Friends of Kennicott | working for people & place

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Board of Directors

Friends of Kennicott is governed and managed by an all-volunteer board

Neil Darish is co-owner of McCarthy Ventures LLC, and has been involved in restoring much of the visible part of McCarthy since 2001. He operates the McCarthy Lodge, Ma Johnson's Hotel, Golden Saloon and a number of other businesses in McCarthy. Neil has been living year around in McCarthy since 2001.

Sally Gibert, Secretary, is a founding member of Friends of Kennicott and cabin owner in McCarthy since 1976. She resided in McCarthy in the late 1970s and early 1980s and helped renovate the historic Hardware Store. Retired from the State of Alaska since 2011, she currently lives in Anchorage and visits McCarthy and Kennicott whenever she can.

Jim Sartin is the newest member of the Board.  Jim’s background in aviation has allowed him to experience much of the World with residencies in Saudi Arabia, China and the Philippines.  He has a BS in Economics from Northwestern University and an MBA in transportation from American University.  His travels have given him a keen interest in history and geography.  In his first trip to Kennicott in 1994 he recognized the unique mix of man’s activity within a spectacular natural setting.  This has led to his interest and involvement with the Friends of Kennicott.  Jim has maintained an part-time Anchorage residence since 1991. Retired since 2013, Jim now lives in Chugiak, Alaska and enjoys frequent trips to McCarthy and Kennicott.

Ben Shaine, President, is a founding member of Friends of Kennicott and has lived in the Kennicott/McCarthy area either full time or seasonally for over 35 years. Ben holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from the Union Graduate School. He has authored or co-authored several publications about the Wrangells, including Alaska Dragon and Community & Copper in a Wild Land, and teaches there in the summer.

Jessica Speed, Vice President, first came to the Wrangells in 1992 working for St. Elias Alpine Guides, where she promptly fell in love with the Kennicott Valley lands and it’s people. For many years she lived and worked seasonally at her home in Kennicott and spent winters in Anchorage. She currently lives in Anchorage year around where she works for the Nature Conservancy. Jessica holds a BS in Geography with a Natural Resources Management focus.  

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