Who's Who at the Pratt
Diane Converse, Museum
Diane Converse joined the Pratt in October, 2009 as its new Museum Director/CEO. Converse grew up in Oregon and eastern Washington and has been living in the greater Seattle area since obtaining her BS degree in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington. She received her masters degree in nonprofit leadership from Seattle University and completed her doctorate in education there last summer. Diane brings a passion for the work of educational nonprofits and 20 years of nonprofit experience to the Pratt Museum. Over the course of her career she has worked as an administration director and publications manager for a regional public land partner organization, as well as leading a small arts organization through a significant period of financial growth and operational change while studying for her doctorate in educational leadership. She also has work experience in wildlife research and in developing theories of change and program evaluation. Outside of work, Diane is involved in the arts and volunteering. An active fiber artist, Diane likes to express her creative side in fabric and yarn and is impressed with Homer's quilting community. Her recent volunteer interest has been adult literacy tutoring for a human services nonprofit. She also enjoys a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking and has a new interest in kayaking. She travels whenever she can, including a trip last winter to New Zealand.
Ryjil Christianson, Education Director
Ryjil Christianson is an Environmental Educator and Director of Education at the Pratt Museum. She is committed to inspiring exploration of our environment through the integration of science, culture and art in children and lifelong learners. Born and raised in Kachemak Bay, most of Ryjil’s early years were spent exploring the wilds of Bear Cove. At a very young age, she showed an interest in art and the natural beauty around her. Later on Ryjil moved with her family across the bay to Homer for school. In the fall of 1998, Ryjil moved to Fairbanks to attend UAF. After graduating with a BA in History, Ryjil returned to Homer. Aside from being the Director of Education at the Pratt Museum, Ryjil is also a ceramic artist. During the summer months Ryjil can be found pit firing ceramic vessels on the beaches of Kachemak Bay.
Scott Bartlett, Curator of Exhibits
Scott Bartlett joined the Pratt as curator of exhibits in September, 2012. Scott’s community-based exhibition work draws from his experiences with various immigrant communities in the Seattle area, and with Tahitian musicians and craftspeople in Hawai`i. After studying anthropology and music at Washington State University (including stints at the University of Edinburgh and the Smithsonian Institution), he worked as an audio engineer, producer, and educator with Jack Straw Productions in Seattle. That work included a variety of oral history, heritage, and community arts projects. Scott went on to receive the Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology and the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, where his graduate work combined those two fields. From 2010 to 2012 he served as curator of exhibits and collections with the Kitsap County Historical Society in Bremerton, Washington, garnering awards for two exhibitions and one exhibition catalog from the Washington Museum Association. Scott and his family love the sea (sailing, kayaking) and the mountains (skiing, hiking) and look forward to making Kachemak Bay their home.
Michele Miller, Development Director
Michele Miller comes to the Pratt from a three-year stint as Executive Director of Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association, a nonprofit in Anchorage that preserves and protects Alaska’s moving images. Prior to that, she had her own consulting business in nonprofit management with an emphasis in fundraising. A lifelong Alaskan, Ms. Miller grew up in a logging camp on Prince of Wales Island, where she learned to boat, fish and shoot at a young age. Later in life, she earned a private pilot’s license and instrument rating. She is an avid volunteer for the arts and has served as juror/panelist/commissioner for various arts organizations, including the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Anchorage Arts Advisory Commission. A member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Michele served on the Board of Directors for two years; she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the the Anchorage International Film Festival, Bunnell Street Arts Center, and was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the City's Public Arts Committee last year.
Savanna Bradley, Collections Manager
Savanna Bradley was born and raised in Homer, Alaska. After an exciting summer internship at the Pratt during high school, Savanna was inspired to pursue a museum-related career. She received a BA in Art with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2010, after which she interned for several seasons at the Pratt. Currently she is a Master’s candidate in the Arts Management and Museum Studies program at the University of Oregon. Through work in Homer and school in Eugene, Savanna is learning more about museum studies, arts and culture organizations, and the importance of community engagement. Outside of the Pratt’s fabulous collections rooms, Savanna enjoys creating works of art, having adventures with her sister, and hanging out in Homer coffee shops.
Jennie Engebretsen, Visitor Services
Jennie has lived in Alaska since 1976 when her father came to the “Last Frontier” to work on the Pipeline. Most recently her life has been filled with raising a family and working toward earning a BA in History and Anthropology. Observing the development of the Lower Kenai Peninsula has fueled her interests in eco-tourism. Jennie believes that working together as a community will eventually contribute to the world’s betterment. Being Visitor Services and Retail Manager at the Pratt Museum lends itself nicely to supporting local markets and encouraging responsible tourism programs. It also allows her to direct visitors on how to better access what Alaska’s most beautiful playground, Homer, has to offer. She enjoys photography, walking on the beach, camping, and fishing on the Anchor River.
