May 5, 2016–Dianne Barske–Proofing Pitfalls – There is no such thing as perfect!

Dianne Barske has been a member of Alaska Professional Communicators – formerly Alaska Press Women – for 40 years, since APW member Betzi Woodman brought her to a meeting two weeks after Dianne landed in Anchorage! Membership in this organization has been one of the most cherished aspects of Alaska living for Dianne ever since.

Betzi referred Dianne to several Alaska business publications, and thus Dianne began her Alaskan career as a freelance writer. For many years, she wrote for the monthly newspaper, The Pulse, and now writes monthly features for Senior Voice. Many state and national awards for her writing have come as a result of her memberships in APC and NFPW. She has written and illustrated four children’s books, all award winners, with two of the books receiving first-place awards on the national level. She’s also worked in community relations for Arts Alaska, Hope Community Resources and Providence Hospital, and shown her art work in several Alaskan venues.

She has received both APC’s Spark Plug award and Communicator of Achievement awards, and just last month was given the Gold Nugget award for outstanding professional achievement.

She will talk about the inconceivable way mistakes always manage to slip into her work, despite diligent proofing and editing.

Dianne Barske

Dianne Barske

April 14, 2016–Kim Heacox–Award-Winning Author of Fiction and Non-Fiction

Kim Heacox is the award-winning author of several books including the acclaimed John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire (which received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly) and Rhythm of the Wild (just released.)

His feature articles have appeared in Audubon, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Islands, Orion, and National Geographic Traveler. His editorials, written for the Los Angeles Times, have appeared in many major newspapers across the United States.

Kim was also commentator along with Gretel Ehrlich and other environmental VIPs on Ken Burns’s twelve-hour PBS film The National Parks documenting the history of the national parks and the US conservation movement, currently airing on Netflix.

A contract writer with the National Geographic Society since 1985, Kim has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for excellence in travel writing and was a finalist for the Pen Center USA Western award for his memoir, The Only Kayak.

The cover of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Jimmy Bluefeather also features an image by Heacox whose photographs are sold around the world by Getty Images.

When not playing the guitar, doing simple carpentry, or writing, he’s sea kayaking in Gustavus, Alaska, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park with his wife, Melanie.


Kim Heacox

Kim Heacox


March 3, 2016–Bonnye Matthews–Mixing DVD Media with Novels to Enhance Communication

Bonnye Matthews will share how (1) a depth of understanding and sense of reality beyond that of ink-on-paper can be attained by mixing media with novels; (2) the DVD can be used in presentations to provide consistent quality; (3) a quality product can be created by someone new to the DVD genre; and (4) the finished DVD can become an additional item in the author’s product line. Those who attend will see the DVD, be able to compare it to the original book’s Introduction, and have a chance to ask questions about any phase of the processes involved.

Bonnye Matthews retired to Alaska in 2005. Scoping out her environment, she heard about Beringia and the first Alaskans as the first Americans. In less than a day of research, she knew that premise was likely false, and she wondered why people were teaching it. She researched journal-by-journal, issue-by-issue. She quickly realized she’d never know who was entitled to the “First Americans” label, but wondered—did it go further back than the 250,000-year-old human skull fragment found under volcanic debris in Mexico? After 5 years she had a mass of information—for what? She wasn’t credentialed for non-fiction which had already been done and done well. Fiction? No series was devoted to the peopling of the Americas before the Ice Age, despite more than 400 sites in North and South America that may well show signs of pre-Ice Age occupation. She’d found her niche—a strange one. Fiction, from someone utterly literal, not trained to write
fiction, and definitely not given to unleashed creativity?

She has written four novels, each an award winner garnering comments such as: “well founded in pre-historic detail and research . . . extraordinary in originality and imagination.” Her arcane subject area needed introduction for the reader to share her vision. She added Introductions with distaste, for the non-fiction seemed to interfere with the entry to the story. Finally, she realized she was using the wrong medium, at least wrong in this Digital Age. She learned how to make DVDs. The DVD—“Cook Inlet, Alaska: the Setting of Tuksook’s Story, 35,000 BC” introduces the
novel while serving other uses. Groups of third to fifth grade students to whom she showed the DVD at a Young Writers’ Conference were captivated—for 22 minutes not one student ever looked away from the screen. The same was true of adults. The DVD was a hit! She saw a number of values in using the DVD but was aware she needed to bring her publisher along. She met with her publisher and he agreed to take on the DVD, insisting she add a music bed. She did. At present she’s removing the Introductions from her novels and replacing them with DVDs.

