Staff

Michael Barber
Executive Director

mbarber@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8205

Michael started as a Program Officer at Alaska Conservation Foundation in 2013; he now serves as Executive Director. His professional career in conservation began at the Municipality of Anchorage as the LED Lighting Project manager, a project that saved the city millions of dollars and reduced energy consumption by 60%.

Prior to joining Alaska Conservation Foundation, Michael co-founded an energy efficiency development company to engage utilities, cities, and military facilities in large-scale efficiency retrofits. As a research economist for renewable energy projects, he applied his energy efficiency experience across rural Alaska. Michael also managed the complex merger of Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Conservation Alliance and Voters and Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, a project supported by Alaska Conservation Foundation. Prior to that, he served as Board Treasurer for Alaska Conservation Alliance.

Born in Anchorage, Michael is a fourth-generation Alaskan. He received his undergraduate degree from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, and his MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He is an avid winter sports enthusiast and musician.

 

Mike Coumbe
Deputy Director

mcoumbe@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8216

Mike joined Alaska Conservation Foundation in 2013 to lead a team of grantmaking program staff. Born in Seward, raised in Anchorage and the Southwest U.S., he returned to Alaska at age 19 to find his roots, and then went about replanting them here.

He worked for the Alaska Legislature during pipeline construction days and again in recent years. He’s been an active participant in the political process throughout his life and an organizer in campaigns to protect Kachemak Bay State Park and the Anchorage Coastal Trail. His years with the League of Conservation Voters bolstered and connected conservation groups, Alaska Native organizations, Labor unions, and others across Alaska. He served as Alaska Conservation Alliance and Alaska Conservation Voters Interim Executive Director for a stint.

Hiking in the mountains, biking the Coastal Trail, and traveling globally are some of the ways he enjoys life.

 

Ruan du Plessis
Director of Finance and Operations

rduplessis@alaskaconservation.org  | (907) 433-8208

Ruan was born and raised about as far away from the Alaskan wilderness as one can get – at the Southern tip of Africa. He spent five years with PwC, both in South Africa and Bermuda, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant along the way, before making his way over to the U.S. As a finance consultant for The Siegfried Group, he worked on projects at Fortune 1000 companies. He traveled throughout the country in the process, including doing an assignment in Alaska, where he quickly became captivated by the natural splendor.

Interlaced with his professional assignments, Ruan also consulted with various conservation organizations on how to improve their financial operations and he decided to make the switch from corporate accounting permanent by joining Alaska Conservation Foundation in May 2018.

When not wielding debits and credits to protect Alaska’s natural environment, Ruan can be found hiking, enjoying a good glass of wine or getting lost exploring a new town or city.

 

Anna Dalton
Director of Grants and Programs

adalton@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8213

Anna, a born and raised Alaskan, joined the Alaska Conservation Foundation team in 2014. She facilitates the grantmaking activities of the organization in addition to managing the Ted Smith Conservation Internship Program. Anna is thrilled to be working for an organization that is committed to protecting the state she calls home.

Anna graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Urban & Environmental Policy and minors in Biology and Sociology. Four years of dwelling in the urban jungle of Los Angeles left her itching to come home to mountains she had taken for granted as a child. Prior to Alaska Conservation Foundation, Anna worked as a grantmaker at the Alaska Community Foundation, where she engaged with non-profit organizations across the state.

When not working, you’ll find Anna on Anchorage’s trails while training for marathons and half marathons. If she’s not running (unlikely), she’ll be outside doing some other form of physical activity.

 

Aaron Poe
Network Program Officer

apoe@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8202

Aaron has worked in Alaska for over 20 years specializing in natural resource management, partnership development, and community engagement. His efforts have largely focused on helping agencies better understand risks to species and habitats as well as the value that these natural resources have for the communities who depend on them. He is currently the Coordinator for the Aleutian and Bering Sea Islands Landscape Conservation Cooperative and focuses on building partnerships between agencies, tribes, researchers, industry, and communities to address large-scale issues like climate change and marine vessel traffic in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. He is also the program officer for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership and works with several small communities and nonprofit organizations in southeast Alaska to build localized solutions to socioeconomic and environmental challenges.

Aaron has B.S. degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and Geography, specializing in GIS and Remote Sensing from Utah State University and a Masters in Natural Resource Management from the University of Arizona.

Away from work he enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife and two young children and being a vocal advocate for youth and public schools.

 

Sadie Kurtz
Communications and Development Manager

skurtz@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8212

Sadie joined Alaska Conservation Foundation in the Fall of 2018. Having grown up in Anchorage, she spent most of her childhood exploring the incredible wild places that Alaska has to offer.

On a brief hiatus from Alaska, Sadie attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR where she graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration on the interplay between conservation and indigenous rights. Her studies allowed her to travel, live, learn, and conduct research with unique communities across the world as they worked to implement different conservation strategies. Following graduation, Sadie worked for several environmental non-profits helping to mobilize members, strengthen environmental programming, and grow community engagement. Eventually, the lures of the Chugach and the calls from Prince William Sound were too much to withstand and Sadie is thrilled to be back in Alaska and be able to continue strengthening the conservation landscape with Alaska Conservation Foundation.

In her free time, Sadie enjoys hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rafting, trail running, XC skiing, and spending time with her assorted four-legged critters.

 

Ann Mayo-Kiely
Development and Program Coordinator

amayokiely@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8207

Ann was born and raised in Wisconsin and moved around the northern US working for National Parks and Forests before arriving in Alaska in 2008 and stepping into nonprofit work. Ann joined Alaska Conservation Foundation in the Fall of 2019. She focuses on fundraising and collaboration around youth leadership in conservation. 

