Bess Clark

Executive Director

Bess has been a part of the Community Connections team as the Executive Director since 1999. Originally from Wisconsin, Bess has lived in Southeast Alaska since 1979 living on Prince of Wales Island and in Ketchikan. She came to Community Connections with a background in program development with the UAS Health and Human Program and worked for State of Alaska Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services providing quality assurance sites. She received her MBA and is a certified Special Education Teacher. Bess believes in promoting healthy communities that all people may meet life goals for learning, earning, belonging and having valued roles. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and fishing with her family.

Maxwell Mercer

Deputy Director

Maxwell has a long history of providing strong leadership at Community Connections. He worked as the Developmental Disabilities Program Director for 11 years. During that time he was involved in the development of much of the framework and building blocks of the agency that still stand strong today, such as the core values, current mission, systems of billing, core training and assurance of quality services. He provided interim leadership to our Children’s Mental Health program during the 2013-2015 time frame, which allowed him to stay connected to the organization and observe its growth and adaption to the challenges it has and continues to face. In the last eight years Maxwell has provided professional consulting services to local non-profit organizations, tribes, municipalities, and others at the operational, executive, and board levels. He has a great track record as an effective grant writer. Max is committed to living in Ketchikan for many years to come.

Jesse Yarbrough

Finance Director

Jesse began her accounting career in Houston, Texas working for a large department store chain. While she was able to utilize her degree in a wide variety of accounting roles, she decided to move to a small video production company to experience a hands-on controller position. Invaluable experiences were gained at both companies, but she struck out on her own and moved to Colorado with an accounting software company she co-owned. Eventually Jesse began working at the local hospital/veteran’s nursing home and was elected to the town board, choosing both paths because she wanted work that made a positive difference in people’s lives. When the opportunity arose in 2015 at Community Connections, with its wonderful mission and contribution to the betterment of people’s lives, it was exactly the kind of transition she wanted to pursue. Jesse loves living in Alaska and working at the agency.

Brynn Bolling

Early Learning Program Director (ELP)

Brynn Bolling was born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska. She attended Gonzaga University and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Special Education.  Brynn taught 9 years for the Ketchikan School District, teaching in a resource room and then the special needs preschool.  After going to work for Community Connections in 2001 she earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development Special Education.  Brynn lives on Prince of Wales Island (POW) and has served the Early Learning families on POW for the last 15 years.  She continues to serve families as a special educator and family service coordinator while also heading up the Early Learning Program for all of Community Connections; this includes Ketchikan, Prince of Wales and Metlakatla.  In her off-work hours Brynn enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and training for sprint triathlons.

Tandra Thompson

Children's Mental Health Program Director (CMH)

Tandra recently joined the Community Connections team in summer of 2021. Tandra has been fortunate to work closely with children and families for over 20 years in respite care, wilderness therapy, early education, special education, and as a parent educator. In Alaska, Tandra has worked as a foster parent, teacher, child care manager, social services coordinator, and has provided training all over the state in early intervention and child care programming. Tandra’s undergraduate and graduate studies focused on best practices for promoting child, family and community health. Tandra believes everything she has done in her life has brought her here to Community Connections. She has a strong commitment to human development, family systems, school success, training and program design. Tandra has lived in Ketchikan since 2009 with her family and she looks forward to serving and supporting the communities of Ketchikan and Prince of Wales for many years to come.

Tyler McNeil

Senior & Disability Services Program Director (SDS)

Tyler has been with Community Connections since moving back to Ketchikan in the summer of 2015. After graduating from Kayhi, he moved to Idaho and began working as a direct service provider and has worked in social services ever since. In his professional career, Tyler has primarily provided services to individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), however he has also worked with adolescents in residential treatment and still currently works with adolescents through regular volunteer work in the community. Prior to moving back to Ketchikan, Tyler spent several years overseeing group homes for adults with IDD outside of Seattle. Much of his time with Community Connections was spent overseeing services at Opportunity House and more recently he has worked as the Disability Services Manager for Ketchikan. In April of 2022, after completion of his BA in Human Services, he transitioned to his current role as the SDS Program director. Tyler believes strongly in the Mission of Community Connections and deeply values Person-Centered and Customer-Directed services. Outside of work, Tyler enjoys spending time in nature with his wife and two daughters.