Staff Members

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

Since 2008, Brian Holst serves as the Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council. Before joining JEDC, Brian worked in community and economic development internationally for 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 the wellbeing of Alaskans. Brian serves Juneau and Alaska in numerous capacities, including serving on the Alaska State Committee on Research, UAF Alaska Center for Energy and Power, UAS Campus Advisory Council, the Alaska Committee as well as being active in service groups. He is a staunch advocate for developing talent early and serves on the Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council and is a member of the Juneau Board of Education. His family in Juneau includes his wife Estela, four children, parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

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.  

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.

Erin Laughlin, Program Assistant - (907) 523-2340

Erin comes to JEDC from the Permanent Fund Dividend divison, where she worked as an Eligibility Technician. Prior to working at the PFD, she participated in the Ted Stevens Legislative Internship with the University of Alaska during the 32nd legislative session. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's degree at the University of Alaska Southeast where she is studying buisness administration. 

Erin moved to the Capital City four years ago to work on whale watching boats for the summer. She immediately fell in love with Juneau, and while she was scheduled to return to Florida after three months in Alaska, she had become so smitten with this beautiful, vibrant place, that she decided to make it her home. She is excited to be working with JEDC in helping to make Juneau a great place to live, work, and recreate!

Kristy Speciale, Communications and Development Officer

Kristy brings a well-versed creative background to the JEDC team. She has honed her communication skills though various professional industries including; the NFL, the political sector and most recently through the commercial furniture industry. Her passion is rooted in seeing organizations thrive in the community and she helps make this possible by being aware of the fine details and helping people connect the dots while always seeing the big picture. It is her duty to help make Juneau a great capital city and she currently does this by coordinating special events, upholding community relationships in-person and online, and truly finding interest in what makes each organization thrive.

James Cheng, Program Associate

Before coming to work with JEDC, James has worked as a tour boat captain in Tracy Arm and as a cello and chamber music instructor. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Pacific University and is a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School. He was drawn back to Juneau because of its access to the outdoors and the active arts community.

James is very involved in the music community playing cello with groups such as the Juneau Symphony, Juneau Lyric Opera, and Orpheus Project and teaching with Juneau Alaska Music Matters.

When not working, James spends his time outside (hiking, fishing, skiing…) and playing music. He is looking forward to making Juneau and even better place to live.