Jodi Rodwell – Executive Director
Jodi came to Denali in 1995 to work for a summer and has remained here ever since. She has a BS in geology from Montana State University and began her career at the Denali Education Center teaching about the Denali Fault Zone. She loves living in this wonderful community with her husband and young daughter, who arrived in August 2011. In winter, she enjoys skiing on the dog mushing trails and playing pick-up hockey on a local pond.
Jill Boelsma – Operations Director
Jill changed her life when she moved to Alaska in 1999. It only got better when she began working at the Denali Education Center in 2004. She lives with her husband Carl and a rescued German shepherd in view of Denali National Park in a home they constructed with the help of friends and family. Her favorite things include the return of daylight, singing avian migrants, and emerging plants in the spring, endless summer days, the tapestry of the autumn tundra, and the quiet of winter that allows plenty of time for stargazing, dinners with friends, visits with family, and keeping the woodstove stoked. She enjoys travel and exploring the world with an open, inquisitive mind and a pair of binoculars.
Hannah Noel – Program Director
Hannah originally came to Alaska from the midwest- Iowa specifically. She first stepped foot in Alaska in 2010 and was immediately overcome by a deep sense of belonging. Hannah quickly fell in love with the vast landscapes and sense of exploration that comes as one heads out into Denali’s wilderness. It took Hannah three summers of Denali living before she was ready to throw off all hesitation and start living in Alaska year-round. Hannah spends her time exploring, learning and loving the far North.
Jake Hill – Program Manager
Jake left Ohio in 2008 and, like most people, headed North for “just one summer.” The next year, he met his best friend Anna, and they both fell completely in love with Alaska. They are now happily married, and happy to be full-time Alaska residents. Jake enjoys exploring Alaska by foot, by ski, by raft, and by hammock. Despite earning a B.A. in Creative Writing, he has found that Alaska defies description; which might be what he loves most about it.
Patrick Kelly – Youth Programs Manager
Patrick first came to Alaska in 2013 for graduate school, and has not looked back since! He earned his B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Florida State University and his M.S. in Outdoor and Environmental Education from Alaska Pacific University. Patrick likes to spend his free time backpacking, climbing, snowboarding, and playing the mandolin. He’s excited to call Denali home!
Rachel Crump – Event Manager
Rachel is ecstatic to return for her third summer in Denali. She can’t seem to stay away and says some of her favorite things about Alaskan summers are the wildflowers, the midnight sun, and sleeping on the tundra. Originally from Florida, Rachel graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in advertising. In 2015, she traveled to India to study Hatha yoga and is now a certified instructor. She spends her free time hiking, taking pictures, reading, and singing to her cat.
Dave Kuecha – Maintenance Manager
Originally from Florida, Dave is a nine-year Alaska resident. Dave is no stranger to the Denali Education Center campus as he served as our maintenance manager for six years before taking a two-year hiatus to work for an Alaska Native corporation. Dave has 35 years experience as an ASE auto and truck-certified mechanic and has aviation repair/maintenance experience. Skilled in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing, he says he has the best job maintaining this wonderful place, nestled in this great land!
Carl Livingston – IT Manager
After studying math and computer science at UC Berkeley, Carl started up his own contracting business in Oakland, CA, and started building houses. He ended up in Denali after picking up a chance phone call from a human resources office for a visiting friend. Bored with contracting, Carl intercepted the call and was hired by the company a week later. That first summer in Denali totally transformed his life! Carl swiftly moved out of the maintenance field and started in IT the next year and has loved it ever since. We’re lucky to have Carl’s diverse skills this summer…they are all going to be put to the test!
Keith Reimink – Kitchen Manager
Keith first came to Alaska and the Denali Education Center in 2002, and is thrilled to be back in the same kitchen 15 years later. A long time Alaskan enthusiast, he has spent five summers working for the DEC, one cooking at 229 Parks Restaurant and Tavern, and numerous winters on Karma Ridge cross-country skiing and relishing the darkness. When not in Alaska, Keith lives with his wife in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he takes odd jobs while managing his award-winning documentary film company, Daliborka Films. In his free time, Keith enjoys heavy metal music, Star Wars mosaic puzzles, and planning new films and adventures.
