New Education Program Manager’s Commitment to Mission is Deeply Rooted

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Caring for Indigenous people is deeply rooted in Heather Gurko’s core. It is a mission-driven passion includes a commitment to educate the wider community about the Native history, cultures and ecology of our shared landscape. Her new role is Confluence’s new Education Program Manager.

Heather’s Tlingit name is Shá xat k’ei and she is an enrolled Citizen of the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska from her mother’s side and Dutch on her father’s side. Over the past decade, Gurko has been active in the Alaska Native Brotherhood and served on the Beaverton School District Native American Parent Advisory Council. Her previous work in the Indigenous community includes positions at CareOregon and the Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA).

Heather is also currently the Executive Director of the Portland All Nations Canoe Family, where she coordinates the organization’s cross-generational community building, cultural strengthening, and also serves to deepen our connection to the environment.

In her new role, Heather will work with Columbia River Indigenous educators and artists through Confluence in the Classroom and Confluence Outdoors, programs that bring Native voices into schools. She will also coordinate Confluence’s professional development workshops for teachers. We are thrilled to welcome Heather to the Confluence team!

Photo by Elliot Fogarty