2020-2021 ATIA Board of Directors Election Candidates
Arctic Candidate, 3-year Term – 1 seat available
Matt Atkinson, Northern Alaska Tour Company
I have been immersed in the Alaska travel industry for more than thirty years, helping Northern Alaska Tour Company diversify from offering wilderness and cultural experiences into areas of aviation, lodging, and dining throughout Alaska’s Arctic. During this period I served as AVA/ATIA local chapter president, FCVB/Explore Fairbanks Board Member and Chair on several occasions, as well as currently serving as President of the Alaska Air Carriers Association.
I have always closely followed ATIA with great interest, enthusiasm and admiration. It would be an honor to serve on the ATIA Board of Directors at this time. I feel I would bring a unique perspective as a recent Utqiagvik resident from the Arctic Region and provide broad input gained from firsthand experience in many varied travel industry sectors. Your support, and vote, will be greatly appreciated.
At-Large Candidates, 3-year Term – 2 seats available
Lalanya (Lanie) Downs, Cruise Line International Association – Alaska
This year has been devastating to so many. But I know the tourism industry that I love is resilient because of the heart, determination, and ingenuity of those who make it what it is. I cannot wait for visitors to once again experience what Alaska is all about – the people, the beauty, and a world class destination. By working with communities, cruise lines, and the wonderful business partners that make Alaska so incredible to visit, together we can build it back. I would love the opportunity to serve the members of ATIA and work with all of you to help our industry thrive and once again be the bright spot it has always been. Thank you for your support.
Emily Edenshaw, Alaska Native Heritage Center
My name is Emily Edenshaw. I am Yup’ik and Iñupaiq, and my family is from Emmonak, Alaska. My husband Devin and I have three sons and two daughters. I am the Executive Director of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a statewide educational and cultural nonprofit dedicated to celebrating and advancing all Alaska Native cultures and heritages.
Outside of family life and work, I am a third-year Ph.D. Indigenous Studies student, an Anchorage Public Safety Commissioner, and an Alaska Native Cultural Charter School Academic Policy Committee Member.
My interest in serving on the ATIA board is grounded in the mission to strengthen cultural tourism across Alaska. Not only is cultural tourism a sleeping giant in Alaska, but it has the power to re-shape Alaska’s tourism industry. If elected, you can count on me to roll up my sleeves to get the work done our communities want and need.
Elizabeth Hall, John Hall’s Alaska
I am the Chief Operating Officer of John Hall’s Alaska and JHA Transportation Services, an Anchorage based large vehicle maintenance operation. I have served on the ATIA board since 2014, including the 2018-2019 board chair. My family prides itself in supporting a variety of business partners and organizations across the state, creating new and innovative ways to showcase Alaska’s opportunities for visitors. 2020 has proved challenging for all Alaska businesses. As the tourism industry focuses on rebuilding in 2021, I remain devoted to my organization, team, and family while supporting all Alaska tourism industry businesses, organizations and tourism friends.
Lee Hart, Alaska Outdoor Alliance
There is a symbiotic relationship between the outdoor recreation and tourism sectors. Even as some consider it an awakening sleeping giant, Alaska’s outdoor recreation economy already ranks seventh largest in the US. Examples abound that affirm that when both sectors collaborate to achieve shared goals, exciting prospects emerge for expansion of existing and new businesses that bring employment opportunities and economic contribution to the state, plus stabilize and diversify economies in critical gateway/basecamp communities.
I humbly offer my experience and connections from a 20-year career in the outdoor, snow sports, bike, and adventure travel industries to the Alaska Travel Industry Association Board of Directors. This year has been exhausting for all of us, but I believe I have experience, relationships and energy that can be brought to bear to help advance ATIA’s efforts to accelerate recovery and emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient.
Thomas Stark, Wells Fargo
My name is Thomas Stark, Senior Vice President for Commercial Banking at Wells Fargo Bank based in Anchorage.
I am a hiker, climber, fishermen, outdoorsman and husband. My past 17 years with Wells Fargo have focused on small/midsize businesses. I oversee a team of commercial lenders who manage business relationships from Anchorage to Utqiaġvik and surrounding areas. Prior to banking, I worked in seasonal hospitality/tourism roles in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Sun Valley, Idaho; St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and – most recently – as the controller for the Denali Princess Lodge.
I have worked with business of varying sizes, across multiple industries and company life cycles (good and the bad), and with owners, managers, and decision makers of tourism-related enterprises. These experiences could provide a unique insight as a participating board member. I would like the opportunity to serve on the board and give back to an industry vital to Alaska.
Kristin Wells, Holiday Vacations
I started as a tour guide 33 years ago with Holiday Vacations of Wisconsin guiding globally. Tourism to Alaska has been our emphasis, and we were named Tour Operator of the Year in 2013 and 2018.
