Staff Members

Brian Holst, Executive Director - (907) 523-2333

Since 2008, Brian Holst serves as the Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council. Prior to joining JEDC, Brian worked in community and economic development for almost twenty years. His previous experience includes working with local and national stakeholders in challenging economic and political circumstances in the developing world, with extensive experience leading countrywide programs in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Brian has directly managed implementation of programs in micro-finance, home improvement lending, environmental planning, disaster mitigation and response, business support services and various construction efforts ranging from energy to schools to roads.

Brian is a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School and the University of Notre Dame. He served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in small business development and has also worked as an international consultant and small business owner.

Brian is committed to the prosperity of Juneau and to the wellbeing of Alaskans. Brian serves in numerous capacities including the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, Alaska Committee, Any Given Child Initiative, Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council, Alaska State Committee on Research, as well as active in service groups. He is staunch advocate for developing talent early and is a member of the Juneau Board of Education. He is surrounded by an extended family, including his wife Estela and four children.  Brian has been a resident of Alaska since 1978.

Margaret O’Neal, Director of Operations, Director of Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund - (907) 523-2326

During her years in commercial banking and finance, Margaret helped hundreds of businesses in Alaska’s urban and rural areas thrive. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Margaret moved to Alaska in 1983 to work as a Senior Operations Manager for Alaska Federal Savings & Loan. Margaret spent much of her career as a commercial loan officer in Alaska and operated her own financial consulting firm that provided turnaround assistance to small business owners and consulting for prominent financial institutions.

Margaret now lends her vast and varied experience to JEDC operations and to our business community. Her expertise includes organizational leadership, contract administration; grant management, real estate acquisition and strategic and operational planning.

Beyond her responsibilities as Operations Manager and CFO of JEDC, Margaret is the Director of the Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund, represents JEDC on the Alaska Wood Energy Task Group and serves on the Juneau Affordable Housing Commission. 

Eva Bornstein, Program Officer - (907) 523-2339

Committed to community, Eva Bornstein has dedicated time and talent to the Juneau community through work and volunteerism for the last 27 years. She was honored as a Juneau School District Volunteer of the Year and served five years on the Juneau Commission on Sustainability, during which she helped start the Juneau Local Foods Festival.

Eva holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an MS from Yale University, and a BA from Bryn Mawr College. Her career has spanned from corporate strategic planning for a Fortune 500 multinational, to project management in the banking industry to teaching Business Finance at the University of Alaska Southeast School of Management.

Eva sees her work at JEDC as a way of using her talents to help our city and region stay strong and sustainable. She is project lead for development and implementation of the Southeast Cluster Initiative, with responsibility for the Research and Development and the Visitor Products Cluster. She is also the lead researcher at JEDC, directing the annual Economic Indicators publication and providing research support for many JEDC programs. 

Dana Herndon, Communications Specialist - (907)523-2324

Dana Herndon has worked in international marketing and public relations for the past six years. Her geographic expertise includes United States, Latin America and Europe and she has experience working in supervisory roles in agency, in-house and non-profit settings. Her role at JEDC includes managing and executing events such as the annual Innovation Summit and the Maritime Festival, creating monthly JEDC newsletters, updating JEDC’s social media and website and serving as the JEDC liaison to the Downtown Business Association. As JEDC’s liaison to the Downtown Business Association, she assists the organization with administration and marketing.

Dana earned her BA with honors in International Business from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  Throughout University Dana worked in marketing at The History Channel, A&E and Biography Channel Latin America and continued working there upon graduation.

Rebecca Soza, STEM AK Program Manager - (907) 523-2334

Becca has a passion for community involvement in education that creates real-world opportunities for students to engage in learning. She regularly teaches Juneau Girl Scouts, coordinates science camps, organized “Girls Rock Science!” and leads other community science events designed to introduce STEM programs and careers to students. Her primary role at JEDC is directing Alaska’s FIRST Robotics program where she has built the statewide program to include over 200 teams and 400 volunteers.

Becca earned her MA in Secondary Science Education and BA in Environmental Science from Columbia University and went on to teach middle-school science at an inner-city public school and work for a variety of nonprofit organizations.

She is now an integral part of JEDC’s STEM AK programming on the local, regional and statewide level.  Beyond FIRST Robotics, she developes and executes enrichment activities, professional development opportunities, helps facilitate Technology Transfer partnerships and is an enthusiastic advocate for STEM education. 

Robyn Mesdag, CFA, Researcher

Prior to working at JEDC, Robyn worked in finance, first with the State of Alaska as an Investment Officer, then for a Portland, Oregon investment consulting firm as an Associate Consultant. During her time in finance, Robyn created, reviewed and presented performance reports to clients to ensure clients’ investment goals were being met per their investment policy, managed and facilitated recommended transition plans, completed asset allocation studies and special projects, including a salary study for the State of Washington and public funds reporting. Robyn has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.   

At JEDC Robyn’s responsibilities include economic research, acting as a liaison for the Junior Achievement program, and organizing fundraising to support the robotics teams statewide.

Robyn has a finance degree from Linfield College and is a graduate of Juneau – Douglas High School. Outside of JEDC Robyn spends time with her husband, two children and her (many) extended family members, as well as volunteering in the schools.

Marella Gungob

Marella was raised in Juneau and is a University of Alaska Southeast graduate. She is continuing her studies and intends to pursue her CPA. She is currently the Vice President of Southeast Alaskan Prospective Accountants. Prior to working at JEDC, Marella has worked at First Bank and served as an AVID tutor for the Juneau School District while attending UAS.

Outside of work and school, Marella loves to serve her community through involvement in various activities. She holds a second-degree black belt and has helped teach the annual women’s self-defense class for AWARE since she was 15. In order to achieve her goal of expanding her public service to more Alaskan communities, she was a Miss Alaska USA contender in Anchorage in 2017.

Marella enjoys being an accountant at JEDC, especially because JEDC shares her commitment to making the community a great place to live.

Julie Hamilton

Julie Hamilton was born and raised in Juneau, and has made it her home for most of her career.  She has been a Certified Public Accountant in Alaska since 1992, and a Chartered Global Management Accountant since 2012.

Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from Arizona State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.  She is a member of the American Institute of Public Accountants, and the Alaska Society of CPAs. 

Her work experience includes positions with the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (CFO and Controller), Juneau Youth Services (Director of Finance), Wolfe & Hamilton CPAs (Owner), Elgee, Rehfeld & Mertz (Accountant), Deloitte & Touche (Seattle office – Accountant), and Arthur Young (Phoenix office – Intern). 

Currently, Julie works as a full time Professor of Accounting at the University of Alaska Southeast, and assists with accounting at JEDC.  She serves as a board member of the Cancer Connection, and serves on many UAS committees, including Faculty Senate and the Honorary Doctorate Committee.

In her spare time Julie likes to go to her cabin in Tenakee Springs, travel, cook and hike.