Christine Celentano is European American who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Natural Resource Economics from Colorado State University. She moved to Alaska in 1993 and began her career working side by side with talented and gifted Alaska Native leaders and tribal members as they sought to protect and preserve the lands to which they were deeply connected. Christine spent fifteen years working with Tribes within the Chugach Region, and Alaska statewide to address a variety of tribal environmental concerns, including pollution prevention, household hazardous materials and alternatives, contaminants in Alaska Native traditional foods, impacts of oil and gas operations in Cook inlet on traditional subsistence, facilitating tribal and federal government relations in these areas and enhancing tribal capacity for local environmental management through program development. She currently is working as an independent consultant on a variety of federal government initiatives to support capacity development for rural Alaskan communities. Christine followed the work of ACAT closely since its inception and joined the ACAT board in December 2007.
Rosalie Kalistook, Board Member; Bethel, Alaska
Rosalie is a bilingual Yupik who lives in Bethel in Southwest Alaska. Although Bethel is a hub city with jet plane service, the Alaska’s limited road system does not go there. A federally recognized tribe is located in Bethel, the Orutsararmuit Native Council, for which Rosalie is employed as the Tribal Environmental Coordinator. She and her family depend on traditional foods that they obtain by fishing and hunting and gathering plants and berries. Rosalie makes grass baskets, constructs fur skins into parkas, and sews traditional shirts and dresses (qaspeqs) for her family. She joined the ACAT board in December 2007.
Pauline is a Yupik grandmother who lives off of the road system on a lake in the Village of Aleknagik (near Dillingham) in Southwest Alaska. Through her family’s concerns, she helped initiate a toxics project about the impacts of mercury and fuel contamination from mining along the Wood River near her home. She is retired but sometimes fills in as a clerk for her village.
Birgit Lenger, N.D., Co-Chair; Anchorage, Alaska
Birgit is a European Canadian originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. She received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine in 2001. She emphasizes family medicine in her practice, which is located in Anchorage at the Natural Health Center, where her colleagues in alternative medicine are also strong supporters of the work of ACAT. Birgit joined the ACAT board in February 2004 and served for three years on the Fundraising Committee, before she was elected Co-Chair in 2007.
Harriet Penayah, Board Member; St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Harriet is a bilingual Yupik grandmother born in 1932 in the Village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska which lies in the Bering Sea. As an Elder of her village she serves her people as well as the ACAT board as a spiritual and cultural leader. She loves music and dancing, and taught herself to play the piano. She started playing for the Presbyterian Church in 1950 where she is a Sunday-School teacher. In 1989 when her son passed away, Harriet taught herself to play the guitar by remembering the way her son had played. She teaches children how to Eskimo dance, as well as ACAT’s director Pam Miller. Harriet attends meetings of the Restoration Advisory Board for the Northeast Cape abandoned military site, expressing her concerns about the health problems she has seen as a former health aide which are linked with military toxics. She joined the ACAT board in February 2004.
Jennifer Swift; Board Member; Anchorage, Alaska
Jennifer is a European-American nurse practitioner with a focus on family practice from pediatrics through elders. She practices at the Natural Health Center in Anchorage. Jennifer received her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Southern Maine in 2010, where she also obtained her registered nursing degree. Her bachelor’s degree is in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her scope of practice has been varied: she has worked with refugees from Africa and the Middle East; in remote locations in Alaska; and in public health and private practices. She joined ACAT’s board in February 2014.
Violet Yeaton, Board Member; Port Graham, Alaska
Violet is a Sugpiaq who lives in the Native Village of Port Graham which is located off of the road system in Southcentral Alaska where Cook Inlet meets the Gulf of Alaska in the Pacific Ocean. Violet serves as the tribal Environmental Coordinator for her people. The Sugpiaq people traditionally speak a Pacific Gulf variation of Yupik. She has been involved with ACAT since 2000, traveling with ACAT staff to Washington D.C. and a United Nations meeting in South Africa to represent the concerns of her people about persistent organic pollutants that are contaminating the traditional foods in Alaska. She joined the ACAT board in February 2004.
