Staff and Steering Committee

ARI's efforts are driven by a dedicated group of individuals committed to our shared goal of
mobilizing Alaska to end child maltreatment, intergenerational and systemic trauma through healing and strategic advocacy. Meet our steering committee and staff.

Alaska Resilience Initiative Steering Committee

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Qimagalria Elena Aluskak                    

Sector: Child Protection, tribal and other (faith)
Region: Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Mother of four wonderful children; three lovely daughters and one handsome son, grandmother of nine beautiful children and wife to a loving man, Moses. Elena was raised in the traditional Yup’ik custom by two caring parents, in a small tundra village of Nunapitchuk, located in Southwestern Alaska. She remembers many seasonal subsistence camping trips taken with parents and siblings which she still continues to carry on with her family. She warmly recalls her parents’ unconditional, humble way of taking care of family issues and also their faith in our Creator. Qimagalria, after finishing high school in 1981, in her village, has been working with children and families. She started working as a pre-school instructor right after high school and upon her move to her husband’s village in 1985, she became a Yup’ik instructor for all grades in their school. When she moved to Bethel in 2001, she was hired by the Tundra Women’s Coalition as children’s advocate and after two years in that department she moved onto the Children’s Center as a child forensic interviewer. In 2005, while still an interviewer she was given the position of the CAC  manager, which she had managed for six years. Presently, Elena is the ICWA advocate for AVCP.

Joshua Arvidson

Sector: Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Joshua Arvidson is the Director of the Alaska Child Trauma Center and Early Childhood Services at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Alaska’s first child trauma treatment and training center.  Joshua is a Lead Technical Assistant and Trainer for the Complex Trauma Treatment Network, a SAMHSA-funded national trauma training center.  He manages two statewide trauma training and technical assistance programs, one focused on trauma-informed behavioral health and one focused on early childhood mental health. Joshua served on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Steering Committee and numerous work groups. Trained as a therapist and clinician, Joshua has over 15 years’ experience working with children and families impacted by trauma.


Jimael Johnson

Sector: Philanthropy, Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse
Region: Statewide

Jimael Johnson is a program officer with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority with a focus on prevention, early childhood and family systems of care. Jimael previously worked in maternal child health with Alaska’s Division of Public Health for eight years. There she focused on prevention, early intervention, and pediatric care integration across the service system, including physical and behavioral health, community-based services, and education.

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Tamar Ben-Yosef

Sector: Health Care
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Tamar Ben-Yosef was Born and raised in Israel. Tamar currently serves as the executive director for the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to improving and promoting the health and wellness of Alaska’s children through partnerships, collaboration, advocacy and education. In addition to this role, she is the co-owner of a local food business which regularly donates food to local and statewide organizations. Tamar brings a strong background and education in communications.


Elsie Boudreau

Sector: Philanthropy (Alaska Children’s Trust Board)
Region: Anchorage (from St. Mary’s, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta)    

Elsie Boudreau is a licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a proud Yup’ik Eskimo from the village of St. Mary’s, Alaska. She is the President of Arctic Winds Healing Winds, a forming non-profit. She helped establish an Alaska Native Unit within Alaska CARES, a Child Advocacy Center. In that role, she provided advocacy services and therapy for Alaska Native and American Indian families whose child(ren) have been severely physically or sexually abused, and conducted forensic interviews with children. As a prior Children’s Justice Act Project Coordinator for the Tribal Law & Policy Institute,  she helped develop an educational video project highlighting child sexual abuse in Alaska, grasping the wisdom of Elders and identifying ways for healing to apply to traumatic experiences. She has also worked with law firms Manly & Stewart and Cooke Roosa Law Group as a Victims Advocate providing support to approximately 300 victims of clergy child sexual abuse in Alaska, South Dakota, Oregon and Montana. Her advocacy work was featured in many venues including FRONTLINE (PBS) and The Huffington Post.

Elsie has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Carroll College in Helena, Montana and a master of social work degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage.  She is married and has 3 children.  She enjoys working with and for her people and strongly believes that all children have the right to grow up in a safe and loving environment.  “Children are to be SEEN, HEARD and BELIEVED.”