From her first positions volunteering with field research and environmental education in the Lake Superior and Boundary Waters region, Ann has loved connecting people with wild places. Her nonprofit work has focused on expanding opportunities and leadership roles for local youth, including starting the Arctic Youth Ambassadors and Chugach Children’s Forest programs. This has included a long learning process toward understanding and overcoming barriers to equitable involvement, with generous partners and colleagues invaluable along the way. Ann graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies, and the University of Montana with an M.S. in Wilderness and Recreation Resources Management. 

In her time off Ann spends as much time as possible outside with her husband and three kids, gardening, exploring Anchorage’s trails by foot, ski, and bike, and whenever possible on the water in a canoe or kayak.

 

Klaire Rhodes
Communications and Development Associate

krhodes@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8210

Despite a global pandemic, Klaire joined Alaska Conservation Foundation in October of 2020 as the Communications and Development Associate soon after graduating from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science in Environment and Society. During her undergraduate career, she served as an intern with Alaska Trails, an Anchorage non-profit supporting sustainable trail development, and spent a semester abroad in Bergen, Norway studying climatology and geohazards. Before graduating, she wrote her senior thesis arguing for the protection of Bristol Bay wild salmon and focused on the intersections between threats from Pebble Mine, climate change, and fisheries management.

As a lifelong Alaskan and Anchorage local, Klaire recognizes the important role that many small, non-profit organizations make in preserving the integrity of the Alaskan environment. Klaire is excited to begin her career with a foundation that helps make that important work possible so future generations can enjoy the wildness of Alaska as she has.

In her free time, Klaire can usually be found running in Chugach State Park, backcountry skiing in Turnagain Pass, or baking sourdough bread in her kitchen.

 

Kikiktagruk Macy Rae Kenworthy
Development and Operations Associate

mkenworthy@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8206

Macy Rae Kenworthy (Iñupiagisiga Kikiktagruk) was hired as the Development & Operations Associate in November 2020. Macy is Iñupiaq and is originally from Kotzebue and Sisualik, Alaska on the Northwest coast. She grew up learning to respect and take care of the land and applies the values learned in her childhood in everything she does today. Macy has participated in youth programs from a young age and became a strong advocate for climate change, Native issues, and education in rural Alaska. She uses her stories and experiences to educate others about life in the Arctic. She graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a boarding school in Sitka, Alaska, and is currently a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks pursuing her degree in Psychology with a minor in Digital Journalism. Her involvement with youth programs, including the U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassadors program (2015-2017), has allowed her to make connections throughout Alaska and throughout other Arctic Nations where she has found many cultural connections. Macy enjoys photography, videography, sewing, and reading. She also enjoys spending as much time as she can out on the tundra with her family and her dog Kaiser Qipmiq.

 

Dan Cannon
Public Lands Coordinator

dcannon@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8214

Dan joined Alaska Conservation Foundation in November of 2020 as the Public Lands Coordinator. Dan works to monitor Alaska conservation efforts and strengthen the movement by supporting grassroots advocacy efforts, especially to inform the foundation’s grantmaking and initiatives.

With over twelve years of organizing experience, Dan has mobilized hundreds of thousands of people across the country on a variety of environmental issues. After seven years with Greenpeace USA, most recently Dan worked as the Tongass Forest Program Manager for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC). At SEACC Dan worked to engage the public in fighting industrial-scale old-growth clearcut logging, preventing roads to nowhere from being built and advocating for national Roadless Rule protections to remain on the Tongass. 

Born and raised in Ohio, Dan fell in love with Alaska while visiting a friend living on Prince of Wales Island. Dan holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Dan is an avid backpacker who enjoys local beer and skiing (water and snow) with his wife.

 

Leanna Heffner
Northwest Boreal Partnership Director

lheffner@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8204

Leanna holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island in Oceanography where she worked with other scientists, coastal managers, and community members to develop solutions to watershed pollution and climate change adaptation. For her post-doctoral work, Leanna was part of an interdisciplinary team of designers, engineers, and scientists at Louisiana State University’s Coastal Sustainability Studio tackling the land loss crisis on the Mississippi River Delta. Upon her arrival in Alaska in 2016, Leanna worked as the Science Communications Coordinator for the Western Alaska Partnership, a similar organization based in western Alaska that is also part of the Northern Latitudes Partnerships.
 
Leanna stepped into her leadership role as the Partnership Director with the Northwest Boreal Partnership in 2018 and has immensely enjoyed her work with a wonderful group of partners, all of whom are dedicated, passionate, and genuinely interested in collectively creating positive change from the ground up. In her current role with the Northwest Boreal Partnership, Leanna officially joined the Alaska Conservation Foundation team in early 2021. 
 
Leanna enjoys hiking, rock climbing, playing piano, board games, teaching and practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband Larry, two dogs Khody and Kush, and her two black kitties Luna and Loki. Leanna is based in Anchorage and originally hails from the beautiful desert lands of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
 

Sijo Smith
Northern Latitudes Partnership Communications Coordinator

ssmith@alaskaconservation.org | (907) 433-8215

Sijo joined the Alaska Conservation Foundation team in early 2021. Raised in Alaska, she is excited to be working for an organization that works to protect the wonderful state where she spent her childhood. Sijo is the coordinator for the Northern Latitudes Partnerships, a group of three regional partnerships across Alaska and Western Canada. She is thrilled to be working with a  broad range of individuals and organizations, all of whom are passionate about working together to address local and large-scale issues.
 
Sijo left Alaska for college, where she received a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University. Her studies there offered exposure to unique communities and issues across the country, and their many approaches to environmental and socio-economic challenges. She also organized campaigns in Alaska and California as part of the climate justice movement and remains deeply invested in equitable climate solutions. 
 
Outside of work, Sijo enjoys backpacking with her partner, diving in California’s waters, cooking, reading, and drinking tea.