Natalie Watson, President
Natalie grew up in Juneau and left at 18 for art school, seeking urban life and culture in Cleveland, Boston and France. She eventually was forced to get a day job and worked for 10 years in the genetics department at Harvard Medical School. While working there she lived communally at the Cambridge Zen Center while studying Zen Buddhism.
She subsequently became an active transportation and livable streets advocate in the Chicago area and founded an ongoing open streets initiative called “Evanston Streets Alive!” She served on the board of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, working to make Evanston an environmentally just, sustainable, and resilient community. She also worked at the Shared-Use Mobility Center, a Chicago-based nonprofit startup focused on increasing the use of shared forms of transportation, in particular ridesharing, carsharing and bike-sharing.
In 2016 she moved back to Juneau for family, nature and clean air, and has been working at AWARE in primary violence prevention and youth empowerment. Natalie feels an increasing urgency to protect Southeast Alaska’s wild places and way of life, while also alleviating climate change. She is therefore happy to support SEACC in whatever way she can!
Grant Echohawk, Vice President
Grant was born in Fairbanks and raised in Southeast Alaska before he explored the United States and this amazing planet of ours. Although he was able to experience beautiful places and have memorable adventures, the call of Southeast Alaska brought him back to Ketchikan in 2018.
Always a strong advocate for conservation and protecting our water, forests, and wildlife, he is especially passionate about making sure his home state remains as pristine and beautiful as possible for as long as possible. Since returning to Alaska, he has had the opportunity to travel throughout the region and has been making new, incredible memories with his trusty sidekick, Nueq, at his side.
With a background in business management and finance, Grant sees opportunities to shift attention from resource extraction over to industries that are not only more sustainable but also help in keeping Alaska the beautiful place that draws international visitors and admiration. Viewing conservation efforts as both pragmatic and philosophical endeavors, he hopes to help find a way back to equilibrium with our environment as it has sustained Alaskans for thousands and thousands of years.
Bob Schroeder, Treasurer
Bob first came to Alaska after working with the Peace Corps in India and in development with the Rockefeller Foundation in Nepal. He was drawn to Southeast because of our strong subsistence culture. He worked as an anthropologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and USDA Forest Service studying communities that rely on subsistence traditions. It was while working with Alaska Native communities in Southeast that he became interested in protecting the forests as a way of preserving the traditional subsistence-based way of life.
Bob has been a member of SEACC since he moved to Alaska 35 years ago and became a board member in 2013. For him, protecting the environment is also protecting his way of life. The moose, deer, and fish that he and his family catch makes up their food supply and provides a deep connection and reliance to the land and environment. He believes that those reliant on the environment for sustenance have an obligation to take care of the environment and the animals that feed them.
His connection with India and Nepal over 50 years has shown him what can happen when we do not protect our air and water. He has seen first-hand the devastating effects of air and water pollution on the environment and the health of local communities. He worries that special interests like the cruise industry will compromise the health of our water from the unfettered dumping of waste into our local waters.
When he is not working to protect our natural environment, he enjoys volunteering with the Alaska Folk Festival, Juneau World Affairs Council, Southeast Subsistence Regional Advisory Council as well as skiing, hiking, kayaking, boating, fishing, hunting, and camping.
Steve Lewis, Secretary
By 1990, his passion for climbing had shifted from above to below the earth, and he began caving. It was his knowledge of caves and karst that brought him to SEACC when he was asked to present information on the interaction between karst and the forest above. Soon he was engaged with SEACC in the CPOW timber sale on karst, a campaign that led him to become a board member. Steve was drawn to SEACC because of the work that we do, using strong research to preserve our forest and community values. While it was the forest work that first drew him to SEACC, he is excited about the new campaigns on clean water and mining and continuing to protect our wild places.
While not volunteering with SEACC or spending time with his wife in Tenakee, Steve puts his knowledge of biology to use protecting Alaska’s wildlife. After the Valdez oil spill in ’89, he was inspired to study the invertebrates and fish impacted by the spill. He then went on to study seals in the Antarctic, humpback whales in Alaska, bats on Prince of Wales Island, and currently, spends summers on Lowrie Island in Southeast studying sea lions.
Clay found his passion and love for the environment at an early age while exploring the wilds of Bermuda, his part-time childhood home. This love only grew after he moved to Washington state and later to Anchorage and then Southeast Alaska. After a life spent outside, he was eager to protect the wild landscapes of his new home. When his partner stepped down from the SEACC board, he looked forward to taking her place and working with SEACC.
Clay has traveled throughout the world and has seen first-hand the impact of clearcut logging; the fragmentation of forests and how it endangers delicate ecosystems. For him, SEACC is THE regional entity that understands the importance of an intact ecosystem and its impact on the daily lives of our community. He attributes much of the recent reduction in the threat of logging in the Tongass to SEACC’s hard work and is excited about working to protect our clean water.
Recently, his love of the outdoors brought him on a bike trip along the Continental Divide; riding from Banff, BC to Steamboat Springs, CO. Biking mostly along dirt forest service roads provided a unique view of functioning the landscapes and conservation initiatives along the route. Today, when he is not working with SEACC, Clay enjoys volunteering with the ski patrol at Eagle Crest, skiing, biking, and hiking.
In 1983, Steve came back to the Earthjustice staff, working on a series of cases protecting Kadashan, Berners Bay and other treasured areas slated for logging. Two years later, SEACC director Bart Koehler asked him to become SEACC’s first grassroots attorney. It turned out to be the best adventure of Steve’s life, as he ranged from Hydaburg to Yakataga, juggling job duties on slippery boat decks, in leaky skiffs, on slow ferries, and in sketchy floatplanes, bouncing back and forth from villages to courtrooms to the halls of Congress. After the passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act in 1990, Steve hung up his conservation cleats.
