It is an extreme honor to announce my appointment as permanent Executive Director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. Since 2014, the Northern Center has been my professional home. It has been more than that, though. The meaningful work of the Northern Center has given me the space and tools to serve this community. For almost nine (9) years I have greeted members at the front door. I have met with community groups utilizing the conference room and sat over coffee following meetings to catch up on the issues that the Northern Center isn’t directly addressing.
It was a rite of passage in 2014 to sign my first check on behalf of the Northern Center. I remain committed to sustainably and transparently expending the donations of supporters and the grant support of private foundations. You can donate here.
I spent the early months on the job getting to know the organizers at the Susitna River Coalition. (The Northern Center fought hard in the ‘80s to keep the dam from being built.) Megaprojects like this are still being promoted by the State of Alaska. Like the proposed road to Ambler.
Visitors to the Northern Center treat the staff extraordinarily well. We regularly receive energy bites, coffee, and visits. While pregnant with Violet, I got to try out an electric bike. Stop by and visit us!
The little green house on College Road was where I took Audrey (now almost 13-years-old) and Violet (now 8-years-old) to Board meetings, membership picnics, Northern Center sponsored events, rallies, roundtables, and rabble rousing, all as I have tried my best to speak truth to power. The Northern Center is a part of my family, and I am honored⸻truly⸻to be invited back to serve in this capacity.
Audrey sign-waving in Fairbanks for clean air. The Environmental Protection Agency released a planned partial disapproval of Alaska’s Serious State Implementation Plan (or SIP) to address the Fairbanks North Star Borough wintertime air quality issue.
What happened in the intervening years between my exit from this role in December 2020 and today? I stepped back from my role as Executive Director in 2020 due to the pandemic and the need to school my children at home. The overwhelming support of the Board of Directors and colleagues at the Northern Center in prioritizing my family will be something I carry with me, forever. Throughout 2021 and early 2022, I continued to work at the Northern Center in a support capacity, and when a transition of the executive position occurred in the spring of 2022, I was asked to serve as the Interim Executive Director. At the end of the year, after working closely with our staff and board, I accepted the opportunity to transition back into my previous role and serve as the permanent Executive Director.
I had the privilege of spending a portion of my weekly hours uplifting the work of Citizens for Clean Air. (We still do not have a State Implementation Plan for the poor quality in Fairbanks.)
Interns get the opportunity to see Alaska and this year we will host two interns from The New School. Their work will include co-directing the annual Run for the Refuge (Saturday, July 15, 2023) and administrative and operations support. You can register for the run online here. This year’s featured art is by Jill Richie.
This work is not done in a silo. I convened a monthly meeting with fellow Alaska conservation women and non-binary executive directors. I look forward to re-convening this group and expanding the opportunity to learn from one another by hosting a monthly local non-profit executive director meet-up.
What are my plans for 2023? I will be (re)introducing myself to our constituency; like-minded organizations and their staff; community, regional, state, and national decision-makers; the private foundations that provide restricted (grant) funding to the Northern Center; uplifting our work through the media, Northern Center communication channels, and in The Northern Line; and facing those who oppose our conservation goals on behalf of you, my colleagues, and the incredible network of groups we work alongside.
The public lands and waters in Alaska are vast. People from all over the world visit Alaska, and that means sometimes we have to travel together outside of Alaska to engender our issues to a broader audience.
We have been extraordinarily fortunate to host local interns and volunteers at the Northern Center. We are looking for housing for two interns this summer. If you have space you would like to make available, please contact Lois Barger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does this look like in real-time? My role at the Northern Center is to provide guidance and support to our team of specialized advocates and educators; work with our Board of Directors to plan the future of our work and remain aggressive in the courts to defend Alaska public lands and waters and the people and wildlife that depend on them; raise funds to ensure a stable, sustainable, vibrant, and thriving future for the organization; and provide assistance programmatically within our education mandate for clean, renewable energy.
The Northern Center is in a cooperative partnership with Friend’s of Creamer’s Field and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to operate Camp Habitat. The fundraising efforts of the Northern Center’s youth fund support the annual operation of the camp. In 2022 we launched the Jim Kowalsky Youth Engagement Fund in honor of our founding executive director and to carry on his legacy of youth support and engagement.
It is a huge treat to get members from outside of Alaska visiting the Northern Center. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, please put us on your list of places to visit.
Our backyard is perfect for hosting events. This year we’ll be hosting the Solstice Picnic on June 23. Check out the rest of our events here.
When you support the Northern Center’s events you do it in a big way. Like selling out the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and leaving standing room only. Arctic Fest 2023 will feature a music and film fest. Stay tuned for more information about locations, prices, and events at this year’s Arctic Fest from August 25 – 27, 2023.
The Northern Center has partnered with Trustees for Alaska for decades. Executive Director Vicki Clark and I have been spending the last several years generating support for our work on the east coast. Including hosting events with Patagonia in New York City. If you’d like to host a house party in your community, please email me at email@example.com.
Many of you reading this have served as mentors, advisors, friends, and companion muckrakers. I look forward to continuing to grow and learn in this role⸻and I ask for your support as the Northern Center, in coalition and partnership with so many, works toward creating a sustainable and just future for all, celebrates our victories along the way, and tackles an ever-increasing series of threats to the environment, Alaskan lifeways, and democracy. Your leadership and advocacy are what sustains this work.
When the administration doesn’t provide the opportunity for public comment, we make sure their voices are heard by hosting people’s hearings. #ProtectTheArctic
It is not always easy to get the word out about our programs, events, and mission. But partnering with local radio stations has been a way for us to reach a large local audience.
Throwing down on behalf of the Northern Center is a family activity. My mom and dad regularly attended Night for the North. If you’d like to volunteer for the Northern Center, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dogs are welcome! Office dog Walter was an amazing babysitter for a young Violet.
It is a family tradition to help mark the 10K course for the Run for the Refuge. We will be seeking volunteers for the 27th annual Run for the Refuge. If you enjoy the UAF trails, sign-up to volunteer.
When it rains and you need extra help you call on your sister. Operating the finish line at the annual Run for the Refuge is a hectic job.
On June 9 I will be celebrating my nine-year anniversary with the Northern Center. Soon after I will see you at the Solstice Picnic (Friday, June 23) in the backyard at 830 College Road. Until then, don’t hesitate to drop me a note (email, snail mail, phone call), stop by the office (I am most often in the office on Wednesdays and Fridays), or wave hello when our paths cross defending Interior and Arctic Alaska.