Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld

An expert in large-scale systems change, negotiation, and industrial relations, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld is a professor in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University where he leads research on workplace and institutional change and teaches classes on strategy and operations.  Previously Joel served as professor and dean in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and on the faculty in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. 


Joel has helped to lead large-scale change initiatives in public and private sectors in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, Iceland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Panama, and the United States. Joel’s current research is centered on stakeholder alignment in complex systems – a foundation for institutions in the 21st Century.


Joel is an award-winning author who has co-authored or co-edited twelve books including most recently, Designing Reality:  How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution (Basic Books, 2017).  This book, which will be a focus for his remarks at the summit, addresses the challenges to people, organizations and institutions, as well as the opportunities for increased self-sufficiency, when digital technologies are changing at an accelerating rate. You can find more about the book at http://designingreality.org.


Joel is editor for the Negotiation Journal at the Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School and is past president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.  He holds a Ph.D. in industrial relations from MIT and a B.S. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. 

Ásta Kristín Sigurjónsdóttir, Iceland Tourism Cluster

Ásta Kristín is the Managing Director of the Iceland Tourism Cluster that is a business-driven organization with over 50 members. The main objective of the Tourism Cluster Initiative is to promote competitiveness and value creation within the Icelandic tourism industry, and to develop a co-operating forum for different stakeholders where the focus is on linking them together and opening up for interaction between them. One of the Clusters focus project is running the Responsible Tourism initiative together with Festa the CSR center in Iceland. Ásta Kristin has a BSc in International Business and Marketing from the University of Reykjavík and an IMPA certificate in project management.

The cluster network consists of travel agents, tour operators, hotels, attractions and activities, restaurants, airlines, public relations, IT solutions, maintenance service, engineer service, banks, foreign exchange, law firms, educational institutions and retail.

Members of the Iceland Tourism network agree to:

  • Enhance and reinforce collaboration and cooperation
  • Increase innovation in the tourism business
  • Improve professionalism and quality
  • Strengthen the infrastructure
  • Be responsible in their work

Among projects that the Tourism Cluster supports and works on involves innovation through Startup Tourism accelerator, runs a co-work offices and incubator for small businesses in tourism, works on digital solutions in tourism and works closely with different regions all across Iceland developing destinations and build up businesses.

Companies participating in Responsible Tourism agree on a limited number of clear and simple measures of responsible tourism.

The purpose of the incentive project is to maintain Iceland‘s status as an optimal future destination for tourists by supporting sustainability for future generations of the nation.

Leaders from over 310 companies have now signed a declaration on responsible tourism. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, is the project’s patron. Festa – the Center for Corporate Social Responsibility and the Iceland Tourism Cluster support the project in cooperation with the Tourist Board, SAF, Promote Iceland, Regional Marketing Offices of Iceland, Visit Reykjavík and Safetravel Iceland.

The companies involved in the project aim to:

  • Demonstrate exemplary behaviour and respect for nature.
  • Ensure the safety of guests and treat them courteously.
  • Respect the rights of employees.
  • Have a positive impact on the local community.

Dr. Jim Johnsen, President of the University of Alaska

Dr. Jim Johnsen was appointed to serve as the 14th president of the University of Alaska on July 28, 2015. His experience includes executive leadership positions in the private sector with Alaska Communications and with Doyon, Limited, and in higher education between 1996-2008 in several executive roles including vice president of administration and chief of staff.

President Johnsen is passionate about higher education and economic opportunity, having served as chair of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, vice chair of the Alaska Student Loan Corporation, vice chair of the University of Alaska Foundation, commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, member of the Alaska State Committee on Research, and member of the Board of Directors of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.

As president, Dr. Johnsen is a commissioner on the Denali Commission and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, a member of the Alaska Aerospace Corporation Board, a director on the UA Foundation Board, and a member of the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. His education includes a B.A. in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, master’s in political science from the University of Chicago, and doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

In his short time as president, he is leading a major systemwide Title IX compliance effort, a comprehensive restructuring of the academic programs and administrative services of the university, a major initiative to align with Alaska’s primary and secondary education sectors, and a systemwide push to achieve the state’s goal of higher attainment -- 65% by 2025.

Dr. Johnsen and his wife, Mary, who is retired, have two grown children, both born and raised in Alaska.

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeupBeth Weldon, Mayor of City and Borough of Juneau

Beth Weldon began her tenure as Mayor of Juneau in October of 2018. Previously, she served two years as a member of the City and Borough Juneau assembly. Beth is a lifelong Juneau resident and has an extensive history of work and service. She was the first female officer in the department at Capital City Fire/Rescue and retired as Division Chief. She also spent seven years as owner and operator of the gillnetter F/V Seven Seas. Currently Beth co-owns and operates Capitol Motor Supply/Glacier Auto Parts with her husband. Beth holds a B.S. in Fisheries from the University of Washington.

