Denali Commission E-News
A Message from Federal Co-Chair, Joel Neimeyer Dear Friends of the Denali Commission, It is my pleasure to address you as the new federal co-chair of the Denali Commission. It is my honor to follow the two gentlemen who previously held the position: Jeff Staser, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.) and George Cannelos, Brigadier General, U.S. Navy, Naval Reserve and Alaska Air National Guard (Ret.). Like Jeff and George, I too, have had a prior federal career as a recently retired Commander with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which afforded me the opportunity to work in over 100 Alaskan communities.
My first trip to rural Alaska was during the summer of 1984 when I visited my mom's village of Akiak on the Kuskokwim River; professionally, my first trip was in February 1985 to Noorvik. The former trip I caught silver salmon with my two brothers; the latter trip I learned about the first community vacuum sewer system ever installed in rural Alaska. Both were new experiences for me.
Serving at the Denali Commission is not a new experience for me. I was fortunate to staff the Commission's energy and health facilities programs during the organization's inception years. Certainly, rural Alaskans have benefitted greatly over the past ten years from Commission investments in partnership with numerous federal, state, municipal, tribal, and non-profit organizations.
Watch for our FY09 Annual Report highlighting some of these important projects and accomplishments. Also, be sure to review our FY10 Work Plan , featured in this eNewsletter.
We would appreciate your comments on this important document in the coming weeks. I must also take a moment and let you know that change is occuring at this organization with the departure of Krag Johnsen, our Chief Operating Officer. Krag and I both started at the Commission over 10 years ago, however, I spent the last 5 years at Rasmuson Foundation. Krag has been a valuable asset to Jeff, George, and now me. My best to Krag as he moves on to a new role with GCI as their Director of Rural Broadband Development. Thank you Krag for your dedication and steadfast committment to this organization and to Alaska - much of the Commission's success can be attributed to your excellent work.
In closing, it is apparent there is more work to be done and I look forward to working with partners in the coming years. With the ever increasing energy costs, the impacts of climate change and the affects of global economies on rural Alaska, the need is apparent. As an independent federal agency, the Denali Commission can play a unique role of bringing many stakeholders together to have a combined conversation with rural communities on how the villages and boroughs can proactively plan for the future. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting started in partnership with the Commission's fellow funders and the rural Alaska communities we collectively serve.