Maya Kaup, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator
Steve Cleary, Executive Director
Alaska Trails Executive Director Steve Cleary has been with Alaska Trails since 2012. He is a graduate of St. John's University in Collegeville MN. He received a bachelor's degree in Political Science in 1993. Steve then volunteered as a teacher for three years, teaching pre-school in Chicago for a year and high school in Belize for two years. He was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study paper recycling and economics in Panama. Steve first came to Alaska by bicycle from Minnesota in 1998. He worked for the Anchorage Daily News, the Red Cross and as a Spanish tutor. Steve was the development director at the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG) from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, he took over as Executive Director of AkPIRG, where he stayed until his son Liam was born in 2008. Steve was a stay-at-home dad for many years while doing part-time work for non-profits. He was excited to move back to full-time work with Alaska Trails. Steve and his family are avid bikers, hikers and skiers and love to enjoy Alaska's trails. He is fortunate to be able to use his non-profit skills to work for Alaska Trails to continue to promote and maintain Alaska's world-renowned trails.
Maya Kaup, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator
Maya Kaup joined the staff of Alaska Trails in May, 2022 as the Volunteer and Communications Coordinator. She developed an appreciation for nature and outdoor recreation at a young age, always preferring the forest and all its critters to indoor spaces. Maya is a seasoned traveler and is constantly seeking her next adventure. She has been a community organizer and leader, starting two organizations: one to reduce food waste and feed the hungry and another to plant and preserve trees. She has a wide variety of experience in environmental activism, research, and public speaking, ranging from an Environmental Protection Agency Fellowship to being a TEDx talk speaker. Having received her Master’s degree in Biology, Maya has since worked in wildlife rehabilitation and animal welfare as a technician, animal care specialist, and administrative assistant. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking with her dog, bird watching, and practicing wildlife photography. She has a passion for connecting people with beautiful places and wildlife. Maya is excited to join the Alaska Trails team so she can help share the wonders of Alaska and the joy of hiking and connecting with nature through trails.
Mariyam Medovaya joined on as the staff person for the Alaska Trails Initiative in 2019. Mariyam brings diverse experience and skills needed for our ambitious initiative. This includes guiding hikes for local ecotourism business Ascending Path and developing interpretive programs on natural and cultural history of Prince William Sound for the US Forest Service. She has worked in the non-profit world, including positions with the World Wildlife Fund, Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, and the Girdwood Art Institute. Mariyam grew up in Russia, and holds MS in Marine Environmental Sciences from Stony Brook University, as well as MA in Cultural Geography from U of Colorado, Boulder. She brings valuable experience building relationships with universities, colleges, nonprofit organizations and community groups, and is skilled with a range software and communication tools, including CANVA, the program we’ve used to create Trails Initiative publications. Mariyam will attend her first Trail Initiative core group meeting in mid-November, and began working with the Alaska Trails Initiative team shortly after that.
Haley Johnston joined the staff of Alaska Trails in January 2021 as the Tongass National Forest Sustainable Trail Strategy Project Manager. Haley comes to Alaska Trails with extensive experience in outdoor recreation as a long-time wilderness guide and outdoor educator. She also brings significant nonprofit expertise having served on several nonprofit and citizen advisory boards and working as the Business Specialist at the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. Haley passionately believes recreation is critical to the quality of life in Alaska, the mental health of our communities and the resilience of the Alaskan economy. Haley spends her non-working hours trail running, backpacking, Nordic skiing, packrafting and backcountry skiing with her partner, friends and dog.
Haley Johnston, Tongass National Forest Sustainable Trail Strategy Project Manager
Chris Beck, Alaska Trails Initiative Program Coordinator
Chris is a land use planner with more than 30 years of experience, specializing in tourism and recreation, land use, economic development, strategic planning, site planning and public participation. He first came to Alaska in 1979 where he worked with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and helped craft the agency's regional land planning process. After running his own independent consulting business and earning master's degrees in City Planning and in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley, he cofounded Agnew::Beck in 2002. Chris has worked on tourism, recreation and community planning issues around Alaska and the western U.S., developing successful projects ranging from resorts in the High Sierras, to trails and park plans in communities around Alaska. Chris's overarching skill is the ability to forge shared goals and actions from diverse viewpoints, for example, finding the balance point between what a community wants and what it can afford, or between the desire to grow and the desire to protect what is special about a particular town or trail or bay. When not at work, Chris often persuades himself to get off the couch, and is an enthusiastic crosscountry and backcountry skier, hiker and mountain biker.
