Our Staff

groupstaff2017

Polly Carr, Executive Director
Jen Willette, Finance Director
Thomas Burek, Trailside Discovery Director
Victoria Long-Leather, Trailside Discovery Associate Director
Louie Flora, Government Affairs Director
Ryan Astalos, Canvass Director
Meghan Cavanaugh, Field & Political Director
Amy O’Connor, Mat-Su Program Manager
Kristen Collins, Organizer
Evan Anderson, Civic Engagement Coordinator
Michael Lanphier, Development Coordinator
Allison Barnwell, Youth Training Coordinator
Jaclyn Erbey, Office Manager & Trailside Program Administrator
Leah Moss, Communications and Creative Manager 

Employment: To see current job listings, please visit our Careers page here.

Volunteering: Interested in volunteering with us? Visit our Volunteer page here.

Polly Carr, Executive Director

Polly Carr

Polly Carr

(907) 274-3656  |  polly@akcenter.org

In 1997, Polly drove her Toyota pickup truck to Alaska to guide for the Trailside Discovery program. The truck is still running, and Polly is still working to make Alaska a great place to live. She has been lucky to be a part of some exciting innovations in Alaska — from helping found the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program in 1998, to helping establish the first women’s flat track roller derby league, to launching one of Anchorage’s first wine bistros. When she is not at work, she is on the trails with her daughter, drinking coffee, or perusing restaurant menus.

Before returning to The Alaska Center as our Executive Director in 2013, Polly worked for the Alaska Conservation Foundation, supporting collaborations among conservation nonprofits and strategies to advance the environmental priorities of Alaska Native communities. She is excited to apply her skills and background in fundraising, community organizing, leadership development, organizational management, and political perspective to The Alaska Center and The Alaska Center Education Fund.

 

Jen Willette, Finance Director

Jen Willette

Jen Willette

(907) 274-3677 | finance@akcenter.org

After graduating from Bowdoin College with an Archaeology degree and a minor in German, Jen moved to Alaska with no real plan except to find adventure. On the way up the AlCan she encountered a whiteout blizzard followed by an amazing display of the Northern Lights, and that sealed the deal – sealed the deal – she had found her kind of adventure. In her time in Alaska, Jen has accumulated 17 years of working in the finance and business management field, and she brings sense and grace to the world that is non-profit bookkeeping.

In her time off, Jen can be found out and about biking the single track, skiing or hiking the trails or working in the garden. If not outdoors, she’ll be at home curled up with a glass of wine and a book or a rented TV series, or researching the fine art of beekeeping – her current gardening project/obsession.

 

Thomas Burek, Trailside Discovery Director

Thomas Burek

Thomas Burek

(907) 274-3669 | trailside@akcenter.org

Thomas Burek joined The Alaska Center Education Fund in the summer of 1996 as the Trailside Discovery Camp Director. He is responsible for overall management, strategic planning, administration, program development, and education. During his tenure at Trailside, he has worked to expand the program from 250 campers annually to over 5,550.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks & Recreation Management from Eastern Michigan University.

Prior to serving as Trailside Director, Thomas worked for the Detroit YMCA as the Environmental Education Director. He also plays a mean acoustic fingerstyle blues guitar.

Victoria Long-Leather, Trailside Discovery Associate Director

Victoria Long-Leather

Victoria Long-Leather

(907) 274-3669 | trailside@akcenter.org

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.
She loves to play rugby, ski and travel. Victoria recently moved to Alaska and is really excited to explore and learn about the culture of her new home in Anchorage and her new family, Trailside Discovery.

Louie Flora, Government Affairs Director

Louie Flora

Louie Flora

(907) 793-8630 | louie@akcenter.org

Louie Flora comes to The Alaska Center following eleven years working as a Legislative Aide in the Alaska State Capital. During his tenure as staff in Juneau he has ridden the highs and lows of state politics and has enjoyed working with Alaskans of all stripes on a multitude of issues, from pebble mine to potholes to pike eradication. His experience shaped a respect for the endurance and intelligence of policy-makers and a belief that the legislative process is flawed, human, fun, engaging, and full of important potential.

