Board of Directors
Former President Jimmy Carter is one of the true heroes of Alaska’s environment. In 1980, he signed the historic Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in which protected millions of acres in Alaska as wilderness and expanded the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is a testament to his continued commitment to protecting the Arctic Refuge that President Carter has agreed to serve as the Honorary Chairman of the Alaska Wilderness League Board.
Andy Schlickman, the Chairman of our Board, has practiced law in Chicago for over thirty years. He has traveled extensively in Alaska, kayaking, hiking, fishing and rafting in the Arctic Refuge, Alaskan Range, Wrangell-St. Elias, Tongass Forest, Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound and Kenai Peninsula. Andy has a long-standing interest in protecting wild lands in Alaska and other locations, and in his law practice has represented organizations devoted to the protection of open lands.
Kai Anderson, Vice Chairman of our Board, works at Cassidy & Associates, a Washington, DC a government relations firm. He served for nearly six years in the office of now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a variety of capacities, and spent much of his time focused on environmental issues. Kai also served as a Congressional Science Fellow for Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). Before entering the public sector, he worked in numerous teaching and research posts while earning his B.S. in Geology and his Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences, both from Stanford University. Kai is a member of the Geological Society of America, American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the American Geophysical Union, and is the recipient of numerous academic and teaching honors.
Richard Spener’s (Treasurer) first trip to Alaska was in 1987 where he and his wife, Toni Armstrong, sea kayaked in Glacier Bay. Since then they have paddled and hiked in Alaska a total of 12 times, including five unguided trips to the Arctic Refuge. As advocates and avid photographers they have been active supporting candidates that are favorable to Alaska issues. Richard owns a manufacturers food service equipment representative firm he started in 1971. He serves on the advisory board of the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at the University of Missouri in Columbia and as a Sierra Club trip leader and instructor in canoeing and kayaking.
Toni Armstrong, Secretary, is passionate about the outdoors, hiking everywhere and at every opportunity. She has been to Alaska over 15 times and in 1993 won an award from the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club for work leading and organizing outings. Toni is an inventor for Monsanto and resides in St Louis, Missouri.
Steve Barker is the president and founder of Eagle Creek. His vision was born in the San Jacinto Mountains of California where he and his wife Nona first sold outdoor equipment and sewed custom packs. For the past 35 years, Steve has led Eagle Creek, taking the company from humble beginnings to a globally respected travel brand. Steve has been intimately involved in all aspects of the business since the beginning. The Barkers are longtime volunteer firefighters with the Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove Fire Department where Steve serves as Battalion Chief. Steve is a founding board member of The Escondido Creek Conservancy. In their spare time, the Barkers are world travelers, active hikers, sea kayakers, backcountry skiers and raise trekking llamas.
Tim Bristol is the Alaska Program Director of Trout Unlimited, and is based at TU’s main Alaska office in Juneau. Prior to joining TU in June 2005, Bristol served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Coalition, worked as a grassroots organizer for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and as the Alaska Representative for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. When not working he can be found fishing the rivers and streams of the surrounding Tongass National Forest, playing hockey, or yelling at a television as he follows the failings of his beloved Buffalo Bills.
Tom Campion lives in Seattle, Washington, where he is founder and chairman of the retail chain, Zumiez, which sells surf and skateboard clothing and accessories. Tom has been involved with many environmental organizations and currently serves on the board of Conservation Northwest. Tom is also an avid outdoorsman and has visited the Arctic Refuge many times.
Ellen Ferguson is the Community Relations Director for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington. Ellen has served on a variety of civic and nonprofit boards and been involved in capital fundraising campaigns. She visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2004 and is a dedicated philanthropist in the Pacific Northwest.
John Gilroy is the program director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group. For the past 18 years he has worked on wilderness and forest protection issues with Pew and several other national and regional campaigns that he helped develop. In 1993 John spent the year at the Rockefeller Family Fund; and from 1988 until 1992 he was the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (JD) and New York University (BA). He also serves on the boards of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and Public Interest Projects.
Kristen Grimm is the founder and president of Spitfire Strategies, one of the country’s leading public relations firms dedicated to working exclusively with nonprofits and foundations to create positive social change. Clients of the firm include: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Brookings Institution, Surdna Foundation, and Community Catalyst. She has developed numerous resources for the field including the Smart Chart 3.0, Discovering the Activation Point, the Just Enough Planning Guide and Big Ideas to Big Change.
Prior to launching Spitfire, Kristen worked as a fellow at the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF). Before her fellowship, she was the president and chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, where she wrote NOW HEAR THIS: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications.
Kristen has a B.A. from Smith College. In addition to serving on the board of Alaska Wilderness League, she serves on the boards of Grist magazine and the National Academy for State Health Policy.
Betsy Loyless was the Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the National Audubon Society until 2010. She served as Political Director for the League of Conservation Voters in Washington, DC for over a decade prior to joining National Audubon. She resides in Bethesda, Maryland.
Debbie S. Miller is an author and teacher who has lived in Alaska for more than three decades. She has written many books and essays about Alaska’s wilderness, wildlife and indigenous people. Her first book, “Midnight Wilderness,” describes the wonders of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge based on 14 years of wilderness trips through the area. As an educator and children’s book author, Ms. Miller travels extensively to schools throughout Alaska and the U.S. She is a founding member of Alaska Wilderness League.
Shannon Huffman Polson lives and writes with her family in Seattle. Her passion for the Alaskan wilderness began as a native of Alaska through trips in the Chugach and Brooks Ranges and a summit of Mt. McKinley. She and her family spend several weeks each year at their cabin in Denali. Prior to her career as a writer, Shannon served for eight years in the Army as a attack aviation officer and pilot and several years in market development and management at Guidant and Microsoft Corporations. Shannon holds a BA from Duke University, an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and an MFA from Seattle Pacific University. Her memoir, North of Hope, about travels in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is due out in the spring of 2013.
Kay Wallis lives in Anchorage, Alaska. She is a Gwich’in elder and serves on the board of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. She is a former Alaska state legislator, who quietly and determinedly speaks for protecting the sacred Coastal Plain of the Refuge.