Alumni Emerging Leader
The Alumni Emerging Leader Award honors an alumni who has made a positive impact in their community, industry or profession and has received their degree within the past ten years. There is an expectation that the nominee is in the beginning or middle of what will be a long-term distinguished career or role.
Kira Apaachuaq Eckenweiler — 2021 Emerging Leader
B.M. Music Performance '16
Mayor of Unalakleet, Alaska
Since graduating from UAA and receiving her Master of Music from the Berklee College of Music, Kira Apaachuaq Eckenweiler has distinguished herself as a professional singer by performing with the Anchorage Opera, the Boston Conservatory, Intermountain Opera Bozeman and more. After COVID-19 shut down live events worldwide, effectively pausing the performance industry, Kira decided to ride out the pandemic back home in Unalakleet with a new pursuit to stay productive: a seat on the city council, which quickly accelerated into the position of mayor. As mayor, Kira prioritized fixing the city’s aging water system and successfully secured $30 million to finally overhaul Unalakleet’s water system in summer 2022. Read Kira Apaachuaq Eckenweiler's story...
Reem Sheikh — 2020 Emerging Leader
B.S. Biological Sciences '07
Podiatric Surgeon and Attending Faculty, New York College of Podiatric Medicine
As a podiatrist working in New York City, Dr. Reem Sheikh witnessed firsthand how the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) affected health care workers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. After assembling volunteers that she met through parenting Facebook groups, Dr. Sheikh raised more than $18,000 to alleviate PPE shortages for New York City health care workers, and coordinated the donation of thousands of PPE across the country. Read Reem Sheikh's story...
Vanessa Norman — 2019 Emerging Leader
B.B.A. Management and Marketing '04
Attorney with law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Norman, born and raised in Port Graham, gives back to the community by volunteering and working on issues that she is passionate about. As an attorney at the Anchorage office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, her responsibilities include advising businesses both in Alaska and the Lower 48, with special emphasis on guiding Alaska Native corporations on general corporate matters. She also serves as co-chair of the firm’s Attorneys of Color affinity group. Read Vanessa's story...
Jason Hart — 2018 Emerging Leader
B.B.A. Management ’07, M.B.A. General Management ’10
Clinical practice manager, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
With the passing of his mother at the age of 12, Hart felt compelled to make health care for Alaska Natives better. After serving for seven years in the Air National Guard, he worked to become clinical practice manager at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In addition, he took on the responsibilities as acting vice president of medical and multi-specialty clinics at the Alaska Native Medical Center, where he oversees more than 20 clinics, including cardiology, neurology, pulmonology, internal medicine and oncology. Read Jason's story...
Michelle Sloper — Emerging Leader 2017
B.A. Psychology ’08
Senior evaluation fellow at the Claremont Evaluation Center
Since earning her Ph.D., Sloper has been making a nationwide difference from her hometown of Haines. As a professional evaluator, Sloper partners with community-based programs across the country to assess and improve their impact. Whether she’s guiding grad students at Claremont or developing a program’s impact elsewhere, Sloper is personally and professionally invested in helping others achieve. Read Michelle's story…
Michael Rose, Emerging Leader 2016
B.A. Political Science ’09
Associate Attorney, Law Office of Ralph Ertz
Rose, a committed mentor to the Seawolf Debate program, distinguished himself early in his young Alaska law career. He plans to continue connecting the state’s law community and mentoring the next generation of Alaska’s lawyers into the future. Read Michael's story…
Mistee Davis, A.A.S. Human Services '06, B.A. Psychology '12.
Chief of Services, Assets Inc.
Virginia Groeschel, B.S. Civil Engineering '06
Aviation Design Engineer with State of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Works
Stephen Trimble, B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies '08,Project Manager at URS Corporation in Alaska
Candice McDonald, B.B.A. Business Management '05, M.S. Global Supply Chain Management '08, Owner, Salmon Berry Tours
Dan Bigley,M.S.W. '09
Director of Therapeutic Foster Care Services, Denali Family Services
Linda Leary, M.S. ’04
President, Carlile Transportation Systems