top of page

Maya Kaup, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator
 

Staff

steve.jpg

Steve Cleary, Executive Director
steve.cleary@alaska-trails.org 

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.

FB_IMG_1683745313510.jpg

Maya Kaup, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator
maya.kaup@alaska-trails.org 

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_edited.jpg

Mariyam Medovaya, Alaska Traverse Project Manager
mariyam.medovaya@alaska-trails.org

Mariyam Medovaya joined on as the staff person for the 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 Bio Photo.jpg

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, Trails Initiative Manager
haley.johnston@alaska-trails.org

Sam Dinges photo.jpeg

Sam Dinges, Alaska Traverse Mat-Su Coordinator
sam.dinges@alaska-trails.org 

Sam Dinges joined the team at Alaska Trails in December of 2022. As a fourth generation Alaskan and lifelong resident of the Mat-Su Borough, Sam grew up exploring trails in the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains. Since 2012, he has worked in nonprofit management and destination marketing for Anchorage and the Mat-Su, most recently as Executive Director at the Palmer Museum and Visitor Center. Outside of work, Sam serves on the board of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau, and previously served on the board for the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce. He enjoys hiking and skiing with his wife and their four dogs, and is thrilled to be working on helping to build more trails in his backyard.

Ben Ervin, Trails Program Officer
ben.ervin@alaska-trails.org

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 as a journeyman carpenter 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. 

Sarris Harris.JPG

Sarris Harris, Trail Crew Leader, Cordova

Sarris started working for Alaska Trails in May of 2022 as a member of the Cordova Trail Crew and is returning as the Crew Lead for their second season on the crew. Sarris was born and raised in Anchorage Alaska, and spent their youth swimming competitively and going on incredible adventures with their family and friends. They left the state to get a B.S. in Environmental Science from Western Washington University, and stayed in Washington for a year afterwards where they worked as a baker, and as a member of the Washington Conservation Corps. As a non-binary person, Sarris is passionate about creating space for queer folks to feel safe, included, and respected in the outdoors. When Sarris isn't working on the trail, they enjoy rock climbing, dog sitting, baking tasty little treats, fat biking, and swimming in any reasonable body of water. If you're ever on an expedition with Sarris, hang around after dinner! They are known to make chocolate fondue for dessert. 

Elias Beck.jpg

Elias Beck, Trail Crew Leader, South Fork Eagle River

Elias Beck joined the Alaska Trails team in 2023 to lead the South Fork Eagle River Trail Crew. He is a born and raised Alaskan, and spent his youth exploring and recreating in Palmer and surrounding areas. He graduated from the University of Redlands in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Political Science. For the past year, Elias has worked as a Trails Technician for Matanuska-Susitna Borough Parks and Recreation. Elias is enthusiastic about trail stewardship and enjoys mountain biking in his free time. 

Board of Directors

libby.jpg

Libby Kugel

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.

Shirley Banks
Board Vice President (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.

lisa.jpg

Lisa Oakley

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.

irene_edited.jpg

Irene Turletes

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. 

Glen%20Hemingson_edited.jpg

Glen Hemingson

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.

RBW_Headshot.jpg

Bryant Wright

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.

Karen Kromrey photo.jpg

Karen Kromrey

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. 

Mark Spano photo.jpg

Mark Spano

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.

KEG Bio Photo_.jpeg

Katherine Ginsbach
Board Member (Anchorage)

Katherine Ginsbach moved to Alaska for a one-year fellowship at Alaska Native Medical Center and has been here ever since. She grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota and adopted an early appreciation for the outdoors. She received a degree in Environmental Studies from College of the Holy Cross (MA) and then moved to Boulder, CO where she fell in love with mountain biking. After grad school, she moved to Alaska where she realized her love for skiing and learned how to bikepack (thanks Grande and Dusty!) Since then she’s been taking advantage of all Alaska has to offer, but mostly skiing, biking, or trail running. She currently works on pandemic preparedness and response legislation, global health governance, and disease surveillance at Georgetown University Law School. When not working you can find her on the trails behind her house, usually with a pocket full of sour patch kids. 

Board Member.png

Grace Kubitz
Board Member (Anchorage)

Grace is a life-long Alaskan who grew up in Southcentral Alaska and has spent the past four years living between Juneau and Anchorage. She holds a Master's in Public Administration with a focus in public policy from the University of Alaska, Anchorage and a degree in Political Science with a minor in Sustainability from the University of Michigan. After spending several years as a staff member in the Alaska State Legislature working closely with lawmakers, stakeholders, and members of the public to advance Alaska-focused policy, Grace has continued her career in government, policy, and business development by joining NANA Regional Corporation as their External Affairs Manager. In her free time, Grace can be found fishing, skiing, and mountain running, often with her favorite doggy-nephew, Niles.

bottom of page