Stephen Todd, President, Wrangell
Stephen first came to Wrangell in 1998 to canoe the Stikine River. While here he fell in love with the community and the land. It only took a couple of months before he was moving back to settle in Wrangell.
Stephen works on the Stikine as a fisheries biologist and has been conducting salmon population studies there for over 15 years. When not on the river, he can be found rambling in the woods or remodeling his house, using Tongass wood from small, local sawmills.
Zachary Brown, Vice-President, Gustavus
Hailing from the town of Gustavus, Zach has always had a deep connection to Southeast Alaska’s land and people. His love of the natural world brought him to Stanford University where he obtained his Ph.D., focusing his studies on oceanography and climate science. During this time, he learned more and more about the threats facing the natural world. He soon shifted studying science to using it to advocate and educate.
After graduating he returned to Gustavus to put his skills and knowledge to work protecting Southeast. Zach is particularly interested in the changing dynamics of conservation due to climate change, an issue that touches every part of conservation. He is proud to work with SEACC on climate change issues and protecting the Tongass, a world class carbon sink. With both his father, Bill Brown, and uncle, Greg Steveler having served on the SEACC board, it was a natural place for him to land and a natural home for his activist passions. For him it is was said best by Naomi Klein: “Love will save this place.”
He looks forward to working with SEACC to respond to threats to our magnificent Southeast Alaskan homeland, and continue reminding people of the things we love about living here -- wild country, connection to the land and big salmon. Zach has worn many hats in his life as a basketball player, fiddle player, climate scientist and now the Executive Director of Inian Islands Institute. When he is not helping protect Southeast he enjoys hiking, kayaking, climbing, and eating (probably fish!)
Eric Kocher, Treasurer, Haines
Eric Kocher first traveled to Alaska in 1975 and was a regular visitor to both Alaska and the Yukon before he moved to Haines, Alaska, in 2007. His attraction to the Last Frontier has given him the opportunity to explore the wilds of Alaska and the Yukon. During the summer, Eric is a kayak and raft guide, having guided trips in Glacier Bay National Park and throughout the panhandle of Alaska's Lynn Canal. Eric is a public interest attorney working in Southeast Alaska and in 2016 worked in Greece assisting refugees from the war-torn countries of Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq with their asylum claims.
Eric is also an EMT-2 volunteer with the Haines Volunteer Fire Department and worked on the island of Lesbos, Greece providing emergency medical care to refugees arriving by raft from Turkey in 2016.
While not helping the people and environment of Alaska Eric enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, exploring the mountains and waterways of Southeast Alaska. He enjoys hiking, biking, climbing, and kayaking.
Natalie Watson, Juneau, Secretary
Natalie grew up in Juneau and left at the age of 18 for art school, seeking urban life and culture in Cleveland, Provence, and Boston. She eventually was forced to get a day job and worked in a yeast genetics lab at Harvard Medical School. While working there she studied Zen Buddhism and lived communally at the Cambridge Zen Center. She subsequently became a livable streets advocate in the Chicago area and founded an ongoing open streets initiative called “Evanston Streets Alive!”. She worked at the Shared-Use Mobility Center, a Chicago-based nonprofit startup focused on increasing the use of shared forms of transportation, such as transit, ridesharing, carsharing and bike-sharing. In 2016 she moved back to Juneau for family, nature and the clean, sweet air, and has been working at AWARE in violence prevention. As do we all, Natalie feels an increasing urgency to protect what remains of the Earth’s wilderness and ocean life. She is therefore eager to support SEACC in whatever way she can.
Marian Allen, Sitka
Marian has always had the desire to live a self-sufficient and subsistence-based life. So too did she desire a quiet and remote space to live. During the 1960’s she was a political activist. While still driven by these passions, her desire to live a quiet life lead her to spontaneously board a ferry headed to Alaska in 1979. Here she discovered the place that she had been seeking, one where she could live quietly off of the land. Soon she had moved into an abandoned home on a remote island in Sitka Sound where she lived for many years.
