our staff


(907) 274-3656  |  [email protected]

Polly has been working for social change in Alaska for twenty years. She has engaged in all aspects of our work, beginning as a Trailside Discovery Camp educator in 1997, helping teens launch our Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program in 1998, and volunteering on our election campaigns. She returned as our Executive Director in 2013 and has been leading our team in actualizing our vision of a just and sustainable Alaska for future generations. She served as Rural Deputy Director for the 2008 Begich Senate campaign and was a Program Officer for The Alaska Conservation Foundation from 2009-2013. She has been recognized with an Alaska Chamber of Commerce Top 40 Under 40 award, and the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management Environmental Excellence award.

Polly has extensive political, fundraising, education, and community organizing experience and is passionate about working with young people, women, and individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. She serves on the Advisory Committee for the Municipality of Anchorage Climate Action Plan, volunteers with Alaska Women Ascend to elect progressive women from diverse communities, and as a mother of a spirited eight-year-old daughter, she is becoming engaged with efforts to support our public schools. She loves Sriracha, writing poetry, running uphill, and perusing restaurant menus.


(907) 274-3669 | [email protected]

Victoria Long-Leather was born and raised in Felixstowe, England. She graduated from Birmingham University with a bachelor’s degree in Law with Criminology. Throughout her studies she had the opportunity to work at a Summer Camp in Minnesota. There, she fell in love with America and grew her passion for outdoor education. Victoria comes from a large family with 3 sisters and 4 brothers and camp became an extension of her family. She strongly believes camp brings community, learning, and play together in a safe environment where children and adults can step out of their comfort zone and be who they want to be. May 2017 Vicki moved to Alaska to step into the Trailside Discovery Director role, since taking on this role Trailside has enhanced its scholarship program, added a new location and streamlined the registration process. Vicki has aspirations to continue to grow the Trailside program and make it accessible to every 4-14 year old in Alaska. .


(907) 274-3662  | [email protected]

Evan began working with The Alaska Center as Digital Organizer in 2015. Their varied background in electoral organizing, issue advocacy, digital communications, and leadership development helped them pilot the organization’s civic engagement program and grow it into a department over the last 2 years with the addition of Youth Civic Engagement Coordinator,  Kengo Nagaoka to the team.

With a strong belief in the effectiveness of individual conversations in galvanizing action, Evan is committed to working alongside historically underrepresented communities in support of every Alaskans’ voice being heard. They are eager to work with community partners to help grow the culture of non-partisan voter engagement in Alaska, while working to increase our reach and see efforts to make Alaska the most engaged electorate in the country grow to scale.

A proud Anchorage urbanist, on the weekends they can often be found on a steep ascent in the Chugach or with a packraft on their back heading for the put-in.


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Jasmine is a born and raised Alaskan and a Senior at UAA studying Political Science and Communications. She started volunteering at the Alaska Center in 2018, helping with Wild Salmon Day and GOTV events. Jasmine worked on Alyse Galvin’s 2020 Congressional campaign as a voter contact fellow. She has a passion for civic engagement and community organizing. Jasmine strongly believes in the power of young people and supporting their work. 

When she’s not working, Jasmine loves to spend time with her family, attend community events, and get outside.

Brian Conwell, Civic Engagement Organizing Fellow

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Brian grew up in Unalaska, AK and is currently a rising senior at Harvard College studying History and Literature. He was a member of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) in high school and was on the Alaska Center Board as a youth member. Brian worked for the Alaska Democratic Party during the summer of 2018 and Dr. Al Gross for U.S. Senate in the summer of 2020 doing rural organizing. He is enthusiastic about boosting civic engagement in rural Alaska and among young people.
When he is not working, he enjoys hiking, fishing, and playing basketball with his friends.

Cindy Tapia Ruiz, Trailside Discovery Camp Administrator & Program Coordinator

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Cindy has a background in Education and Human Development and has worked with many afterschool programs and child care centers, most recently The Boys and Girls Club of Alaska. Originally from Mexico, Cindy moved to the US as a child and spent most of her adolescent years running wild on the beaches of the Kachemak Bay and climbing trees in Homer, AK. Initially pursuing a journalism career, Cindy spent some time in poverty-stricken areas of Mexico and realized that her passion lies in breaking down barriers to education and empowering youth. Cindy now spends her time working with organizations that share those same goals.

Acadia Graham, Trailside Program Manager

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Acadia has been a part of Trailside Discovery Camp since 2017, working as a 6-7 Instructor,  Lead Trips Guide, High Adventure Program Manager, and running Trailside’s first ever Fall Camp. She is excited to bring her passion for outdoor education, youth activism, and environmental conservation to the AK Center Team as a full-time staff member. Acadia hopes to continue building Trailside with a focus on inclusion and environmental education; so that all Alaskan youth have access to both outdoor recreation and conservation resources. 