Pamela founded ACAT in 1997. She is a European American. Since 2000, ACAT has been awarded multiple federal grants for which Pam has been serving as team leader and, from 2005 through 2016, as Principal Investigator of a research team that includes faculty from four universities in Alaska and New York. These research projects rely on collaborative efforts with tribes in Alaska to address environmental health and justice issues. Pam is a leader in Coming Clean, a national network of groups concerned about chemicals policy reform, and in the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, an international partnership committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability. She is one of the world’s foremost experts concerning the toxic pesticide lindane, serving two governmental organizations (United Nations and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation) to address international concerns about lindane. She was instrumental in prompting the 2006 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw agricultural products containing lindane from the U.S., the 2010 decision by the same agency to phase out uses of endosulfan, and the 2011 decision by the United Nations Environment Programme to ban endosulfan worldwide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. In 2012, she was elected as the only American on the Steering Committee for the International POPs Elimination Network. Pam is known for her work to prompt state, national, and international chemicals policy reform to protect environmental and human health in the Arctic. She was selected as a fellow for the Reach the Decision Makers program from the University of California San Francisco, Reproductive Health and Environment Program (2011); was invited to participate in an unprecedented White House Forum on Environmental Justice (2010); and selected to serve on an environmental justice advisory group for the Centers for Disease Control (2009-2010). In 2012, she received the Meritorious Service Award from the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska for her service to the community. In 2013, Pam was invited to serve on the board of directors for the Groundswell Fund. She holds a master’s degree in environmental science from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (1981). (email: pamela at akaction dot org)
Lorraine Eckstein; Research Anthropologist; Anchorage, Alaska
Lorraine is a cultural anthropologist (European American) who volunteered for ACAT as a technical writer and researcher until joining the ACAT staff in 2000. She supports most projects with her administrative, analytical, research, and technical writing skills. She has forty years of experience in research administration and education with expertise in the application of economic, sociological, medical, and psychological models. She taught anthropology and sociology at colleges and universities in St. Louis, Seattle, and Connecticut. She holds a doctorate from the University of Washington in Seattle (1990), a master’s from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s from the University of Missouri. She is a member of the Gray Panthers. (email: lorraine at akaction dot org)
Vi is a Yupik grandmother who was born in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. Vi was hired in 2002 to work in Anchorage to assist on the St. Lawrence Island environmental health and justice project. She became the Project Coordinator in 2004, which included supervising ACAT’s research staff on St. Lawrence Island. When her work expanded in 2005, Vi’s title was changed to Environmental Justice Community Coordinator. In 2009, she stepped into the position of Program Director to share responsibilities with the executive director for all of ACAT’s efforts. In 2010, she was awarded the Environmental Achievement Award in Recognition of Valuable Contributions to Environmental Excellence in Alaska by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In 2012 leaders of Savoonga presented Vi with a certificate of appreciation “for the dedication and devoted service as an Ambassador of St. Lawrence Island for protecting our health and human rights.” She serves as a National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member to the National Institute of Health. Vi is sought out repeatedly to speak at national and international meetings about ACAT’s work. (email: vi at akaction dot org)
Patti is a European American who came to Anchorage in 1986 to serve as staff attorney for Trustees for Alaska and has been involved ever since with the conservation community in Alaska. From 1999 to 2013 she was the Development Director for The Arc of Anchorage, where part of her work involved raising awareness about the link between environmental contaminants and developmental disabilities. Patti joined the ACAT’s board in February 2004 and served on ACAT’s Fundraising Committee and as the Board Treasurer until 2013. Patti joined ACAT’s staff as the Development Director January 2014. (email: patti at akaction dot org)
