Melanie Bahnke is a tribal member of the Native Village of Savoonga, was raised in rural Alaska and speaks both St. Lawrence Island Yupik and English fluently. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Rural Development from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a Bachelor of Education degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
Melanie serves as the President/CEO of Kawerak Inc., the regional non-profit consortium in the Bering Strait Region that provides services ranging from early childhood education to road construction activities in 16 distinct communities for 20 federally recgonized tribes. She also is a board member on the Alaska Children's Trust and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Melanie and her husband Kevin have three children together and they enjoy engaging in subsistence activities, four-wheeling, snowmachining, and boating on a regular basis.