Dr. Peter Winsor takes the helm as the League’s next executive director

On February 7, Alaska Wilderness League was pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Peter Winsor as its next executive director. And we’re happy to share that Peter is now officially on board and leading the team as we work to protect Alaska’s wild places.

Peter grew up on the west coast of Sweden and early on developed a love for nature and outdoor adventures. After completing his Ph.D. in Sweden on Arctic sea ice and oceanography, he moved to the U.S. in 2002 to work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) where he spearheaded Arctic research and taught at the WHOI-MIT Joint Program. In 2008 he moved to Alaska to start a lab at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF).

Peter has worked in the Arctic for more than 25 years as an oceanographer, professor and lead scientist, and has published more than 40 publications and book chapters in leading international journals covering oceanography, climate, and ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctica. He has served on advisory boards for the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as chief scientist on several large expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Most recently, he served as the director of World Wildlife Fund’s Global Arctic Program, leading all of WWF’s Arctic work spanning from Arctic governance and the Arctic Council to supporting Indigenous-led projects focused on resilience to climate change. Peter has been deeply involved in climate change research and has been part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate negotiations. In Alaska, his work at UAF spanned from ecosystem function and relation to changing ocean conditions to developing novel technology to study climate change effects on the marine and coastal environment. During his time at UAF, Peter’s work migrated from offshore oceanography to community-based science programs, with a focus on terrestrial-coastal ecosystems and the services they provide to local communities.

“Alaska is a truly unique part of the world, home to wildlife and beautiful wild spaces stewarded by its Indigenous peoples for thousands of years,” said Dr. Winsor. “I am deeply connected to these landscapes and experience daily the rapid changes that Alaska is now undergoing, and am excited and honored to join Alaska Wilderness League to safeguard these globally important ecosystems for generations to come.”

Peter’s selection is the culmination of a multi-month process that began back in July 2021 following the
unexpected passing of the League’s former executive director Adam Kolton.

“Alaska Wilderness League, our board and staff, are excited to welcome Peter Winsor as AWL’s new executive director,” said Pat Pourchot, Alaska Wilderness League’s board president. “Peter has forged deep relationships with Alaska Native communities across the state and understands not only the critical role Indigenous peoples have played for thousands of years in stewarding the land and wildlife, but also the unique challenges they’re facing today. He has spent many years living in Alaska and brings to the League a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience on issues facing both the state and the Arctic. We look forward to working with him as he guides the organization into the future.” 

Peter currently resides in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he has lived for the last 14 years. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring all of Alaska’s wild places. He is an avid climber, mountaineer, backcountry skier, hiker, packrafter and fly fisherman. He has also perfected the art of roasting coffee and smoking wild Alaskan salmon.

Header photo: Dr. Peter Winsor while studying Fjord ecosystem structure and function on the West Antarctic Peninsula during his time at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. (Fjordeco)