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/Atchak). 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 & Indigenous Operations Director. In these roles, she helps to build a strong team that supports FAI’s work to amplify the collective strength of our Native community. With 10+ years of experience with hosting dialogues, think tanks, strategic planning sessions, and community gatherings, Ayyu helps bring people together to identify 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 has served in board leadership roles for both Alaska Native Professional Association and Beyond Borders.