Marc Berejka. Marc is the REI Co-Op’s director of community and government affairs. He and his colleagues advocate for public policies that support the outdoors, and they guide the Co-Op’s support for hundreds of nonprofits across the country. He’s of the generation that clambered around the back of a 2-ton station wagon, while his parents drove from campground to campground, and has never lost sight of how meaningful those experiences are.
John Binkley. Born and raised in Fairbanks, John is a third-generation Alaskan whose grandfather arrived in the territory during the 1898 Gold Rush as a riverboat pilot. In 1950, John’s parents started a small tour business in Interior Alaska, hosting visitors aboard the Riverboat Discovery. John served as chairman and CEO of the Riverboat Discovery for 14 years and as president of the El Dorado Gold Mine for 12 years. He represented the Bethel region in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1985 to 1986. John ran for the Alaska State Senate in 1986 and represented District M until 1990. John has an extensive record of civic service, including serving as chairman of the Alaska Railroad Corporation from 1997 to 2011. He serves on many other corporate and nonprofit boards and has been president of CLIA Alaska since 2007.
Natalie Dawson. Natalie Dawson is the Executive Director of Audubon Alaska. Before joining Audubon Alaska’s staff earlier this year, Natalie was the director of the Wilderness Institute and a professor of Wilderness Studies at the University of Montana (UM). As part of her roles, she directed the International Seminar in Protected Area Management with the US Forest Service (USFS), led international programs for undergraduate students in natural resource management, and directed the Wilderness and Civilization program, one of the longest running environmental education programs in the U.S. Before her tenure at UM, Natalie was a research biologist with the US Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, a wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and USFS in Alaska, and a public policy fellow with the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Mandy DeCroo. Mandy is the BLM Alaska State Recreation Lead (3 months into a 4 month temporary detail). She’s a non-resident Alaskan but pretty sure she lived here in a previous life! Mandy hails from Burns, OR, a small community in the eastern part of the state. She is an Assistant Field Manager for Recreation and Lands and Realty at the Burns District BLM and a core-committee member on Adventure Harney; a cooperation of Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Oregon State Parks and Harney County Chamber members aiming to enhance and promote outdoor adventure opportunities in Harney County.
Camille Ferguson. Camille L. Ferguson is the Economic Development Director for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Previously, she served as Executive Director of American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) for more than six years. Under her direction, AIANTA expanded its international marketing and outreach program and also grew its training programs; improved its public outreach program, broadened its public lands partnership program and was instrumental in gaining support for the passage of the NATIVE Act along with the advocacy needed to support the appropriation to implement the unfunded mandate. Her work as executive director for AIANTA was completed with the signing of the MOU with the Department of Interior and securing a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Camille was recently elected to the U.S. Travel Association’s Board of Directors, only the second-ever Native American to serve on that board. During her term, she plans to augment her work with elected officials in advocating for the importance of including tribal tourism in the national tourism message.
Ricky Gease. Director Alaska State Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Ricky started his outdoor career with the U.S. Park Service in Kenai Fjords National Park in 1992, where he worked as a park ranger for six years. He managed the museum of the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center and was executive director of the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has led the Kenai River Sportfishing Association since 2004.
Scott Habberstad. Scott Habberstad is the Director of Sales & Community Marketing-Alaska for Alaska Airlines. Scott graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1989 and immediately went on to earn his multi-engine commercial land and sea ratings. In the summers he flew for Taquan Airlines and attended college in Idaho in the fall. After graduating with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing, Scott returned to Ketchikan intent on continuing his flying career but soon after, went to work for the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau as the Director of Marketing. Scott eventually went to work for Alaska Airlines starting as an account executive in 2001. Giving back to his community, Scott has served on such boards as the Resource Development Council, Visit Anchorage, Alaska Travel Industry Association, Providence Alaska Foundation, and Alaska & Alaska Air Carriers Association.
Richelle Johnson. Lead analyst at the Center for Economic Development part of the University of Alaska’s Business Enterprise Institute, Richelle did a lot of the heavy number crunching and info gathering for the state’s economic analysis of the outdoor recreation sector. She’ll be leading a deep dive into the numbers and how best to use them to tell your story.
Laurel Harkness. As the Executive Director of the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP), Laurel works to further their mission to promote, advance, and serve outdoor recreation professionals in research, planning, management, and policy development. Prior to joining SORP, Laurel was the California Region Director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), working to cultivate strong stewardship partnerships and policies to provide more trails access throughout the state. Before that, Laurel was the first Executive Director for Mt. Shasta Nordic and held the same role with winter backcountry advocacy organization, Snowlands Network.
Princess Johnson. Princess Daazhraii Johnson is Neets’aii Gwich’in and her family is from Arctic Village, Alaska. Princess is a Sundance Fellow for the Filmmakers, Producers and Screenwriters Lab, and an Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow with the PEN Center. She has been a member of the SAG-AFTRA Native American Committee since 2007 and also serves on the Board of Dancing with the Spirit, a program that promotes spiritual wellness through music. In 2015 she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of American Indian Arts.
James King. Former Alaska State Parks Director James King now serves as the US Forest Service Director of Recreation, Lands and Minerals for Region 10/Alaska.
