Making a Difference for Her Community

Karlene Manuel Blog

For Karlene Manuel, work has not been just a job – it’s been a way to make a difference.

Karlene spent more than a decade working in a variety of roles for the Tanana Chiefs Conference, including eight years providing education and awareness about health-related topics. With a focus on disease prevention, health promotion and tobacco cessation programs, Karlene’s efforts provided important information to countless individuals through the years.

Collaborating to Help Others

“I feel like in a community, no matter how big or small, it’s important to come together and to collaborate. That's the only way that you can make a difference around you,” she says. “So one of the things that I love about wherever I work is I get to bring people together and rally them and help them to just have a better environment.”

In 2021 Karlene was looking to make a career change and joined Alaska Housing as an asset technician in Fairbanks. Though she didn’t have housing experience, she was seeking an opportunity to continue helping others in her community.

“I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I wanted something that was positive, where I could still make a change but stay right here in Fairbanks.”

– Karlene Manuel, Asset Technician, Alaska Housing

Sharing Access to Resources

She has been doing just that in her role with Alaska Housing. As someone who spent part of her career delivering education to the communities she served, Karlene enjoys providing insights into available AHFC opportunities. That includes awareness about how public housing can assist individuals on a path to financial independence.

“I want to make them feel comfortable with their choice to utilize public housing and really emphasize the stepping stones that they can have toward ultimately owning their own home and the steps of how they can get there,” she says. “I want them to feel proud that that’s what they’re working toward. There are so many things tenants can tap into that’ll help them along their path to bettering themselves and ultimately owning their own home.”

Finding Alaska Housing resources and using them to help improve quality of life is something Karlene understands intimately: She has more than $100,000 in grant money invested in her home, including down payment and closing cost assistance, and weatherization funds that provided a new roof, wiring and windows for her home.

“I know the process. I have an experience with seeking resources and utilizing what’s available out there. So I really feel like using those resources can help you better your life, provide for your kids and just make a difference for yourself.”

Advocating for the Community

For Karlene, making a difference is at the heart of what she does. She continues to endorse healthcare awareness, particularly for cancer prevention and early detection in Alaska Native populations. And she is a steadfast advocate for public housing residents in Fairbanks who are looking for an opportunity to improve their situations.

“I feel like breaking down stigmas in any group, in any community, is super important,” she says. “It makes you feel proud of where you’re at and what you’re doing.”

Want to join an inspiring team making a difference in people’s lives? AHFC is the right place for you. See our available jobs and come join our team.