After years of living ‘off the grid’, she was drawn back to town and back into political activism. It was Greenpeace that first drew her back to speak up against logging on the Tongass. Soon she was also involved with the Sitka Conservation Society on local issues but wanted to expand her work to the entire region, and found SEACC. She joined SEACC in 2007 and has been a staunch supporter ever since. While it was clearcut logging that first drew her to activism in Southeast, she is excited about SEACC’s work on transboundary mining issues, stating that our rivers are ‘the blood of the land.’
Marian has worked in commercial fishing, taught English as a Second Language at UAS Sitka, working with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. She also enjoys dying and spinning and in her free time enjoys teaching an online Alaska Marine Safety course, sailing on her sailboat, hiking, and growing and gathering food.
Clay Frick, Juneau
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 was eager to take her place and work 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.
Steve Kallick, Seattle
Steve first traveled to Alaska in 1975 for a job on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, but fell in love with the incredible wilderness of the far north, wandering for months all through northern Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Realizing this vast, magnificent landscape needed defenders more than pipefitters, he opted instead to attend college and law school. Steve’s first trip to Juneau in 1981, helping friends build a cabin in Tee Harbor, exposed him to 30 straight August days of cold rain and wind. Though vowing never to return, he was back the very next August, working for Earthjustice through the end of the year, learning environmental law, and other important lessons, including that burning wet hemlock firewood, takes up more heat than it produces.
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.
Bart Koehler, Juneau
Bart first discovered his calling as a grassroots advocate for conservation while getting his master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. It was two iconic Alaskan conservationists, Mardy Murie and Celia Hunter, who first inspired Bart during the 1970s while he was working as a grassroots organizer for The Wilderness Society in Wyoming and adjacent states. In 1977 Celia dispatched him to mobilize people across the west to support the Alaska National Interests Land Conservation Act (ANILCA). The hearings were a rousing success: both Mardy and Terry Tempest Williams captivated the audience with their heartfelt testimonies, and immediately became lifelong compatriots, close friends, and heroes of Bart's. As a result, Alaska's pull on his heart grew ever-stronger.
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."
Steve Lewis, Tenakee Springs
Steve first discovered his love of the wild spaces of Alaska in 1972 while climbing and exploring glaciers throughout the state. During college, he returned each summer to help fight fires, using the money to put himself through school. It was after college that he decided that his love for Alaska was not simply seasonal and he moved to Fairbanks for graduate school. While at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks he studied biology, focusing on deer.
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.
Victoria McDonald, Ketchikan
Victoria first came to Southeast in 1974 looking for adventure. What she found was at home among the mountains, trees, and waterways that she loves and is proud to protect. She has lived throughout Southeast, currently residing in Ketchikan. There she was a teacher for many years during the school year, spending the summers out on the water as a fisherman.
Nature and conservation have always been important for her but it was while walking through the forest on Prince of Whales that she came to realize its full importance for her. There she came upon a large swath of a clearcut forest. Through the expanse of once ancient trees now reduced to stumps, wandered a brown bear cub. Watching the young bear try and find its way through the once-lush habitat emphasized the impact that clearcut logging has on us all; from the fish that she relied on as a fisherman to the wildlife like the young bear. It was logging and her desire to protect the old growth, that first brought Victoria to SEACC’s board. Recently, however, she has been more and more involved with transboundary mining and protecting Southeast’s waters from the dangers posed by these mines.
When not fighting to conserve the forests and waters of Southeast, Victoria enjoys cross country skiing, snowboarding, playing the piano and ravenstail weaving.
Ray Sensmeier, Yakutat
Born in Yakutat, Ray has lived in Alaska his whole life and is deeply connected to this place. Ray has always been an advocate of environmental protection and maintaining a traditional, subsistence lifestyle. As a child, he spent summers with his grandparents in local fishing camps, learning about their traditional subsistence lifestyle and the importance of subsistence living.
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.
Bob Schroeder, Juneau
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 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. It is the moose, deer, and fish caught by him and his family that make 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, SE Subsistence Regional Advisory Council as well as skiing, hiking, kayaking, boating, fishing, hunting, and camping.
Wayne Weihing, Ketchikan
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 US 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.