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Jay Butler

Sector: Public Health
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Jay Butler was appointed chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Director of the Division of Public Health by Governor Bill Walker in December 2014. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Medical School, has completed clinical trainings at Vanderbilt and Emory Universities, and maintains clinical board certifications in infectious diseases, internal medical, and pediatrics. He has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific papers and medical textbook chapters on infectious diseases and emergency preparedness, and he is an affiliate professor of medicine at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

From 2010 to 2014, Butler was senior director for community health services at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage, where he was also a clinical infectious diseases consultant and medical director for infection control and employee health. Earlier work includes serving as chief medical officer of the Alaska Department of Health Social Services from 2007 to 2009, Alaska state epidemiologist, 2005-07, and director of the Center for Disease Control’s Arctic Investigations Program, 1998-2005.

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Amy Gorn  

Sector: Philanthropy, Mat-Su Health Foundation
Region: Mat-Su

Amy Gorn is a Program Officer for the Healthy Foundations for Families focus area at the Mat-Su Health Foundation. She is passionate that all children in the Mat-Su Borough, and Alaska, are well-cared for, protected, thriving and successful. Amy has lived and worked in rural Alaska, and has spent years working with tribal communities to support their adolescents with positive development and prevention. Amy is a trainer of the David P. Weikart Center’s Youth Worker methods, and is also a member of the Governor’s Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of her lively and sweet five-year daughter.

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Lori Grassgreen

Sector: Education (K-12)
Region: Southeast, Statewide

Lori Grassgreen is the Director of the Initiative for Community Engagement at the Association of Alaska School Boards. Lori previously served Alaska children and families as the Prevention Director at the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and as the Development Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Southeast Alaska. With extensive experience working community engagement, education, and social justice across the globe, Lori has great appreciation for the role of culture and language in implementing successful change. In Alaska, Lori has been involved in the Advancing Native Dialogues on Racial Equity project.

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Hannah Gustafson

Sector: Community Organizing/ Community Development
Region: Kenai Peninsula  

Hannah Gustafson is the MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships) Coordinator and member of the Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition’s Leadership Team. A lifelong Alaskan and graduate of UAA, she spent her 20’s as an organizer and advocate in the environmental field, working seven years as the founding Deputy Director of Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP). After the birth of her second child, she took time off to be at home with her two young children. When deciding to rejoin the workforce, she started a consulting business, so she could bring her community organizing skills to a variety of causes and projects. Her experiences and research as a stay at home mom inspired her to apply her organizing skills to ACES and resilience awareness and education. Hannah is thrilled to be engaged in this work in her home community of Homer and across Alaska.

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Matt Hirschfeld

Sector: Philanthropy (Rasmuson Board), Health Care, Public Health
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Matt Hirschfeld, MD/PhD moved to Alaska in 2005 to become a pediatric hospitalist at Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC). Today, in addition to his hospitalist work, he serves as ANMC’s Medical Director of Maternal Child Health Services, where he focuses on developing and improving statewide services to improve the health and wellness of Alaska Native women and children. Dr. Hirschfeld is on the Board for the Alaska Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Rasmuson Foundation. He is also the President of the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership, a 501c3 dedicated to decreasing Adverse Childhood Experiences in the State of Alaska, mainly by targeting the elimination of child physical/sexual abuse and neglect across the State.


Brita Bishop

Sector: Government & Behavioral Health
Region: Juneau, Statewide

Brita Bishop works for the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health as the administrator of the Quality Assurance Treatment and Prevention Services Section. Her section oversees the state’s behavioral health prevention, treatment and recovery programs. She is a licensed clinical social worker in Alaska, and has a MSW from Colorado State University.  Brita has worked for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on behavioral health program management, planning, and system development since 2000. She was the lead of the state’s successful “Bring the Kids Home Initiative” between 2004 and 2014.

Prior to coming to DHSS, she worked with individuals who experienced behavioral health and developmental disabilities, and has also been a commercial fisher and a wilderness guide. She grew up in Southeast Alaska, so she tolerates rain, loves the water, and has a great appreciation for travel to warm and sunny places. 

Lauree Morton

Sector: Government & Behavioral Health
Region: Juneau, Statewide

Lauree Morton moved to Alaska in 1989.  She served as the Director at Tundra Women’s Coalition in Bethel until 1994 when she moved to Juneau.  She served as the Director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault  for ten years then saw her mother through the final stages of Parkinson’s Disease.  In 2007 she went to work for the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and served as the Director from 2011-2016.  Currently, Mrs. Morton is the Prevention Lead and Legislative Contact for the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Social Services.