Samarys is a bilingual Puerto Rican who earned a master’s degree in science and environmental management at the Universidad Metropolitana in 2006, after which she served as a biology professor at the National College of Business & Technology and worked as an environmental consultant. She co-founded the Sierra Club Chapter in Puerto Rico. Sama is earning a doctorate in Public Health from the University of Puerto Rico. She first came to ACAT in summer of 2009 and again in 2010 to serve as a student intern. When her internship support expired in August 2010, ACAT hired Sama on a permanent basis as an Environmental Health Researcher. In 2013, Sama was promoted to Senior Environmental Health Researcher. She assists with the planning and implementation of ACAT’s annual summer Community-Based Field Research Institutes, and serves on ACAT’s research team in collaboration with the villages on St. Lawrence Island and other Alaska Native tribes. (email: samarys at akaction dot org)
Michelle is a European American who was hired in October 2014 to coordinate ACAT’s gardening work, which includes our Yarducopia project, community garden, and mission-related business at the Anchorage Farmers Market where ACAT sells vegetable starts and compost tea. Before coming to ACAT, Michelle worked in Anchorage coordinating outreach projects for the Alaska Craftsman Home Project and the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. She worked as a geologist for HDL Engineering, and served also as an interpretive ranger for Katmai National Park in Alaska. She also worked in California as a research analyst to develop physics-based scientific computer models. Michelle received a bachelor’s degree in astronomy (with honor) from the California Institute of Technology. She also took graduate level courses (with straight A’s) in geophysics using computer modeling at the University of California Berkeley (through a fellowship provided by the National Science Foundation) and at the University of Colorado Boulder. She took civil engineering classes at the University of Alaska. (email: michelle.w at akaction dot org)
Kristi is a Siberian Yupik mother who was born and raised in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. In January 2015, she began working part time with ACAT as a Community Health Researcher. She is “excited to learn how to collect environmental samples from around the town and to learn more about how we are being harmed without our consent from toxic exposures in our day-to-day lives.” In the past, Kristi worked with Akeela, Inc. in the community to raise awareness about the dangers of harmful legal products (HLPS) that can be toxic to our bodies such as potpourri and household cleaning products.
Emily is a European-American civil engineer who was hired in February 2015 to coordinate volunteers and assist in science writing responsibilities. She has four years’ experience assisting Alaska Native villages with wastewater issues, solid waste management, and drinking water needs through positions with an environmental health company and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Emily graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland with a major in Civil Engineering and a minor in International Development and Conflict Management, where she received an honorable citation in a two-year Honors Humanities program. While she was a student, Emily participated in Engineers without Borders to implement a water delivery system in a northern Thai village. She served also for six months as the Alaska Pride Co-Chair for Identity Inc. to organize the 2012 Pride Fest—a week of events to bring together the Anchorage LGBT and allied community. She worked with religious, municipal, labor, non-profit, social, private, and health organizations to gather support, coordinate events, and raise funds for Pride Fest. (email: emily.k at akaction dot org)
Erika is a bilingual, St. Lawrence Island Yupik who lives in Gambell. In May 2014, she began working part time with ACAT as a Community Health Researcher. Erika attended the University of Alaska Anchorage and continues to work toward her bachelor’s degree in business. She also studied the Russian language for three years. She served on the Gambell City Council and took two terms as the Mayor of the city of Gambell. Currently Erika works part time as a clerk for the U.S. Postal Service.
Tiffany is a St. Lawrence Island Yupik who lives in Savoonga. Since 2012, she has been serving as a youth volunteer on the St. Lawrence Island Working Group that advises ACAT for the collaborative project—Protecting the Health of Future Generations: Assessing and Preventing Exposures to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Two Alaska Native Communities on St. Lawrence Island. In June 2014, Tiffany began working with ACAT in a part-time position as a Community Health Researcher in Savoonga. She has attended ACAT’s week-long Summer Field Institute in Nome, learning about environmental health and justice issues, which included taking samples in the field—water, biota, sediment, and soil.