Movers & Shakers 12/21/14

Johnson named publisher of MPG-Alaska

Rona Johnson has been named publisher of Morris Publishing Group Alaska, encompassing the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Alaskan Equipment Trader and the Chugiak-Eagle River Star weekly newspaper. The appointment was announced by Les Simpson, regional publisher for Morris Publishing Group LLC, and publisher of the Amarillo Globe-News.

“With Rona’s leadership and the great staff of the MPG Anchorage products, I’m excited about what the team will be able to accomplish,” Simpson said.

Johnson will start work in the publisher’s post Jan. 5, 2015.

“We are very pleased to have Rona on board with our MPG Anchorage properties,” said William S. Morris III, Chairman and CEO of Morris Communications Co. LLC. “Her background in business and community publications will be a great asset to our operations as we serve the community in many ways.”

Johnson’s media career began at Agweek magazine where she held several positions including reporter and editor. She has held editorial positions at the Grand Forks Herald (N.D.), BBI International and most recently served as special publications manager for Forum Communications.

“I look forward to working with Morris Publishing Group and the staff at MPG Alaska,” Johnson said. “I have been in journalism for nearly 25 years and my enthusiasm for the industry is just as strong today as it was when I started. It is especially exciting with the advent and growth of social media and digital publications.”

Johnson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota. She is active in her community, having served as a board member for Valley Health in Grand Forks, and has participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She regularly speaks about journalism at events, job fairs and classroom programs throughout the North Dakota region.

Alaska Journal of Commerce 2014 Top Forty Under 40 awardees Travis Gilmour and Slavik Boyechko have recently launched “Video Dads,” a new production company focusing on inspirational video storytelling for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. Gilmour and Boyechko previously worked at Alaska Public Media, where they produced the Emmy-nominated series “Indie Alaska.” When they’re not shooting videos for Alaska clients, the “Video Dads” are traveling around the country producing short documentaries for a new PBS web series, “Indie America.”

Jens Laipenieks has been promoted to director of operations for ASTAC, the telecommunications provider in the North Slope Borough. Laipenieks joined the company in 2010 as sales/business development manager and was responsible for product development, strategic planning and business sales. In his new role, Laipenieks will be responsible for overseeing the efforts of engineering and operations to optimize the customer experience, support our increasing sales efforts and fulfill the company’s five-year broadband buildout plan filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Alaska USA Mortgage Company Assistant Vice President Kathy Petty has been recognized as Affiliate of the Year by the Anchorage Board of Realtors. The Anchorage Board of Realtors recognizes one affiliate member annually who has provided outstanding contributions to the board and the Anchorage real estate community.

Sitka-based Alaskan Dream Cruises recently hired two new executives including Russell Dick as CEO. Dick was also recently named by former Gov. Sean Parnell to the Alaska Tourism Marketing Board, an advisory board that will make recommendations for the state’s tourism marketing strategies. The former president and CEO of Haa Aaní LLC, a subsidiary of Sealaska Corp., Dick serves as chairman of the board of directors for Huna Totem Corp. He holds a master’s of science in management from Stanford Graduate School of Business; a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University; and a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from the University of Phoenix. He is a member of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan. Additionally, Peter Butz joins the executive team as operations manager, bringing decades of small-ship cruise line experience to Alaskan Dream Cruises. After extensive travels as an expedition leader with Lindblad Travel and Special Expeditions, Butz spent 25 years serving as the vice president of fleet operations and chief operating office of Lindblad Expeditions. He managed the growth of Lindblad Expeditions’ fleet to six vessels deployed in global operations, including Antarctica, Galapagos, the Arctic and Alaska.

RSA Engineering, Inc., an Alaskan mechanical and electrical consulting design firm specializing in cold climate design, announces a change in management. Mack W. Bergstedt, who served as president for the past seven years, has retired after 28 years at RSA. The company’s board of directors has elected Timothy E. Hall as the new President of RSA Engineering. Hall has more than 27 years of experience and will lead RSA to continued success and growth. Roger L. Weese has been promoted to vice president and a principal electrical engineer. Weese will support Hall in leading the electrical department at RSA. Mark R. Frischkorn will remain as vice president and will continue to lead the Mechanical Department.

