Rather than asking what Kayla Green does, a better question would be what doesn’t she do? The self-described “passionate Alaskan” sits on the State of Alaska Marital and Family Therapy Board and serves in leadership of the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP. She’s also a realtor, a business development consultant, and she founded and runs her own nonprofit organization helping people reenter the workforce.
“Joy, for me, is knowing that I’m creating an impact in my community and being fulfilled in my own personal mission,” Kayla said.
Kayla has been inspired to improve the lives of marginalized Alaskans ever since she was a child growing up in Eagle River, Alaska. As one of the only Black children in the neighborhood, she recalled difficult experiences like getting teased at the swimming pool because her hair curled when it got wet.
“I remember being embarrassed,” Kayla said. “I didn’t know anybody that was Black and I didn’t have allies or other friends that were Black to bolster me in those moments.”
So today, she is that ally and outspoken advocate helping to lift others. Her warm personality and inviting smile can be disarming, and her friendly nature makes her a natural convener —someone who can bring people together and create trust within others. But, to think Kayla is a pushover would be a mistake. She is known for speaking truth to power in any situation. For example, during her interview with Black in Alaska, a custodial worker felt the need to call the police on the creative team, which consists of two Black men. Even in that instance, Kayla kept calm and defended her and the team’s right to be on site and worked to clear up any misunderstanding. She will always push back against situations that aren’t right.
Kayla wants to push Alaska forward too, especially within the business community. As a consultant,she helps corporations to put their words into action when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
“They talk about it, they preach about it, they’re collecting donor money over it, but they’re not making any real changes and improvements,” Kayla said. “We’re still not seeing the progression necessary for corporations to be more diverse.”
Part of that work includes creating a sense of understanding within the entire Alaska community about the experiences of marginalized people. While it may not be the exact same as other communities in the country, Kayla knows Alaskans can treat their neighbors better. As for people within those marginalized communities, she said it’s most important that they feel a sense of confidence within themselves.
“Do whatever you want to do because there’s always going to be people that tell you that you can’t. There’s always going to be barriers,” Kayla said. “But if you have an idea, you have a dream, just go ahead and get it done. Know yourself. Know what you love. Know what you stand for. And just do it.”
Kayla’s life and work are testament to just how far that sense of confidence, knowledge and passion can take you.