Our Staff

Polly Carr, Executive Director

(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

(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.

Louie Flora, Government Affairs Director

louie@akcenter.org

Louie Flora has followed state and local government issues in Alaska for over a decade as a staff and committee aide in the AK Legislature, and as Government Affairs Director for the Alaska Center. 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 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,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

(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.

Victoria Long-Leather, Trailside Discovery Camp Director

(907) 274-3669 | victoria@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.

Amy O’Connor, Mat-Su Program Manager

(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.

Leah Moss, Communications and Creative Manager

(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 our communication approach. She continues to explore new avenues and tried and true networks to expand The Alaska center’s reach and creatively engage more Alaskans in the work we do.

Leah is an avid forager, food lover, and mixologist who combines her passions to create Alaska inspired potables and raise awareness about food security issues. She continues to work within the broader Alaskan community engaging artists and actions to create engaging events for local non-profits.

Kristen Collins, Organizer

(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.

Alyssa Quintyne, Interior Organizer

alyssa@akcenter.org

Alyssa landed in Fairbanks at the age of six with her parents. Over the years, she has gained a profound appreciation for the diversity of Fairbanks and how intrinsic the environment is to the community. Her entire life she has made a point to be involved in as many communities and groups as she can. For over a decade she has been volunteering with local, statewide, and national organizations forming ties to the grassroots community. With a degree in Political Science from UAF, she has used her organizing skills and passion for political and communal outreach to support campaigns in a variety of positions; from Internships to Community Outreach Coordinator. Alyssa is excited to further both her career and support of her beloved interior communities as she takes on the role of Interior Organizer.

In her spare time, she can be found drawing in her sketchbook, playing her violin, biking around downtown Fairbanks, or having a good ‘r and r’ with her friends and family.

Evan Anderson, Civic Engagement Coordinator

(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

(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, AYEA Program Coordinator

(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.

Mitchell Davidson, Online Innovation Coordinator

(907) 793-8678 | mitchell@akcenter.org

Born and raised in Kodiak, Mitchell grew up knowing firsthand how much the sea sustains the local economy, and it is essential to maintain that lifeblood for future generations. After graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in communications and a minor in paleontology, Mitchell returned to Kodiak for a few years to develop skills in nonprofit communications and digital outreach. As the most recent addition to The Alaska Center, he brings his passions for design and emerging digital mediums to help bolster online reach and effectiveness.

Mitchell enjoys a good story, and in his downtime, he can be found reading, enjoying a film, or out making one of his own in the beautiful outdoors by hiking, biking, camping, or canoeing. Growing up in a temperate rainforest, he’s a big fan of the rain.

Alejandro Soto, Civic Summit Coordinator

alejandro@akcenter.org

Alejandro Soto was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. He is a current university student attending the University of Alaska Anchorage where he is specializing in Environment and Society with a minor in Political Science. Since his arrival in the United States in 2010, he has gained opportunities to serve in various leadership positions nationally and locally. He has served as a member and leader of the Alaska Geographic Youth Leadership Team, an Arctic Youth Ambassador, A member of the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) Next Generation Advisory Council, and as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar. Alejandro is making an impact, and his goal is to reach all audiences with the value of getting outside and diversify the field of conservation. All while introducing people to the beautiful outdoors and the caring for our public lands. 

During his free time, Alejandro likes to spend time with his family, and although his family does not like to spend much time outdoors, he is trying to change their opinion little by little. Finally, he also enjoys long walks, camping, climbing, kayaking and, above all, simply spending time in the woods trying to learn more about nature and how it benefits all of us.