Our Team

The Alaska Health Project South Sudan is made up of a dedicated group volunteers who are committed to helping the people of South Sudan and supporting the work Dr. Jill Seaman. This is a grass roots effort that is growing daily. Our team members include people from all walks of life and all over the country, but with one thing in common: A strong Alaskan can-do attitude to overcome diverse challenges to help our friends across the world.


“This work takes the kind of guts Alaskans are trained for. That’s what makes this an organization I want to support. It’s an Alaskan grassroots project with gutsy, ingenious, explorers and adventurers willing to work against the odds.”

Jon Waterhouse

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Staff

Board of Directors

Volunteers

Jack Hickel

President

Jack was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He is a board certified family physician and has a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He began his professional career in Africa as a medical missionary helping to run hospitals and bush clinics in Swaziland, where he worked for 16 years. He is currently working in Anchorage with the Alaska Native population.


Why I believe in the AHPSS Mission:

"The village of Old Fangak has been suffering and nearly forgotten by the rest of the world. But a group of Alaskans have not forgotten them. The lives of these impoverished and suffering people can at times seem bleak, even hopeless... but it isn't. AHPSS is delivering hope and health to Old Fangak and other desperate villages along the Nile River. We are helping to save countless lives by building a new health center, a tuberculosis clinic, providing clean water, and establishing small farms. People up and down the river say that "the Alaska Team really cares for us." The work we are doing will benefit thousands of lives for decades to come. 

 

The Lord has given me countless blessings, and to share those blessings... and God's love... with those less fortunate is an exciting privilege and challenge. The Lord, through AHPSS, is bringing hope, health and love to this otherwise forgotten corner of the world."

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Todd Hardesty

Executive Director

 

Todd became Executive Director of AHPSS in September 2018.  He was a former board member and volunteer.  Todd is also the owner of Alaska Video Postcards, Inc, an Anchorage based video production company.  Formerly a news reporter and News Director at KTUU, Todd spent the past 33 years producing Alaska subject documentaries and industrial films, and his work has won him an Emmy award.  Todd traveled with the group to Old Fangak in 2009 and a documentary about the Alaska Sudan Medical Project entitled “The Village, Life in South Sudan,” which was featured on National Geographic’s website.


Why I believe in the AHPSS Mission:

 

"I volunteered with AHPSS, at first, to help Jack Hickel and Jill Seaman.  The stories they told of the great need in Old Fangak and Southern Sudan struck a chord in my heart.  Having visited Old Fangak many times, I now am connected to the people.  I see them as my neighbors, just as if they lived around the corner.  They have reached out to us, not begging, but in thankfulness for what is being done for them by strangers from a place called Alaska.  It is a great gift to be able to extend a helping hand and to know that lives are being saved.  And I know that all the loving gifts of time and money are bringing the bright light of hope to a place where darkness has ruled for too long."

David Fenn

Vice President

David is an Improvement Advisor for Southcentral Foundation, where he works with senior leadership and management to develop and redesign systems and processes to improve the overall effectiveness of the organization.

 

David has been with AHPSS since the beginning, and he was instrumental in the start-up of the organization, strategic direction and implementation, and support for administration, logsitics, fundraising and operations.

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Robb Kulin

Director

Still calling Alaska home, Robb is a Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineer by trade, and has varied experience as a commercial fisherman, a SpaceX Engineer design and launch engineer, and even as a NASA Astronaut Candidate, Robb joined AHPSS in 2019 after meeting board member Rob Crotty, and immediately traveled to South Sudan to help drill the organization’s first borehole outside of Old Fangak. Robb has a strong interest in AHPSS’s mission to improve the health and opportunity throughout the rural regions surrounding Old Fangak, and improving the organizations ability to enable our local teams to grow and pass their water, agriculture, and health knowledge throughout the region.


Why I believe in the AHPSS Mission:

“AHPSS was exactly the team I had always been looking for - a group of people with varied backgrounds, who just want to help people for the sake of doing so, and nothing more. I was excited to join a team whose focus was not on the work they personally did, but on the skillsets and capabilities they trained locally so that their mission could continue long after they were gone.  I really value the amazing attitude, vision, and work ethic demonstrated by our local team in South Sudan, and feel lucky to be part of the AHPSS mission.”

Stephen Ayul

Old Fangak Manager

 

It was 2008, and Stephen was thinking of his future and how he could help his fellow countrymen in South Sudan. One night he had a vivid dream that called him to set out on the Nile River. Stephen literally followed his dream, and got on a boat going south from Malakal, unsure of his destination. He met a man on the boat who told him about Old Fangak, and he loaned Stephen money to come to the village. Stephen soon found work for a missionary group, the Comboni Brothers, and for the next nine months he learned carpentry and welding skills as he helped the Combonis do vital work in the village. Stephen did not ask for money, he just wanted the opportunity to learn. Stephen was soon introduced to AHPSS, who needed some welding projects done. He was a fast, reliable worker, and ASMP soon hired him as a local Project Manager.

 

Stephen is now the face of AHPSS in South Sudan, doing construction work, training apprentices, overseeing our Agriculture Program and managing village operations.

 

So what new dreams does Stephen have? He  would like to improve his English, learn more construction skills, and go back to school.

 

But what Stephen really wants is peace for his new country, so that his countrymen may “learn to work together so that they make the peace, not the war.”

