Kavaangsaar Afcan’s core role is to invest in teens by looking for and creating opportunities for teens with fresh, diverse perspectives to share and grow into the leaders they want to be for their communities. Throughout her work with AYEA, she plans, supports, and executes summits for youth to gather, learn and strategize together. She works tirelessly to amplify youth voices to leadership and local, state, and federal levels so that young people can see their voices' power and effects on their communities future. Kavaangsaar was our Community Organizer, worked with the canvass team, and is an AYEA alumn. She loves helping youth leaders to clarify their own needs and the needs of their community and then giving them the support to be advocates and project managers in their own right! Born in Lingit Aani in Sitka and raised in Yupik territory, as a Yuk, on the Yukon Delta, Kavaangsaar now lives on Dena'ina Ełnena and hopes to be here for the remainder of her life. She wants to ensure Alaskans can enjoy our unique ways of life far into the future and works to ensure our land and water are protected for the next generations to come! Kav will attempt to cook any salmon recipe at least once and make any dessert item infinite times. She is now and forever more accepting recommendations, with the rule that you must try it with her, even if it turns out inedible.
Chantal organizes events and campaigns to help raise the financial resources to support the mission of The Alaska Center and The Alaska Center Education Fund. She loves building relationships with supporters who share our values and vision and inviting them to participate in our work. Chantal is grateful every day to work for an organization that is helping to build a powerful movement of engaged Alaskans to fight the climate crisis and build a democracy that represents all people.
Originally from Yokut lands, she earned her BA and MA at the University of Notre Dame. Previously, Chantal has worked in political fundraising and direct service nonprofits serving unhoused families. She lives on Dena'ina lands and enjoys spending time with her family in their backyard farm, cooking, playing music with friends, and traveling around the globe and in the Alaskan backcountry.
Jonas works to activate and engage community members on key advocacy issues in and around Anchorage and works with our partners to build organizing capacity across the state. His work is fueled by the fulfillment and gratitude Alaskans share in bringing change and growth to their communities. Jonas came to this work from a deep love for his home and the responsibility he feels to care for it. He brings experience ranging from student to congressional organizing and holds a degree in Environmental Science and Indigenous Studies. Outside the office, Jonas can be found harvesting local foods, exploring Alaska through various human-powered travel, and perched behind a camera. He was born and raised in Dgheyay Kaq’ and continues to live and work in Dena’ina lands today.
(907) 274-3656 | [email protected]
Polly is proud to live and work on Dena’ina lands in Dgheyey Kaq' (Anchorage). She grew up on Lenape lands before coming to Alaska in 1997 to work for our Trailside Discovery Camp as a trip instructor. She’s served as Executive Director since 2013, working with a talented team of staff, dedicated board members, and amazing partners in building a vibrant movement toward a thriving, just, and sustainable Alaska. It gives her great joy to support leaders-including youth advocates, community volunteers, and candidates for office-who courageously pursue a bold and bright vision for our future. Prior to The Alaska Center, she’s held roles in philanthropy, youth organizing, and electoral campaigns. She spends her volunteer time advocating for equity in school policies, supporting women candidates, and organizing with other parents on a range of issues. She is the mother of a compassionate eleven-year-old who teaches her daily the importance of challenging systems, speaking out, and standing in solidarity for justice. She loves writing poetry, traveling with her family, sriracha, and running uphill.
Jasmine is a born and raised Alaskan, a first-generation college graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a proud daughter of Hispanic immigrants. Her background and passion are in youth organizing and voter engagement. She started volunteering at the Alaska Center in 2018, helping with Wild Salmon Day and Get Out the Vote events. She also worked on Alyse Galvin's 2020 Congressional campaign as a voter contact fellow and has volunteered on countless campaigns. Jasmine now works to educate and engage Alaskan voters in the democratic process. She strongly believes in young people's power and cultivating the next generation of leaders. In her free time, Jasmine loves to spend time with her family, attend community events, and listen to true crime podcasts.
