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 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.
The Honorable Robert Mrazek, Chair Emeritus was the founding Board Chair of Alaska Wilderness League in 1993. While serving in Congress, Mrazek authored the landmark Tongass Timber Reform Act which protected 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of old-growth forest in southeast Alaska, revoked artificially high timber cutting targets and created broad buffers for all salmon and resident fishing streams. Mrazek was also the lead sponsor of legislation that sought to permanently protect the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness. He served in the United States House of Representatives representing New York’s 3rd congressional district on Long Island from 1983 until he retired in 1993.
Betsy Loyless, President of the Board, 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 more than a decade prior to joining National Audubon. She resides in Bethesda, Maryland.
Pat Pourchot, Vice President of the Board, lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Worked for over 45 years in Alaska including serving as a senator and representative in the Alaska State Legislature, Commissioner of the Alaska State Department of Natural Resources, Land Manager for the Alaska Federation of Natives, Senior Policy Representative with Audubon Alaska, and most recently, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for Alaska Affairs under the Obama administration.
Ellen Ferguson, Secretary, 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.
Gareth Martins, Treasurer, recently moved to Boulder, CO from the small town of Dolores, CO in the southwest corner of the state. An outdoor industry professional for 16 years, he now works at the Outdoor Industry Association. He is dedicated to conservation, with past board service for Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and Conservation Colorado, and as an organizer for the Dolores River Festival which celebrates the river and efforts to protect it. As marketing director for Osprey Packs, he was instrumental in establishing the company’s giving program recognizing the importance of supporting organizations like Alaska Wilderness League in the effort to protect North America’s last great wild places.
Midy Aponte is a senior vice president at Spitfire Strategies, where her portfolio centers on a wide range of public interest issues. Prior to joining Spitfire, Midy served as the founding executive director of the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation, where she collaborated with the Obama administration, the Department of Interior and the National Park Service on several initiatives aimed at preserving American Latino history. She serves on several nonprofit boards including the Alaska Wilderness League and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado. She is also a member of the GreenLatinos Network and the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers’ Bureau. Midy was born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City to Cuban immigrants and was raised in Miami. She relocated to Denver in 2014 after a decade in Washington, D.C.
Toni Armstrong is a scientist currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. She fell in love with Alaska on her first trip to the state in 1983, and has been an advocate for Alaska’s wild places ever since. Toni has had the opportunity to canoe or kayak in several areas of Alaska including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rivers on the south slope of the Brooks Range, Teshekpuk Lake, the Utukok River, Wood Tikchik State Park, Katmai, Icy Bay, Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords. When she is not traveling in Alaska, you will find her paddling Ozark streams in her canoe. She is active in the local Sierra Club group as trip leader and activist.
Steve Barker, along wife his wife Nona, founded Eagle Creek Travel Gear in 1975. Under Steve’s leadership, Eagle Creek became the first US brand to exclusively focus on outfitting Adventure Travel and grew from its humble beginnings to become a globally respected brand. Steve stepped down as President of Eagle Creek in 2010 after selling Eagle Creek to VF Corporation and formed Wild Places, a consulting practice focused on entrepreneur mentoring, strategic planning and saving wild places.Steve joined the board of the Alaska Wilderness League in 2010. Steve is an active supporter of the Outdoor Industry where he served as Chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association, interim Executive Director in 2015 and today serves on the Recreation Advisory Committee. Steve also serves on the board of The Outdoor Foundation, whose mission is to increase long term Outdoor Recreation participation through inspiring the love of nature in future generations. Steve is also board Chair of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, a travel industry group that funds local projects engaged in conservation of unique natural and cultural resources of adventure travel destinations. The Barker’s split their time between Elfin Forest in North San Diego County and Bishop in the Eastern Sierra.
