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. .

Jasmine Carter, South Central Civic Engagement Organizer

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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.

Cindy Tapia Ruiz, Trailside Discovery Camp Deputy Director

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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.


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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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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.

April Garza, Finance and HR Director

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April joined our team in the spring of 2021. As a lifelong resident of Alaska, it really made sense to her to work for an organization that supports her community and upholds her beliefs and ideals as an Alaskan, and as a woman of color. April has done 

accounting for over twenty years, and began working for nonprofits in the past ten years. She has a good depth of knowledge in lots of different aspects of accounting and finance (and even taught accounting in college). She received her MBA from Alaska Pacific University. Honest, curious, and adventurous, April loves taking time to play with her extended family (four generations living in Southcentral Alaska!) and friends. She likes to get away to different communities throughout the state - including fun weekends in places like Homer, Talkeetna, Girdwood, and Fairbanks each month– to enjoy the beauty of our home. She also likes being out on the water - paddleboarding is her newest favorite thing, something she learned while working at The Alaska Center!

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
Tanner Johnson, Communications Manager

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Tanner was born and raised in northern New Mexico, heading west and north before ending up in Alaska in 2015. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in International Relations. It was in Flagstaff that he found mentorship from National Geographic photographer David Edwards, who helped foster a passion for photography and visual storytelling. 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. 

Out of the office, Tanner spends as much time as possible biking, camping, fishing, playing fetch with Milo, and dialing in the blueberry rhubarb jam recipe.

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.

Marlowe Scully, AYEA Program Coordinator

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Marlowe was born and raised in the beautiful Mat-Su valley. They have been involved with politics and youth engagement for the past few years, and are excited to take on a more formal position with AYEA. Marlowe hopes to introduce other young Alaskans to climate justice and connect them to skills and opportunities to advocate for themselves and their communities.

Rachel Christensen, Clean Energy Fellow

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Growing up in northern Minnesota I gained love and respect for the outdoors at an early age through fishing and hunting with my family. This passion sent me to Michigan Technological University where I studied Wildlife Ecology and Management. During my time in school and the years following I have had the opportunity to work in new landscapes on many amazing field jobs doing anything from bat banding to soil sampling. I have also been fortunate to gain experience in environmental education in both formal classroom settings and informal camp settings. This is what brought me to The Alaska Center originally as Trailside Discovery Center’s Palmer site manager. Since then I have stepped into a new role and am looking forward to using my background in science and education to transition into community outreach and advocacy around clean energy. 

In my free time I enjoy any activity outside, knitting, baking, and annoying my dog.