Rachel was born and raised on Anishinaabe lands in Northern Minnesota and currently lives and works on Ahtna and Dena’ina lands in Palmer, Alaska. She is a clean energy advocate who empowers Alaskans across the state to change their energy systems and build a more sustainable and equitable future. She loves building relationships in her Mat Su Valley community and is passionate about increasing accessibility and transparency in the electric utility industry. Rachel started at The Alaska Center in 2021 with Trailside Discovery Camp, creating environmental education curriculum for the Palmer site. She was then introduced to community organizing and quickly fell in love with movement building, which brought her to her work as the Clean Energy Organizer.
Rachel feels most at home on the tundra with her dogs and can often be found playing outside, reading, or trying and abandoning all kinds of crafts.
Celia Darling (she/her) works with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA), expanding the program's reach and empowering more teens to affect environmental changes in their communities. As a teenager, Celia discovered organizing, divesting the public pension fund of New York State with the New York Youth Climate Leaders and working with the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders to establish a county-wide Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee. She loves encouraging and learning from AYEA teens that share her same passion! Growing up on a Christmas tree farm and building trails with her dad fostered Celia's love for the Earth and created a healthy environment for everyone! Celia is a rising junior at Clarkson University studying Political Science. On campus, she is president of their Sustainability Club, founded their Peace Action chapter, and is a Food Waste Intern. Celia loves making ceramics, hiking, baking, and spending time with her family in her free time. She grew up on the lands of the Haudenosaunee peoples in Rochester, NY, and now works on the lands of the Dena'ina peoples in Anchorage, AK.
April Garza is the Finance and Human resources Director for The Alaska Center and all of our umbrella organizations. April works to support the internal and external stakeholders through financial management, analysis, and presentation. She also helps to develop and maintain Equity and Inclusion principles through Human Resource infrastructure and benefits administration. As a career finance professional, she loves being able to combine her love of accounting and her passion for her community. A quote by Maya Angelou resonates with her in this work: “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” She loves that this work helps support the fabric of the society she calls home for her family, her children, and her grandson, and challenges her to continue to do better. A graduate of Alaska Pacific University, April has a Master’s of Business Administration and has taught and worked in finance, accounting, and human resources her entire career. She has been a finance and accounting director for multiple Alaskan non-profits for over a decade. In her spare time, you will find her enjoying the four generations of her family that still live in Southcentral Alaska, and taking every opportunity to enjoy the waterways the state has to offer with paddleboarding, boating, or scuba diving. April lives, works, and has grown up on the lands of the Dena’ina.
Tanner was born and raised on Pueblo lands in northern New Mexico but has lived and worked on Dena’ina lands in Anchorage for the last seven years. Tanner has a degree in International Relations from Northern Arizona University. While living in Flagstaff, he found mentorship from National Geographic photographer David Edwards, who helped foster a passion for photography and visual storytelling. Tanner was drawn to work for The Alaska Center through his interest in politics and environmental conservation and has grown to more fully understand and appreciate the true intersectionality of The Alaska Center’s mission during his time with AKC. Tanner brings a background of event coordination, effective data-driven digital marketing, and experience from work with national nuclear research facilities, tech startups, international footwear brands, and community organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Tanner is thankful to live in a place with such amazing opportunities to enjoy biking, camping, fishing, playing fetch with Milo, gardening, and dialing in the blueberry rhubarb jam recipe.
Kyla is a lifelong Alaskan and UAA alum. She started volunteering with The Alaska Center in 2015, as a member of the organization’s Volunteer Leadership Committee. Working alongside community organizers, she helped fight the Pebble Mine, the Chuitna Mine, and engage community members during state and local elections. In 2016, she became the Deputy Canvass Director and has knocked on thousands of doors all across the state. She is passionate about giving Alaskans a voice and has spent countless hours talking to community members about the issues they care about. When she isn’t scrolling through social media, she enjoys fishing, hiking, and solving puzzles.
(907) 274-3669 | [email protected]
Vicki is a critical partner in ensuring the organization runs efficiently and effectively and drives toward our vision. Vicki oversees our operations and finance department while also managing our youth programs, Trailside Discovery Camp and AYEA.
With a passion for outdoor education and youth leadership, Vicki strives to make a difference in the world. In 2017 Vicki moved to Alaska to work for The Alaska Center/The Alaska Center Education Fund and was blown away by AKC/EdFund's commitment to creating a thriving, just, and sustainable Alaska for future generations. Previously Vicki worked as an educator, trainer, and mentor to youth and young adults. Born and raised in Felixstowe, England, Vicki now lives and works on the lands of the Dena'ina people, where she and her family are avid fisherfolk, hunters, and rugby players.
