For over 45 years, Alaska Youth Advocates has been offering the chance for a healthier life to young people who have little or no family support, often have quit school, may suffer from abuse or addiction, and have no place to go but the streets.

In reflecting on our past, reviewing our values and looking to our future, the Alaska Youth and Parent Foundation also returned to our original name of Alaska Youth Advocates.

Key Dates

Alaska Youth Advocates, Inc (AYA) was originally founded by several lawyers concerned with the number of at risk and homeless youth in Alaska without necessary adult support. Articles of Incorporation were filed.

Alaska Youth Advocates changed its name to Alaska Youth & Parent Foundation (AYPF).

Executive Director, Sheila Gaddis, traveled to Southern California to visit several emergency shelters to aid in the development of shelters in Alaska.

Mrs. Gaddis sat on several State of Alaska Boards and Commissions to advocate for youth.  Legislation needed to be changed before shelters could be established because it was considered “harboring” to house youth anywhere other than in their own homes.

The first Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter in the state of Alaska was originally federally funded to another nonprofit, but shortly after, was transferred to AYPF and the Turnagain home was developed.

Three additional shelters and transitional living programs were developed to include the Endeavor House, Challenge/Apollo/Laurel and Nirvana.

The street outreach program was developed with federal funds.

The State of Alaska provided HIV/AIDS prevention funds. Funds were sustained until 2011 when Ryan White funding streams changed to focus on large urban areas of the United States.

AYPF became a United Way of Anchorage agency.

Electronic monitoring service was provided with a result of 98% positivity for accuracy. Program was recognized for best practice.

A Medicaid audit of residential care revealed difficulties. The AYPF Board felt they were unable to provide the services necessary for youth with the limited funding and voted to close shelters.

Mergers were explored with nonprofits which had similar mission, vision and values. Ultimately a merger was not decided on.

Interim Executive Director, V. Kay Lahdenpera, was hired to support in the executive transition with the retirement of Mrs.Gaddis as well as to update the Medicaid system.

Shelters and transitional living programs were closed leaving only the POWER Program.

Through Municipally of Anchorage funds, volunteer Executive Director, Ms. Lahdenpera returned to the board of directors and Heather Harris became Executive Director. POWER Program services expanded to include counseling, case management and food pantry.

AYPF celebrated 40 years of services to at risk and homeless youth. At this celebration AYPF returned to its original name of Alaska Youth Advocates and announced their affiliation with Anchorage Community Mental Health Services.

Alaska Youth Advocates continues to meet the needs of our at risk youth and grow into the organization necessary to fill gaps in services for at risk and transitional aged youth.

Alaska Youth Advocates merges with Anchorage Community Mental Health Services.

Alaska Youth Advocates changed its location from the Downtown Transit Center to the drop-in center at Covenant House.


Alaska Youth Advocates moved from the Covenant House Alaska to it’s forever home located at 704 W. 26th Ave.