Heidi Stage, Bookkeeper
is a New York transplant who came to Alaska on her honeymoon in 1985 and
never left. She lives in Homer with her husband and their two children,
whose extracurricular activities keep her busy outside the Museum. Heidi
first started at the Pratt in 2000 as the assistant to the office manager.
She hopped around where needed doing stints in the Museum Store, Development
and Marketing and Visitor Services before settling into the Bookkeeper
position she currently holds. Heidi likes working behind-the-scenes crunching
numbers, but she also enjoys interacting with the many visitors, volunteers
and community members she comes into contact with on a daily basis. They
truly make her job at the Pratt more interesting and rewarding.
Kim Wylde, Office Manager
Kim has worked at Pratt Museum since 2007, first as Visitor Services and Retail Manager and now as Office Manager. Kim has a BA in Communication with an English minor. Truly a team player and an accomplished multi-tasker, Kim can be found helping in any and all aspects of Museum operations. Kim has had a deep connection with nature her entire life and is inspired and renewed by being outdoors in all seasons regardless of weather conditions. When not at the Museum, Kim can be found with her husband and four children out on Kachemak Bay, skiing the Nordic trails or at home gardening and playing music.
Art Koeninger, Building Manager
Art enjoys a wide variety of tasks as Building Manager. Besides regular maintenance and repair of the four museum buildings, his responsibilities include monitoring the climate control, fire and security alarm systems; supervising and assisting garden, grounds, forest and trails staff and volunteers; maintaining the aquaria systems and coordinating aquaria volunteers; and providing support for exhibit installations and gift shop displays. Art is not new to the Pratt. As a local metalsmith and jeweler with decades of experience, he was hired to make many of the mounts for the artifacts and other objects in the museum's permanent exhibit. Perhaps his best preparation for this job has been his experience completely restoring a dilapidated, historic building in Chitina, Alaska, with the help of federal and state preservation grants, transforming it into a functioning art gallery since 1986. Art is pleased to find a job in Homer to which his varied skills and interests can be applied.
Peter has lived in Alaskan since the winter of 1961/62. He moved to Fritz
Creek in 1972 and has been a Homer resident since 1982. Since 1982 Peter
has been in charge of general maintenance at Pratt Museum and is the chief
aquarium critter feeder.
Board of Directors
David Thomas, President
David Thomas is a professional engineer, and in this capacity he has designed the clean-up of over 200 toxic-waste sites since the 1980's. He prides himself on his ability to build any equipment that he designs and enjoys giving science presentations in local schools, especially when he's allowed to blow things up. He lives with his wife and two young children on the shores of Cook Inlet in Kenai, where backyard projects have included catapults, snowball cannons, solar death rays, climbing walls, and numerous tree houses. He served as treasurer for Homer Electric Association and president of LeeShore Center while on their boards. His study of parliamentary procedure and issues of governance have been helpful when budgets or feelings run high. (First elected in 2012)
Sara Jackinsky, Vice President
Sara Jackinsky is Alaska Native and a native Alaskan with Alutiiq/Slavic heritage. She was raised in Ninilchik, has spent most of her life on the Kenai Peninsula, and has roots in commercial fishing, homesteading, Native issues and Alaska history and culture. She and her family have been members of the Pratt Museum for many years. She has a continuing interest in studying and preserving the culture and history of Kachmeak Bay and the surrounding areas. Sara has served on several boards, including the Ninilchik Traditional council. (First elected in 2010)
Shawn Hansen, Secretary
Shawn Hansen moved to Homer in 1976 and followed the classic career path of fisherman in spring and summer and carpenter in fall and winter. He has always enjoyed the Pratt. History and natural history have been keen interests since his 4th grade teacher hooked the whole class on American history and trips to the Los Angeles South West Museum. In 1994 he was hired by the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA) Joint Ventures, a CDQ group serving Bering Sea villages from Atka Island to Nelson Lagoon, and he is currently the manager of the construction division. Inevitably, spending time in remote villages stimulates the desire to learn history and culture of those unique places. Hansen has served on several boards and is currently a member of the Homer Yacht Club Board. (First elected in 2010)
Milli Martin, Treasurer
Milli Martin is past President of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, where she served from 2000 through 2009. Her public service experience includes service on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education, Homer Electric Association Committees, KBBI Board of Directors, Homer’s Parks and Recreation Commission, Kenai Peninsula College’s Kachemak Bay Branch Advisory Board, Kenai Peninsula College Council and Kachemak Bay Advisory Planning Commission. Milli has a keen interest in education and outreach and the growth of the Museum. (First elected in 2010.)