Leah was born and raised on the unceded territories of the Jumanos, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, and Tonkawa in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. She now lives, learns, and works on Dena'ina lands in Dgheyey Kaq' (Anchorage). Leah moved to Alaska in 2015 and currently volunteers with several arts and outdoor nonprofits. Leah has been with The Alaska Center since 2017 and is now the Communications and Creative Director. She loves that the work allows her to learn and engage in such a rich diversity of programs and happily helps all of our programs and campaigns across the org. Her passion for community connection, humor, storytelling, and design has been invaluable to our work. She is committed to weaving creativity and effective multi-tiered communications strategies into the movement we are building so that more Alaska can stay informed and engaged in the work of building a sustainable future for all. Leah brings a diverse history of experiences to this work, including advocacy, education, event coordination, production, marketing, and service industry. She will gladly talk your ear off about fonts, foraging, 90s hip-hop, cocktail history, her dog, and the path to decolonize our minds and narratives.
Kristal works closely with the Development Director on fundraising events to support Alaska's climate and democracy. She also advocates for a diverse and active donor program through acknowledgment and appreciation. Kristal is grateful for a hard-working team that engages the community and strives for a better Alaska. She came to this organization after taking a gap year to travel around the United States in a campervan. Kristal holds an International Studies degree and a Dance minor from the University of Alaska Anchorage, which have both helped her foster an interest in politics, translation, diversity, and immigration law. Outside her role at AKC, she enjoys dancing in nature, adventuring with her dog Couscous, and visiting her family in Puerto Rico. She was born and raised on Taino lands and now lives and works on Dena'ina lands.
Alyssa Quintyne is the Interior Organizing Manager at The Alaska Center on (Chena Dene lands in Tanan, colonially known as Fairbanks). She works to create a space of strength and empowerment for people to protect and build what they love. On our team, Alyssa plays an influential role in the Solarize Fairbanks initiative, increasing voter engagement in local elections, guiding our Equity and Inclusion work, and supporting other projects around town. She believes that every person is capable of creating the futures we all deserve to live right now. Her job is to help us get it done.
She and her parents came a long way to Alaska. Her entire family is from Barbados but was stationed in Fort Wainwright in 2001, where she was raised. During her time, Alyssa has built an extensive community organizing background of 12 years. With a BA in Political Science, she’s done a wide variety of research and advocacy work, both locally and internationally. Researcher, painter, violinist, curator, and avid napper are some of the other titles she carries. Alyssa strives to use her skill to give back and help build the community she loves.
Marlowe works as the Program Coordinator for Alaska Youth for Environmental Action. They are dedicated to activating and equipping young people with the training, knowledge, and networks they need to become the next generation of Alaskan leaders. Marlowe came to youth engagement work as a youth organizer and has worked with AYEA in various capacities since 2021. When they aren't working, Marlowe can be found hanging out with their pets or taking care of plants. They are also studying Community & Place-Based Education at Alaska Pacific University. Marlowe was born and raised on unceded Dena'ina and Ahtna lands in the Matsu and currently lives and works on Dena'ina lands in Dgheyey Kaq'/Anchorage.
Cindy manages registration, curriculum, staff hiring, and program logistics for Trailside Discovery Camp. She loves having the opportunity to be a part of inspiring our future leaders to create a more sustainable Alaska.
Raised in Alaska, she ran wild on the beaches and forests and grew up swimming in Alaskan lakes. Cindy believes that her children and all children deserve a thriving, just, and sustainable future. At The Alaska Center Education Fund, she can bring that vision into every aspect of her work. With a background in education and human development, she has worked as a teacher, mentor, and director of childcare and youth programs. Initially a journalism major, her path was changed after traveling in poverty-stricken areas in Mexico. There she discovered that her true passion lies in breaking down barriers to education and working with youth.
When not working, she spends as much time as possible outdoors with her family, fishing, hiking, and camping. Born on the lands of the O'odham Jewed and Hia-Ced O'odham peoples in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico, Cindy now lives and works on the unceded lands of the Dena'ina people.