Kit DesLauriers is a ski mountaineer and the first person in the world to have skied off the top of the 7 Summits, the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. She completed this lofty goal with her October 18, 2006 ski descent from Mount Everest. Beyond the 7 Summits, Kit has made several first ski descents of the highest peaks in the Brooks Range of Alaska and counts the experience of skiing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s pristine landscape as among the favorites in her lifetime. In 2015 Kit was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for her merging of science and adventure in the US Arctic. Kit holds two consecutive World Freeskiing Women’s Champion titles and her ski expeditions have also included notable descents on big mountains in New Zealand, Bolivia, the Alps as well as Siberia where she met her husband Rob DesLauriers, himself a former professional skier. Since the year 2000, Kit and Rob have been living in the Teton Range of Wyoming and are now raising their daughters to appreciate adventure and the natural world.
Chris Hill was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, and earned her B.A. in broadcast communications and electronic media from Appalachian State University and a J.D. from Vermont Law School. With deep roots as a community organizer and environmental policy advocate, she currently serves as the Associate Campaign Director for the Lands, Water, Wildlife Campaign at the Sierra Club. Prior to this role, Chris spent many years as a state and federal environmental lobbyist as Sierra Club’s Deputy Legislative Director and Environmental Working Group’s Director of Government Affairs. She was also the Director of Government Relations and Communications for the Maryland Energy Administration in the administration of Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. She currently splits her time between Washington, D.C., and Haines, Alaska, where her partner lives.
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, and "On Arctic Ground" provides an in-depth look at the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. As an educator and children’s book author, Ms. Miller travels extensively to schools throughout Alaska and the United States. She is a founding member of Alaska Wilderness League.
Lorraine Netro was born and raised in Old Crow, Yukon, Canada. She was taught the traditional values of the Vuntut Gwitchin by her late mother, Mary Netro. Lorraine has served on a number of boards including the Porcupine Caribou Management Board and the Gwich'in Council International. Lorraine has been committed in protection efforts of the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd since 1999 to present. She is passionate about making a difference in social justice and has travelled to national and international events as a voice for change. Currently, she is the Vice President of Yukon Aboriginal Women's Council and Co-Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Women's Council. Lorraine works as a consultant and events coordinator through her business, Destiny Management Consulting.
Brian O'Donnell has been a leading land and wildlife conservationist for more than two decades. Brian recently led the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF) where he launched a campaign that protected millions of acres of land as National Monuments. Prior to joining CLF, Brian was the National Public Lands Director for Trout Unlimited (TU). In that capacity, he led TU’s efforts to safeguard National Forest Roadless Areas, permanently protecting more than a million acres in the Wyoming Range and Oregon’s Copper-Salmon Wilderness. Brian also worked for The Wilderness Society where he led campaigns resulting in the congressional designation of the Black Rock Desert and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas and dozens of new legislated Wilderness areas throughout Nevada. In the early-mid 1990s, Brian served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League. Brian is currently consulting with the Frankfurt Zoological Society – US on international land and wildlife conservation. Brian earned a B.A. in Economics from Rollins College in 1993. He lives in Durango, Colorado with his wife Melyssa, daughter Kara and dog Oso.
Richard Spener first visited Alaska 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 is a Sierra Club trip leader and instructor in canoeing and kayaking.
David Weinstein is a Conservation Finance Director for The Trust for Public Land. He advises local and state governments throughout the Western United States on how to design, pass, and implement legislative initiatives and electoral measures that create funding for land and water conservation. A Wyss Foundation Fellow and Colorado native, David has been involved in Western conservation politics for more than seven years, including positions with U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s Office, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s first gubernatorial campaign, and Outdoor Industry Association’s Outreach and Advocacy Manager and OIAPAC Treasurer. He recently rotated off the National Parks Conservation Association’s Next Generation Advisory Council, and has volunteered in the past with the Montana Wilderness Association, and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. David lives in Bozeman, MT and is an avid back-country skier, mountain biker, hunter, angler, backpacker and packrafter.