The Women of the Arctic Council series was initiated in honor of International Women's Day to introduce some of the extraordinary women leading Arctic Council work on various levels and to share their experiences and insights with women (men and other) across the Arctic and beyond.

This is a living series - new interviews will be added every year for International Women's Day. Some women might have moved on to new professional ventures since these interviews were conducted but their insights remain just as relevant today. Click on the names of our featured women to read the full interviews.

© Jessica Veldstra

Jessica Veldstra is the Executive Director of the Aleut International Association

"You just got to be willing to step out there and take the risk, there's lots of people behind you cheering for your success and a lot of mentors that are available to help on your journey."

© S. Cox

Sarah Cox, Director of Circumpolar Affairs, Northern Affairs Canada

"The world is your oyster. Don’t give up, stay curious and talk to as many people as you can on your journey."


Henna Haapala, Senior Ministerial Advister, Ministry of the Environment Finland

"Development and career advancement are best achieved when one follows one's own interests. Interest and enthusiasm in something are an important resource."

© O. Lassaline

Olivia Lassaline, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

"For any woman who's looking to get into policy or governance, my advice would be mentorship, mentorship, mentorship, and in all directions."


Nina Buvang Vaaja, Arctic Council Secretariat Director (2017-2021)

“My general advice for young women is to decide to just try it and see how it works out. I think you would be surprised many times how well it works.”

© C. Coon

Cathy Coon, at the intersection of marine science and policy making

"Science can offer an amazing career paths where you can meet people of all different cultures who rely on and better understand the importance of ocean diversity."

© D. Fernandes

Devlin Fernandes, Executive Director of Gwich’in Council International

"I am deepy inspired by women who take on leadership roles even though it exposes them to often unfair criticisms, invasions of privacy and compromises time with family."

© J. Ikävalko

Johanna Ikävalko, Director of the Arctic Centre and former polar biologist

"The fact that equality matters are traditionally quite good in the Nordic countries have allowed me to make rather untraditional turns during my career."

© L. Mack

Liza Mack, Former Executive Director, Aleut International Association

“Do what is right for you, your community and your people.”

© K. Nghiem

Kathy Nghiem, Vice-Chair of EPPR

"I think it’s important for women to advocate for themselves and each other."

© M. Rubin

Meredith Rubin, Former US Senior Arctic Official

"Give yourself opportunities, and do not underestimate your abilities or sell yourself short."

© J. Spence

Jennifer Spence, Former Executive Secretary of SDWG

"I think one of the greatest challenges for women is the invisibility of the bias, and that you can't undo what people can't see.”

© I.J. Wiese

Inger Johanne Wiese, Former ACAP Chair

“We know that we have not achieved enough, so we need to continue our long-term efforts and work as efficient and smart as possible."

© Stock

Who else should we feature?

Let us know: media@arctic-council.org