Board of Directors

Our volunteer board provides leadership, governance, and support to The Alaska Center Education Fund. We are currently developing a multi-year strategic plan to achieve our vision of a thriving and sustainable Alaska for future generations. We need thoughtful individuals to join us in this work. Our board meets monthly in Anchorage with a Skype/teleconference option. In addition, board members participate in committee work. Alternatively, if you are interested in participating in a more focused way, contact us to become part of one of our committees.

For more information and to apply (attach cover letter and resume or CV), please send your application to David Song at [email protected].

View & Download The Job Description

Becky Judd, Chair, Anchorage

Becky joined the Alaska Center’s Education Fund board in 2021 to further her commitment to increasing opportunities for Alaska’s youth. Her environmental roots go back to the 1970s as an outdoor program instructor for 6th graders. She believes it is critical to provide outdoor experiences for all children and youth so they can develop an appreciation of nature and public lands. She’s been an active supporter of AYEA since its beginnings because of its youth-led principles and passionate advocacy efforts. Her enthusiasm for the Education Fund stems from its ladder of engagement for school-age to young adults to become the next generation of public land stewards and environmental justice advocates.

While Becky’s bachelor's and master’s degrees were in education, most of her 40 years in Alaska have been devoted to adolescent health, the prevention/health promotion, and youth development fields. She began as a health educator and started a youth coalition that grew to over 100 chapters statewide. She has been working with youth in schools, outdoor challenge programs, after-school programs, and 20 years with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, as their Adolescent and Resiliency Specialist.

Becky has served on several youth-serving boards, co-founded the Spirit of Youth organization and the Anchorage Youth Development Coalition. She also co-authored the book, Helping Kids Succeed~ Alaskan Style. She provided leadership to the statewide Developmental Assets initiative, with the Association of Alaska School Boards, and launched the Youth Friendly Business Recognition Program and the Youth in Governance statewide initiative with AYEA.

In 2013 Becky started her own business, Strength-Based Strategies to provide training and assistance on best-practice approaches and evaluation in prevention programming and youth development. More recently, she developed an online, self-care course for frontline service providers at risk of burnout.

When Becky isn’t volunteering you will probably find her gardening, hiking, biking or paddling in Prince William Sound.

Contact Becky at [email protected].

Gail Cheney, Vice Chair, Juneau

Dr. Gail Cheney is a member of the Tlingit and the Haida Nations. Her Tlingit name is Aan Shaa Wat Gee, she is Raven, Kaach.adi, her crest is the Fresh Water Marked Sockeye. Gail’s Haida name is Yahl kii wahl daang and is Eagle, Tiits Gitee Nei, and the Hummingbird is her crest. She was born and raised in Kake, Alaska. She holds a PhD in Leadership and Change and a Master of Arts in Business Management from Antioch University. Gail received her Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Studies and Planning/Environmental Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1994.

Dr. Cheney has 20 years of progressive professional experience in multiple industries, including academia, non-profit, environmental, Alaska Native for-profit regional, village, subsidiary businesses, and social enterprise corporations, along with other consulting experience. Currently, Dr. Cheney is the Sr. Director of Organizational Development at Tlingit and Haida Central Council has held this position since 2020. In addition, Gail is a committee member on CBJ’s Systemic Racism Review Committee. She believes that we, collectively, have the power to create a sustainable future for Alaska.

GAVIN DIXON, Treasurer, Anchorage

Gavin's time with the organization has its roots as a member of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, where he worked on air quality campaigns and fundraising efforts to support the recovery of the community of Banda Aceh after a devastating Tsunami.

Gavin has worked for over ten years fighting the impacts of climate change and developing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for rural Alaska Native communities. Most recently his time has been spent as a Project Manager overseeing the relocation of the Yup'ik community of Newtok, which must move to a new location due to the accelerating impacts of climate change.

In his free time, you can find him sharing his passions for biking, skiing, paddling and running with friends and loved ones through the unique and irreplaceable wilderness of Alaska.

Griffin Plush, Seward

Griffin first joined the Alaska Center Education Fund in 2015, his senior year of high school. From Seward, he spent his childhood on the trails of Exit Glacier and the waters of Resurrection Bay with family, where he later worked for eight seasons as a naturalist and park ranger in Kenai Fjords National Park. Inspired by activists with the Resurrection Bay Conservation Society, Griffin attended his first AYEA Civics and Conservation Summit at 15, where he found a passion for activism as a tool to build communities and protect their clean air and water. Throughout high school, he organized Seward's chapter of AYEA and worked with other young people across the state to lead AYEA's statewide campaigns on local foods, Pebble Mine, and climate change. He was one of the fifteen young plaintiffs demanding the State of Alaska acknowledge and address climate change in Alaska's climate trust lawsuit, Sagoonick v. Alaska.

Griffin graduated from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2019. His studies focused on the history of Alaska and the social aspects of resource management. During college, he served in the first cohort of the U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassadors where he learned about and advocated for the health of Alaska’s Arctic communities, economies, and cultures. Recently, he worked several sessions in the Alaska Capitol; the same building where he first found his voice as an AYEA teen. He brings his experience as a coastal Alaskan, naturalist, and youth activist to the board. 

Griffin is honored to serve as president of The Alaska Center Education Fund's board while we work towards a thriving, just, and sustainable Alaska for future generations.

Harry Need, Anchorage

Harry W. Need is a father, husband, VW van knuckle-banger, ski patroller, and aspiring fly-fishing expert. As a seasoned relationship development professional, he guides potential benefactors and their advisors in transforming values and passions into impactful contributions to the University of Alaska. With a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage and accreditation as a Certified Fundraising Executive, Harry excels in philanthropic leadership while remaining deeply involved in his community. He serves as vice president of the South Addition Community Council and has held past leadership roles in the Fairview Community Council, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Alaska Chapter.

Sarah Alvarez, Anchorage

Sarah’s two greatest passions are Alaska and education. She recently joined the Alaska Center Education Fund board because its mission focuses on both! The Education Fund’s integrated approach is educating and equipping Alaskan kids to be confident environmental advocates, empowered community leaders, and

thoughtful stewards of our land.

Sarah has experience working with non-profits across all sectors as a senior fundraising consultant for CCS Fundraising, and international philanthropic solutions firm. CCS partners with organizations of all sizes and varying missions to exceed their philanthropic goals, and subsequently making a meaningful

impact on their communities. While she loves all of her clients, her favorites are those whose missions are rooted in education, opportunities for students and families, and those committed to leveling the playing field for historically disenfranchised communities.

Prior to fundraising consulting, Sarah spent 15+ years in education – first as a special education teacher, then as an elementary school principal. She is a Teach For America alumna (NYC’04!) and has taught or held leadership positions in the New York City, Los Angeles Unified, San Jose Unified and satellite areas, and Anchorage public school districts.

As a “sourdough” Alaskan, Sarah loves everything about the Last Frontier. She particularly loves to hike in the Chugach with her two dogs, camp in new places in her vintage 1962 Aloha travel trailer, and geocache while doing both.