Louie was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Nenana, King Salmon, and Homer.  He has been a commercial fisherman since age six and has fished for Sockeye Salmon, Weathervane Scallop, Norton Sound Red King Crab, Pacific Halibut, Bering Sea Red King Crab, Korean Hair Crab, Pacific Cod, Opilio Crab and Dungeness Crab.  He lives in Homer and Juneau with his wife and two kids and an old dog.

Ryan Astalos

Ryan Astalos

Ryan Astalos,Canvass Director

(907) 793-8670 | ryan_a@akcenter.org

Ryan Astalos is a graduate of Hiram College with a degree in biology, where he was involved in various stream monitoring projects and focused on wetland delineations for his senior research project. He also spent a summer interning with Igniting Streams of Learning in Science, where he helped engage high school teachers and students in learning from being out in the field.

After graduating college, Ryan moved up to the last frontier to work on the Save Bristol Bay Campaign, soon falling in love with this great state, he decided to continue the work to protect the great culture and environment, Alaska has to offer. Ryan has volunteered with various conservation organizations and has published two articles on Ecowatch.com. When not working, Ryan enjoys traveling, hiking, backpacking, biking, snowboarding and fly fishing.

Meghan Cavanaugh, Field & Political Director

Meghan Cavanaugh

Meghan Cavanaugh

(907) 793-8629 | meghan@akcenter.org

Meghan began her career with The Alaska Center at an early age. As an Alaska Youth for Environmental Action member, Meghan worked with the Begich Administration in Anchorage to reduce the use of plastics. From there, Meghan’s interest in politics & the environment flourished. She studied environmental science and political science at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. After completing her degree, Meghan returned to Alaska where she was an Alaska Conservation Foundation Ted Smith intern with the former Alaska Conservation Alliance and completed the first-ever data-driven membership analysis of Alaska’s conservation movement.

After successfully managing a campaign to elect a state house representative, Meghan went to work in Alaska’s State Capitol. Her time in the Alaska Legislature gives her political expertise and comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of local and state government.Meghan honed her skills in grassroots and field management as regional field director for US Senator Begich’s reelection campaign. Outside of The Alaska Center, Meghan enjoys exploring Alaska’s trails, triathlons, and to no avail, rooting for the Northwestern Wildcats.

Amy O’Connor, Mat-Su Program Manager

Amy O'Connor

Amy O’Connor

(907) 793-8640 | amy@akcenter.org

Amy came to Alaska by way of the Alaska Conservation Foundation Ted Smith internship program in 2006 to work for the National Park Service. After a brief trip home to Massachusetts to complete the Conservation Law Enforcement Academy, she worked as a US Park Ranger in Denali National Park for four years, and then as a Park Ranger with Alaska State Parks in Hatcher Pass for the last few years. Amy holds a B.S. in Biology and Spanish from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and a Master of Natural Resources from the University of Idaho, and is currently completing a Master of Science in Environmental Science from Alaska Pacific University.

She’s also a Wilderness First Responder, EMT, and medical instructor who loves a good Search and Rescue. Amy lives with her husband, two little girls, and large lap dogs (a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard) in Butte where she spends her non-existent free time working “Crooked Fence Farm”, raising dairy and meat goats and sheep.

 

Kristen Collins, Organizer

Kristen Collins

Kristen Collins

(907) 793-8628  | kristen@akcenter.org

Kristen made her journey to Alaska through the Alaska Conservation Foundation Ted Smith internship program, and interned with us in the summer of 2013. And ever since her initial exposure to the great lands of this state, she knew she would return after graduating from the University of Tennessee with Geology and Environmental Studies. She returned the following summer to work for the Begich Campaign to represent the state of Alaska on a federal level. She is now thrilled to be again fighting with The Alaska Center to protect Alaska’s environment and unique way of life.

