Executive Director, Mike Miller
Mike is not only the executive director of the Center, but the Center’s founder. You will often see Mike perusing the Center on his four wheeler, chatting with guests and keeping an eye on the animals. With a background in construction, much of Mike’s animal husbandry experience comes from work with the animals at the Center, and from what he has learned from the veterinarians with whom the Center works. Mike is the go to guy for everything here at the Center, as he knows the place inside and out. Mike lives on property with his wife Kelly, and their two kids, Abigail and Owen.
Operations Director, Tom Yeager
Tom brings excellent non profit and staff management experience to the team at AWCC. Tom and his family have lived in the Girdwood valley for over 30 years, and have been long time supporters of the Center. Tom is on site managing the day to day operations of the Center, as well as the big picture things, like grant writing, funding, and development. When not at his desk, Tom can often be seen on mental health breaks out and about enjoying the Center.
Education Director, Kelly Miller
Kelly Miller is the education queen. She is responsible for our internship program, our educational programs, interpretive signage, and much much more! With a background in commercial fishing and a great deal of time with the US Forest Service, Kelly is well rounded in Alaskan knowledge, and a great resource for the Center, as well as the educational community surrounding Turnagain Arm and Alaska overall.
Director of Development and External Communications, Karen Cowart
A recent addition to the AWCC team is Karen Cowart serving as the development and external communications director. Karen’s love for Alaska started in 1976 when Navy husband, Rob, was stationed on Adak Island. Along with 2 children, they hiked and fished, and loved their time in the Aleutians. They moved to Anchorage in 1980, and Karen started a journey in nonprofit management in tourism and the oil and gas industry. She recently retired from BP Alaska after having served as the community affairs director. A Board member convinced her that coming out of retirement and joining the staff at AWCC would be fun and rewarding. They were right! She’s having a ball, learning more every day about the animals she now represents and humbled by watching the dedicated staff daily care for each animal.
Director of Sales & Marketing, Scott Michaelis
On his journey to becoming our Director of Sales and Marketing, the first thing Scott managed to sell was himself. Scott is the only successful candidate selected for our highly competitive Summer Intern program who did not have an academic background in animal sciences. After that first summer internship, Scott completed his Marketing degree and again headed North for a second summer at AWCC. Scott’s second summer at AWCC stretched through the winter and following summer. Along the way, Scott entered into a mentorship under our then Director of Sales and Marketing, Ethan Tyler, and received an insider’s view of Alaskan tourism marketing. With his passion for our mission, a ground-up understanding of all aspects of AWCC, and an academic background in sales and marketing, Scott is uniquely qualified to promote AWCC to all our stakeholders.
Retail Manager, Linda Chichester
It took 22 years in the banking industry before Linda finally found her niche in the retail industry. Retail gave her the ability to combine her business knowledge and her love for travel & wildlife.
Linda started doing seasonal work which brought her to Glacier National Park in Montana, as assistant manager then to Glacier Bay Lodge in Gustavus, AK as retail manager where she fell in love with Alaska. Linda continued with seasonal employment and worked in various jobs such as: serving Maine lobster in Eastport, Maine, crewing on hot air balloons in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Switzerland, & Turkey.
With the yearnings of travel quelled Linda decided to settle down and look for a place to call home in Alaska once again. She realized this dream as Retail Manager of the Raven Eagle Gift Shop in Juneau for the last 7 years. Throughout her travels she has always been drawn to wildlife & photography. Linda have found the best of both worlds at the AWCC and she’s very excited to be apart of this worthwhile mission.
When Linda is not working in the shop, you can be sure to find her watching the animals at the center or such outdoor activities as hiking, biking, or boating.
Naturalist Program Coordinator, Erin Leighton
Erin is the Naturalist Program Coordinator at the Center. Working around the Center with the interns, scheduling the daily presentations, animal care taking, and hoping on motor coaches is all a normal day at work. Prior to accepting the position at our Center; Erin has worked with binturongs, ant eaters, and even trained a camel. With a Bachelor of Science in Biology this is her dream job and can not imagine going anywhere else. As a “Texan” turned “Alaskan” new hobbies include rock climbing, camping, and running around with the Center’s critters.
Artist/Photographer, Doug Lindstrand
Doug Lindstrand is a free-lance artist/photographer who makes his home in Alaska. Although he has published numerous books of “outside” wildlife, his primary subjects are the people and wildlife of Alaska; America’s Last Frontier.
After graduation from college in Minnesota and after his military service, Doug moved to Alaska in 1970; having first visited the State a few years prior en route to a tour in Vietnam. Alaska was a place that had both wilderness and wildlife and seemed to exhibit a sense of freedom for its residents. It was a perfect place for a new starving artist to begin a career.
Doug’s books range from art instruction books to Alaska books. For more information on Doug and his artwork, visit Sourdough Studio here!