Celebrity Jury

Senator Mia Costello

Senator Mia Costello represents West Anchorage in the Alaska Legislature. First elected in 2010 to the State House, Mia served on the House Finance Committee for four years until being elected to the Senate in 2014. Mia currently serves as the Chair of the Labor and Commerce Committee, Co-Chair of the Joint Armed Services Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee and Transportation Budget Sub-Committee.

A lifelong Alaskan, Mia served as staff for two Alaska governors, legislative aide to State Representative Norman Rokeberg, Alaska Public Information Officer, and intern coordinator for U.S. Senator Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C.

She is a graduate of West Anchorage High School and Harvard University, earning a Masters of Arts in Teaching from UAS. A competitive swimmer in both high school and college, Mia was the first female Alaskan to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials in swimming, and the first Harvard woman to qualify for NCAA Division I swimming. Mia is also a licensed private pilot. She and her husband Andrew have two boys.

Mia’s legislative focus is on developing Alaska’s long-term economic future to provide the best possible opportunities for future generations of Alaskans.

 

Roy Agloinga

Roy Agloinga, Program Officer at Rasmuson Foundation, is the Co-author of the Qawiaraq Iġałuik Inupiat Dictionary and currently serves as board Secretary for the White Mountain Native Corporation.

He is a trustee for the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and former Alaska State Council of the Arts member. He has formerly served his region as a health corporation board member, Tribal Administrator, and Mayor of the City of White Mountain.

Along with consulting on non-profit business solutions, strategic planning, and fund development, his experience includes rural health administration, Inupiat language preservation, education, and government policy.

Mr. Agloinga has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and is a continuing language student of Inupiat, and Spanish.  He is a tribal member of the Native Village of White Mountain, and a shareholder for Golovin, White Mountain, and Bering Straits Native Corporations.

 

Pat Race

Born and raised in Alaska’s always sunny capital city, Pat Race is a successful filmmaker, illustrator and small business owner.

His work includes music videos, mini-documentaries, films, webcomics, and games, along with a bouquet of side projects like spearheading Juneau’s first comics-and-camping mini con, the Hello Alaska podcast, and running the AKleg Fantasy League. He operates the Alaska Robotics Gallery in downtown Juneau, selling art and comic books to the pop culturally enlightened of Southeast Alaska.

Race is on Alaska’s cutting edge of comedy, film, and politics. He’s well known (and feared) in the halls of the Alaska State Capitol as one of the foremost producers of political satire for the Last Frontier.

Race currently serves on the Alaska State Council for the Arts.

 

First Lady Donna Walker

Donna Walker was born in Anniston, Alabama and moved with her family to Kailua, Hawaii when she was twelve. She received her Bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, and headed north to Alaska in 1976, where she worked as the recreation director for the Glennallen construction camp during the assembly of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.

She met and married Bill Walker when she moved to Valdez to become the City’s first Director of Parks and Recreation, and later the Community Relations Director for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

Bill and Donna attended University of Puget Sound Law School together, graduating in 1983. Donna practiced primarily municipal law for the next 30 years, while raising the four Walker children. She also took a year away from law to work as a caseworker for the Office of Children’s Services.

As First Lady, Donna serves as the Honorary Chair of the Alaska Children’s Trust and assists other organizations in improving the health, safety and well-being of Alaska’s families. She is also initiating efforts to strengthen unity in Alaska’s culturally diverse communities. Her interests include family dinners, ski trips, and time at the lake  — as well as being grandmother to the Walker’s four grandchildren.

 

Phillip Blanchett

Phillip Blanchett is an award-winning artist and entrepreneur. In 1995, he co-founded the group Pamyua, which performs worldwide showcasing Inuit culture through music and dance. Philip  works primarily in cultural arts and is currently working on a Rasmussen Foundation fellowship awarded spring 2016.

Together with his wife Lauren Blanchett, Phillip launched Tiny Ptarmigan, an Anchorage baby boutique and kid’s clothing store.

Phillip teaches Alaska Native games to children and competes annually at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. Over the years he has produced media projects for radio, film and television. Phillip was raised in Bethel, Alaska and now lives in Anchorage.

His work helps connect people through a unifying message of shared identity.


Ray Troll

Ray Troll moved to Alaska in the early 80’s with a couple of art degrees in his back pocket and a life-long interest in natural history. He settled in the rain-swept, coastal town of Ketchikan and began producing offbeat fish-filled T-shirts that soon gained him an audience with cannery workers, anglers, commercial fishers and scientists. His art has toured in exhibitions at major museums across the United States and overseas.

Ray has co-authored and illustrated 9 books including the popular “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway,” a fun-filled romp through the American West with paleontologist Kirk Johnson. Ray also wrote and illustrated a unique alphabetical children’s book of living and prehistoric sharks called “Sharkabet.” In 2011 he and Kirk Johnson were awarded Guggenheim fellowships to support their collaborative work on a forthcoming book entitled “Cruisin’ the Eternal Coastline: the Best of the Fossil West from Baja to Barrow.”

He is also an avid musician, playing and recording music with his science-and-fish-centric rock band, the Ratfish Wranglers.

 

Aliy Zirkle

Aliy Zirkle is one of the pre-eminent dog mushers and kennel owners of modern Alaska. Born in New Hampshire, spending much of her childhood in Puerto Rico and St. Louis, Missouri, Aliy made her way north to Alaska at 20. Living in Bettles, with no roads in or out of town, the only way out was plane, snowmachine, or dog team. So Aliy adopted six sled dogs: Skunk, Jack, Woody, Roller, Cedar and Flood.

Aliy got hooked. Since that first winter exploring the Arctic with her small team, she’s opened the SP Kennel and built a storied career spanning many of Alaska’s great sled dog races.

In the year 2000, Aliy won the Yukon Quest — “The World’s Toughest Sled Dog Race.” Following that win, she switched her focus to the Iditarod, completing “The Last Great Race” seventeen consecutive years. Her best finish in the Iditarod is 2nd place — three years in a row (2012,2013 and 2014). She has been awarded numerous titles. Her most treasured awards are: the Yukon Quest’s “Spirit of the North Award” (1999) and the Iditarod’s “Vet Care Award” for supreme care of her dogs (2005, 2011 and again in 2016).

Every year since 1998, Aliy has raced either the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race or the Iditarod. She has reached the finish line every time.

 

Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins

Born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins represents Sitka, Petersburg, and 20 other rural Southeast Alaska communities in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Jonathan left Yale to run for the legislature against a four-term incumbent. He is serving his third term and chairing the State Affairs Committee. At 28 years old, Jonathan is the Alaska Legislature’s youngest member.

Outside politics, Jonathan has started several programs that bring young people and energy into Sitka. Together, these programs have brought over 200 people to volunteer, work, or live in Sitka, and have led the Yale Office of Career Strategy to identify Sitka as the number one worldwide destination for Yale undergrads seeking OCS summer opportunities, exceeding placements in cities such as London and San Francisco.

Jonathan plays cello and double bass, and has twice toured through rural Alaska with a piano trio sponsored by a performing arts grant from the Rasmuson Foundation.