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.
Jonathan cares deeply for rural Alaska. Legislative focuses include growing Alaska’s fishing economy, sustainable rural economic development, growing Alaska’s knowledge economy, and celebrating and revitalizing Alaska Native culture and language. His 2014 legislation enshrining Alaska’s 20 Native languages as official languages of the State of Alaska attracted national attention. Jonathan was recognized by The Washington Post in 2014 as one of its "top 40 under 40" in American politics.
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 enjoys projects. Two of Jonathan’s active non-political include creating the Trans-Alaska Trail (aktrail.org), an 800-mile recreation gateway traversing Alaska from the Arctic Ocean to Pacific tidewater, and founding Outer Coast College (outercoast.org), a high intensity liberal arts college in Sitka, inspired by Deep Springs College in California.
In addition to his work, he enjoys endurance running and outdoor adventure, and has won or placed in various trail races and ultramarathons across Alaska and Lower 48. In 2011, Jonathan and his climbing partner posted a first ascent of El Muertito (19,639 feet) in the Argentine-Chilean Andes, then the highest unclimbed peak in the Western Hemisphere, as well as helping settle a debate over the altitude of the world’s tallest volcano Ojos del Salado (22,615 feet). Jonathan also 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.
Javier Botero is a film producer, writer, and software engineer. Javier co-produced the cyber warfare documentary Zero Days for director Alex Gibney, which was short-listed for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary. He has led software development and communications for several tech start-ups. He and Jonathan, with others, co-founded the Sitka Fellows Program in 2012. Javier studied philosophy at Yale.
Julie Zhu is an artist interested in mathematics, music, and performance. During her senior year at Yale, where she studied mathematics and art, she and classmate Jonathan began dreaming and putting together the people and resources to start Sitka Fellows. Julie was the facilitator of the Sitka Fellows’ inaugural class.
Julie then went to Belgium to study carillon performance and composition at the Royal Carillon School, worked in economic consulting in Chicago, and is now living in New York, attending Hunter College for her master’s in fine art, composing mathematically-based music, playing carillon as Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue’s appointed carillonneur, creating art installations and performances, and dreaming about making her own opera. For the past five summers, she has taught visual art at Sitka Fine Arts Camp and toured Europe and America playing carillon concerts.
Jennifer Wang has long been passionate about engaging in interdisciplinary collaboration – as is necessary to delve into complex societal challenges! Originally from Saskatoon, Canada, she has worked across a number of organizations and disciplines, including with the World Bank in the Africa Sustainability Network, the United Kingdom Behavioral Insights Team, and the Natural Resource Defense Council.
Jennifer is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), supported by two Stanford Fellowships. Her current work looks athuman attitudes and decision-making related to prosocial behaviors and common goods, particularly those in the environmental domain and at the intersection of business and the environment. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods and draws on multiple disciplines including organizational behavior, psychology, sociology, and communications. She has also collaborated with sociology colleagues to investigate socio-economic differences in teenage food choices.
In line with the spirit of bringing the Sitka Fellows Program to life, Jennifer has since started a number of groups at Stanford, including the Students Helping Interdisciplinary Networking and Education (SHINE) workshop series and ClimateWeek at the Graduate School of Business. She also co-founded and continues to lead the Stanford Environment Behavior (SEB) group. Prior to graduate school, Jennifer studied molecular & cellular biology at Yale. She has been awarded numerous awards for leadership, public speaking and debate, and innovation, including the Canadian Top 20 Under 20 award. In her spare time, Jennifer loves cartooning, running, cooking, and creating music – including with Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in a piano trio tour of rural Alaska generously sponsored by the Rasmuson Foundation.