The Aleut Corp., one of the 12 Alaska Native Regional corporations, selected Matt Fagnani as its next CEO. Currently the executive director of Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium, Fagnani assumed his role in mid-November. Fagnani joins Aleut Corp. as a recognized leader with more than 25 years experience in the resource, oil and gas, and government industries. He holds leadership positions on some of Alaska’s most critical boards, including the National 8(a) Association. Previous to The Aleut Corp., Fagnani obtained senior leadership executive roles with the NANA Corp. family of companies, NorthStar Gas LLC, Pebble Limited Partnership and WorkSafe.

Northrim Bank promoted Mark Edwards to senior vice president, commercial loan unit manager and bank economist, and hired Amanda Jensen as assistant vice president, loan support services manager. Edwards has been with Northrim Bank for the past seven years. Prior to that, he was the director of the Office of Economic Development for the State of Alaska and economist for the Department of Revenue. A lifelong Alaskan, Edwards has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management. He received Northrim Bank’s President’s award in 2010. Jensen joins Northrim Bank after spending 15 years in loan servicing at First National Bank of Alaska. She will lead the loan support services team as the previous manager, Sharon Wright, retires in early 2015. A lifelong Alaskan, Jensen grew up in Soldotna and moved to Anchorage after high school.

The Public Relations Society of America Alaska Chapter has elected new leadership for 2015. The board, led by incoming President Heidi Embley, oversees the chapter’s professional development seminars, the annual CommEx conference and awards program for Alaska’s public relations practitioners and communicators. The Alaska Chapter’s 2015 leadership team is: President Heidi Embley, Anchorage School District; President-Elect Sandra Yi, Shell Alaska; Secretary Michelle Renfrew, APR, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Treasurer Angela Gonzalez, RurAL CAP; Past President Heather Cavanaugh, APR, Alaska Communications. Board members are: Hannah Blankenship, Alaska Communications; Amy Burnett, ConocoPhillips; Sarah Erkmann, Alaska Oil and Gas Association; Kristin Helvey, APR, Helvey Communications; Ginger Houghton, Providence Health and Services Alaska; Josh Niva, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.; Amy Slinker, Pfeffer Development and Alaska National Guard; Ethics Officer Michelle Egan, APR, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.; Assembly Delegates Meadow Bailey, APR, Alaska Department of Transportation and Nance Larsen, APR, Fellow PRSA, Carlile Transportation Systems.

The Rotary International Board of Directors has awarded Alaskan Bill Hopper with a 2014-15 Service Above Self Award. It’s one of Rotary International’s highest honors, recognizing Rotarians who truly embody Rotary’s motto of “service above self.” Hopper has been an active member of Anchorage Downtown Rotary for 32 years and has perfect attendance. Hopper has served on numerous Rotary committees including as District Governor and President of his club. He is a major donor to The Rotary Foundation and is a Paul Harris Fellow. Hopper has helped make Rotary conferences happen, handled finances for the District, led Leadership Academies and supported the youth exchange program. He also has been a key leader in the development of Rotary in Eastern Russia and Siberia. As District Governor in 2009-10, Bill spent nearly three months visiting clubs in Russia, as well as visiting all the clubs in Alaska and Yukon, Canada. Rotary District 5010 received the “North Star Award for International Excellence” from Alaska’s Governor in 2009, in part to Bill’s work in Russia. Outside of Rotary, Hopper worked for Wilder Construction Company for 37 years, retiring in 2008.

The Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award announced that Dr. Katherine Gottlieb, president and CEO of Southcentral Foundation, is the recipient of 2015 Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award. Under her leadership, Southcentral started using Baldrige concepts and tools in 2004. Since that time, Gottlieb views it as her role to champion their use at every level, with improvements being made in a systematic, mission-driven way. SCF’s achievements were recognized in 2011 with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award, the only national quality award that carries the Presidential seal. When Gottlieb assumed her leadership role, SCF had 100 employees and three programs. Today, she leads 1,800 employees in a complex healthcare delivery system that supports more than 80 programs and serves a geographical area stretching over 100,000 square miles across Southcentral Alaska.

Updated: 
12/17/2014 - 3:04pm

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