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2017 Speakers


Nils Andreassen
Executive Director, Institute of the North
Nils has a degree in Peace and Development from the University of Bradford in England and his background in rural and international development, Alaska and Arctic policy issues fit well within the Institute’s mission to inform public policy as it relates to natural resource development, and specifically to result in improved living and economic conditions for northern residents. The Institute has a legacy working on Arctic infrastructure priorities and policies that serve to strengthen and connect northern communities.



Mia Bennett

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, UCLA
Founder and Manager, Cryopolitics
Mia Bennett is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at UCLA and Founder and Manager of the Cryopolitics blog. Using methods from political geography and remote sensing, her research examines Arctic development through the lens of major transportation infrastructure projects in the North, with a focus on Russia and Canada. Her work and
travels have brought her to a diverse range of places in the Arctic, from the Greenland Ice Sheet to Barrow, Alaska. Mia is committed to communicating the human dimensions of globalization and climate change in the Arctic through her blog and photography. She received an MPhil in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge, where she was a
Gates Cambridge Scholar, and speaks French, Swedish, and Russian. She can be followed on Twitter @miageografia.
Sonja Bickford
Project Manager, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland / NIEM
Sonja Bickford is a Project Manager at NIEM and the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. She has worked in project management and program development in Finland, Sweden and the United States. Her extensive interests include environmental impact assessments, global environmental governance, and creating a successful business model for improving profitability and sustainable environmental tourism in northern Finland. Furthermore, she is focused on understanding and improving business opportunities in the Arctic while creating a business model for improving sustainable operation, development, transportation, and trade in the Arctic regions. Sonja holds a DBA in Global Business and Leadership from the California Intercontinental University and an MBA from Arkansas State University.
Heather Exner-Pirot
Managing Editor, Arctic Yearbook
Heather Exner-Pirot is the Managing Editor of the Arctic Yearbook.  She is a member of the Board of Advisors for The Arctic Institute, an Editorial Board member with the Canadian Journal of Foreign Policy, a Board member with the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network, and an online commentator for Radio Canada’s Eye on the Arctic.  She earned her PhD at the University of Calgary in 2011 and has held positions with the University of Arctic and the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development. She is currently a Strategist for Outreach and Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan.
Piper Foster Wilder
Founder and CEO 60Hertz Microgrids
Piper Foster Wilder is the Founder and CEO of 60Hertz Microgrids. The company’s purpose is to fund and operate renewable-diesel microgrids across the remote Arctic.  Based in Anchorage, 60Hertz is raising a capital finance fund and developing a software platform to support Power Plant Operators. Wilder came to Alaska to serve as Deputy Director of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project in Anchorage. There she became acquainted with the opportunity and challenges of project development, financing, and maintenance of remote power grids. In 2016, Piper led a contract with the Colorado Energy Office to develop a solar-thermal-as-a-service program in partnership with six Rural Electric Cooperatives in Colorado’s Western Slope. Piper came to renewable technologies through her work as Vice President of Amatis Controls, an Internet of Things company. There, she developed their thermal metering product line. During this time she was named in Aspen Magazine's Ten Women of Aspen. Prior to this she helped launch Colorado's Energy Smart initiative. Piper is a Humboldt Fellow and worked at Ecologic Institute in Berlin for two years studying land use planning to accommodate large renewable installations. She lives in Anchorage with her husband, photographer Nathaniel Wilder. 
Renée Hulan
Professor at Saint Mary's University
Dr. Hulan teaches a broad range of courses in Canadian literature. Her research focuses on the North, most recently the influence of climate change on how the Arctic is treated in literature and visual culture. She is the author of Canadian Historical Writing: Reading the Remains (Palgrave, 2014) and Northern Experience and the Myths of Canadian Culture (McGill-Queens, 2002). In support of Indigenous literary studies, she edited Native North America: Critical and Cultural Perspectives (ECW, 1999) and, with Renate Eigenbrod, Aboriginal Oral Traditions: Theory, Practice, Ethics (Fernwood, 2008). Dr. Hulan has held appointments to several editorial and advisory boards and served as co-editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies. Renée Hulan holds a PhD from McGill University. Before joining the faculty at Saint Mary’s in 1998, she was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia. She is a research associate of the Laboratoire international d’étude multidisciplinaire comparée des répresentations du Nord at UQÀM and a member of the Arctic Modernities research group at the University of Tromsø, Norway.
Jocelyn Joe-Strack
Member, Champagne and Aishihik First Nation and Vanier Scholar, University of Saskatchewan
Jocelyn Joe-Strack is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation located in the Yukon Territory of northwestern Canada.  She was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon and lives there today. Jocelyn holds a BSc in biochemistry and microbiology and MSc in Geography.  Her Master’s investigated the role of bacteria in cycling atmospherically transferred mercury in the sediments of a subarctic Yukon Lake.  Her PhD work with the University of Saskatchewan is conjunction with her role as a consultant to develop a Settlement Land Use Plan with her First Nation. From this experience, Jocelyn intends to contribute to advancements in value-driven decision-making, Indigenous-led reconciliation and intergeneration leadership in self-determination.
Dr. Anna Kerttula de Echave, PhD
Program Director of the Arctic Social Sciences Program at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
