Desiré Shepler serves as the President and CEO of Alaska Family Services (AFS), a social service nonprofit that offers more than 20 programs in Alaska’s Mat-Su borough. AFS was founded in 1979 as an organization inspired by Alaska’s first State Conference on the Status of Women. Following the conference, a group of women in Alaska’s Mat-Su borough came together to create a safe house for women and children who experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.
Under her leadership, Alaska Family Services hosted the first community conversation on land acknowledgments in the Mat-Su. As a result of that conversation, AFS is developing welcome signs in multiple languages, including the two languages of its local tribes, for all of its buildings; opening all AFS meetings and events with land acknowledgments; and incorporating a land acknowledgment into its new policy and procedure manual.
Additionally, as a trained dialogue host for First Alaskans Institute’s Advancing Native Dialogues on Racial Equity (ANDORE), she is currently coordinating with her fellow Mat-Su ANDORE host and a local tribal leader to host an ANDORE Dialogue for AFS board and staff in April 2020.
She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage, a bachelor’s degree from the same school and an associate degree from Mat-Su College. Shepler lives in her hometown of Palmer, Alaska, with her partner and teenage daughter and has two sons who have grown up and left home. She’s always hoping someone will ask to see pictures of her three dogs.