That didn’t last. In 1993, a broad coalition of environmental groups—including SEACC—organized the Alaska Rainforest Campaign (ARC) to defend the Tongass from the post-TTRA, pulp mill counter-attack. Directing ARC, Steve worked with SEACC to secure our conservation gains, ultimately hastening the end of the pulp mill era. Afterward, The Pew Charitable Trusts plucked Steve out of Alaska to serve for the next 20 years in a variety of roles, beginning as the architect of the National Forest Roadless Areas campaign and ending as director of Pew’s International Lands Conservation program. Now working for the Resources Legacy Fund as a senior strategist, specializing in forest conservation, Steve rejoined the SEACC board in the summer of 2017.
Teddy Roosevelt once said that fighting for what’s right is the noblest sport in the world. Steve lives by that creed but on those rare occasions when he’s not working, he loves hunting, fishing, camping, all team sports, reading anything and everything he gets his hands on, and exploring the most remote, least known wilderness areas he can find. He currently resides in the southernmost suburb of Alaska, Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, and keeps his firewood bone dry.
His love of Alaska brought him north in 1984 to work as SEACC’s Executive Director, a position he would hold twice before transitioning to the board. At SEACC he worked to protect the Tongass from logging via the enactment of the Tongass Timber Reform Act (TTRA) in 1990. Later he again had his work cut out, battling the two behemoth pulp mills which were eventually shut down. In all, he helped protect over 1.4 million acres of the Tongass. In 1990 he received the Olaus Murie Award for his work with the TTRA and in 2016 received the lifetime achievement award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation and was inducted into the Alaska Conservation Hall of Fame to honor his dedication to protecting the Tongass, spanning the last four decades.
All in all, including his work in and for Alaska, Bart has been a key player in bedrock grassroots team efforts which have secured lasting protections for over 10 million acres of our public lands —- primarily in Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada & Idaho, and ranging from Oregon to Arizona, to New Hampshire, & Puerto Rico.
Beyond his dedicated work to safeguard our wild public lands and salmon strongholds, Bart has also been a ranch hand, singer/songwriter, construction laborer, farm worker, firewood cutter. He enjoys hiking, horseback riding, playing music, and hunting deer. He is also a long-standing member of the Boards of Directors of statewide grassroots wilderness groups in Wyoming, Virginia, and Arizona and Arizona’s “Friends of the Tumacacori Highlands.”
He was first impressed by SEACC when he joined us to protect the traditional subsistence cabins in Yakutat. High fees from the Forest Service threatened cabins that had been in families for generations and were a central piece of maintaining a subsistence lifestyle for many families. Together with Buck and Guy, they worked to reduce the fees, keeping the cabins and allowing families to retain their traditional way of life.
Ray is a member of the Humpback Salmon Clan and is very active in his native community. He has served on the Yakutat Tlingit tribe, a seat now held by his daughter. He also was the Alaska Native Brotherhood president for many years, and is active in the Grand Camp, serving as Grand Officer. He has also served on the Wrangell/St Elias Park and Preserve Subsistence Commission for over 20 years and worked on subsistence issues in the Wrangell/St. Elias Park and Preserve. He has also traveled the world speaking about Native culture in Alaska.
Naawéiyaa Austin Ray Tagaban
Naawéiyaa is Lingít, Cherokee, Pilipino, and English. Naawéiyaa is Kaagwaantaan from Khóok Hít. He is Tʼakhdeintaan yádi and Wooshkeetaan dachxhán. He is a basket weaver, screen printer, musician, language learner and teacher.
Naawéiyaa was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska. His grandparents on his dadʼs side are Joe and and Wilma Tagaban. His grandparents on his mother’s side are Irene and Arthur Robinson and David and Eloise Harman.
He cares deeply about Language revitalization, Indigenous sovereignty, Gender and Climate Justice, and Ending Gender Based Violence. He has a bachelor’s of liberal arts with an emphasis in Alaska Native Languages and Studies. In his spare time, he’s working on a B.S. in Mathematics and a Tlingit Language Teaching Certificate.
It was in 1967 that Wayne was first introduced to the wild beauty of Alaska while on vacation. It was a mere year later that he moved to Southeast, drawn by the openness and availability of public lands, and access to clean water and abundant fish. He began working in the Ketchikan pulp mill where he experienced the terrible working conditions imposed by the mills. Angered by the way the mills were treating their workers and the environment, he began to speak up for better working conditions. His drive to protect the mill workers first spurred him to testify at a U.S. Senate Field hearing in Ketchikan about the working conditions during a hearing on the Tongass Timber Reform Act. During this time he was working in the pulp mill.
He left the pulp mill and moved to Oregon for a couple of years; he returned to Southeast in 1992, moving to Ketchikan where he continues to live today. During this time that he continued to be involved with SEACC to help protect not only the mill workers but the environment from the dangers of the logging industry. Wayne has seen first-hand the impact that the logging industry has on people and the environment. He is deeply unhappy about the exporting of unprocessed, raw logs to Asia; a trend that not only damages our local environment but gives nothing back to the local economy. So too does he worry about the threat of transboundary mines that threaten the health of our rivers and salmon here in Alaska.
When he is not standing up for the rights of workers and the environment, Wayne can be found working on wooden furniture for his family.