LaVerne Demientieff

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Sector: Education: University
Region: Interior/Statewide

LaVerne Demientieff is the daughter of the late Rudy and Alice (Frank) Demientieff of Holy Cross and Anvik, Alaska, and the granddaughter of Stanley Demientieff and Edith Bifelt and Joe Frank and Marcia Reed. LaVerne is Deg Xit’an, Athabascan on her mother’s side and Koyukon Athabascan,Yupik and Russian on her father’s side. Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, She was raised in the small roadside town of Nenana and in big city of Anchorage, as well as at her family's fishcamp along the Yukon River.

LaVerne graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with her BSW and went on to receive her Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, with a concentration in social and economic development and with an emphasis in management. She is currently working towards a PhD is Social Work from the University of Utah, College of Social Work. The title of her dissertation is Deg Xit’an Athabascan Conversations on Wellness: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Radical Possibilities of Relationships. LaVerne is currently working as a Clinical Associate Professor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bachelor of Social Work program; she is also a licensed master social worker through the State of Alaska.

Christy Lawton

Sector: Policy & Government, Child Protection
Region: Southeast, Statewide

Christy Lawton is the Division Director for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Children’s Services (OCS), one of the youngest appointees to this position the state has ever seen.  Ms. Lawton began serving in this role in August of 2010 and then was officially appointed by then Governor Parnell in April 2011.  Ms. Lawton has been with OCS for the past eighteen years serving in many roles, the first of which was caseworker.  Ms. Lawton received her Bachelor’s in Social Worker from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1996. It was during her BSW practicum placement senior year she first found child welfare after having a year-long placement in the Fairbanks OCS office.  This ignited a passion that lives on and continues to grow stronger every day.  She received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1997, where she was privileged to be in the first graduating class of the first ever MSW program in Alaska. Ms. Lawton’s cornet priorities include efforts to transform child welfare in Alaska through working in a government to government fashion relationship with Tribes to reduce disproportionality and increase the ability of Alaska Native Tribes to serve their families closest to home and to reduce the need for state interventions.

Liz Medicine Crow (Co-Chair)

Sector: Tribes & Tribal Organizations, Policy, Community Engagement
Region: Anchorage, Statewide (from Kake, Southeast)

Liz Medicine Crow, Haida/Tlingit, is from Keex Kwaan (Kake) Alaska.   On her Haida side she is Eagle Tiits Gitee Nei, Hummingbird.  On her Tlingit side she is Raven Kaach.adi, Fresh Water-marked Sockeye Salmon. Her maternal grandparents were Mona & Thomas Jackson, Sr. of Kake, her paternal grandparents were Lillian and Charles Cheney of Washington.  Her parents are Della and William Cheney of Kake.  Her husband, Cloud Medicine Crow, Hidatsa, is a contemporary American Indian artist.  Although she works in Anchorage, Liz’s heart is always at home in the village with her family and people.
Integrating Native knowledge and values into organizations, governance mechanisms, and everyday life is a primary passion and responsibility she has pursued through her education and career.  Liz received her BA (BFA Equivalency) from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and her professional degree from Arizona State University College of Law, graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree and a Certificate in Indian Law.  Since coming to First Alaskans Institute, Liz has served as the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center, Vice-President, and now serves as the President/CEO, providing a direct link for her to be of service to our Native peoples.

Suki Miller

Sector: Government & Policy
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Suki Miller is a Constituent Service Coordinator for the office of Governor Bill Walker, whose primary portfolio includes Corrections and Public Safety, and issues pertaining to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Suki collaborates with municipal, federal, tribal and non-profit entities, with the goal of reducing the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence, advocating for adequate services for victims and ensuring processes are victim centered, and helping to raise awareness. As a communications professional who has worked extensively in both the private and public sectors, Suki seeks to promote healthy, culturally empowered communities. She is a lifelong Alaskan and a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the mother of a toddler, and a former professional alpine ski racer on the world circuit. She has a thorough knowledge of and love for Alaska.