Spencer Lorrig, Trail Crew Leader
Spencer developed a passion for the outdoors as a youngster, always camping, biking and cross country skiing with his family in Wisconsin. He went on to earn his degree in Recreation Management and spent several years working at a local radio station organizing community events and concerts. After a vacation to Alaska in 2016 he fell in love with the mountains and moved up to Alaska in the spring of 2017. Outside of work you can find Spencer at Kincaid biking or out on type two fun adventures with friends.
Ben Ervin, Trail Technician and Youth Employment in Parks Contractor
Ben Ervin joined Alaska Trails in 2021 as the Trail Technician and Youth Employment in Parks Contractor. His experience in trail construction and maintenance comes from his time in Rocky Mountain National Park, Chugach State Park, Kachemak Bay State Park, and three years of commercial and residential carpentry before joining the Alaska Trails team. He is a graduate of Aurora University with a bachelor's degree in political science and communications. Ben lives in Anchorage with his wife and dog where they spend their time backcountry skiing, bikepacking, camping, hiking, and listening to music.
Andy Lovins, Trail Crew Leader
Andy never wanted to be behind a desk so he gravitated to outdoor work that started in Colorado and eventually led to a Natural Resource degree at Colorado State University. Andy took an internship for Kachemak Bay State Park and kept coming back for several seasons, even with all the mosquitos and fashionable bug nets that came with it. If you don’t find him in the woods with his iron beaver he’ll be traveling and embracing the seasonal lifestyle.
See you on the trails, take a hike!
Krista Karstensen, SCORP Writer/Editor
Krista is a hydrologist with more than 10 years of experience designing and conducting multi-scale geographic research on a variety of topics such as land change variability and human-environment dynamics and vulnerabilities of National parks to climate and land use change. While working for the U.S. Geological Survey, Krista was a co-author on the multi-agency National climate assessment technical report which responded to the recognition by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Climate Assessment of the importance of understanding how land use and land cover affects weather and climate variability. Her life-long love for the outdoors was enhanced by her education in natural resource management and career in studying landscape dynamics. However, moving to Alaska allowed her to be immersed in the Nation’s most beautiful landscape which amplified her desire to be a steward of and advocate for our natural resources. Trail running, hiking, and dog mushing are Krista’s favorite ways to experience Alaska.
Board of Directors
Board President (Anchorage)
Libby Kugel grew up in Anchorage, leaving after high school for Maine, where she received a degree in Environmental Science at Colby College. Since graduating, she has taught science in the mountains of Southern California, moved back to Anchorage, and started her foray into the local nonprofit world. Libby has previously worked at the Anchorage Park Foundation, and currently is the Communications and Administration Manager at Great Land Trust. Libby loves cross-country skiing on the Coastal Trail in the winter, hiking in the Chugach in the summer, and riding her bike year-round on any trails she can find all around the state.
Board Vice-President (Wrangell)
Kate Thomas started her Alaskan career in 2007, with a degree in Adventure Tourism and Business Operations from the College of the Rockies in British Columbia. Kate has worked as a backcountry canoe, kayak and hiking guide for high end clients and behavioral health programs serving at-risk youth. Kate’s experiences in the wilderness have transformed her into a tenacious creative mentor and leader with an ability to build healthy professional and personal relationships and understand progress barriers while implementing sustainable solutions. She currently resides in Wrangell and has served as the Parks and Recreation Director for the Borough since 2015. Kate is passionate about making small Alaska communities a better place to live, love and work, and focuses on finding ways to incorporate the best into services for all demographics in Wrangell. When Kate isn’t working, she can be found on the waters of southeast Alaska with her friends and furry companion.
Board Treasurer (Anchorage)
Lisa Oakley grew up hiking and skiing in the Cascade Mountains, which gave her a lifelong love of being outdoors, particularly in the mountains. She’s been an Anchorage resident for nearly 40 years. Her career path took the winding way through small business operations to nonprofit organizations. She semi-retired in 2016 and started a gardening service. Lisa plays hockey in the winter and enjoys mountain and snow biking in addition to hiking.