 
Why I believe in the AHPSS Mission:

“I like this: ‘to build hope and heath for life.’ For my people in Fangak or in South Sudan, I will work hard to build hope and health for life. It is not easy, but I have committed to trying to help. It is my dream.”

Denny Weber

Volunteer Project Manager

Denny grew up in the Midwest and migrated to Alaska many years ago. He has vast experience with construction and maintenance, and normally spends the summer working at remote lodges doing this type of work. He has volunteered with AHPSS since 2010 and has taken the lead in the construction of our medical clinics, including the planning and design phases of the projects. His skills, leadership and commitment have been vital to the success of AHPSS's projects.

David Kapla

Volunteer Project Manager

David Kapla grew up in Michigan before migrating to Pennsylvania and graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1993. After an early professional career in Philadelphia, David’s life shifted to Alaska in 2005. Moving from the city to the bush, David spent the first four years in Alaska building remote log cabins. Five years ago David joined family members in starting EagleSong Family Peony Farm near Sleeping Lady mountain. 

 

He began going to South Sudan in the fall of 2009, and has volunteered every year since. With many years of on-the-ground experience in Old Fangak, David’s agriculture, remote construction and leadership skills have been vital to the success of AHPSS’s programs.

Josie Hickel

Volunteer Financial Advisor

Josie has over 20 years of experience in business administration and human resources. She is currently the Vice President of Human Resources and Administrative Services for the Pebble Partnership. Prior to joining the Pebble Partnership, Josie served for as Executive Vice President for The Wilson Agency, a financial services and employee benefits firm.  She is a certified Senior Professional Human Resources and Global Professional of Human Resources through the Society of Human Resource Management.

 

Josie is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, Anchorage Downtown Rotary, and the Alaska Miners Association.  Among the many organizations she has served is the Alaska Sudan Medical Project where she has been a volunteer, board member and advisor since 2007. Josie was inducted into the Athena Society in 2011 in recognition of her leadership in business and community. She was recently appointed by the Governor of Alaska to the State Personnel Board.   

Josie is a lifelong Alaskan originally from Seward, Alaska. She is of Aleut descent and is a shareholder of Chugach Alaska Corporation. She is married to Dr. Jack Hickel of Anchorage. 

Rob Crotty

Director

 

Mr. Crotty has 29 years of environmental, geosciences, horizontal construction, and remediation experience. His work includes remedial investigations, feasibility studies, technical analysis, project management, program management, and a variety of construction managerial assignments. His work is characterized by strong technical involvement in projects, strong client relationships, and an excellent safety record. Mr. Crotty, however, is most proud of his safety record. Not once has a first aid kit been opened or a bandage busted out for projects he has managed or been a team member. This has led to several awards from federal and industrial clients.

 

Rob has volunteered with ASMP since 2009 and has been instrumental in all aspects of the clean water program in Old Fangak.

Mark Melchert

Director/Treasurer

Mark Melchert is a lawyer and managing partner with Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, P.C. in Anchorage, Alaska. Mark's practice is focused in the areas of corporate and business law, business transactions, and real estate.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mark studied at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, worked with the Uganda Human Rights Activists in Kampala and lived for two years in Burkina Faso.


Why I believe in the ASMP Mission:

"I believe in the ASMP Mission because ASMP's people are dedicated to building basic infrastructure and creating local capacity in a critically underserved area of the world and to doing so with minimal administrative cost."

Jon A. Waterhouse

Director

Research Scientist and Professor

Jon Waterhouse is a Native American who was born in France, spending the majority of his formative years in Europe. His family moved back to the United States when Jon was 14. Jon is currently a Research Scientist and Professor at the University of Idaho. In the past Jon was the Executive of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, an Indigenous grassroots organization, consisting of 70 First Nations and Tribes dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Yukon River Watershed in Alaska.

 

During President Obama's administration Jon received a Presidential Appointment to JPAC/CEC to advise on the environment.

 

He is a National Geographic Explorer and a member of the Indigneous Leaders Council. From 1997-2000, Mr. Waterhouse served as City Councilman for the City of Cold Bay, Alaska. In 1995, Mr. Waterhouse retired from a twenty year career in the United States Navy as a decorated Chief Petty Officer

Jason D. Hahn

Director

A lifelong Alaskan who graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage, Jason worked for over ten years at a youth homeless shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. After volunteering in South Sudan with ASMP and becoming inspired by the mission.  Jason served as ASMP's Program Director from 2012-2014. During that time he oversaw all facets of the non profit's operations. He is now a Board Member.

 
Why I believe in the AHPSS Mission:

"I have travelled to over 40 countries, but never have I seen the conditions that were present in Old Fangak. When presented with something like this, I believe that we all have a moral obligation to help those who are vastly more unfortunate than ourselves. But what impacted me even more than the need in South Sudan was the genuine friendliness and gratitude of the people. Despite having very little, they are always quick to welcome, to smile, and to share. It is always an unforgettable experience to return to Old Fangak."

C. John Eng

Director

We are saddened to report the passing of our board member John Eng July 23, 2021. John was always willing to give advice and give a hand as we developed our plans and policies in South Sudan.  His help guided our work as we expanded our borehole drilling and completed the TB clilnic.

John was the owner and President of the Cornerstone Construction Company as well as the former President for the Anchorage "Downtown" Rotary Club.