Bonnye Matthews

Bonnye Matthews

April 14, 2016–Our critics’ favorite Alaska books of the year (APC’s April 2016 speaker lauded in 12/13/15 article)

Editor’s note: Every week, David A. James and Nancy Lord have reviewed books by Alaska authors or about the 49th state. They have not, they’ll be quick to tell you, read every Alaska book published over the last year or so. Consequently, they recoil at the idea of a top 10 list of Alaska books.

What follows instead is a short piece by each author, touching on some of their favorites. It’s neither comprehensive nor definitive. But it may prove useful to readers looking for Alaska books as holiday gifts or for suggestions of worthy books they may have missed. And there’s no doubt that Nancy and David read more Alaska books than most of us. 

Excerpt: A close second was “Rhythm of the Wild: A Life Inspired by Denali National Park” by Alaskan author Kim Heacox. It’s the story of how the author found Alaska and thus himself in the state’s best-known park. While Denali serves as base camp and provides the landscape for much of what he writes here, Heacox’s mind wanders widely over politics, environmental crises, personal philosophy and how one can escape the world by diving into the wilderness, only to find that world hot on one’s hiking boots. This book does with Denali what Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” did with Arches National Park, showing how freedom and wilderness are bound together, and how the loss of one is both caused by and leads to the destruction of the other.

Kim Heacox will be APC’s luncheon speaker for April 2016. Sign up for the luncheon.

Read the article at Alaska Dispatch News

Feb. 4, 2016–Sarah Leonard–Marketing Alaska’s Travel Industry in a Climate of Diminishing Funds

Sarah Leonard is the President & CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association – the state’s leading membership trade association for the travel industry in Alaska. Sarah has an extensive educational and professional background in tourism management with a Master’s of Science (MS) degree in recreation management and tourism from Arizona State University. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Journalism with a special emphasis in public relations.

Sarah joined ATIA after serving in senior philanthropy positions for early education and conservation nonprofits in Alaska. She has been involved in promoting Alaska’s wildlife, cultural and natural resources for over a decade through her time as the Statewide Watchable Wildlife Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and as the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association (AWRTA). Ms. Leonard also was one of the founding leaders in Adventure Green Alaska, an Alaska-based certificate program designed to highlight environmentally friendly tourism practices in response to increased consumer demand.

Sarah Leonard

Sarah Leonard

Jan. 7, 2016–Blythe Campbell–The Secret of Invisibility: How to be a Great Ghostwriter Without Losing Your Voice

Ghostwriting’s not confined to celebrity memoirs. Executives, politicians, and thought leaders in every industry use ghostwriters to help them communicate better. From a memo about the company picnic to a speech for the Rotary Club to an industry white paper, the products of ghostwriters and their clients get results – motivated employees, business connections, brand awareness, positive public opinion, even votes.

In this fast-paced session, you’ll learn specific techniques to capture your subject’s voice, organize their thoughts, and get the results they want. Whether you’re ghostwriting in a corporate setting, or freelancing as a ghostwriter, you’ll get valuable tips on building trust with your clients, digging down to uncover their real goals and concerns, and working with busy, impatient leaders. You’ll also learn about the ethics of ghostwriting through real-life case studies and examples.

Having your name on the byline isn’t necessary to have a rewarding career as a writer. Ghostwriting has unique rewards – you still see your writing in print (or hear it spoken aloud), but when you develop a close relationship with your client, you can influence the content of the piece and even, over time, that person’s thinking.

Blythe Campbell has been ghostwriting for CEOs and other senior leaders over a 30-year career in communications and marketing. She’s written memos, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, legislative testimony, white papers, speeches and more – both as a freelancer and in a corporate setting. She has worked in the engineering, telecommunications, energy and finance industries, and is currently working for NANA Development Corporation, a $1.5 billion subsidiary of one of Alaska’s 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations. Blythe founded Northrim Bank’s Alaskanomics blog ( and is now a guest author.

Follow Blythe’s professional Twitter account @BlytheCampbell. In her personal life, Blythe pursues a number of Martha Stewart-esque activities, including cooking, gardening and sewing, tweeting from @blytheak.

