Mr. Craig Fleener serves as the Deputy Advisor and Chief of Staff, Arctic Security Affairs, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, at the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. In addition to his duties at the Stevens Center, Craig serves in a traditional guardsman role with the Alaska Air National Guard.
Craig was born and raised in Alaska. He’s from Fort Yukon, a small town on the north bank of the Yukon River, 8-miles above the Arctic Circle in northeastern interior, Alaska near the Yukon, Canada border.
He has a 35-year military career where he began as an enlisted US Marine from 1986-1990. He transitioned to the Alaska Air National Guard in 1991 where he still serves today. He received his US Air Force commission in 2001 from the Academy of Military Sciences. He has served as a supply warehouseman, a .50 caliber machine gunner, a KC-135 air refueling aircraft crew chief, maintenance controller, and maintenance officer. Craig has participated in active deployed service in the U.S. Central Command region. He currently holds the rank of Lt Col serving in the Alaska Air National Guard as an intelligence officer with the 176 Airlift Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Most recently, he served on active duty for 16 months as the Chief of Staff and Arctic Cell Deputy to the Eleventh Air Force commander.
In his civilian career he served his community and tribe as a wildland fire fighter, wildlife biologist, climate researcher, and Director of a regional tribal non-profit providing healthcare, education, and natural resources management services. His duties include serving in elected office.
Craig was active as a Permanent Participant of the Arctic Council as a the International Co-chair of the Gwich’in Council International, one of the six internationally recognized Arctic indigenous groups. The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation in the Arctic. The Gwich’in Council International (GCI) is a non-profit organization that represents Gwich’in in Alaska, United States and the Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada.
Mr. Fleener has served for three different governors of Alaska as the Director of the Division of Subsistence, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, and as an appointed cabinet member responsible for Arctic Policy and Director of State and Federal Relations where he also served as third in line of succession for governor.
Craig has also worked in and has a passion for economic development with a focus on rural and tribal development, blue economy, and new opportunities for rural residents of the state. Recently he supported the advancement and construction of broadband throughout rural Alaska.
Craig joined the Ted Stevens Center as the Deputy Advisor for Arctic Security Affairs in January of 2022.