DIRECTORS

Photo by Irene Owsley

PWS Stewardship Foundation Board of Directors

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Paul Twardock -- Board of Directors Chair

Author of Kayaking and Camping in Prince William Sound, and Professor of Outdoor Studies, Alaska Pacific University; Anchorage,Alaska

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William Melton -- Board of Directors Vice Chair

William Melton began working in Prince William Sound in 2015 as a Sea Kayak Guide. The following year he made his first documentary about conservation and stewardship efforts taking place in the Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. He spent five years working with Alaska Geographic producing media and coordinating immersive Outdoor Education expeditions designed to introduce participants to the wonders of Alaska's Public Lands. In 2021, he founded a production company focused in outdoor media production that takes him all over Alaska. In the summers, you can still find him working on his roll and camping with his family in Prince William Sound.  

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Willow Hetrick -- Board of Directors Secretary

Mrs. Hetrick has a BA in marine resource management, and a MS in Natural Resources and Environmental Management and an MPA in Public Administration with a focus in Natural Resource Policy. She was born in Prince William Sound and raised in Moose Pass after the age of 4. She takes pride in serving the Chugach region to this day as the Executive Director of the Chugach Regional Resources Commission. She has over 15 years of professional environmental experience combined with a lifetime of local knowledge of Alaska’s natural resources and history. Her work experience includes a variety of marine and terrestrial biology research, collaborating on projects with state, federal, public, NGOs and private stakeholders, state and federal permitting, regulatory compliance, and cultural community sensitivities. Mrs. Hetrick has experience in climate change sustainability planning and how environmental effects of climate change, including coastal zone management, fish and wildlife management, sustainable energy, forest management, food security, land-use planning, and environmental equity and policy coordination, are affecting the region. Her and her family go somewhere in Prince William Sound multiple times a summer but spend most of their time on the island of Latouche at their family cabin. 

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Doug Penn -- Board of Directors Treasurer

Doug is an educator and school administrator.  He has lived and worked in Prince William Sound for the 25 years and travels regularly to the communities of Chenega Bay, Tatitlek, and Whittier.  Doug loves introducing others to the majesty and beauty of Prince William Sound and in particular engaging local youth to be future stewards of this wild place they call home.

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Victoria Vandersommen -- Board of Directors

Victoria has been working as a guide in Prince William Sound since 2015. She graduated from UAA in 2017 with a B.S. in Environment & Society and conducted an undergraduate research project in the Sound. Victoria has a passion for studying marine wildlife and sharing information about Prince William Sound’s natural history. She is currently working on obtaining a M.S. in Biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she will be researching crustacean gene expression in Antartica.

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Kelly Bender -- Board of Directors

Kelly is co-owner of Lazy Otter Charters with her husband Mike.  Kelly started her career in Prince William Sound in the 80s working on tour boats between Valdez and Whittier.  After working small cruise ships and tour boats throughout the Pacific Northwest, Southeast Alaska and Kenai Fjords, she returned to Whittier and her first love, Prince William Sound, where she joined Mike at Lazy Otter.  Mike and Kelly raised their family in Prince William Sound and both continue to work preserving the wilderness quality of the Sound.  Kelly is the President Greater Whittier Chamber of Commerce.

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Victor Shen -- Board of Directors

Victor grew up in Whittier, Alaska.  He left the state to earn a BS in Forestry conservation and wildland fire management from Humboldt State University.  Victor started guiding sea kayak trips in PWS in 2004 and has continued that to this day.  He spent a few summers working for the USFS in the Chugach NF wilderness program and Mt Baker - Snoqualmie NF wilderness trail crew.  In addition to guiding, Victor has worked as a field instructor for NOLS and a trip leader for Alaska Geographic.  Currently, Victor is teaching high school students at a residential school and volunteers with Alaska Trail Stewards.  

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Barbara Lydon -- Board of Directors 

Barbara Lydon has been a wilderness ranger for the US Forest Service since 2006, both on the Tongass and Chugach National Forests; she’s been working in Prince William Sound since 2011.  Influenced by the natural world, Barbara is an artist and art teacher, and also coordinates Voices of the Wilderness - a unique Alaskan artist residency program through a partnership between the USFS, NPS and USF&WS.

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Emma Kramer -- Board of Directors 

Ms. Kramer spends each summer as a salmon gillnetter in the Copper River and the Prince William Sound, and runs their fisherman-direct business out of their home in Girdwood, Alaska. She and her husband raised their two children in the cabin they built by hand, and still maintain their off-grid lifestyle today. Alaska has been home for Ms. Kramer since 1999, prior to that she was raised in Wisconsin and attended UW Madison. Living in Alaska was a dream since her childhood, as she'd listened to her great-grandmother share stories of her life in Dawson City and Nome during the Gold Rush. Determined to live more sustainably every day, Emma set out to live her dream of a modern day frontier life, and has been off-grid for two decades. Being a part of the PWSSF community is an important way to be a steward of the ocean. 

  

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Ellen Ray -- Board of Directors

Ellen discovered her love for Prince William Sound in 2019 when working as a Wilderness Fellow with the US Forest Service. She is now hooked on Prince William Sound’s beauty and finds as much time as possible to explore, learn about, and steward the land. She has helped develop land use monitoring programs and continues to work on various data collection and reporting protocols.

Peter Denmark -- Board of Directors

Peter Denmark -- Board of Directors

President, Alaska Sea Kayakers (Whittier, AK)

Vice Mayor, City of Whittier, Alaska

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Allison Carl -- Board of Directors

Allison graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has been working as a research scientist with the Chugach Regional Resources Commission through an apprenticeship program with her Native corporation. She was born and raised in Anchorage and has Sugpiaq ancestry from Cordova and Hinchinbrook Island. 

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Alex von Wichman -- Board of Directors

Alex is the co-owner of Babkin Charters with her brother Brad. Alex was born and raised in Anchorage with Prince William Sound in her backyard. She also spent her early years exploring parts of Prince William Sound and Resurrection Bay with her family on their 21-foot boat. Her summers were spent commercially fishing for shrimp, salmon, halibut, and black cod. She still fishes for halibut and black cod. Alex loves the outdoors, skiing, and people.

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Charla Hughes -- Executive Director

Charla is the Program Director of the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation. She joined PWSSF in 2021 after a decade in academia. Charla has a Ph.D. in English from Louisiana State University, and her writing has appeared in various travel and academic publications.