General Information Package -- Governor Palin's Executive Experience -- Board Appointments

Following is Governor Palin’s press release in its entirety on six board appointments she made:

On March 20, 2009, [Alaska] Governor Sarah Palin today announced appointments to the Alaska Historical Records Advisory Board, Alaska Railroad Corporation Board of Directors, Alaska Council on Emergency Medical Services, Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Federal Areas, Subsistence Resources Commissions, and Wood-Tikchik State Park Management Council (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶1).

Alaska Historical Records Advisory Board

Governor Palin appointed Joseph Kurber to the Alaska Historical Records Advisory Board (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶2).

The board, with at least nine members, is responsible for reviewing grant requests from historical, archival, research, governmental and academic organizations. The board also oversees the state historic preservation plan and helps plan for statewide records management needs (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶3).

Kurber, of North Pole, is an apartment owner in Fairbanks with a record of academic accomplishment in the state. He graduated with distinction in 2002 from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, earned a bachelor’s degree in language with honors from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2006, and is working on a second degree in history at UAF. He is a poet and writer whose work has been published in the American Journal of Poetry, and he has been a finalist for two literary prizes awarded by an international poetry program. Kurber is youth director of the Door of Hope Church in Fairbanks, and a member of Fairbanks’ Focus Youth Ministry network. He was appointed to a public seat (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶4).

Alaska Railroad Corporation Board of Directors

Governor Palin appointed Steve Menard, and reappointed John Binkley, to the Alaska Railroad Corporation Board of Directors (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶5).

The seven-member board is responsible for managing and operating the state-owned private corporation that oversees the railroad and its assets (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶6).

Menard, of Wasilla, has been a substitute teacher in Matanuska-Susitna schools since 2003, and served on the Wasilla City Council from 2005-08. He was a special assistant to the state commissioner of labor from 2007-08 and to Governor Palin from 2006-07, and earlier worked as a commercial fisherman and a legislative aide. Menard served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995-2001, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Alabama. He was appointed to finish out the remaining months of the term of his recently deceased father, Wasilla Mayor Curt Menard (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶7).

Binkley, of Fairbanks, has been president of the Alaska Cruise Association since 2007. He was chairman of his family business, the Riverboat Discovery, from 1991-2005, and owned and operated the Northwest Navigation Tug & Barge Company from 1977-86. He was elected to serve on the Bethel City Council from 1982-85, the Alaska House of Representatives from 1985-87, and the Alaska State Senate from 1987-91. Binkley has been chairman of the railroad board from 1995-2006, and again since 2007. He was reappointed to a seat representing Interior Alaska (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶8).

Alaska Council on Emergency Medical Services

Governor Palin reappointed Steven O’Connor and Soren Threadgill to the Alaska Council on Emergency Medical Services (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶9).

The 11-member council advises the governor and the commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services on planning and implementing the state’s emergency medical services system (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶10).

O’Connor, of Kenai, worked for the Nikiski Fire Department for 24 years, and retired as director of paramedic operations and battalion chief. He previously worked as a paramedic and ambulance driver in Oregon for the Corvalis Fire Department from 1974-81. He is a member of numerous professional associations, including the Alaska Fire Chief’s Association, Alaska State Firefighters Association, and the National Association for Search and Rescue. O’Connor holds numerous instructors’ certifications in emergency medical technology, cardiac life support and trauma treatment. He was reappointed to a consumer seat (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶11).

Threadgill, of Anchorage, is deputy fire marshal and chief of EMS operations for the Anchorage Fire Department, and has been with the department since starting as a paramedic in 1991. He worked from 1986-91 as a medic for American Guard and Alert, overseeing 50 other paramedics in Alaska. He previously worked as a paramedic and training officer in California. Threadgill earned an associate’s degree in marine technology at California’s Santa Barbara City College in 1981 and an associate’s degree in paramedicine from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1993, and received training in 1984 as an EMT-4/paramedic at the Paramedic Training Institute in Portland, Oregon. He was reappointed to a seat reserved for an administrator of emergency medical services (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶12).

Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Federal Areas

Governor Palin reappointed Mark Fish and Charles Lean to the Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Federal Areas (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶13).

The 12-member commission is responsible for identifying and reducing potential negative impacts on Alaska and its citizens from federal management of the 239 million acres of federal land in Alaska. The commission issues annual reports to the governor and Legislature. It had operated from 1981-99, and was reestablished in 2007 (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶14).

Fish, of Anchorage, is a 30-year Alaska resident who retired after a 20-year career as an aviation technician and helicopter crew chief with the Alaska Army National Guard. He is a hunter and outdoorsmen’s rights advocate who builds and shoots his own black powder rifles. Fish was first appointed to a partial term in 2007, and was reappointed to a full term in a public seat (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶15).

Lean, of Nome, has nearly 30 years of experience as a fisheries biologist in western Alaska, has worked on subsistence issues for the National Park Service in Nome, and has significant experience on federal land use issues on the Seward Peninsula. He now works for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation as a fisheries research and development biologist. He has served on the State Emergency Medical Services Commission, the Nome Volunteer Ambulance Department and the Nome Emergency Planning Commission. Lean earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1976. He was first appointed to a partial term in 2007, and was reappointed to a full term in a public seat (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶16).

Subsistence Resources Commissions

Governor Palin reappointed Robert Fithian, Harry Kalmakoff Jr., and Martha Siikauraq Whiting to National Park and Park Monument Subsistence Resources Commissions (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶17).

Subsistence Resource Commissions were established for each of the seven federal parks or national monuments created by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in which subsistence harvest of resources is allowed. They prepare and recommend local subsistence hunting programs for the consideration of the governor and Interior secretary, addressing issues such as eligibility, customary and traditional use, access, impacts of development projects, and regulation of subsistence seasons, bag limits, and methods and means. Each commission has nine members: three appointed by the governor, three by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and three by the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council for each park or monument (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶18).

Fithian, of Copper Center, was reappointed to the commission for the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. A master guide, he has been executive director of the Alaska Professional Hunter’s Association since 2002, and owner of a guiding service since 1988. A hunting advocate, instructor and author, Fithian is the Alaska representative of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and Safari Club International (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶19).

Kalmakoff, of Chignik Lake, was reappointed to the commission for the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve. He is a family services worker for the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation’s substance abuse department, and fishes commercially in the summer. He served on the Chignik Lake Village Council from 1987-94, including three years as president, and served as the village health board representative to the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation from 1987-94 (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶20).

Whiting, of Kotzebue, was reappointed to the commission for the Cape Krusenstern National Monument. She has served since 2006 as the first woman mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough, following two years working as assistant to the previous mayor. Whiting worked nine years in Kotzebue for NANA Regional Corporation in positions including the director of the corporation’s museum, executive director of its cultural education program, and director of its regional economic development program. Whiting earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resource land management from Sheldon Jackson College in 1990 (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶21).

Wood-Tikchik State Park Management Council

Governor Palin appointed Daniel Chythlook to the Wood-Tikchik State Park Management Council (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶22).

The seven-member council is responsible for designing a management plan for the park, the nation’s largest state park, and monitoring implementation of that plan with the assistance of the state Department of Natural Resources. Members include state government officials, and members nominated by local village councils, city councils, and Native associations (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶23).

Chythlook, of Aleknagik, is vice president of the Aleknagik Tribal Council. He is the council’s tribal environmental program coordinator and a certified water quality tester for the Nushagak/Mulchatna Watershed Council. Chythlook also serves on the Qayassiq Walrus Commission. He was appointed from among three people nominated by the Aleknagik Tribal Council to represent the village (Board Appointments, 2009, ¶24).


Governor Palin has now appointed 37 people this year to boards and councils, not counting judicial appointments. This accomplishment comes amid numerous others that Governor Palin has achieved this week — the ability to multi-task and make hiring decisions is the mark of a true executive.


Governor Palin announces board appointments. (2009, March 20). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved March 21, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1720