Board Member (Anchorage)
Irene was born and raised in Anchorage, where she spent summers hiking and winters in love-hate relationship with nordic skiing. She didn't realize how much she loved Alaska until she fell in love with the landscapes of southern New Zealand, which also reminded her of home. Irene graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage with her Bachelors in Civil Engineering. Her career has focused in water resources and trails - she's worked in both private and federal sectors, and most recently Irene joined the team at HDR Alaska. Her work has allowed her to participate in some fascinating projects and see some beautiful parts of the state. Irene's outdoor pursuits involve trying a little bit of everything, but she can usually be found enjoying Alaska's trails by bike, foot, or skis with her friends and pup. She also enjoys micro-beers, and live music, traveling to new places, and supporting her great community.
Board Member (Anchorage)
Glen is a tourism professional and long-time trails advocate. He is originally from Austin, Texas. After a ten-year stint in the ski industry in Alta, Utah, he has resided in Anchorage since 2001. His current professional role is Business Development for Alaska Skylar Travel. Glen’s experience includes two years as Summer Trail Planner for the Town of Alta and participation at all levels with numerous non-profit and professional organizations. In Anchorage he has worked on the revitalization of the Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail as part of the Anchorage Park Foundation’s Schools on Trails program. His hobbies include biking, gardening and cross-country skiing.
Board Member (Fairbanks)
Bryant grew up living between Fairbanks, Alaska and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He studied art and ran competitively at Trinity University in Texas, finding inspiration during summer training runs on the trails around Fairbanks. Ultimately wanting to help people access the outdoors, he sought another degree at University of Alaska Fairbanks where he earned his Masters of Science in Natural Resources Management. Bryant now works for the Fairbanks North Star Borough as their Trails Coordinator. He helps to develop, plan, and implement a community wide trails plan in Fairbanks. Bryant’s dedication for getting people outdoors inspired him to develop the Trails Challenge program which encourages locals to stay active and curious by highlighting nearby trail opportunities. While he is new to serving on a non-profit board, he is eager to gain experience and support Alaska Trails. When he’s not problem-solving on the trails Bryant is an avid runner and skier, spends time with his family and dogs, and keeps his creative mind healthy through music and art.
Board Member (Anchorage)
Karen Kromrey grew up in Colorado hiking and backpacking with her family. She attended Colorado State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management. Karen worked for the USDA Forest Service for the next 35 years in Colorado and Alaska in a variety of resource areas including vegetation management, special use administration, and recreation planning. She retired from the USDA Forest Service in August 2020 where she was the Recreation Program Manager for the Chugach National Forest. Karen met her husband, Mark, here in Alaska in the early 1990's and they raised their two wonderful daughters while living in the small town of Moose Pass. In retirement, Karen enjoys hiking and biking trails across Alaska and would like to stay involved in keeping trails available for all generations to use and enjoy.
Board Member (Anchorage)
Mark’s volunteer involvement with trails began after he retired from a 30-year career in water quality, environmental compliance and water/wastewater utility operations. He has been active in the Alaska Trail Stewards and served two terms on the Chugach State Park Citizen Advisory Board along with doing other trail volunteer work. Mark grew up mostly in Idaho, earned a biology degree, and headed north to Alaska in 1981. He enjoys the Alaska outdoors through boating, biking, skiing and hiking. Mark wants to help fulfill the Alaska Trails mission and he has the additional lofty goal of getting the Trail Stewards’ tools re-sharpened.
Board Member (Anchorage)
Shirley was born in Palmer and raised on a homestead in Chugiak. After living in Georgia for several decades, they returned to Alaska to work as a chaplain. Shirley had a career in health education and promotion in a university setting before going to seminary. Their skills include program planning, implementation, and evaluation, training, and group facilitation. Shirley spent all the time she could in the woods as a child in Alaska. Later, summer camp counselors in Georgia and North Carolina taught Shirley skills in hiking, backpacking, paddling, camp craft, and outdoor ethics. In 2006, Shirley started volunteering with American Hiking Society (AHS), which gave them the opportunity to lead trail crews all over the United States. Since then, Shirley has led over twenty trail maintenance Volunteer Vacations for AHS, each a week long. Shirley loves being outside every day in the woods, bogs, and mountains, with a cattle dog mix named Palmer.