Movers and Shakers for Jan. 7
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski made three additions to her Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff: Suzanne Cunningham as senior policy advisor for oil and gas, Diana Nielsen as a legal fellow, and Tonya Parish as press assistant. Cunningham joins the committee after serving for the past five years in the Alaska Senate as chief-of-staff for state Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and as a senior advisor for the Alaska Senate Rules Committee. She will focus primarily on oil and natural gas issues for the committee. Prior to her roles in the State Senate, Cunningham worked as the president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alaska and in marketing for the Port of Anchorage. Cunningham is originally from Anchorage and earned her bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University. Nielsen joins the committee as part of a fellowship established through Columbia University School of Law’s Social Justice Initiative. She recently finished her juris doctor at Columbia University School of Law and a master of international affairs with a concentration in energy and resource management at Columbia University School of International Public Affairs. Prior to that she worked at ACO Investment Group as an investment analyst and previously worked for several years overseas in a variety of roles with the United Nations, Deloitte Consulting, and the Burmese Environmental Working Group. Nielsen is originally from Granite Bay, Calif., and also has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. Parish joins the committee after working as a researcher and administrative aide at David Parish and Associates LLC, based in Juneau. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and a minor in psychology. Parish was also the founder and event coordinator for the Erik Peterson Memorial Run, served as a legislative aide for the Office of Alaska State Senate Finance Co-Chair Anna MacKinnon, and interned at Early Warning Labs LLC, the Resource Development Council, and the office of state Sen. Meyer.
Rachel Morse has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Chugach Electric Association board of directors. Morse is replacing Janet Reiser, who resigned from the board after 10 years of service to take the job of executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority. Most recently, Morse was assistant vice chancellor for Alumni Relations at the University Alaska Anchorage. She has also served as development director for the Rural Alaska Community Action Program Inc., and executive director at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center. Morse has an MBA from UAA.
Brandon Brefczynski will join the Alaska Oil and Gas Association AOGA as its new external affairs manager. He replaces Sarah Erkmann Ward, who recently announced plans to launch her own company, Blueprint Alaska. Raised in Fairbanks, Brefczynski has years of experience in the state Legislature, most recently as Finance Committee aide for Rep. Steve Thompson of Fairbanks. Brefczynski has worked for Rep. Tammie Wilson of North Pole; former Rep. Doug Issacson of North Pole; and former Sen. Bill Stoltze of Chugiak. Brefczynski also served at the Department of Environmental Conservation as Commissioner Larry Hartig’s legislative liaison. Brefczynski graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in political science.
Alaska USA Mortgage Company Mortgage Loan Originator Steven Kihn received the Associate of the Year award from the Anchorage Home Builders Association. The award is given to individuals that display a proven track record of hard work and dedicated service to the home building industry. AHBA is a non-profit, member-driven organization that promotes policies that make housing a national priority.