Anna Kerttula de Echave is a lifelong Alaskan, an anthropologist and is the Program Director of the Arctic Social Sciences Program at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).  Her research has spanned three decades of fieldwork in the Arctic, during which she has covered a diverse range of research topics from land use patterns and subsistence economies to identity, household organization, and domestic violence.  Her host populations have been equally diverse including the Yup’ik, Denai’ina, Pribiloff Aleuts, and the Siberian Yupik and Chukchi of Russia.  She has also participated in archaeological research projects investigating prehistoric Athabaskan and Pacific Inuit sites.  Her early research in the former Soviet Union culminated in the book, “Antler on the Sea: the Yupik and Chukchi of the Russian Far East,” published by Cornell University Press in 2000. Before joining NSF Anna was the Associate Director of the Alaska Governor’s Office in Washington, DC; her portfolio included Natural Resources, Rural Affairs, Environmental Conservation, and Fisheries.  Prior to this appointment, Anna was the Legislative Assistant for Russian Affairs to US Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Over the last 15 years at NSF, under Anna’s guidance, the Arctic Social Sciences program has set standard for community participation in defining scientific research projects.   Currently the ASSP portfolio includes archaeology, ethnology, theoretical linguistics and endangered languages documentation, Indigenous knowledge, community participatory research, social psychology, social history, human geography, sociology, political science, economics, and interdisciplinary research.  As Program Director, Anna has focused on ways to create partnerships between Arctic communities and academic researchers; from encouraging and funding Arctic Native researchers and organizations to a multitude of educational programs that give rural Arctic students science experience and promote their interests in the sciences.  Since coming to NSF Anna has been a member of NSF’s ADVANCE Implementation Group a program that focuses on the advancement of women in science.  She has also participated in numerous cross-directorate activities including the program for Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES); SEES Research Networks; Arctic Sustainability; the NSF- BELMONT Forum Sustainability competition; and Navigating the New Arctic. In 2012, Anna served as the US Embassy Science Fellow to the US Embassy in Iceland.  And in 2014 and 2016 taught a course on Arctic People and Culture for the Polar Law Program at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. Anna became a member of the Social, Economic and Cultural Expert Group of the Sustainable Working Group of the Arctic Council during the Canadian Chairmanship, was the Co-Chair, along with Co Chair Liza Mack, for the duration of the U.S. Chairmanship, and will continue to serve under the Finnish Chairmanship. 
Pamela Lesser
Researcher, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland / Arctic Governance Research Group
Pamela Lesser is a Researcher at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland / Arctic Governance Research Group.  Pamela is currently working on the project ‘Arctic EIA - Good Practice Recommendations for Environmental Impact Assessment and Public Participation in the Arctic’, one of Finland’s flagship projects during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2017-2019).  In addition to environmental impact assessment, she also conducts research on sustainable mining practices, and in particular, on the social license to operate concept.  Pamela received a Master’s of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California and has also pursued postgraduate studies in environmental policy and science.
Alec Luhn
Alec Luhn is a Moscow-based American journalist who has written for the Guardian, TIME, Politico, The New York Times, Slate, Foreign Policy, MAXIM, VICE News, GQ, The Independent and The Nation, among others. He has covered opposition protests in Russia, elections in Belarus, the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the war in eastern Ukraine.
Emily McKenzie
Lead, Valuing Nature
Emily McKenzie joined WWF in 2008 and is Chief Adviser on Economics and Sustainability for the WWF Global Science Team. She co-leads a project called IDEEAS (Informing Decisions for Ecological and Economic Arctic Sustainability). Emily is on the Leadership Team of the Natural Capital Project, a decade-long partnership of WWF, Stanford University, the University of Minnesota and The Nature Conservancy. She is on the Advisory Panel of the Natural Capital Coalition with over 250 member organisations working to include natural capital in business decision making. She has worked in over twenty countries helping governments and businesses to improve decision-making, and has published over a dozen related peer-reviewed publications on the science-policy interface, scenarios and ecological economics.  Prior to working with WWF, Emily worked as an economist in the United Kingdom, the South Pacific and Caribbean, advising the UK Government, UK Overseas Territories and Pacific Island nations on the use of economics for environmental policy and conservation.  Emily received Master’s degrees in International Policy Studies from Stanford University and Economics from Cambridge University.
Matthew Melino
Research Associate, Europe Program
Matthew Melino is a research associate with the CSIS Europe Program, where he provides research and program support on a range of issues, including developments in the Arctic, security and defense trends in northern Europe, and the evolution of NATO and transatlantic relations. Previously, he served as a research assistant with the Europe Program, analyzing political, economic, and security developments across the euro zone. Mr. Melino has also worked with the U.S. Department of State on issues of conflict prevention and crisis response. He received his B.A. in government from Franklin & Marshall College and his M.A. in international relations and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Inuuteq Holm Olsen
Minister Plenipotentiary for Greenland, Royal Danish Embassy, Washington DC
Inuuteq Holm Olsen is Minister Plenipotentiary and Head of Representation at the Greenland Representation at the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC as of January 1, 2014. As of October 2015, he is also accredited to Canada.
Prior to coming to DC he was at the Danish Foreign Ministry as Senior Adviser for Greenland and Arctic affairs. He has served as Deputy Minister for the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Greenland, July 2006 – end of 2012 (Acting Deputy Minister since December 2004). He began his career at the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1996 and was Private Secretary to the Premier from 1997 through 1999.
He was posted at the Danish Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen and was at the Greenland Representation in Brussels from 2000 through 2003. He thereafter returned to Nuuk to be Head of Department at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Holm Olsen earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1994 and a M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in 1996.
Stephan Schott
Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University
Stephan Schott is a Professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University with a PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics from the University of Guelph. Since 2010 he has been the graduate supervisor for the new interdisciplinary M.A. in Sustainable Energy Engineering and Policy. Dr. Schott teaches graduate courses in natural resource management, environmental and ecological economics, social benefit cost analysis, energy economics and economic theory. His research currently focuses on energy strategies and carbon emission reduction programmes, alternative energy and sustainable development in the Arctic, the economic impacts of mining on local communities and local business development, food security and the integration of traditional knowledge and science, and behavioral experiments in common pool resource environments.


