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 and Operations 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.

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.

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, Field Manager

(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.

Adrian Baer, Mat-Su Organizer

adrian@akcenter.org

Adrian was born in Alaska and raised in Chickaloon. He learned to enjoy the outdoors from a young age through hiking, fishing, hunting, and traveling. Adrian holds a degree in Geography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game doing northern pike and salmon studies throughout Southcentral Alaska. He also has taught the Salmon in the Classroom curriculum to Mat-Su public schools. Most recently Adrian has worked for the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council where he learned firsthand about the Athabascan nation.

In his off time he enjoys road trips by van, long camping trips, hunting, going on adventures with a Hungarian Firehound and better half, and disappearing into the woods whenever they get the chance. Adrian cares deeply for Alaska and is ready to use his deep connection and love of his home state in his work with The Alaska Center.

Courtney Owen, Digital Organizer

courtney@akcenter.org

Courtney has been deeply involved with activism and Alaskan politics for years. Born and raised Alaskan she has had a profound respect for the wilderness around us and the people who make their home in it. She has a strong background in grassroots activism and direct action campaigns. A graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a degree in International Studies she has spent the last year working for international non profits. Before her travels she has worked closely with many Alaskan electoral campaign providing design and digital support for candidates.

In her spare time she spends her time creating community events and engaging the Anchorage music and arts community around actions and issues close to her heart.

Carla Beckerley, Office Administrator

officeadmin@akcenter.org

Alaska’s newest arrival is enjoying learning all about this state’s incredible beauty. Carla considers herself lucky to have lived in or near some of the nation’s most beautiful parks. That includes Acadia, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Her husband’s career has placed the family in Alaska with ties to Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. After raising three too smart children Carla is embracing this new chapter in Alaska. She built her life skill set through hospitality, volunteering, fundraising, sales, office admin, all while guiding the three kids toward their dreams and aspirations. She feels the Alaska Center is a perfect place to pour her energy and wisdom.

Carla’s interests include traveling to new locals, board games with friends, photography, writing, sewing, tea drinking, listening to podcasts, world music and walking the best dog ever.