Finding the unity in community

Applying lessons learned through community-based, small group projects is a core component and enduring legacy of Leadership Anchorage (LA), the Alaska Humanities Forum’s leadership development program. This year, LA's 20th, marks the second of a multiyear commitment to have all LA projects support the goals of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Welcoming Anchorage initiative: building a stronger community through supporting and celebrating equity and inclusion.

Members of the LA20 cohort are working on six projects:

Anchorage Youth Skate Anchorage is a winter city and every youth should have the opportunity to participate in outdoor winter recreation. The LA project team is helping Anchorage Skate Club identify Title 1 elementary schools are the right fit for expanding their afterschool Skate Club program.

Aurora Mentoring Program Mentoring consistently comes up as one of the ways to share knowledge between generations and between cultures. The YWCA of Alaska has asked their LA project team to pilot a flash mentoring system using online interaction such as Google Hangouts. Women of Achievement and Athena Award alumna have stepped up as volunteer mentors.

Community Engagement Mapping in Spenard Residents care a lot about what happens in their neighborhoods, but often their voices aren’t heard at the Community Council meetings or by municipal departments collecting survey data. This project teams up two champions, Spenard Community Council and MOA Public Transportation, to map how people in Spenard receive information about important community topics if they don’t attend community council meetings or answer surveys.

Kitchen Table Talks The Alaska Food Policy Council has been hard at work improving the food security for communities across our state. The council could do its work even better if it were hearing from refugee and other client populations about what is important to them. The Kitchen Table talks are an effort to have informal conversations with residents to inform future work and identify potential board members.

Leadership Storytelling Story Works Alaska cultivates personal narrative storytelling in high school youth as a practice to build resilience. It seeks to nurture a broader volunteer base to reflect the ethnic diversity of the kids in our schools. Leadership Anchorage is celebrating 20 years of cultivating community leaders to make our city stronger. The LA project team is working with both groups to host a leadership storytelling event on May 16, 2017.

Multi-Cultural Web Portal It’s easy to say that that we should all develop relationships with people whose lives are different from our own. But it can hard to do. One way is to try to understand someone else’s life through their own experiences. Watch a documentary, read a book that they read in their childhood, read the newspaper from their culture, listen to what matters to them. But how does one find those resources? One of the LA project teams is developing a new web portal that will be hosted by YWCA of Alaska to provide anyone the opportunity to learn more about fellow Alaskans from different walks of life.

Please visit the Leadership Anchorage page to learn more about Leadership Anchorage. To suggest ideas for the LA20 project teams or concepts for next year’s projects, please Leadership Programs Coordinator Jennifer Howell at


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