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The Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management, organized by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, is an annual gathering that brings together Tribes, Non-profits, and State and Federal organizations, for a week of environmental conversations. The discussions focus on finding and implementing solutions to address the unique environmental concerns facing Alaskan communities.
2019 General Session Speakers
Santina Gay, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
With well over two decades of experience working for US Environmental Protection Agency as an Alaska Tribal Coordinator, Santina Gay has had the privilege of taking part in the evolution and impact that the IGAP program has had on Alaskan communities over time. She has developed and delivered technical training, facilitated consults with Tribal governments in Alaska, and served as a creative springboard for community improvement projects of all shapes and sizes around the state. She is given the confidence of EPA to assist Tribes with day-to-day activities and solutions related to environmental program development. This work has been a practical, but key aspect of advancing the trust relationship. Santina has served as US Government lead to expansion projects under the trilateral North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation whose project funding enables key deliverables in Canada, Mexico, and the US. She leads USG efforts during community workshops in Russia, Canada, Finland, Norway, and Sweden attended by representatives from several arctic countries, to instruct all levels of government in collaborative solutions to environmental issues. She participates in the Arctic Council as a Project Lead in the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) Working Group, and this work has focused on pollution and short-lived climate drivers. ACAP has recently begun work on waste, to address small community challenges regarding efficient waste management. The aim is to increase the sharing of best practices, showcase some pilot projects and improve on engagement with indigenous peoples across the arctic. ‘Sharing the model’ of successes and challenges within rural Alaska communities and in other countries for a more efficient waste management system on land and in the marine environment is integral to this approach. Youth involvement has been a big component of many successful international projects so far, and she has enjoyed taking part in collaborative efforts between ACAP and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group.
Santina attended Arizona State University for her undergraduate education and Northern Arizona University for graduate school. She aspires to a lifetime of learning from her three strong, caring, talented children.
Laurel Aiyaapiin Katchatag, 2017-2019 Arctic Youth Ambassador
Laurel Aiyaapiin Katchatag is from Unalakleet, Alaska. Her parents are Sheldon & Darlene Katchatag and her grandparents are the late Hans & Grace Jemewouk of Elim and the late Stanton and Irene Katchatag of Unalakleet. Laurel graduated from Frank A. Degnan High School in 2014, and received her B.S. in Biology from North Park University in 2018. Laurel has worked for Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) for the last two years, in the office of the President/CEO Angie Gorn. In her time at NSHC, she’s worked on community wellness events and health promotion. She participated in the 2017-2019 cohort of Arctic Youth Ambassadors program, focusing on sharing a youth voice on what it means to live in the Arctic.
Whitney Youngman, Artist
Whitney Youngman is originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and plays fingerstyle acoustic guitar to her soulful voice. She has worked in Anchorage since February 2014. Varied in style and influence, Whitney plays classic and contemporary covers as well as original songs written over the past 17 years. She enjoys the sounds of Amy Winehouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Leon Bridges and 311. In 2019, Whitney has played at more venues than ever before, including the Anchorage Folk Festival, Spenard Jazz Festival, Salmonfest, Arctic Entries, and most recently, the Mayor’s Charity Ball. She leads two music groups: Miguel & Whitney and the Youngman Project, both revolving around her vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar.
Melanie Bahnke, Kawerak, Inc. President
Melanie Bahnke is a tribal member of the Native Village of Savoonga, was raised in rural Alaska and speaks both St. Lawrence Island Yupik and English fluently. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Rural Development from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a Bachelor of Education degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Melanie serves as the President/CEO of Kawerak, Inc., the regional non-profit tribal consortium in the Bering Strait Region that provides services ranging from early childhood education to roads construction activities in 16 distinct communities for 20 federally recognized tribes. She also is a board member on the Alaska Children's Trust and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Melanie and her husband Kevin have three children together and they enjoy engaging in subsistence activities, four-wheeling, snowmachining, and boating on a regular basis. Melanie is personally vested in working hard to make rural Alaska a positive, nourishing environment where children have opportunities to grow into productive citizens, rooted in the strength of their culture. Melanie’s professional goals are to continue to improve the social, economic, cultural, and political conditions in rural Alaska.
Erica Lujan, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Erica Lujan is the Local Environmental Observers Network Coordinator at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). Prior to coming on board with ANTHC, Erica worked for the Division of Subsistence at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and for the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studied at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She moved to Anchorage in 2009 from southern Colorado.
Michael Brubaker, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Mike Brubaker has been working in the Alaska Tribal Health System for over twenty years. His work focuses on environmental health, health impact assessments, climate change, and achieving safe, healthy, sustainable communities. He was born in Juneau and raised in Anchorage. He earned a BS in Biology from St. Lawrence University and a MS in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco. He spent ten years as Community Services Director at the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, a regional tribal non-profit health consortium serving the Unangan population in Southwestern Alaska. He has spent the past ten years working for the statewide arm of the tribal health system where he directs environmental health services. Mike co-founded and directs the Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network and is managing editor of the weekly e-journal, The Northern Climate Observer. He is associate faculty at Alaska Pacific University where he directs the Center for Climate and Health. Mike lives in Anchorage with his wife and four children.