UAFAA staff

Kate Ripley, ’11 MA

Alumni Relations Director/Executive Director of the UAF Alumni Association

Kate Ripley is a UAF alumna and lifelong Alaskan. She came to the university as Public Affairs Director of the University of Alaska System in November 2004. Prior to that, she had 15 years of professional experience in journalism, strategic communications, public relations and marketing. 

Kate serves as Alumni Relations Director within the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and as Executive Director of the UAF Alumni Association, a separate non-profit with a rich, 87-year history of collaborating with the university to connect alumni back to their alma mater. In her dual role, Ripley is responsible for alumni outreach, support and events and works closely with the association’s 12-member Board of Directors. With 30,000 alumni across the globe, UAF alums continue to have tremendous impact not only in Alaska, but also throughout the nation, the Arctic and the world. Kate is honored to help lead efforts to engage UAF alumni with “America’s Arctic University” and Alaska’s first university.

Kate was born and raised in Juneau and is an eighth-generation Alaskan of Russian and Aleut heritage. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Alaska Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists and Rotary Club of Fairbanks. She also serves on the City of Fairbanks’ Clay Street Cemetery Commission.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Montana and a Master of Arts in Northern Studies at UAF. She is married to UAF Journalism Professor Brian O’Donoghue and has three children: Rory, Robin and Rachel.

Bess Rounds

Membership Marketing Coordinator

Bess' family arrived in Alaska in1974 for an 18-month tour at Eielson Air Force Base, which turned into 38 years. After her husband Phil got out of the Air Force, he was hired at UAF’s Fire Department as a captain and was quickly promoted to the Battalion Chief position in 1985 until his retirement in 2008.

Bess owned a small business for 24 years. She also was a member of the North Pole Chamber of Commerce, managing the North Pole Visitors Center for three years. She was a superintendent at the Tanana Valley Fair for many years, and served the Fairbanks North Star Borough and State of Alaska Election Offices from 1975 until 2004. In 2000, Bess started a second career working for former University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton at the UA System for 11 years. She is presently a University Fire Service Commissioner. She is the proud grandparent of six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Bess enjoys supporting UAF alumni relations, UAF and its students. She is committed to serving the association and its members, as well as collaborating with the university to reach out to all alumni

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