Kimberly Waller, second from left, at a WPLAK gathering in summer 2021. Photo courtesy Women’s Power League of Alaska.
Kimberly Waller grew up in Alaska and started her broadcast journalism career in the state. She left in her 20s and spent 16 years working in television and radio in New York City. When she returned to the north in her 40s, she felt that situations for women seemed to be the same, perhaps even worse in some cases. In recent years, Alaska has ranked as the state with the highest rate of rape and domestic homicide in the country.
In 2020, women in Alaska earned 80.9 percent of the median salary of their male counterparts. “I feel strongly that as a state we have to do better,” Waller says. In 2019, Waller took action. She founded the nonprofit Women’s Power League of Alaska, a nonpartisan organization that aims to empower women through mentorship, professional development, and community building.
For the mentorship program, WPLAK selects established female professionals from a diverse array of careers to serve as mentors. Then it invites women, at any stage of their career, to apply and request guidance from one of the available mentors. Over the course of the program women career plan and form professional networks.
Waller says at the core of the nonprofit is a mission to strengthen Alaska’s economy by empowering women. “When your state is doing well and your women are doing well, your economy is doing well,” she says. Though most of the women involved with the organization are in Southcentral, Waller says the nonprofit is working to expand across the state.