Mike Sfraga
Director of the Polar Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center
Dr. Mike Sfraga is the Director of the Polar Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Sfraga is a geographer with a focus on the geography of Arctic landscapes, Arctic policy, and the impacts and implications of a changing climate on the social and political regimes in the Arctic. Sfraga previously served as Vice Chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), faculty member, department chair, and Associate Dean in the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension.
Sfraga served as Co-Lead Scholar for the inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative 2015-2017; a complementary program to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Sfraga serves as Co-Director of the University of the Arctic’s Institute for Arctic Policy, and is Affiliate Faculty, International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Sfraga serves as Chairman of the Institute of the North, University of the Arctic’s Head of Delegation to the Arctic Council, member of the Governor’s Alaska Arctic Policy Committee, and Alaska Arctic Council Host Committee.
Sfraga holds a Ph.D. in Northern Studies and Geography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  



Dr. Alexander Shestakov

Director, WWF Global Arctic Programme

Alexander Shestakov has worked as the Director of WWF's Global Arctic Programme based in Ottawa, Canada since July 2010, leading all of WWF’s work in the Arctic. Combining environmental and legal backgrounds, Dr. Shestakov received his MSc and PhD in physical geography, landscape sciences, and environmental management, and his MA in Land and Environmental Law from Moscow State University. He also completed the international program Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD). Dr. Shestakov has worked in a variety of sectors and roles including research on global environmental problems, environmental mapping, and environmental management at the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences; environmental consultancy on ESIA and environmental audits for a variety of industries; serving as an expert to the Committee on Ecology at Russian Parliament and drafting new federal environmental laws; representing the Russian Federation in the Convention on Biological Diversity including a COP Bureau; working at WWF Russia as an Environmental Law Officer and as Conservation Director; and working for BP Russia as HSE Manager and Environmental Director, participating in the work of IPIECA and OGP. Dr. Shestakov is the author of over 70 publications.


Alexey Tsykarev
Member, United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Alexey Tsykarev has gone from being a member of the youth organization Nuori Karjala (Young Karelia) to heading the International Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples, which includes 50 public organizations of Russia, Finland, Hungary and Estonia. Mr. Tsykarev participated in a fellowship program on the rights of indigenous peoples in 2011 and was an indigenous intern in the Moscow office of the United Nations in 2012. He is an independent young expert possessing local, national and international experience and expertise. In March 2013, he became a member of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an advisory body for the United Nations Human Rights Council, in 2014 appointed as the vice-chair, and in July 2015 elected as the Chair-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism. In August 2013, he was appointed as the representative of the Republic of Karelia to the Barents Regional Youth Council for two years’ term. Mr. Tsykarev is a member of the Indigenous Peoples Council under the head of the Republic of Karelia. Mr. Tsykarev's interests include indigenous international affairs, indigenous rights, youth policies, media and the environment.
Katherine Wyatt
Ecosystem Services Analyst for the Natural Capital Project's marine team
Katherine Wyatt is an Ecosystem Services Analyst for the Natural Capital Project's marine team.  The Natural Capital Project, 'NatCap', is an academic-NGO partnership between Stanford University, University of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund.  Katherine contributes to the the IDEAAS (Informing Decisions for Ecological and Economic Arctic Sustainability) as a spatial analyst and ecologist with experience in collaborative conservation and sustainable development planning.  Katherine supports efforts around the world to incorporate the benefits nature provides to people into decision making.  Most recently, she co-lead a stakeholder-driven Sustainable Development Plan for the island of Andros in The Bahamas as part of the National Development Plan.  On Andros, and elsewhere, Katherine leads assessments of the cumulative risk to habitats from multiple human activities.  Katherine received her Master's degree in forest ecology from the University of Washington.