Our People

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.


Liz Liske 


Liz is a Yellowknives Dene First Nation member, a descendant of the Tetsot'ine, copper people surrounding Great Slave Lake. Born and raised in Somba Ké, Northwest Territories, CANADA on Chief Drygeese Territory.  As the Director of the Arctic Funders Collaborative, she interacts with its members and supports their collective activities. In addition, she supports the development and ongoing growth of the Arctic Indigenous Fund (AIF).  Liz also participates in leadership development programming through Philanthropy Northwest’s Momentum Fellowship Program.  Liz joined the philanthropic sector after years working for her Indigenous government. She is an active community member serving as a Council Member for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, on the NWT Regional Wellness Council for the North Slave Region, and on the Parent Advisory Committee for her child's school. She is a lifelong learner, Indigneous language and Dene rights advocate. 


"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."

Shene Catholique-Valpy

Community Coordinator

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 6 years to get Indigenous names recognized and spelled correctly in one of the eight official Indigenous languages on official documents in her Territory. Just recently, Shene has been accepted as the 5th Cohort with the Jane Glassco Fellowship with the Gordon Foundation and will continue to work closely with Indigenous Languages. 


In her free time, she is reconnecting with her culture by learning how to tan local animal 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, Northwest Territories, with her husband, Dustin and 3 beautiful children Kairo, Sahᾴí̜ʔᾳ and NáɁël. 


Stephen Ellis

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.

Denny Takahashi Kelso

Steering Committee


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.


Chandre Iqugan Szafran

Arctic Indigenous Fund Advisor

Steering Committee

Chandre Iqugan Szafran Is Inupiaq from Nome and grew up in Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage. Her love for her home state has led her to build programming across Alaska, weaving cultural heritage, environmental stewardship, academia, and arts with the thread of advocacy for Indigenous futures. Chandre is an MFA candidate at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and earned her BA in English from

University of Alaska Anchorage. She is a First Alaskans Institute Fellow, an alum of Alaska Humanities Forum’s Leadership Anchorage Program, and an Advisor to the Arctic Indigenous Fund.


She is active indoors and out, enjoying community volunteering, berry picking, travel, reading, and


Alina Enggist

Steering Committee


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.

Andre Vallillee.jpg

Andre Vallillee

Steering Commmittee


Andre Vallillee joined Metcalf Foundation as Environment Program Director in 2014. Prior to joining Metcalf, Andre worked as a Program Manager with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, overseeing the province-wide environmental grants portfolio and serving as the Foundation’s Strategy Lead for the environment sector. He is a past Chair of Environment Funders Canada and currently serves on the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Board of Directors and as a Steering Committee member of the Arctic Funders Collaborative. Andre received his Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the University of Victoria and his Masters in Planning from the University of British Columbia. He and his family live in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, where the paddling is good and summer thunderstorms even better.