Meg is a financial analyst who works in Alaska and around the country helping people achieve income security. A native of Chicago's North Shore, Meg has lived all over the country, including Cincinnati, Atlanta, Dallas, and most recently in Estes Park. Shortly after moving to Homer in 2007 with her family, so her husband could take the chief position with Kachemak Emergency Services, Meg was tapped for her public relations experience from 2008-2010 to assist the Alaska Division of Forestry to develop, implement and maintain the FireWise public outreach and education campaign. She has enjoyed a number of interesting work experiences in public relations and as a writer-editor since 1979, when she graduated with a BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Meg and her husband have a 17-year-old son, Alec, who is homeschooled, and live "out East" with their three horses, two dogs and cats. Meg joined the Board in 2013.
Jim is a retired State Judge and lawyer. He also served as game warden in Tongass National Forest, worked in a saw mill, a painting company, farmed, and worked as a deck hand on salmon boat. His wife Karen is deceased. He has four kids, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Jim recently served as Mayor of Homer, Alaska and on Kenai City Council and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, as well as various legal and judicial committees, Counsel to House Rules Committee, President Kenai Chamber of Commerce, a number of nonprofit and church boards. “Still don’t know what to do when I grow up.” Jim joined the Board in 2012.
Ed is a retired United Way executive with a 42 year career in health and human services. During his 35 years with United Way he was responsible for raising millions of dollars a year in San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, and most recently in Anchorage. He received national recognition from United Way of America for pioneering work in the development of “cultivation to ask” techniques with corporate contributions managers and CEOs in major companies (e.g. Chevron, AT&T, Levi Strauss, Pacific Gas & Electric, Bank of America, Wells Fargo). These techniques became common practice among 1500 United Ways across the United States. Ed’s many interests include backpacking and gourmet cooking. He is an internationally recognized oil painter, especially for his white on white, abstract and semi-abstract monochrome paintings of arctic wildlife. His mother was a painter and sculptor and put a brush in his hand when he was about 3 years old. Ed joined the Board in 2012.
Ina Jones, a native Alaskan, was born to Lawrence and Lorna Keeler in 1955 in a log homestead cabin on the bluffs near Stariski Creek in Anchor Point, Alaska. She graduated from Ninilchik High School in 1972 and married Cecil (Spek) Jones, a son of homesteaders at the Head of Kachemak Bay. Spek and Ina have 2 children and 6 grandchildren and have been self-employed for the 40 years of their marriage. Together they run the Lazy J Ranch which currently has 4 generations living on it. In conjunction with the ranch, they owned and operated the Jones Guide and Outfitting big game business using horses and a Supercub to transport their clients. Retired from guiding in 1995, Ina and Spek ran a small sand, gravel and road construction business for 15 years. Their latest venture, they planted 2500 Peony plants last fall with the intent of commercially marketing the flowers. Spek and Ina enjoy hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering and harvesting, and passing on their heritage to their grandchildren. In the last 50 years, Ina and Spek have spent much time discovering the history of the area at the head of Kachemak Bay; from the early gold miners to the fox farmers and trappers that lived there at the turn of the century. Ina is down to earth, feet firmly planted and roots grown deep in this area with eyes to the future waiting for whatever comes next.
Karen King has 25 years of experience in the marketing communications industry. She is the current president of Nerland Agency in Anchorage. Karen has particular expertise in strategic planning and brand development, and led the team that created the Big Wild Life brand for the City of Anchorage. She works directly with clients such as BP, the Rasmuson Foundation (Pick.Click.Give.), the University of Alaska, and the Alaska Club. Karen is on the board of advisors of UAA's College of Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the Anchorage Athena Society, the United Way of Anchorage Women's Leadership Group, the 2011 Anchorage "Go Red for Women" Steering Committee and the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center's Capital Campaign Committee. She is also on the board of directors of Anchorage Rotary (downtown). Karen and her husband own property in Homer and enjoy all that Kachemak Bay and the community has to offer. King joined the Board in 2011 and was reelected in 2012.
Linda Rowell is a retired educator who has taught in Maryland, Illinois and Alaska and has worked with students from preschool through college. She has been an active volunteer at the Pratt since moving to Anchor Point over 14 years ago. During this time she worked as a docent with school groups, developed educational materials, served as a National Park Service Laureate interpreting the bear camera, led the Harbor Walking Tours for summer tourists, and helped make countless gingerbread houses at the annual Stocking Stuffer Party. Active with the Patrons of the Pratt Society, most recently Linda completed two terms as president. Prior to that she was the president of the Anchor Point Public Library Board for 5 years where she wrote their newsletter and ran their summer reading program. (First elected in 2012)