Some of your favorite Alaskans are Seawolves. Every year the Alaska Journal of Commerce solicits nominations from the community before naming the state’s most impressive young professionals, Alaska’s “Top Forty Under 40.”
We wanted to offer a special tip of the winter cap to all the UAA alumni who made the list. There are a dozen with green and gold ties.
Two of this year’s alumni winners also work right here at UAA. Amanda Metivier (B.S.W. ’08, M.S.W. ’12) is the youth education coordinator for UAA’s Child Welfare Academy, working to support foster youth as they transition from foster care into college. Harry Need (M.P.A. ’13) is a development officer for the university, raising funds for scholarships and programs in the College of Arts of Sciences.
Ski bum makes good
“I don’t think anybody grows up thinking, ‘What I really want to do is be a fundraiser,’” said Harry with a laugh when asked about his career choice.
But his position as a “matchmaker” between donors who are passionate about making Alaska a better place and programs or people at the university who can help them realize their vision has let Harry witness some truly amazing moments.
Last year Harry visited one of the university laboratories with special guest Kirk Gay, widower of donor Sarah “Liza” Gay, to meet Brady Salli, a UAA biological sciences student who was studying arctic ground squirrels. Brady was the first recipient of the John Russell Gay Memorial Science Scholarship, created by Liza’s bequest to the university to honor her late son. He handed one of the hibernating animals to Kirk and suddenly this multi-generational gift had a physical manifestation.
“It was like Liza created that moment. I was just the facilitator,” Harry said. “It’s magic. Now I just want to do that all the time.”
Ten years ago, he admitted, what he really wanted to do was get paid to ski.
“I was and am a ski bum at heart,” Harry said. But even with a foot through that door—working as a ski company representative and a ski patroller—there was also an unrelenting pull to build a career helping people.
Now Harry gets his ski fix by working as a volunteer ski patroller for Arctic Valley and serving on the board of the Anchorage Ski Club. He also volunteers his time to work with Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters and his local community council in Fairview.
Graduating last year from UAA’s Master’s in Public Administration program freed up some time for him get even more involved in the community.
“A lot of people have hobbies,” he said with another laugh. “I tend to volunteer.”
A voice for foster youth
Amanda is a familiar face for both legislators and foster youth in Anchorage. When she was 19 years old, just a year out of foster care herself, she helped to found an advocacy organization called Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA), a nonprofit group where foster youth and alumni, ages 15 to 24, work to make foster care better. Sometimes that means having high school and college students, some who’ve been shuttled from placement to placement, share their stories about foster care with the state’s decision makers. She and her fellow advocates were instrumental in changing Alaska’s foster care age-out cap from 18 to 21.
In her role at UAA, Amanda works closely with the Office of Children’s Services to help foster youth make the leap from high school to college. The typical college student who comes up against a hurdle—“whoops, I forgot to pack bedding for my dorm room”—would just call mom and dad for help or a cash infusion. The foster youth and alumni can call Amanda.
This year, Amanda also found a dedicated group of faculty and staff at UAA who wanted to help. Some have volunteered as mentors to the 38 foster youth in the University of Alaska system. Others are busy knitting scarves and hats for them.
In 2013, Amanda was awarded a Casey Excellence for Children award. Read her story and watch her video interview here.
And here’s the full list of UAA alumni who’ve cracked this year’s Top Forty Under 40 list:
Cynthia Berns (B.A. Psychology ’03), 32, Anchorage. Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Old Harbor Native Corp.
Jon Bittner (B.S. Geological Sciences ’08), 35, Anchorage. Vice President, Anchorage Economic Development Corp.
Leah Boltz (B.S. Geological Sciences ’08), 34, Anchorage. Marketing and Business Development Director, Bettisworth North
Morten Kjerland (B.A. Economics ’00, B.B.A. Management ’00), 39, Anchorage. Managing Principal, Waddell & Reed
Carrie Lindow (M.B.A. ’05, M.S. Project Management ’10), 35, Anchorage. Owner/Project Manager, ChemTrack Inc.
Amanda Metivier (B.S. Social Work ’08, M.S.W. ’12), 29, Anchorage. Executive Director, Facing Foster Care in Alaska; Youth Education Coordinator, Child Welfare Academy, University of Alaska Anchorage
Harry Need (M.P.A. ’13), 33, Anchorage. Development Officer, University of Alaska Anchorage
Ann Potempa (B.S.W. ’09, M.S.W. ’12), 38, Anchorage. Public Health Communications Specialist, Alaska Department of Health and Social Service
Lance Pruitt (B.A. History ’03), 32, Anchorage. House Majority Leader, Alaska Legislature
Ghazal Ringler (B.S. Biological Sciences ’01), 39, Anchorage. Dental Director, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
Viola Stepetin (A.A.S. Welding Technology ’04, B.S. Technology ’05, M.S. Science Management ’08), 39, Anchorage. Contract Specialist, Department of Defense, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Chad Steadman (M.B.A. candidate), 38, Anchorage. Vice President, Commercial Lending, First National Bank Alaska
Written by Jamie Gonzales, UAA Office of University Advancement.