Chancellor Dan M. White headshotDaniel White, Chancellor of University of Alaska Fairbanks

Daniel M. White has served as University of Alaska Fairbanks chancellor since July 2017. He previously served as University of Alaska vice president for academic affairs and research. He joined the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1995 as a professor of civil and environmental engineering. White has served in several positions at UAF, including director of the Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF associate vice chancellor for research and head of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization and interim vice chancellor for research. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Washington University and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

http://www.uas.alaska.edu/provost/images/staff/caulfield.jpgRick Caulfield, Chancellor of University of Alaska Southeast

Dr. Rick Caulfield serves as Chancellor, University of Alaska Southeast. His previous academic positions included UAS Provost (5 years) and 25 years as a University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty member and administrator. He also worked as research specialist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence. His academic interests are in political science, natural resources management, and the political economy of resource use in the Arctic. He earned his doctorate in the UK, with dissertation research focused on aboriginal subsistence whaling in Greenland/Kalaallit Nunaat. He has lived and worked in rural Alaskan communities, including Dillingham where he worked as a commercial fisherman. Dr. Caulfield serves as Vice-Chair of JEDC and is on the board of the Alaska Development Corporation and Juneau World Affairs Council.

Nolan Klouda, CEcD

As Executive Director, Nolan provides overall leadership for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, as well as support for other programs of the UAA Business Enterprise Institute. He has been a strategic advisor to tribal governments, municipal governments, non-profits, Alaska Native Corporations and private business groups, assisting them in realizing their economic goals. Nolan’s areas of professional interest include feasibility analysis, rural economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation policy, and engagement between the public and private sectors. He is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council and serves on the Municipality of Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission. Nolan was named to Alaska’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2015. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts, History and Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Craig Fleener

Mr. Craig Fleener was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised in Fort Yukon, 8 miles above the Arctic Circle on the Yukon River. Craig’s background includes wildland firefighting, local and statewide politics, grant-writing, wildlife and fisheries management, tribal management, healthcare, education and environmental management. Craig has enjoyed 32 years of military experience from active duty service with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force and ongoing Alaska Air National Guard service. Craig spent 16 years enlisted before commissioning and currently holds the rank of Lt Col, serving as an Intelligence Officer in the Alaska National Guard. Craig is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Craig’s educational background includes Air Command and Staff College at Air University, Squadron Officer’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Air War College at Air University, a BSc in Natural Resources Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an M.A. in Intelligence Studies from American Public University and substantial work towards an MSc in Wildlife Biology from the University of Calgary.

Craig serves on numerous boards, committees and councils such as Council of Governor’s serving as governor’s representative advising the White House on military and defense issues; Polar Research and Policy Initiative as an Advisory Board member supporting polar research, facilitating greater bilateral trade and investment in the polar regions;  Alaska representative to the International Porcupine Caribou Board;  Board Member on Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska to support disabled veterans with hunting and fishing opportunities in Alaska; Committee Member on the State of Alaska Multi-Agency Committee to improve collaboration in state emergencies; Board Member on the U.S. Public Policy Committee with the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States; Board Member for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Bison Subcommittee working towards the conservation and restoration of bison herds worldwide; international Co-chair of the Yukon River Panel to implement the Pacific Salmon Treaty between Canada and the United States; Board Member on the Alaska Board of Game providing regulatory oversight for wildlife in Alaska; Committee Member with the National Academy of Sciences to develop a long-range Western Alaska Salmon Research and Restoration Plan; Alaska Native Health Board member guiding health care delivery for indigenous Alaskans; Chair for the Gwich’in Council International with the Arctic Council; Chairman of the Eastern Interior Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council; Deputy Mayor in Fort Yukon; Tribal Council member for the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribe in Fort Yukon; and formerly served as Third in Line of Succession to Governor of the State of Alaska.

Alec Mesdag, Vice President of Alaska Electric Light & Power

Alec Mesdag grew up in Juneau and holds a degree in environmental science from Oregon State University.  Prior to returning to Juneau in 2012, he worked as a project manager for a large electrical contractor in Portland, OR, managing healthcare, high tech, and solar construction projects, as well as developing non-regulated energy projects for tax equity investors.  As vice president and director of energy services at AEL&P, Alec works to influence how customers consume energy in order to maximize the value of electric infrastructure. Alec serves as the Co-Chair of JEDC’s Renewable Energy Cluster Working Group, focused on finding applications of renewable energy in our region’s economy.

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