Alaska Brief–January 2020

A formal photo of our legal team, but change is coming and staff transitions are underway.

Happy New Year!

For me, 2020 is shaping up to be critically important for determining how we want to proceed in a world that can be topsy-turvy. I and the Trustees Board and staff look forward to deepening our connection with you all as we continue to protect Alaska’s lands, waters, wildlife, and communities.

I started at Trustees in 1994 as an intern working on Cook Inlet water quality issues, and later as a staff attorney and legal director who took the Pebble project to court in 2009. Yep, we’re in court again on Pebble, and still fighting to keep pollutants out of Cook Inlet, but our partnerships and coalitions have evolved and grown.

Change is coming

In my nearly six years as executive director, I’ve learned one thing–that change is coming, even when it feels like the change we need won’t budge.

No one can foretell the future, but planning and preparing for the future helps make change a partner, not an obstacle. Looking ahead strategically in how we work together has certainly helped Trustees as we go into a year of staff transitions and growth.

This summer, our longtime legal director Valerie Brown will retire to travel and do election work. We know how passionately she advocates for the voices of all people and that her efforts will make a difference. We will miss her daily, but trust that after over three decades of working to protect Alaska–nearly 15 of those with Trustees–she won’t go too far for too long!

Leadership through change

Because of the depth and integration of our entire legal team, we expect a seamless transition as Brian Litmans moves into the legal director role. He joined Trustees nearly 13 years ago and has deep experience and expertise as a lawyer and strategist. I feel so privileged to work with Brian and this team!

We are hiring an attorney to replace Brian, of course, and now have two legal fellows to support our team. We expect the workload to increase, so we plan to expand our administrative support, too, and continue to promote internships and fellowships that help us meet the needs of our clients, coalitions, and communities, while also developing future lawyers who will protect Alaska for decades to come.

I remember as an intern feeling overwhelmed a lot–and I’ll be honest, sometimes I still do–but I know there’s an enormous community of staff, board members, clients, partners, supporters, protectors and advocates who keep nudging toward the change we want and need to sustain a livable and just world for everyone. Thank you for being in this community! Yes, change is coming. And together, we’re part of shaping it

Vicki Clark, executive director

PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever. 


     Support the Western Arctic today!  

Make yourself heard by the end of today, Jan. 21, to stop more drilling and industrialization in areas like Teshekpuk Lake in the Western Arctic. 


The Trustees hall of fame

The Alaska Conservation Foundation “hall of fame” includes the likes of Gov. Hammond and its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award  recipients Celia Hunter and Ginny Wood–along with four of our current board members! We’d like to introduce you to them.


A reflection on Dr. King’s dream 

Here, we share some of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that inform and inspire our work. 


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