Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits
- Dennis McMillian, President and CEO
- Laurie Wolf, MNPL, CFRE, Vice President, Programs
- Mike Walsh, MPA, Ph.D, Vice President, Operations
- Malu Antonio, Staff Accountant
- Andrew Cutting, Partner Relations Coordinator
- Stacey Fowler,
- Brent Kapansky, Accountant
- Chris Kowalczewski, MPH, MArch, Pre Development Program Manager
- Jonella Larson White , Rural Specialist
- Vicki Lewis, Education Coordinator
- Pam Lund, Pre-Development Project Manager
- Rebecca Savidis, SPHR, Director of Human Resource (Health Insurance Initative)
- Raju Shankar, CFO
- Gretchen Specht, Controller, Shared Financial Services
- Olesay Zalata-Sweet, Project Accountant
Dennis has devoted his professional career to helping nonprofit organizations better meet the needs of their communities. For 21 years he served as a development officer, and then as a CEO with United Way in numerous communities around the country. He came to Alaska in 1992 to lead the United Way of Anchorage. Since moving to Alaska, he has helped build the state’s philanthropic infrastructure through his work with United Ways across the state and through his support in developing the Alaska Community Foundation. He is a strong advocate for Alaska’s nonprofit sector. In 2001, Dennis led the effort to start The Foraker Group with the mission of building sustainability and organizational capacity in Alaska nonprofits. During his career, he’s trained thousands of professionals and volunteers, spoken at numerous conferences and consulted across America, Canada, Asia and Russia. He serves on numerous national nonprofit committees and is a regular speaker at conferences including The Council on Foundations, Tides Foundation, Philanthropy Northwest, and the National Council of Nonprofits. He sits on the board of Nature Conservancy in Alaska, and on the national boards for Camp Fire, Inc., the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, and the National Council of Nonprofits.
Laurie has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years. As Vice President for Programs for The Foraker Group, she co-creates and provides both community-wide and one-on-one training for boards and staff in governance and service, strategic planning, collaboration and resource development. Additionally, she coordinates all the educational opportunities that are provided by Foraker and leads the various activities related to creating a culture of philanthropy in Alaska. Laurie holds a BA in English from Scripps College and an Executive Master's degree in Not-for-Profit Leadership from Seattle University. She is one of a handful of Certified Fund Raising Executives (CFREs) in Alaska. She has served on a variety of boards and worked as a volunteer in arts, environmental and human services organizations. In 2005, Laurie was named one of “Alaska's Top 40 Under 40” by the Chamber of Commerce, and was named “Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy” in 2006 by the statewide Association of Fundraising Professionals. Laurie was born in Anchorage.
Mike has lived in Alaska for 30 years, most of that time in Fairbanks. He holds a PhD in Public Policy and Public Administration from Purdue University, an MA in Public Administration from the University of North Texas, and a BA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Mike served in the administration of Governor Tony Knowles as deputy director of the governor’s Fairbanks office. He has worked extensively with local nonprofit boards and agencies on a wide range of policy and management issues. He is a past president of and currently serves on the board for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank and is board president for Dance Theatre Fairbanks. His work with Foraker focuses on strategic planning, business planning, mergers and collaborations and board training.
Maria has lived in Alaska for over 7 years and joined Foraker in January 2008. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from University of Saint Louis, Philippines. As a Staff Accountant, her main responsibilities include Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and Payroll Processing for Foraker Group and other nonprofit Foraker Partners. Before joining Foraker Group, Maria held an Accounts Receivable Technician position with Cook Inlet Tribal Council. She also worked for 6 years in banking while living in the Philippines. For the last four years, Maria is the Treasurer for Maharlika Inc., a Filipino Nonprofit organization. She has played an integral part in the success of Maharlika's fundraising efforts to award scholarhships to graduating Filipino-Americans twho want to attain higher education. Maria also volunteers as an interpreter.
Andrew moved to Alaska in 1980. He has a background in the construction industry, both in Anchorage and Barrow. He also worked as a mountaineering instructor for the University of Alaska Anchorage and as a backcountry climbing and river guide. Andrew spent seven years serving the members of the REI co-op as a special events coordinator, where he partnered with the Anchorage School District, the Municipality of Anchorage as well as multiple nonprofits from around the state. In the midst of taking a year off to remodel his home, Andrew began volunteering with the Alaska Sudan Medical Project, a nonprofit group working in an extremely remote and underserved region of Southern Sudan. Andrew has traveled to Africa multiple times working to provide access to clean water, improved sanitation and the construction of a medical facility. He also worked for RuralCap and GreenStar before joining Foraker in 2009.
