Movers & Shakers for Jan. 15
Mallory Walser will assume the role of press secretary for the Alaska House Republicans caucus. During the past six years Walser has worked in television news, primarily as a reporter covering crime, court, resource development, and farming. Her career in broadcast began in Minnesota and brought her to Alaska. Originally from Northern California, Walser graduated from California State University Stanislaus with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in journalism. Walser will be replacing outgoing Press Secretary Jeremiah Campbell, who has been in the press office for six years.
Rasmuson Foundation has elected a new member to its board of directors and has added two new employees to its team. Rebecca Brice Henderson brings her experience as a lifelong Alaskan, small business owner, and advocate for children to the Rasmuson board. Henderson was born at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital along the banks of the Chena River in Fairbanks. She grew up travelling across Alaska by small plane with her father, Al Brice, former owner of Brice Inc., a civil construction company. Henderson received a degree in social work from University of Alaska Fairbanks, and spent the first decade of her professional life working with at-risk children and families. She served as a board member for the Resource Center for Parents and Children and Fairbanks Counseling & Adoption. Lifelong Alaskan Kris Palmatier joined the Foundation staff as accounting manager in 2016. After graduating from West Anchorage High School, he co-founded a local dance studio, Underground Dance Company. Palmatier went on to work in a variety of financial functions with the State of Alaska, Cornerstone Construction Co., and Kimura and Associates. He received an associate’s degree in accounting and bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in finance and a concentration in nonprofit management from Alaska Pacific University. Courtney Brooke Smith was hired as the Foundation’s communications manager in 2016. Smith has more than 20 years of experience as a senior corporate management professional. She has held senior positions specializing in the small business market with Fortune 50 firms, including JPMorgan Chase, American Express and Goldman Sachs. She recently led the Marketing and Communications Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage-Matanuska-Susitna College campus. She also serves as an adjunct professor in the business department at the University. Brooke Smith earned an MBA in marketing from the Martin J. Whitman School of Business at Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in international political science from Wells College. She also received a development certificate in Corporate Community Relations from Boston College and a Management Development Certificate from Cornell University.
Alaska USA Federal Credit Union announced that President and CEO Bill Eckhardt will be retiring in May 2017 after a career spanning over 45 years. Executive Vice President Geoff Lundfelt has been selected to succeed Eckhardt. Eckhardt has been at the forefront of member service, progress and innovation at Alaska USA. He started his career at Alaska USA in 1971 as the Operations Manager — at a time when the credit union had only one facility located in the basement of a military building on Elmendorf Air Force Base, had $36 million in assets, 36 employees, and served 25,411 members. Promoted to president/CEO in 1979, Eckhardt has since overseen exponential growth and expansion at Alaska USA. Today, the credit union has over $6.6 billion in assets, over 100 branches and service facilities in four states, nearly 2,000 employees, and serves over 600,000 members. Lundfelt, began his career at Alaska USA nearly 20 years ago, as a part-time teller before working his way up through branch administration. Lundfelt joined the executive staff at the credit union in 2006.
Dr. Nathan Christensen, MD, has joined PeaceHealth Medical Group in Ketchikan as a visiting ear, nose and throat specialist. He is an experienced otolaryngologists who works fulltime for PeaceHealth at a clinic in Eugene, Ore., and will now begin visiting Ketchikan regularly to provide specialized care for patients with issues such as hearing loss, chronic sinusitis, and tumors. Christensen attended medical school at Oregon Health & Science University and then went on to the University of Rochester where he completed his internship in general surgery and his residency in otolaryngology. Christensen first joined PeaceHealth in 2013 after serving for four years in the U.S. Air Force. Christensen looks forward to providing patients in southern Southeast Alaska with a full spectrum of ear, nose and throat procedures including minimally invasive treatments of sinus disease as well as throat and neck cancer, right here in Ketchikan. His training also prepares him to help with facial traumas and deformities, speech problems involving the larynx, salivary gland conditions, surgical treatment of snoring, and pediatric ENT conditions. Christensen has a special interest in caring for people with thyroid and parathyroid disorders. Christensen begins seeing patients in Ketchikan on Jan. 23.
Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, has been awarded a 2017 Casey Excellence for Children Award from Casey Family Programs for his contributions to help improve the lives of foster youth in Alaska. The national award was announced during a special reception Jan. 9 in Seattle. Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across the nation. Gara grew up in foster care and is a leading advocate for foster youth and foster care alumni in Alaska.
Rhonda Pitka was appointed to the public member seat on the Federal Subsistence Board. Pitka currently serves on the federal subsistence program’s Eastern Interior Regional Advisory Committee. She is the First Chief of the Beaver Village Council, a federally recognized tribe, and serves on the Yukon River Panel which makes recommendations to the governments of Canada and the United States on fisheries management along the river. In addition, she is the past chair of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, a tribal service provider to 10 villages in the Yukon Flats Region.