While Alaska will always be home, Acadia loves to travel and spent her undergraduate years in five different countries earning a Bachelor’s degree in Global Social Justice. 


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Chantal joined The Alaska Center staff having served as Finance Director for Alyse Galvin for US Congress in 2018. She has also worked in Alaska as a carpenter, baker, tax preparer and parish administrator.

Before moving to Alaska, she served as Executive Director of two nonprofits, primarily serving families experiencing homelessness on the southside of Chicago. She earned a BA and MA from the University of Notre Dame.

Chantal is a dedicated grassroots organizer and human rights activist. When not crusading for a more just world, she loves growing food, playing the banjo, traveling the globe, and sleeping in a tent as far away from civilization as possible.


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Louie Flora joined the Alaska Center in 2014 after working for over a decade as a staff and committee aide in the AK Legislature.  His policy experience includes fisheries, mineral extraction, clean energy generation and transmission, and local citizen participation in the large project permitting process. Louie resides in Juneau during the Legislative Session, in Bristol Bay during the salmon season, and in Homer the rest of the year.

Louie owns and operates a salmon fishing boat in Bristol Bay with his wife and two children.


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Leah began working as our Digital Organizer in 2017 and now leads our Communications team. In that time she has expanded our digital reach and helped us build brand cohesion across our programs and campaigns. She has been the driving force behind our visual presence.
Leah comes to us with a background in journalism, UX design, sustainable development, social justice, art, and production. She uses these diverse skills to ensure that The Alaska Center is and continues to be a useful and engaging resource for community partners and Alaskans as a whole.

Leah loves working with community members on food security and sustainability issues and volunteers her time with Mutual Aid Network of Anchorage. She is a board member of the Susitna Bicycle Institute and the Anchorage International Film Festival. In her free time, she writes, takes photos, learns more about the lands we live on through foraging, and discovers new strange spots in Alaska with her perfect dog, Walter Mondale.

Shanelle Afcan, AYEA Program Manager

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Shanelle Afcan, or Kavaangsaar, hails from the Yupik community of Nunam Iqua, Alaska. She moved to Anchorage in 2016. Passionate about preserving the Alaskan way of life, she joined The Alaska Center Canvass team to engage Alaskans across the state on topics like the Chuitna Coal Mine, Salmon Beyond Borders, and the Pebble Mine. Lobbying State Senators and Representatives as a teen in the 2012 Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) Civics & Conservation Summit was the first time Shanelle saw the power of grassroots organizing. She couldn’t be more grateful for that empowerment.

Shanelle loves berry picking, camping, and discovering delicious ways to cook salmon. Her goal now is to pay it forward! As AYEA’s Program Manager, Shanelle hopes to provide a platform for today’s young Alaskans to uplift their voices too, ensuring that their own communities can enjoy our uniquely Alaskan lifestyle on the lands and waters
Kyla Kosednar, Digital and Data Manager

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Kyla 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 impact 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 Alaskan’s a voice and has spent countless hours talking to community members about the issues they care about.

Kyla has now transitioned into the role of Digital Manager and Data Manager. In this role she engages supporters through email, social media, digital ads, mobile platforms, websites and other online mediums. Kyla is a lifelong Alaskan and UAA alum, having graduated in 2017 with a Legal Studies Degree. When she isn’t scrolling through social media, she enjoys fishing, hiking, and solving puzzles.


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Alyssa has been volunteering with local, statewide, and national organizations and forming those ties to the grassroots communities for over a decade. From that work, she's focused her political and communal outreach to support campaigns in a variety of positions; from Internships to Community Outreach Coordinator. Alyssa graduated from the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, with a degree in Political Science, and now uses her organizing skills and passion to focus on communal advocacy, outreach, education, and empowerment. Since being hired as the Interior Organizer in 2018, Alyssa has expanded her connections and helped support the work of the many diverse communities in and around Fairbanks.

When she's not working, Alyssa can be found showcasing in a First Friday, playing music with her friends, or having some quiet time with the cutest dog in existence.

Su Chon, Development Associate

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Su Chon (she/her/hers) is Korean American, born and raised in Dgheyay Kaq' (Anchorage), Alaska on Dena'ina lands. She graduated from Ohio State University and studied Environment and Natural Resources with a focus on Policy. With a deep love and passion for her home, community, and the intersections of justice work, she is excited to bridge her years of political and community organizing into the development/funding world. 

Between work, life, and community involvement, you might catch her working on art,  attempting to learn too many things, and jamming out to music in the car or while hiking about in the mountains.