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 Barb Murray

Sector: Justice/Law Enforcement/ Corrections
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Barb Murray is the Deputy Director of Programs and Administration for the Division of Juvenile Justice, overseeing all aspects of administration for policy and program development and implementation, research, quality assurance, and clinical services. She previously served as the Social Services Program Officer/Juvenile Justice Specialist at the division.  Prior to joining the Division of Juvenile Justice Barb worked at the SE Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) as Program Coordinator, where she brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to address issues including youth violence and drug and alcohol abuse. In addition to investing her professional career in improving the conditions of Alaska’s youth, Barb serves on several boards including AWARE, Eaglecrest, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, the State of Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (AJJAC), and the Juneau Dispute Resolution Advisory Board.

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Diane Payne

Sector: Child Protection
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Diane Payne owns Justice for Native Children (JNC) and provides targeted technical assistance, program development, and training and curriculum development on topics related to child abuse response.  She works primarily with Tribes, Tribal organizations and agencies serving Native children and families, with an emphasis on empowering Tribal efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse, child sexual abuse, drug endangered children and children exposed to violence.  Diane also provides training on law and practice issues under the Indian Child Welfare Act and Alaska’s Child In Need of Aid standards.  She serves as a volunteer child victim advocate and has authored numerous Tribal training and skills development resources including an Indian Child Welfare Act Basic Manual, Child Abuse Protocol Guide, child-specific units of the National American Indian/Alaska Native Victim Assistance Training curriculum, and led the development of “Pathway to Hope: Healing Child Sexual Abuse”, a curriculum designed to help communities promote healing and prevention of child sexual abuse in Alaska Native communities’.  Diane has served on many national boards and Alaska and Washington state committees addressing needs of Tribal children; she has also worked for regional Native non-profits, Alaska Legal Services Corporation and for 10 years she directed the Alaska office of the national Tribal non-profit Tribal Law & Policy Institute. 

Russell Pressley

Sector: Other (Foster Parent)/Child Welfare
Region: Anchorage (Eagle River)

Russell Pressley has fostered and adopted more than 100 teens since becoming a foster parent through the State of Alaska in 2000, and presently runs a group home near the Eagle River Nature Center.

Russell was a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage for more than 25 years where he taught in the Human Services Department and served as the director of the multi-cultural center, eventually retiring as Senior Assistant Dean in the College of Health. Russell currently serves on the board of directors for NeighborWorks Alaska and the Resource Advisory Board through the Alaska Center for Resource Families.


Ann Rausch

Sector: Violence Prevention & Intervention
Region: Southeast, Statewide

Since coming of age in Fairbanks during the debate around the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and the Mollie Hootch right to education rulings, Ann Rausch has spent her whole life engaged in dialogue on social justice issues in Alaska. Ann holds degrees in Women’s Studies and Community Psychology, and previously worked for the Office of Children’s Services. At present she serves as a Program Coordinator at the State of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, as well as a part-time clinician with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Juneau Chapter.

Desiré Shepler

Sector: Community Organizing/ Community Development
Region: Mat-Su

As director of R.O.C.K. Mat-Su, Desiré Shepler oversees a collaborative project working towards increasing family resilience and creating a culture that supports children and families, as well as reducing child maltreatment and the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Mat-Su Children experience. Desiré was previously a program officer and program associate with the Mat-Su Health Foundation. Prior to that she worked as social services administrator for Alaska Island Community Services. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage a bachelor’s degree from the same school, and an associate’s degree from Mat-Su College.

Representative Geran Tarr

Sector: Government & Policy
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Representative Tarr currently represents East Anchorage in the Alaska State House, as well as serving on the Anchorage Women’s Commission. As a legislator, Geran has continued a career of work from the non-profit sector as an advocate for Alaska’s children.

Her office has sponsored measures to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, Erin’s Law to require each student in Alaska receives personal body safety information, a measure that calls on Governor Walker and the legislature to work together to implement state policies that recognize Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), restorative justice policies for schools, and has hosted the Go Blue Friday event in Juneau.

Rebecca Volino Robinson

Sector: University
Region: Anchorage, Statewide

Rebecca Volino Robinson, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, an Affiliate Faculty to the Alaska Family Medicine Residency, and licensed Psychologist in Alaska. Dr. Robinson’s training is in clinical and community psychology, with pre-doctoral specialization in cultural and primary care psychology, and postdoctoral specialization in refugee mental health and trauma. Her research focuses on trauma and resilience among marginalized populations.

