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Photo by Irene Owsley

PWS Stewardship Foundation Board of Directors


William Melton -- Board of Directors 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.  


Emma Kramer -- Board of Directors Vice Chair

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. 



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 brought home from the hospital in Anchorage to the fish hatchery in Main Bay in Prince William Sound but raised in Moose Pass after the age of 4. 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. Her and her family go somewhere in Prince William Sound countless times a summer but spend most of their time on the island of Latouche at their family cabin. 


Allison Carl -- Board of Directors Co-Secretary

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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Johnathon Brandt -- Board of Directors Treasurer

Johnathon was born in northeast Tennessee. He moved to Montana during high school where he spent the next 10 years, including earning a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of Montana. In 2019, he returned to Tennessee and completed his Master's in Accounting at East Tennessee State University. In 2021, he moved to Alaska to be with his fiancé, Victoria, and was introduced to the magical place that is Prince William Sound. He was immediately captivated by the beauty of the area, and began venturing into the Sound whenever possible. 


Paul Twardock -- Board of Directors

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

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Doug Penn -- Board of Directors

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.


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.


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.  

Peter Denmark -- Board of Directors

President, Alaska Sea Kayakers (Whittier, AK)

Vice Mayor, City of Whittier, Alaska

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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.


Michelle Goldstein -- Board of Directors

Michelle Goldstein has been a resident of Alaska since 1974. She currently lives in Anchorage and has worked for the Municipality since 2003, with the majority of her career in Law Enforcement. In addition to her work with the Municipality, she owns and operates two businesses: Alaska Overland Adventures, where she rents 4WD vehicles fully outfitted for self-sustained travel around Alaska, and Alaska Creative Concepts, which hosts a platform for her artistic talents creating Alaskan themed artwork featuring the northern lights. Prior to her work with the Municipality, she worked as a deckhand for PWS Eco Charters and spent many summers boating in Prince William Sound. Since then, she spends most weekends visiting Whittier and recreating in the Sound. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast and appreciates the natural beauty Prince William Sound offers. She has done volunteer work for Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation and Whittier Parks and Rec projects, including the annual Head of the Bay Cleanup, Shrode Lake Trail Work, Knight Island Marine Debris Cleanup, and the Whittier Creek/Horsetail Falls Connector Trail. She enjoys sharing her love of the Sound with others in hopes of raising awareness of the beauty and natural diversity Prince William Sound offers.


Charla Hughes -- Executive Director

Charla is the Executive 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.

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