Chris has lived in Alaska for over 30 years, much of that time in rural Alaska. She started her career here as a health care planner and administrator, working primarily with Alaska Native tribal organizations. A mid-career change to architecture resulted in a new focus on the planning and design of health care facilities. Prior to joining The Foraker Group she spent ten years as a consultant, assisting organizations with the planning of new facilities and managing the design and construction phases. She has been responsible for projects from Barrow to Metlakatla and is familiar with conditions throughout the state of Alaska. Chris brings broad experience in project development and a commitment to sustainable design to her current role in helping nonprofits prepare for successful capital projects.
Jonella Larson White’s educational background is in rural development and community planning enhanced with cultural documentation (Bachelor of Art, University of Alaska Fairbanks) and museum studies (Master of Liberal Arts, Harvard University). She is dedicated to the perpetuation of Indigenous knowledge through oral, written and artistic forms. Jonella's professional work experience includes internship, fellowship and administrator positions in museums and art galleries in Canada, the Lower '48 and in Alaska. She has worked at the University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology (MoA) in Vancouver, BC, the Harvard University Peabody Museum in Cambridge, MA, the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Arctic Studies Center and the Alaska Native Arts Foundation in Anchorage, AK. She currently serves as a Cultural Advisor to the Alaska State Council on the Arts and is also on the Steering Committee for the Alaska Native Fund. Larson White, Ququngaq, is St. Lawrence Island Yupik, raised in Nome with family ties to Savoonga. She lives in Anchorage with her husband Clinton and dog Qiviut.
Vicki came to Alaska in June 1996, from Aberdeen, Scotland. She attended Manchester Teachers Training College and since then has taught in schools in England, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Scotland and Anchorage. She began working for United Way of Anchorage in 2000, initially as a Loaned Account Manager and then became the Director of Agency Relations until 2003. Vicki was an original member of the first cohort of the Foraker Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Vicki's volunteer work has been with local Anchorage schools, American Heart Walk, GIFT and Day of Caring. Vicki joined the staff of The Foraker Group in February 2004.
Rebecca has experience developing human resources programs with fast growing, startup and technical companies. In addition to her human resource management background, Rebecca is also experienced in recruiting, developing training programs, analyzing organizational structure and producing operating procedures. Rebecca attended the University of Utah where she earned her degree in communications with an emphasis on alternative dispute resolution. She is a certified mediator upon completing a post-graduate certificate program. When Rebecca is not working hard in HR, she is caring for and running her 46 sled dogs in Willow, Alaska.
Raju has worked with a wide range of Alaska based businesses for over four years. He currently oversees the books of 25+ Alaskan nonprofits with annual budgets ranging from $100,000 - $2,500,000 in revenue. Raju brings a diverse background of business with experience in Governmental, Nonprofit and Construction Accounting. He attended Concordia University in Portland, Oregon where he obtained a degree in Accounting and Business Administration along with minors in E-Commerce and Marketing. Prior to his work with The Foraker Group, Raju worked as a traveling auditor and a controller for an Anchorage based Native Corporation. He currently owns two small businesses located in Anchorage.
Gretchen comes to the Foraker Group via Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) Shared Financial Services. Between working at CITC and starting at the Foraker Group she was on hiatus to realize one of her life goals of working in Antarctica. She and her husband worked two austral summer seasons at McMurdo Station, Antarctica and traveled to New Zealand, Nepal, Thailand, and the US. Gretchen has lived the majority of her life in Alaska. She graduated from Chugiak High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Gretchen worked for CITC for 5 years, providing financial statements and analysis to a diverse group of clients giving her a strong non-profit accounting background. Providing services to non- profit clients in the state of Alaska brings her a sense of community and purpose to her work life. She will be focusing on the big picture of growing Shared Financial Services responsibly to allow us to provide services to more non-profits while maintaining our standards of excellence.
Olesya was born and raised in Provideniya, Russia and came to Alaska after graduating from high school. Upon graduating from University of Alaska Anchorage with a BBA Finance, Olesya worked at Science Applications International Corporation for five years as an Office Manager and Billing Analyst. She was also fortunate to travel to her home town and surrounding areas with American doctors as a translator and assistant, which she enjoyed very much and hopes to be able to do again in the future. In 2006, Olesya joined the nonprofit sector by taking a Project Accountant position at Cook Inlet Tribal Council and then moving to The Foraker Group in December 2007. Olesya enjoys her work at The Foraker Group and enjoys being a part of this important organization.