Anchorage Park Foundation Staff

Beth Nordlund, Executive Director
(907) 274.1004 | Beth@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

Beth is a third generation Alaskan park user.  Born in Anchorage, she lost her first tooth at Russian Jack Springs Park.  Beth was raised in Juneau and earned a double-major in  Environmental Studies and Political Science from Baylor University, and a Master’s in Public Administration from The George Washington University.

Beth was the first staff hired for the Anchorage Park Foundation in 2004.  Starting from scratch, she has helped shape the work plan and she enjoys working with volunteers to help them obtain grants, promote projects, build projects, and celebrate community achievements.  One of Beth’s proudest accomplishments is helping to create and fund the Youth Employment in Parks program, which won the prestigious Partners in Conservation Award from the US Department of the Interior.  Her community awards include Anchorage ATHENA Society and Top 40 Under 40.

Beth lives with her husband Jim and child Ella next to a great sledding hill at Balto Seppala Park.

Jess Rude, Director of Philanthropy
907.249.6650  | Jess@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

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Opening her college acceptance letters in the 90’s at her childhood hangout DeLong Lake Park, Jess didn’t realize how Alaska’s integration with the outdoors was unique or that Anchorage’s outstanding green spaces, killer Coastal Trail views, and ideal Live.Work.Play. balance would eventually call her home. Through years working in New York City, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City and Portland, Jess formed a big picture view of the important role parks and trails play in creating a healthy community and adding fun to our lives. Jess brings more than ten years of fundraising, development and communications experience to the Anchorage Park Foundation.

Favorite after-work biking loop: Chester Creek Trail —> Coastal Trail –> Ship Creek Trail –> Russian Jack Park Trails –> Chester Creek Trail

Molly Brenner, Community Outreach Director
907.249.6652  | Molly@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

Molly fell in love with the outdoors on a 6th grade trip to the Canyonlands in Utah. She loved hiking, star gazing, and not having to shower! Growing up in Denver, Colorado she took the outdoors for granted until that trip. While her career took her to Washington DC for several years, Molly continued to long for outdoor space and left the city whenever possible. After 8 years in DC, Molly decided enough was enough! She packed a U-Haul and drove to Alaska in search of a new adventure. Molly continues to fall in love with Alaska and all its beauty.

Molly joined the Anchorage Park Foundation team in April 2017. She has worked for both the United States House and Senate and several health associations, including the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Family Pediatrics. Molly has a Master’s in Public Health, which adds an unique perspective to her role as Community Outreach Director.

Molly works with community partners to grow the Inclusive Play, Health on Trails and ParksRx initiatives, as well as manages the Challenge Grant program and incoming grants. Have a question or want to get involved? Reach out to Molly!

Molly loves the Chester Creek Trail where you may spot her biking, running, or walking her new golden doodle, Bailey.

Laura Vachula, Marketing and Communications Manager
907.249.6653  | Laura@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

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Laura has always loved the outdoors. She grew up in western Massachusetts where she received her degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Smith College. In 2013, she moved to Alaska “just for the summer” but the natural beauty and wealth of outdoor opportunities made it too hard to leave.

Since graduating, Laura’s worked as a Media and Outreach Intern for the Bureau of Land Management, produced short videos for the National Park Service, and talked to thousands of tourists as a park ranger in Denali National Park and Preserve. She joined the Anchorage Park Foundation team in 2015, happy to find another opportunity to nurture her love of communicating about public lands.

Do you have a media inquiry? Maybe you’d like us to share your park news or event on our social media. Get in touch with Laura!

Laura is constantly amazed by the fun happening in Russian Jack Springs Park. Golfing in the summer, greenhouse in the fall, skiing in the winter, and sledding in the spring.

Betsi Oliver, Grants Manager
907.249.6901  | Betsi@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

Betsi grew up “harvesting” dried plants from her backyard, sorting them into empty bottles and jars, and pretending they were food. When she moved to Alaska in 2009, she was thrilled to find (and learn from) people who actually grow, harvest, and preserve their own foods and medicine.

She remembers her first backpacking trip as a child with her family in New England where she grew up. There was a tragic moment when she realized that she couldn’t carry all the rocks she had collected along with her trail mix and sleeping bag. Her adventures have gotten longer and harder, but there is still always a moment when she has to leave behind a special rock.

Betsi dedicates her life to helping people spend more time outside. She works as Grants Manager for Anchorage Park Foundation because she believes that healthy parks and trails allow for happier, healthier people and a better community!

Brendan Stuart, Schools on Trails Coordinator
907.271.4591  | Brendan@AnchorageParkFoundation.org

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Brendan is grateful that as a child, her parents insisted on weekly hikes through the parks surrounding her hometown in the SF Bay Area; especially when it allowed her to skimp on inside chores and play outside instead.  The small childhood joys of feeling a round polished stone in the palm, stepping through the crinkle of dried grasses and leaves into an unknown space, smelling the sharp resin bark of a tree, and tracking the slow ascent of the moon through the sky continue to engage her at every outdoor opportunity.

Brendan graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Biology and went on to complete her Masters at Tufts University, Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences.  She joined the Anchorage Park Foundation in 2015 as an AmeriCorps member to run the Schools on Trails program and has continued her work there after her term of service ended. 

Are you excited about students learning, growing, moving, and creating in the parks and trails near their schools?  Let’s expand the indoor classroom of our schools to the outdoor spaces we love!  Contact Brendan for more information on the Schools on Trails program.

Annie DuBois, Youth Employment in Parks Coordinator
907.343.4720 | DuBoisAM@muni.org

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When Annie was 14 years old, she decided she wanted to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. It took a little longer than anticipated, but she successfully completed a thru-hike. This amazing journey and a love for the outdoors lead her to pursue a career in Environmental Science. She came to Alaska in 2009 for seasonal fieldwork and fell in love with the 49th state. As an avid hiker, biker, and runner, Annie loves living in a place where her backyard includes over 250 miles of trails and green belts to explore. She is excited to be the Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) Coordinator and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world with Anchorage youth.