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 daughter, who keeps her “old” parents young! 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 came to Alaska in 2010 from the midwest- Iowa specifically. It may sound cheesy, but when she first set foot in Alaska she was overcome by a deep sense of belonging. She quickly fell in love with the vast landscapes and breathtaking wild-ness. It took her and her husband Chris three summers of seasonal living before they decided to sink their root in Alaskan soil. When not in the office Hannah and Chris enjoy working on their house- which like any good Alaskan they built themselves! In their spare time, they enjoy hiking in the park, catching up with friends, and soaking up the midnight sun. Every day they fall more in love with this wild place that they are lucky to call home.
Jake Hill – Marketing and Communications Director
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.
Emily Myhre – Youth Program Manager
Emily spent her childhood exploring the waterways of Minnesota’s Northwoods. As a young adult, found herself moving further north while guiding canoe and backpacking trips in Minnesota, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alaska. In 2014 Emily made Denali her home mushing a team of sled dogs. A dedicated educator, Emily has spent most of her summers guiding young women on extended expeditions to remote corners of North America, including the Arctic Ocean. Most of her time outside of work is spent exploring remote mountain ranges.
Kailyn Fitts – Program Manager
Kailyn was raised in the suburbs of Atlanta but has been chasing the west for most of her life. Guiding pack trips on horseback in Colorado got her out of her college town in the summer. Moving to Wyoming to work at Grand Teton National Park opened her eyes to her love of public lands and her passion to share their stories. After a long drive north and a year in Denali, Kailyn and her dog Brody, have enjoyed the true feel of wilderness, and the adventures that come with it.
Becky Chisholm – Administrative Assistant
Becky was born in Virginia and has lived in the Denali area since 2007. She has a BS in Math/Sociology/French from Averett University. While her main love is Alaska and dogs, she also enjoys crafting, music, fishing, hiking, and camping. She lives with her two dogs and boyfriend in a dry cabin north of Healy. She has worked several jobs in Denali and feels fortunate to be part of an organization that teaches people about the area she loves so much. She still wants to travel the world but has made Alaska her lifelong home.
Dave Kuecha – Maintenance Manager
Originally from Florida, Dave is a ten-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 of 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!
Tara Cicatello – Event Coordinator
Tara may be new to Denali Education Center, but not to Alaska! Before adventure and the allure of the state called her name, she was born and raised in suburban New York, completing her B.A. in her hometown of Buffalo. Tara spent her first AK year in Nome working as a producer at KNOM Radio’s Volunteer program, and from there got involved in the sled dog world. After spending two years in Nome, she found her way to Denali in 2016, spending her winters training and racing sled dogs, and summers guiding tours on the Denali Highway. When not sharing her love of Alaska with groups, Tara enjoys gardening, sourdough baking, and bike-joring.
Lindsey Taylor – Field Educator
This is Lindsey’s fourth summer in Denali, and she is thrilled to be back! In her second summer as a Field Educator with DEC, she’ll be spending her days on the trails and in the classroom. She has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology and is passionate about learning, living life outside, and helping others create connections with the environment. In 2016 and 2017 she was a Science Communication Intern with the National Park Service, which is what brought her to Denali in the first place. She never could have imagined she’d come back four years in a row! In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys hiking, camping, photography, cooking, and playing the viola.
Darrel Waggoner – Field Educator
Darrel grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Chicago with his wife and family. He has always gravitated towards the outdoors and national parks. This is his second season in Denali and last year was a volunteer at the DEC as a hike sweep. He looks forward to having his children and family visit throughout the summer. He enjoys cooking, hiking, backpacking, and music.
Caitlin Auktweenna Tozier, Youth Field Educator
Uvaaŋa Auktweenna, Siqnasuaġmiuguruŋa. Aŋayuġaaġiikka Tok Tozier-lu Marie Tozier-lu, Siqnasuaġmiuguruk. Ataataga John Garrison, aanagalu Laraine Garrison, Uŋalaqłiġmiuguruglu Siqnasuaġmiuguruglu. Amaukka Daniel Karmun-lu Ethel Karmun-lu, Ipnasiaġmiuguruk.
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 truly 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.
Lori Moore – Group Leader
Lori may not have been born in Alaska but she got here as fast as she could! Over the past 18 years, she has worked as a park ranger, copy maker, bus driver, arts and crafts leader, and grad student. She is now an elementary school teacher and loves keeping busy with year-round outdoor activities and learning new things. She looks forward to spending her summers riding the rails with Road Scholar groups and meeting new people!
Katie Pankow – Program Coordinator
This is Katie’s first summer in Denali, but she’s already fallen head-over-heels in love with this incredible place. Hailing from the Sunshine State, Katie works as a professional actress. She has an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida, and a BA in English from Florida Gulf Coast University. Katie is an avid hiker, a wannabe chef, a huge bird nerd, a book devourer, and a maker of strange faces.
This is Kimberly’s third year in Denali and first year at Denali Education Center. She and her husband Darrell freelance throughout the country as actors and got engaged in Alaska in 2012. She studied at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina.
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.