Maeve Nevins Lavtar. A senior park planner and project manager for the Municipality of Anchorage, Maeve is responsible for managing the planning, design, and implementation of multifaceted and complex park and trail improvement projects. Though she is a huge fan of singletrack bike trails and has created some of Anchorage’s most exciting new trails, Maeve will be sharing her excitement about health and healing parks, a trend for urban outdoor spaces of the future.
Sarah Leonard. Sarah Leonard is the President & CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, the state’s leading membership trade association for the travel industry in Alaska. Sarah has an extensive educational and professional background in tourism management. She joined ATIA after serving in senior philanthropy positions for early education and conservation nonprofits in Alaska. Sarah has been involved in promoting Alaska’s wildlife, cultural and natural resources for over a decade through her time as the Statewide Watchable Wildlife Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and as the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association (AWRTA). She is also one of the founding leaders in Adventure Green Alaska, an Alaska-based certificate program designed to highlight environmentally friendly tourism practices.
Joe Meehan. Joe has enjoyed a lifelong career as a wildlife biologist. In addition to his current work as Special Areas Program Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Joe has been a National Park Service Ranger and a wildlife biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System.
Stephen Nofield. A veteran of numerous Alaska National Park Service units, Stephan Nofield is the National Lead for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
Andrew Pappas. Andrew is the state and local policy manager at Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the OIA Political Action Committee manager. Andrew aides in the development of offices of outdoor recreation in states across the country. Prior to joining OIA, Andrew worked in Washington, D.C., in the U.S. Senate and on a United States senate campaign in Colorado. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and international affairs from the University of Colorado. Andrew is a Colorado native who learned to appreciate the outdoors through adventures in his own back yard and across the west.
Mark Preiss. As director of the Zion National Park Foundation, Mark Preiss is also a member of the management team of Zion Natural History Association. He brings many years of practice and success in nonprofit, public-private partnership, with particular experience in building philanthropic support for some of America’s most beloved public lands. Prior to Zion, Mark was president of the Glacier Conservancy in Glacier National Park, were he pioneered the merger of the park’s friends group and its traditional cooperating association. As founding president of the Glacier Conservancy he navigated the successful merger of the park’s non-profit partners into one strong and viable organization, established a best practice partnership model, and increased grant funding to the park by 48 percent over three years. During his tenure as manager of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, one of the most non-traditional units of the National Park Service, Mark facilitated community and partner engagement essential to park preservation including establishing an historic preservation field school, a grants program for owners of historic properties and farmsteads listed on the National Register, managed agricultural easements on 1850’s Donation Land Claim farms, and facilitated a county/town collaborative design review program.
Diana Rhoades. Community Engagement Coordinator for Anchorage Parks Foundation, Diana has been a lifelong enthusiast of biking, hiking and advocating for parks and trails as a path to health and happiness. Her career has taken her to Capital Cities and City Halls from Juneau to DC and Anchorage to Tucson. She has worked on issues as diverse as downtown revitalization, active transportation, forest bathing, organic farming and wrestling a 58-pound King Salmon from the world-famous Kenai River.
Jodi Rodwell. Jodi is the Executive Director of the Denali Education Center. She first came to Denali in 1995 to work for a summer and has remained here ever since. She has a BS in geology from Montana State University and began her career at the Denali Education Center teaching about the Denali Fault Zone. She loves living in this wonderful community with her husband and daughter, who keeps her “old” parents young! In winter, she enjoys skiing on the dog mushing trails and playing pick-up hockey on a local pond.
Vera Starbard. Vera Marlene Starbard, T’set Kwei, was born in Craig, Alaska with an Alaska Native heritage – Tlingit (Raven moiety, Dog Salmon Clan, Devilfish House) and Dena’ina Athabascan. Vera completed a historical fiction book in 2010 with an Individual Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation, and has received numerous awards for writing and editing from the Public Relations Society of America, Alaska Professional Communicator’s Society, Alaska Press Club, and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Vera was selected for the Andrew W Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program in 2016. She is the first Alaskan, and first Alaska Native/American Indian resident in the history of the program. Vera’s first play, commissioned through the residency, “Devilfish” premieres at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau on Sept. 20, 2019, and in Anchorage Oct. 25.
Michele Stevens. A native of Talkeetna, and quintessential Alaska outdoorswoman, Michele is president of the Petersville Community Non-Profit Corp. She advocates statewide for snow machine access and the the Snowmobile Trail Grant Program that support snowmobile trail development and maintenance, as well as snowmobile safety and education programs that benefits snowmachiners, dog mushers, fat bikers and skiers.
Shawn Thelen. A one-man proof of the power of bicycling to transform communities, Shawn is a lifelong bike evangelist and owner of one-year-old North Shore Cyclery in Talkeetna. In addition to selling, renting and fixing bikes, Shawn is the pied piper of bike safety and fun for kids from tykes on trikes to young at heart e-bike riders. Pioneering heli-biking, Shawn will also share innovative dreams for more two-wheeled bike development.
Dale Wade. As Vice President of Marketing & Customer Service for Alaska Railroad Corporation, Dale is responsible for marketing, promotion, sales, pricing, product design and implementation of freight and passenger services for the Alaska Railroad. He is a 30-year veteran of the freight transportation industry, involved in all aspects of freight service logistics, sales and marketing.
This page will be updated as our remaining invited guests confirm.