Alaska National Parks Social Media Team
Meet the Team
Have you ever wondered who's behind the initials in parenthesis after each and every post we share? Meet our social media team and the people who bring Alaska National Parks to you.
John Quinley has been with the National Park Service since 1988, all in the regional office public affairs post in Anchorage, Alaska. That may suggest a certain inability to move up in the organization, but in fact John loves Alaska and working with all of its NPS areas. A former newspaper journalist (sadly, a job description that would fill a large sports arena these days), he spends many of his hours writing about national parks, talking with journalists, analyzing legislation, and working with the tourism industry. Outside the office, you'll find him on trails in Anchorage with skis or a bike or a dog, or -- far too infrequently -- heading off for a national park visit.
Judy Kesler, an anthropologist turned web manager, joined the Park Service nearly 16 years ago. Judy‘s work supports the parks in Alaska so they may bring our stories to you. Her goal is move the NPS closer to the idea that your experiences on our websites are second only to actually being there in person.When Judy is not exploring the National Parks in this country, she is riding her motorcycle, hiking, cycling, or anything that lends itself to the adventure outdoors. She enjoys learning a new hobby every year (this year it‘s photography) and is slowly working towards the goal of visiting every park service unit in the country. She is not quite half way there…
Stacia Backensto came to Alaska 12 years ago to work on her graduate degree at University of Alaska Fairbanks- Common Ravens on Alaska's North Slope. After chasing ravens around the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk oil fields for 4 years, she seized a professional opportunity with NPS to experience Alaska's "undeveloped" places and continue learning about arctic ecology in our northernmost national parks. As a wildlife biologist and outreach specialist for the Arctic Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (ARCN), she currently works on waterbird projects in Western Arctic Parklands and communicates science for ARCN to a wide-range of audiences. Outside of NPS, she enjoys zipping around on the trails riding her bike chasing Frida, her husky from Huslia.
Josh Spice came to Alaska to band & study gyrfalcons on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwest Alaska. Three years later he found himself in the Yukon River, surveying and boating past the peregrine falcon eyries, while working for Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. After boating, hiking, floating, mushing, flying, and working under the spell of the Yukon, he found an adventure base in Fairbanks, promoting recreation and enjoyment on all of Alaska's public lands for the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center (FAPLIC). The Yukon has never let go of its grasp, however, as Josh still works double-duty for the preserve and FAPLIC. In the office, Josh aims to put the power of adventure in your hands and help instill the desire to explore through his photography of Alaska's wild places and sharing how to enjoy your own wild adventures in The Last Frontier. When he's not in the office, good luck finding him adventuring somewhere in Alaska's over 300 million acres of public lands!
Valerie Gomez moved up to Alaska from New Orleans in 2009 in an attempt to escape the heat. She is now permanently bundled up in knitwear. She is new to the National Park Service and is an Architectural Historian with the Cultural Resources Team. Valerie hopes to share her love of historic preservation and educate folks on the rich and diverse cultural resources in Alaska through social media. When not at work, she enjoys exploring, photography, crafting and snuggling with her four fur balls (2 dogs and 2 cats).
Nina Chambers is new to the National Park Service, though she has spent her career working for the conservation of protected lands. Most recently, she was a science writer/editor for several NPS Inventory and Monitoring Networks in the Intermountain Region. Now she communicates science for the Alaska Regional Office and the Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Networks. Nina has a background in wildlife ecology, environmental communication, and a fascination with science. In her free time, Nina loves to explore beautiful places with her favorite companions, husband Stuart and Colter the dog.
Michael Downs works as park planner to help guide informed and insightful decision making for the future of the National Parks in Alaska. Mike brings experience from the Forest Service as a recreation manager, the BLM as an interpretive park ranger, and the US Fish and Wildlife as a fisheries bio-tech. His role on the social media team is to encourage public involvement in planning and NEPA, but he loves landscape pictures of parks on social media so keep a look out for those. When not working he enjoys traveling to National Parks around the country and doing junior ranger programs with his son.
Cecilia Walenza came to Alaska almost by accident while looking for a job that would allow her to interact with the public and share her love of science and nature with them. She discovered the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage and currently works there as an Ed Tech Ranger, teaching in some of the Title 1 schools during 21st Century Afterschool Programs. A many times former SCA, she loves working with her hands and hiking, and hopes that through the use of the internet, people can have greater access to knowledge of the public lands that reside in their backyards, and the natural wonders around them.