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Lisa Wade (Co-Chair)

Sector: Tribes & Tribal Organizations
Region: Mat-Su

Lisa Wade is an Ahtna Athabascan. She serves as the Health, Education, and Social Services Director, Council Member, and Tribal Court Judge at the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council. Lisa also serves on multiple health-related advisory boards, and offers skills and perspective to children’s health she gained through a powerful history with Tribal environmental protection and advocacy.

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Tina Marie

Sector: Public Health
Region: Aleutians/ Anchorage/Statewide

Tina Marie Woods is Unungan (Aleut) originally from St. Paul Island, Alaska, and Chamorro from the Island of Guam. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and holds a Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology with a Rural Indigenous Emphasis from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has worked within the Alaska Tribal Health System for over 17 years and is currently the Senior Director of Community Health Services at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium—providing leadership for programs including Epidemiology, Wellness & Prevention, Community Environment & Health, Clinical & Research Services, Behavioral Health/Dental Health/& Community Health Aide programs—achieving the goals of the organization and its vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest in the world.

She respectfully blends both Western science and Indigenous practices based on teachings from Elders. She has dedicated her academic training and career to working with Alaska Native people to provide quality, holistic and comprehensive health services. Tina presents with “lived experience” and leverages such experience in combination with science for teaching others about trauma-informed care. She strongly believes in going upstream with prevention efforts in order to make a significant difference for future generations.

Shannon Cross-Azbill

Sector: Division of Juvenile Justice
Region: Anchorage/ Statewide

Shannon Cross-Azbill, LCSW, is the clinical director for Division of Juvenile Justice. Shannon received her Master in Social Work from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1995. Shannon has over 16 years of experience working in Residential Psychiatric Treatment Centers (RPTCs) where she helped to create and develop RPTC treatment programs specific for individuals who experienced Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). Shannon has over 23 years’ experience where she has served as clinical director for RPTCs as well as worked as a clinician in both residential and outpatient settings.  As a treatment provider, Shannon’s passions include being an advocate and a clinician who strives to build on individuals and family’s strengths aimed at building resiliency and helping them find their own success.  In her role as clinical director for DJJ, Shannon has been instrumental in implementing Trauma Informed Care across the Division, including assisting in the development and implementation of the DJJ Trauma Screening Tool and the Child and Youth Resiliency Measure-12. 


Sectors: Policy and Government (Senate) & Business
Regions: TBD

Alaska Resilience Initiative Staff

(from Backbone agency Alaska Children’s Trust)


Laura Norton-Cruz
Program Director        

Laura Norton-Cruz, LMSW (formerly Avellaneda-Cruz) began in February 2016 as the primary backbone staff for the Alaska Resilience Initiative, coordinating the Steering Committee, workgroups, communications, evaluation, and overall vision. Laura spent the previous 5+ years at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium working on the issues of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), domestic and sexual violence, maternal child health, and health equity. In this role, she collaborated with Alaskans in every region to create culturally-relevant and engaging resources and trainings, to lead quality improvement efforts and coordinate research, and to improve and disseminate data. She has also worked as a sexual assault victim advocate, a prenatal tobacco cessation counselor, and as an educator with middle and high school students in after-school programs and as a 3rd grade in a bilingual public school classroom. She currently teaches a breastfeeding and postpartum class at a local birth center. Laura brings her interests and experience in visual arts, community organizing, birth work, and volunteer hosting with the Advancing Native Dialogues on Racial Equity Project, as well as her role as a parent of two young children to her engagement with ACEs and resilience.

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Vicki Lewis
Administrative Assistant

Vicki Lewis is from Scotland. She has worked in the non-profit world for many years at Foraker Group, and serves many indispensable roles at the Alaska Children’s Trust. Vicki helps coordinate Steering Committee meetings, takes notes at meetings, and is the primary contact for the Alaska Resilience Initiative listserve.  

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Trevor Storrs
Alaska Children’s Trust
Executive Director


Trevor Storrs has an extensive background in the nonprofit world and has served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Children’s Trust since 2012. With a BA in Sociology and a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, Trevor worked as the Director of Services for a disabilities nonprofit in Alaska for 6 years prior to transitioning to the Executive Directorship of the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (4 A’s), leading Alaska’s statewide HIV/AIDs organization for 10 years. Trevor is currently the Board President for the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, served as founder and Board President of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness for nearly 10 years, and is a member of the Alaska Innocence Project Board of Directors.  In addition, he is involved in various grassroots efforts focused on equal rights.