About US

01. Mission Statement

The NW AHEC Program provides and supports educational activities and services with a focus on primary care in rural communities and those with less access to resources to recruit, train, and retain the workforce needed to create a healthy Alaska.

02. Vision Statement

The health workforce that Alaska needs is developed through collaborations and partnership.

03. About AHEC

NW AHEC is an academic and community-based organization which is proudly built upon partnership. Our goals center around implementing educational activities involving health professions to reinforce every part of the pathway between student and health professional.

This is done by developing programming which targets which supports students in their journey to careers and helping professionals hone their practice. In addition, NW AHEC works closely with state and local workforce investment boards to identify and address healthcare needs and shortages.


Vincent Villella

AHEC Director

Vincent Villella is the North West Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Director. NW AHEC is situated within NACTEC and works lockstep with them to achieve mutual health care career pipeline goals. AHEC’s mission is centered around assisting folk of all ages with their transition into the health care workforce.

Vincent is from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the home of Groundhog Day! For his first degree he has a dual major in education and biology; his master’s degree is in Social and Comparative Analysis of Education and Indigenous Studies. Vincent started as AHEC Director in 2020.

Fun Facts:

1. Taught in a village named Quinhagak in south west Alaska for two years.
2. Enjoys outdoor sports like rock climbing, XC skiing and mountaineering.
3. When indoors enjoys reading books, playing video games and spending time with his family.
4. His first job was as a cleaning boy in his father’s butcher shop.

Allies in Allied Health

Kira Apaachuaq Eckenweiler

Kira Apaachuaq Eckenweiler is the Suicide Prevention Outreach Coordinator for Norton Sound Health Corporation. Kira grew up in Unalakleet and received a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. As part of NSHC’s Suicide Prevention Program, Kira is excited to work with AHEC in their Spring Behavioral Health Camp to promote health and wellness among the youth.

Irvin Barnes

Irvin Barnes was raised in Nome, Alaska. Irvin has been employed at Norton Sound Health Corporation in the Administration department as the Tribal Training & Development Manager since December 2017. Some of Irvin’s duties include plan, direct, and coordinate training and development programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of employees and regional residents while promoting tribal member employment.

Molly Naaktgeboren

Molly Naaktgeboren is a teacher at the Northwestern Alaska Career and Technical Center. (NACTEC) located in Nome, Alaska. Through Northwest AHEC she became certified in QPR suicide prevention gatekeeper training. Molly provides training to students in Northwest Alaska.

Laura Davis Collins

Laura Davis Collins – Program Development Manager at UAF Northwest Campus in Nome. Laura helps to coordinate university courses through a variety of regional partnerships to support health education in the Bering Strait region. Course opportunities range from high school dual credit career exploration to direct training courses such as Nurse Aide Training. UAF Northwest Campus also hosts UAA School of Nursing’s Nome-based RN cohort.

Uaŋa Attasiaq

Uaŋa Attasiaq. Sitnasuaġmiuguruŋa. Uiga Jared “Tuuyuq” Miller. Paniŋa Holland “Avu” Miller. Ilisauri NACTEC-mi. Amber “Attasiaq” Otton. She is of the people of Nome. Her husband is Tuuyuq, their daughter is Avu. She is a teacher for NACTEC for six years now. She works with Vince on delivering American Red Cross training to students in the Bering Strait region.

About our partners


Iḷisaġvik College was founded to primarily serve the residents of the North Slope Borough, America’s largest and most northern municipality.

The intent of its founders was to provide an education based on the Iñupiaq cultural heritage.

The basis for all Iḷisaġvik’s educational programs is the rich foundation of a subsistence culture in harmony with the land and seas that give it sustenance.

AHEC in partnership with Iḷisaġvik runs an allied health / behavioral health camp where young folk in the region can get fun hands on experiences in health careers and earn college credits doing so!


In 2019 NW AHEC relocated to Nome AK to work in partnership with NACTEC. NACTEC in the regional Career and Technical Education (CTE) center for the Bering Straits region. NACTEC specializes in aviation, food service, heavy machinery, fisheries and health care workforce development. Due to Health care workforce development being the largest strand in the region it is a natural fit for NW AHEC.

Learn more about becoming a partner

Sharing makes our communities stronger and is a core value to AHEC. Sharing our efforts, resources and knowledge through partnership is critical to improving and developing both public health and health care career programs. If you are interested in becoming a partner, please reach out to the NW AHEC Director at 907-443-7568, vincent.villella@bssd.org

Land Acknowledgment

NW AHEC acknowledges the Alaska Native Nations upon whose ancestral lands we work and live.