Kristen’s passion for the pristine wild, environmental health and conservation came from the mountains of East Tennessee where she grew up. Through these places she gained her understanding of the importance of environmental conservation and ecology. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking, picking blueberries, and hiking throughout this beautiful state.

Evan Anderson, Civic Engagement Coordinator

Evan Anderson

Evan Anderson

(907) 274-3621  | evan@akcenter.org

Evan first came to the 49th state as a field organizer for the 2014 Begich for Senate re-election campaign. After just a few months of living in Homer, he knew he was not finished with Alaska, and is joined our team as the Digital Organizer in 2015, and recently moved to his current role to work to ensure that the state’s vast wild spaces remain for generations to come.

As a graduate of American University with a B.A. in international studies, Evan has interned and worked with a variety of non-profit advocacy organizations in D.C. As a student he had the chance to live and learn abroad, where he had the chance to ski in the Austrian Alps and climb and bike across Turkey’s Anatolian peninsula. He’s looking forward to many Alaskan adventures to come.

 

Michael Lanphier, Development Coordinator

Michael Lanphier(907) 274-3647  | michael@akcenter.org

Michael recently returned to Alaska from Washington, D.C. He fell in love with our great state while working for the 2008 Begich Senatorial Race and always hoped to return to Alaska and work for a conservation organization. When a position became available at The Alaska Center, he jumped at the opportunity.

Hailing from Colorado originally, Michael graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder where he studied political science and economics. After college, Michael worked on several political campaigns, filling a variety of roles. In 2008, he moved to Alaska and worked on Mark Begich’s successful Senatorial bid, which led to opportunities in Washington, D.C. While in D.C., Michael worked for Senator Mark Udall, from Colorado and then for several associations, focusing on development and member engagement.

Michael enjoys fly-fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, skiing, biking and generally being outdoors whenever possible.

Allison Barnwell, Youth Training Coordinator

Allison Barnwell

Allison Barnwell

(907) 274-3632  | allison@akcenter.org

Allison first became involved with The Alaska Center and AYEA in high school in Seward, AK. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Claremont McKenna College, she continued to work as an organizer on several campaigns in the lower 48 organizing for food justice before returning to Alaska. She is especially excited about working with youth and being a part of the program that first introduced her to organizing for the environment.

Allison loves running, skiing, hiking, fishing, and most other outdoor activities. If she’s not in the office you can probably find her on Mt. Marathon in Seward.

 

Jaclyn Erbey, Office Manager and Trailside Program Administrator

(907) 274-3616 | jaclyn@akcenter.org

Jaclyn is a proud, life-long Alaskan, born and raised in Wasilla. She spent time in various community service organizations, including Wounded Warrior, Challenge Alaska, and Elks Youth Camp. Her love of adventure and travel brought her to forty-two states but has always called Alaska home, and she recently  returned to her frozen roots to be closer to her family and young niece and nephew.

Jaclyn was introduced to The Alaska Center and the amazing Trailside team in 2015. She admired their drive for knowledge, conservation, and leadership and could not wait to bring her experiences’ with community works and a passion for the Alaskan outdoors to the table. She is eager to see the future she can help build, and is proud to be a part of our team.

Leah Moss, Communications and Creative Manager

LEAH(907) 793-8631 | Leah@akcenter.org

Like many Alaska transplants, Leah came here for a short visit, fell in love with the majesty of the place, and decided to make it her home. A graduate from Hunter College in NYC, she studied political theory and sustainable development and has used her writing chops to help support everything from non-profits, to political campaigns, to comedy theaters, and world record breaking pie fights. Her rich and varied work experience adds a unique perspective to digital organization and she hopes to utilize the medium to expand The Alaska Center’s reach and impact.

Originally from Texas, Leah is thrilled to have the opportunity to use her skills to work for such an established conservation organization and is happy to focus her energy on protecting the actual largest state.

Leah is an avid forager, food lover, and mixologist who combines her passions to create Alaska inspired potables and snacks. As a semi-professional photographer and writer she also contributes to a variety of blogs. She is also the proud mother of the world’s cutest dog: Walter Mondale.