The AFC is made up of Northern grantmakers who value continued and growing collaboration. The success of the Collaborative has been dependent on an evolving group of AFC members who have taken on leadership roles as the AFC Steering Committee in order to provide guidance and support to the AFC staff.
AFC is currently in the process of hiring a new Director to join our team!
Indigenous Initiatives Fellow
Liz is a Yellowknives Dene First Nation member, a decedent of the Tetsot'ine, copper people surrounding Great Slave Lake. As the Indigenous Initiatives Fellow at the AFC, she will be supporting the ongoing development and growth of the Arctic Indigenous Fund and general administration of the AFC, while participating in leadership development programming withPhilanthropy Northwest's Momentum Fellowship Program. She joins the philanthropic sector after years working for her Indigenous government. She is an active community member serving on the NWT Regional Wellness Council for the North Slave Region and the Parent Advisory Committee for her child's school. She is also a part-time student in the Language Revitalization Course out of Aurora College from the University of Victoria.
"I see the importance in integrating culture, language, spirituality and tradition in my home and work life - this is where I find success in my accomplishments."
- Elizabeth Liske, Indigenous Initiatives Fellow,
Arctic Funders Collaborative
Shene joined the AFC December 2018, working part-time as our Community Coordinator, supporting logistics & planning, communications, and general administration. She is a Łutsel k’e Dene First Nation member and was born and raised in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Shene has been passionately advocating for the past 5 almost 6 years to get Indigenous names
recognized and spelled correctly in the eight official Indigenous languages on official documents in the territory. In her free time, she is reconnecting with her culture by learning how to tan hides with the guidance of her friends and family. She is also interested in midwifery in the North and hopes to continue to advocate for and study it in the future. Shene lives in Yellowknife with her common-law husband, Dustin and 3 beautiful children Kairo, Sahᾴí̜ʔᾳ, NáɁël.
Co-Chair (Steering Committee)
Hester Dillon serves as a Program Officer for Indigenous Communities at NoVo Foundation, supporting
NoVo’s grantmaking throughout what is currently North America and, to a lesser extent, geographies
outside North America.
A citizen of the Cherokee Nation and originally from Oklahoma, Hester studied Native American Studies
and English at the University of Montana and Law at the University of Arizona. She worked for nearly
four years as a grant writer at the Karuk Tribe, securing funds to support Tribal programs and services.
Hester also tutored GED students at the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Even Start Program. She later worked
independently as a grant writer and for a Native non-profit to secure funds to support legal advocacy for
Tribal sovereignty and Indigenous human rights issues.
Hester was a regional supervising attorney for the Keepseagle v. Vilsack Settlement, managing claims on
fifteen Indian reservations in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State. She lives in
Denny Takahashi Kelso
Denny leads the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s marine conservation team, overseeing work on ocean
planning and reforming fisheries management. He has dedicated his career to ocean conservation, most
recently as senior counsel at the Ocean Conservancy, where his work included Arctic ecosystem protection
and science-based ecosystem restoration in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil disaster.
Previously, Denny was a program officer in conservation and science at the David and Lucile Packard
Foundation. He has also served as an assistant professor of environmental studies and the associate director
of the STEPS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Policy, and Society) Institute for Innovation in Environmental
Research at UC Santa Cruz, and worked as an independent consultant advising on natural resources and
environmental protection issues in Juneau, AK, and Seattle, WA.
Denny began his career in natural resource management roles with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
and then as Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation. During his time as commissioner, he helped
to oversee the state’s response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and enforce cleanup standards.
Denny holds a B.S. in psychology from Iowa State University, a J.D. in environmental law from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley.
Co-Chair (Steering Committee)
Stephen Ellis is the Program Lead, Northern Canada, at Tides Canada. Based in Yellowknife, Northwest
Territories, Stephen works with Northern communities and partners to empower northerners, build capacity, and
advance solutions to integrated social, cultural, environmental, and economic challenges in the North.
After completing a Masters in Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, Stephen and his wife Tracey commenced life together and started a family in Lutsel K’e, a Dene community on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. During this time he worked primarily with indigenous communities, but also with governments and
industry, to tackle tough land and resource challenges.
Stephen is a member of the Environmental Monitoring Advisory Board for the Diavik Diamond Mine and a Director for the Dechinta Institute for Research and Learning. He previously chaired the Akaitcho Screening Board and was a long-standing Director of the Denesoline Corporation and a member of the NWT Protected Areas Strategy Steering Committee. He enjoys being outside in all seasons and spending time with his three boys.
Alina Enggist is the Program Officer for the Trust for Mutual Understanding (TMU) and is based in New York City.
TMU supports cultural and environmental exchanges between professionals in the United States and their
counterparts in Central, East, and Southeast Europe; the Baltic States; Central Asia; Mongolia; and Russia.
30 years ago, TMU’s donor’s aim was to create a philanthropic entity focused on supporting direct
person-to-person contact between American and Soviet professionals working in the fields of art and
environmental science. Though geographic boundaries have since shifted and countries have been added to
the foundation’s geographic scope, TMU’s focus remains the same: to encourage the understanding and
appreciation of languages, cultures, and values systems, both shared and different.
Alina joined TMU in August of 2011 after earning Masters Degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
at Columbia University in socio-cultural anthropology. She focused on the intersection of art and anthropology and wrote a thesis on earth art under Professor Michael Taussig. While completing her degree, she worked for Columbia’s human rights institute, Joseph Stiglitz’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue, and Columbia’s Arts Initiative. Before graduate school, Alina worked for the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, an organization that recognizes emerging artists founded by Jasper Johns and John Cage. Alina earned a BA degree in Philosophy with a focus on Ontology and Aesthetics from Boston College, and spent her first few years after college working in cross-cultural consulting and for several contemporary art galleries.