Ayyu Qassataq (Iñupiaq) is from Uŋalaqłiq (Unalakleet) and is the daughter of Doug and Vernita Herdman and granddaughter of Stanton and Irene Katchatag. She is named for her great-grandmother Ayyu (Edna Eakon/Koutchak/Atchak of Taciq – St. Michael). Born and raised between Anchorage and Uŋalaqłiq, Ayyu grew up spending summers with her family in Uŋalaqłiq and upriver at camp in the Whaleback Mountains.
Ayyu joined First Alaskans Institute (FAI) in 2010, and currently serves as Vice President. She believes deeply in the power of our Ancestral knowledge and dedicates her life to advocating for our right to live the fullness of our ways of life in perpetuity.
With many years of convening community in dialogues, think tanks and strategic planning sessions, Ayyu is dedicated to centering our Native values throughout society, and has grown expertise in power-building + advancing self-determined, community-based solutions that advance healing, awareness, and advocacy around the issues that impact us.
Prior to FAI, Ayyu worked with Cook Inlet Tribal Council for nearly 10 years, most recently as the Institutional Advancement Officer focused on fundraising, strategic and sustainability planning. She earned a Master’s degree in Rural Development through University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a BA in Organizational Management with a Nonprofit Emphasis from Alaska Pacific University. Additionally, she earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Foraker Group and is an alumna of Leadership Anchorage. Ayyu currently serves on the Philanthropy Northwest Board and has served in board leadership roles for both Alaska Native Professional Association and Beyond Borders.