense of community and closeness with neighbors and affiliations is important to me,” she reflects. Teresa has a BA in Education Studies from Western Governors University and has been at GCI for 13 years; starting in technical support and is now a Product Marketing Manager where she enjoys blending technology and creativity to solve unique projects. Teresa serves on the young professional boards of two non-profit organizations. When not at work or volunteering, she is learning two languages, Italian and Python.
Business Marketing Manager, GCI
TERESA LA PELLA
Grace is a lifelong Alaskan, spending time split between Anchorage and her family's cherished Beaver Lake property. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services from the University of Alaska Anchorage, which inspired her to become an advocate for the youth in her community. Grace is currently the supervisor and trainer of youth peer educators at Cook Inlet Tribal Council. She spends her spare time enjoying nature, connecting and volunteering with the community, creating homemade greeting cards and spending quality time with her close family and friends.
Evidence Based Practice Trainer and Facilitator, Cook Inlet Tribal Council
Jess is originally from Nashville, Tennessee and has lived in Alaska for over ten years. Her current work as Program Manager at Recover Alaska involves bringing people, agencies, and systems together to innovate solutions to excessive alcohol use in our state. She is mom to an amazing son - they enjoy reading books and watching movies together, visiting playgrounds and adventuring, cuddling their three cats, spending time with family and friends, and baking. Jess is described as “ambitious and motivated to make an impact. She cares deeply about issues related to social justice and equity.”
Program Manager, Recover Alaska
Helen grew up in Palmer and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a degree in Psychology in May 2017. “Alaska has differently made me who I am today,” she writes. “I can attribute my love for mountains, the outdoors and the love of simple things to growing up in Alaska. Most importantly, my family is the greatest influence on my life; they have taught me about relationships, hard work, love, adventure and much more.” After spending 8 months as a volunteer in San Francisco, she is happy to be back in Alaska working as a JAG Specialist at Covenant House.
Behavioral Health Associate, Denali Family Services
Kristin is from Kiana and she has worked in children’s services in libraries since 2007. After spending almost 35 years outside of Alaska she’s pleased to be back as an Early Literacy ambassador and Youth Services Librarian at Anchorage Public Library’s Muldoon branch. She has engaged in significant community outreach in this role, with a special interest in engaging Alaskan Native families through outreach including with the KidsCorp Head Start next door, and the CITC housing programs across the street from the library. She also volunteers with NANA Nordic Skiku, the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage, Cook Inlet Belugas Count, and storytime sessions at the Alaska Zoo.
Youth Services Librarian, Anchorage Public Library
Tiana was born in Hawaii and grew up in Alaska. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and holds an active CPA license. She started her accounting career in Minneapolis, MN and returned to Anchorage in July of 2017. Tiana loves to travel near and far, is a foodie at heart and in her free time, enjoys baking or spending time outdoors with her husband and border collie mix.
Accounting Manager, The CIRI Foundation
Aurora has dedicated her career to the development of people and community. In her role at AGC, Aurora works with rural applicants to complete business plans and advance entrepreneurship in the region. She provides financial literacy and business development training and recently became a certified credit counselor. When she is not supporting businesses and communities in rural Alaska, you can often find Aurora collecting subsistence, reading a book, or roaming the mountains. She attributes her success in life to being connected with her culture.
Community Economic Development Associate, Alaska Growth Capital
Ryan helped launch the Alaska Seeds of Change program, working closely with at risk transition aged youth to create a supportive workplace culture that will help foster their personal and professional growth. In this role, he’s worked closely with over 20 Anchorage youth to grow fresh produce for Alaska, collaborate with area businesses to form non-profit / for profit partnerships, provide education experiences for youth, and shared his experience with others looking to start their own controlled environment agriculture site. He has also helped share his experience and marketing knowledge through classroom collaboration with APU’s masters marketing class and Alaska Seeds of Change. “I’ve found that the best way to tackle a large problem,” he writes, “is by collaborating with motivated individuals around us. We all view the world from a different perspective, and we each have unique skills that we use to solve the many challenges we face.”
Greenhouse Manager, ACMHS / Alaska Seeds of Change