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Staff Members

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Executive Director

Malinda Chase


Malinda is Deg Hit’an Athabascan and lives in Fairbanks, however, her home is Anvik, where she often visits. Her experience is in non-profit management, Native education, learning styles, language revitalization, climate change education, post-secondary distance education, editing, and youth programming. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Malinda serves on the board of directors for Deloy Ges, Inc., Anvik’s ANCSA village corporation, and works with the Association of Interior Native Educators (AINE) on educational initiatives that positively impact Alaska. When she has the chance Malinda loves cutting and preserving salmon, picnics, and being in a boat or kayak on any Alaskan river.

---- Malinda Chase

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Project Assistant
Office Manager

Admin. Assistant

Nicole James

Fort Yukon/Fairbanks

My name is Nicole James. I am Gwich'in Athabascan from Gwichyaa Zhee (Fort Yukon) but live in Fairbanks. My late maternal grandparents are Grafton Bergman (Skully James Sr.) and Margaret James. My late paternal grandparents are Stanley and Madeline Jonas. My parents are Denise James and John "Sonny" Jonas. I have seven children between 30- to 7-years-old; Teshia, Cheyenne, MacKenzie, Tristen, Kayne, Daisee, and Stacee!

In spring 2020, I received my Associate's Degree in Administrative Management. I plan on working towards a Bachelor's degree or an associate degree in Tribal Management/Alaska History with Gwich'in Language courses from UAF. I want to learn to speak my native language and pass it along to my children, or to anyone that wants to learn.

Since May 2016, I've been working for the Association of Interior Native Educators (AINE) as the Project Assistant, Office Manager, and Administrative Assistant. I have been learning quite a bit about different learning styles, how climate change is affecting our Way of Life, and many Native cultures and traditions through our AINE workshops, in-services, curriculum and partner projects and events. We are in the process now of completely an updated Birch Unit.

I am so grateful for the awesome opportunity to work with such amazing people! AINE Board of Directors, Malinda Chase, Maxine Dibert, IARC team - Elena Sparrow, Katie Spellman, and Christina Buffington, and NASA for the opportunity to learn and grow!

Mahsìì Chōō (Big Thank You)

---- Nicole James


Maxine Dibert


My name is Maxine Dibert, I am Koyukon Athabascan and was born and raised in Fairbanks. My grandparents were the late James and Cecelia Johnson from Kokrines, Alaska, and Einar and Katherine Anderson from Sweden and Rampart respectively. My parents are James Johnson from Kokrines and Clara Anderson from Rampart. I have two children, Christopher, who will be entering 8th grade at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks, and my daughter Chey, who is currently a Freshman studying and playing basketball for Wenatchee Valley Community College in Washington State.

I have taught school for 18 years, and I have just completed my 16th year of teaching at Denali Elementary in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. I have a special passion for teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) lessons in my classroom. I believe technology can be a powerful and exciting tool for teachers and students alike. When technology is used to connect and share ideas among learners across the state, nation, and the world, it is a wonderful addition to the teachers’ tool kits. In addition to my undergraduate degree and teaching credentials, I also earned a Masters degree in Curriculum Development from Lesley University in 2011. I am a contributing member of Women in Science Alaska. I have a great passion for learning and I am eager to instill the power and excitement of life-long learning in others. When I am not teaching, I enjoy running, skiing, hiking, gardening, and being active, especially in the Alaskan outdoors.

---- Maxine Dibert

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Fawn Jelinek


Fawn Jelinek is a lifelong Fairbanksan. Her grandparents were Ella and Elstun "Bud" Lauesen. Ella Lauesen was Ojibwe and was raised on the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin. Fawn's parents are Juanita and Orville "Sam" Helms. Fawn and her husband, Kevin Jelinek, have one daughter, Ella.

Fawn worked for the Alaska State Legislature in the late 1980s to mid 1990s. She was then a teacher trainer in the Peace Corps in Kiribati in the Central Pacific and taught in Quinhagak in Western Alaska. Upon returning home to Fairbanks, she worked for the Fairbanks school district providing professional development to teachers with linguistically diverse students in their classrooms, earned an MS in Educational Administration, and then worked for AINE providing professional development in learning styles and brain-based learning. Most recently, Fawn taught upper grades at Hunter Elementary for twelve years until she retired in 2022. 

---- Fawn Jelinek

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