Blythe Campbell

Blythe Campbell

Dec. 3, 2015–Chris Thompson-Anchorage Columnist and Blogger on Religion in Anchorage

During a sales and marketing career in high tech, Chris’ interest in religion was rekindled by a recommendation from a friend of his sister to investigate liberation theology. She further suggested he might benefit from participating in annual joint conventions of the American Academy of Religion and Society for Biblical Literature. This exposed him to every flavor of religious dialog, and detail as minute as the Thomasine and Johannine study groups, explorations of the Gnostic Gospels, exposure to the historical Jesus movement, and Christian care for the earth groups.

He discovered meaningful church and religion was difficult to find as he and his partner struggled to agree on choices. However, he continued to search and began blogging about his numerous church visits on an Anchorage Daily News blog created in 2008. The blog grew to a Saturday religion column in 2014, and has continued under Alaska Dispatch News owners.

Chris occasionally does mystery church visitor consulting engagements to assist churches with identifying weaknesses in the way they represent themselves to the public by their greeting, hospitality, music, and preaching. Very few Christian writers explore this genre across the U.S.

Chris Thompson Photo

Chris Thompson


Nov. 5, 2015–Will Jacobs–Becoming UAA: 1954-2014

W. A. (Will) Jacobs is Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science in the University of Alaska Anchorage. He was born in Greenville, South Carolina and raised in rural Wisconsin. Educated at Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire  (B.S. 1966) and the University of Oregon (M.A. 1968, Ph.D. 1972), he taught briefly at WSU-Eau Claire, Earlham College, and Oregon before his appointment as Assistant Professor of History in the Senior College of the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 1973. He did post doctoral study in the King’s College, University of London Department of War Studies in 1979-80.

Jacobs served in the UAA History Department until 1989, then in Political Science for a further ten years. After leading UAA’s reaccreditation effort in 1999-2000, he was appointed Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs in 2001. He retired in 2002, owing to illness. After retirement, he returned to work on a part-time basis in the Office of Academic Affairs, occasionally returning to the classroom.

Over the course of nearly forty years of service to UAA in its several iterations, Jacobs taught modern European and Economic History, International Relations, U.S. Foreign Policy, the History of Warfare, and the History of the Second World War. His published research has focused on American and British tactical and strategic air operations in that conflict. He began this short introductory history of UAA in 2004 as part of the effort that resulted in the UAA History Wall, now mounted on the third floor wall of the UAA/APU Consortium Library.

Jacobs returned to the Midwest in 2013 and now lives with his wife, Mina, in Saint Paul, Minnesota to be closer to family and the Green Bay Packers.

View University of Alaska Anchorage Press Release regarding Becoming UAA: 1954-2014

Will Jacobs

Will Jacobs



Oct. 1, 2015–Mark Romick–Housing Grant Programs

In 1989 Mark Romick started working for Alaska State Housing Authority (ASHA) which merged with Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) in 1992. In his 26 years with the corporation, Mark held several positions in the Planning Department before becoming the Director in 2006. He is responsible for directing the corporation’s planning functions, housing policy development and coordination, grant management and development and management of  housing grant programs. Mark oversees the administration of federal and corporate programs as well as the State of Alaska Council on the Homeless.

Mark holds a Bachelor in Economics from the University of the Pacific and a Master of Economics from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

He takes advantage of Alaska’s seasons with his family by fishing and biking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.

Dennis McMillian–Foraker Group’s Founding President and CEO

Dennis McMillian

Dennis McMillian

Dennis McMillian, now a consultant to the Foraker Group, is Foraker’s founding President and CEO. He served as a development officer, and then as CEO with United Ways around the country and came to Alaska in 1992 to lead the United Way of Anchorage. Since then he has worked to build the state’s philanthropic culture including helping to develop the Alaska Community Foundation. During his career, he’s trained thousands of professionals and volunteers, consulted and spoken at numerous conferences including the Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Northwest, and Independent Sector. Dennis is the author of Focus on Sustainability: A Nonprofit’s Journey.

A Feb. 8, 2015, Alaska Dispatch News story had this to say about McMillian:

“When McMillian moved from Louisiana to Alaska in 1992 with his wife and two children, he arrived to run the United Way of Anchorage. His family thought they would stay six to eight years, he said. But then The Foraker Group formed…

… McMillian plans to stay in Alaska with his wife and continue to do some consulting both in Alaska and nationally. Eventually, he will retire and become a volunteer. He hopes to read more, travel more and maybe just take a break and sit on the couch.”