Roy Catalano – Field Educator
Roy loves Alaska! He has volunteered on the Iditarod Trail 17 years in a row, driven dog sleds in the Gates of the Arctic and on parts of the Iditarod trail. He enjoys working seasonally and living in Denali National Park with his wife. Roy loves hiking in Denali and sea kayaking in Prince Williams Sound. Roy spends his spare time fly fishing, birding, showing guests and friends around the Denali trails, and taking care of their new puppy. He spends his winters living in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Sarah Bartholow – Field Educator
Sarah has lived in the Denali area for the better part of ten years. Most recently she worked on education programming for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States. Sarah has a Masters in Education and certificate in Environment, Education, and Community from the University of Washington. Her favorite parts of Alaskan summer is subsistence dipnet fishing, hiking, camping, painting, and picking berries. Working for the Denali Education Center is a privilege that she will enjoy all summer.
Emily Zelenka – Field Educator & Youth Programs Coordinator
When Emily first came to Denali in 2014, like so many before her, she fell in love with the untouched beauty and vibrant community. Exploring the tundra is one of her favorite things in the world, but what keeps her coming back every summer is getting to share this unparalleled wilderness with visitors from around the world. She is thrilled to be joining the Denali Education Center as an educator this year. When she is not out hiking, she can often be found playing the ukulele, reading or drawing.
JoHanna Sestito – Program Coordinator
JoHanna first came to Denali in 2012, quickly learned how magical it is and returned in 2014. Originally from Ohio, she earned her bachelor’s degree in integrated language arts and master’s in multicultural special education. After teaching high school for several years, she is excited to take on a new educational role at the Denali Education Center. Her favorite part of Alaskan summers is the midnight sun. JoHanna also enjoys hiking, traveling and seeing how people all across the globe live.
Ellen DiGiacinto – Field Educator & Youth Program Group Leader
Ellen developed her desire for adventure while growing up in northern Maryland. She graduated college from Northern Michigan University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability and a minor in Dance. She continued moving west to Colorado where she skied every day in winter, and whitewater rafted in the summer. Ellen loves to dance, watch birds, and knit in her spare time. She is excited to be spending her first summer in Denali with Denali Education Center!
Ingrid Eickstedt – Traveling Group Leader
Ingrid fell in love with Alaska in 1996, when she lived and worked in Skagway for the summer where she embraced the challenge to hike the historic Chilkoot Trail. She lives in Northwest Wyoming where she recently retired as Executive Director of Powell Valley Community Education at Northwest College, where she was an Elderhostel site coordinator and led excursions into Yellowstone, the Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Bighorn Mountains, and the surrounding communities. She has a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Parks and Recreation and is a Certified Program Planner through the Learning Resource Network. “I’m looking forward to exploring more of Alaska with others who value lifelong learning,” she says.
James Palmer – Campus Cook
James will tell you he grew up in the woods in Virginia. When his two kids were grown, he decided to attend the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Charlotte, where he found his passion and calling as a chef and baker. Often using the ingredients he finds available to him in nature, you could say that he aspires to be a true sustainable chef and subsistence hunter. James has spent the last few years cooking in Hawaii, but we sense that he’s found a home here in Alaska, as many of us do.
Kris Cassity – Traveling Group Leader
Having moved to Alaska at a very young age, Kris can recount every major event in Alaska’s history from Statehood to the present. Such a depth and breadth of knowledge brings a richness to every program he coordinates. Kris has been a wilderness guide and naturalist for over thirty years and has been instrumental in the development of many of the concepts now in general use by Alaska’s outdoor professionals. Program participants constantly comment about how much they enjoy Kris’ easy going manner and dry sense of humor. We’re lucky to have him on our team!
Jimmy Sandy – Special Projects Volunteer
Jimmy came to Denali in 1990 “just for the summer” and proceeded to make Alaska his home. He is best known as a founding member of the Denali Cooks, a rock and roll band that is still rocking twenty-plus years later. He has volunteered at the Denali Education Center since 1993, helping out with the construction of the Charles Sheldon Center and with many other projects large and small. Jimmy hatched the original idea for the ever-popular annual auction and continues to bring the stellar live music to many DEC events.