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 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."
Jessica Sangris is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, born and raised in Ottawa, ON. Moving to the North in 2008, she knew that she wanted to reconnect with her traditional Dene lifestyle and learn her Wı̀ilı̀ideh language. Over the years, she worked for her First Nations in different capacities, working directly for the First Nations, Treaty 8 Tribal Corp, and with Det’on Cho Managenment LP.
Jessica was elected as a Yellowknives Dene First Nation councillor, representing Dettah in 2019. She also sits on the Dettah District Education Authority, Det’on Cho Board of Directors and several committees in her Councillor position. She obtained a Certificate in Indigenous Language Revitalization.
When Jessica isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her spouse and their children out on the land, and sharing the learning and teaching experience with them. She enjoys beading, and making dene crafts for her family.
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
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
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 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 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.