I lived in Fairbanks for 14 years and worked in sales for Alaska Lodging Management whose clients were Grande Denali Lodge and Denali Bluffs Hotel. I worked as General Manager for Aspen Hotels and Hotel Services Manager for Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. I was involved in the Fairbanks ATIA Chapter, served on the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, and was involved with the Chamber and Rotary Club of Fairbanks.
In 2015 I returned to Holiday Vacations as the Director of Purchasing and International Product.
2021 marks Holiday Vacations’ 48th year of bringing visitors to Alaska. It would be my honor to contribute a tour operator’s perspective on the ATIA Board.
Interior Candidate, 3-year Term – 1 seat available
Kory Eberhardt, A Taste of Alaska Lodge
Thank you to everyone for giving me the opportunity to serve on the ATIA Board the past 3 years. Everything is upside down with tourism right now and we have never faced a challenge like this in the past. I honestly don’t know how long it will take to get things back to normal, but if given the chance to serve on the board I will do everything I possibly can to support you all.
Outside Candidate, 3-year Term – 1 seat available
(designated cruise seat)
Dave McGlothlin, Holland America Princess – Alaska and Yukon
When I ran for my first term on the ATIA board three years ago, we were fighting for marketing dollars. Fast forward to now and we just endured the worst-case scenario any of us could have imagined for our industry. I would like to be a part of the solution as we bring our industry, partners and communities back from this low point. I can provide guidance, procedures and trends from the cruise line perspective with regards to COVID and the future of cruising in Alaska plus how we will be protecting our team members, guests and communities as we work towards a new normal in 2021.
Since I have been on the board, I have developed a good rapport with the ATIA team, board and leadership team. We have worked together to resolve many problems the past three years. This past year I filled the role of Finance chair which I enjoyed and plan to continue in the future. I look forward to serving you all and Alaska tourism for the next three years.
Southcentral Candidate, 3-year Term – 1 seat available
Adriel Butler, Aurora Expeditions and Borealis Basecamp
Alaska faces high uncertainty in tourism and a heavily impacted customer base. Whether working heavily with cruise guests or independent self book travelers, our life has been turned upside down. Over the past five years, my small business has worked extremely hard to successfully diversify our customer base both in distribution channels and geographic location. This is definitely helping our business to weather storms and move forward. Looking forward in the State of Alaska tourism industry, I believe there are two paramount items that ATIA advocate. One, a diversified customer base in both distribution channel and geographic origin. Two, sustainable natural and cultural resources for our industry and multi sourced sustainable funding for ATIA. I personally and on behalf of our industry would appreciate your vote.
Shanon Davis, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
It has been my privilege to work in Alaska tourism for the past 18 years. I served as the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council Director from 2005-2017. During this period, I served on the ATIA Marketing Committee for 10 years, the ATIA Board of Directors for 3 years, and the Alaska Tourism Marketing Board for 3 years. I am currently the Director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
ATIA is the organization where the Alaska travel community comes together to advance the interests of our industry and communicate our message, regardless of competition, business model, or location. I have demonstrated ability to build consensus and drive cooperative relationships with staff, boards, government agencies, political leaders, and the business community. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to save Alaska’s tourism businesses. I would be honored to return to the ATIA Board to work for you.
Southeast Candidate, 3-year Term – 1 seat available
Camille Ferguson, Sitka Tribe of Alaska
I am seeking re-election to the ATIA Board because now is the time to work diligently to build back an Alaska’s visitor industry impacted – and severely changed – by the global pandemic. I bring more than 35 years in cultural tourism development, transportation planning, and economic development on local, state, and national levels working with Alaska and U.S. tribes. I currently serve on two national travel and tourism industry boards representing Alaska’s tourism interests. For the last year, I have served as an ATIA appointed director and feel I have only begun to contribute to the Board adding diversity, advocacy, and marketing experience. Tourism is vital to Alaska’s future! We need experienced leadership to commit to sustainable tourism marketing solutions, rebuild consumer confidence, and grow Alaska’s tourism industry. I ask for your support and vote to continue serving our membership as an effective voice on behalf of Alaska’s visitor industry.
Craig Jennison, TEMSCO Helicopters, Inc.
Never before have we faced a year like 2020. While the challenges may seem daunting, it is as important as ever to focus on the future. As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic and starts traveling once again, it will be crucial for ATIA to be present in the marketplace, helping to ensure a strong recovery for us all. Critical for the board will be to secure the sustainable funding needed to meet this challenge. I have served on the board for the last two years and it would be a privilege to join the staff, board, and its committees in bringing the traveling public back to Alaska. Together, we are up for the challenge.