Alaska Chapter Board

Dave Johnson, Chapter Chair

Dave grew up fishing and hunting in Seward, Alaska. Some of his earliest memories are of catching sockeye salmon on the Russian River with his father. He joined the Coast Guard and after a career flying helicopters throughout the Northwest including two tours in Kodiak he has since retired from service and lives in Kodiak with his wife and two young children, McKinley and Elias. He is an Alaska Fish and Game volunteer bow hunter and basic hunter safety instructor and a volunteer National Archery in Schools Program archery instructor. In their free time, he and his family spend as much time hiking, camping, fishing and hunting as possible and are currently training their first bird dog together.

 

 


 

Kevin Fraley, Vice Chair

Kevin grew up fishing, hunting, and hiking with his family in Northwest Montana. Spending much of his formative years exploring the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness Areas fostered his love for wild public lands and solitude. He moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in 2008 and completed degrees in fisheries science. Alaska quickly became home thanks to the unparalleled fishing, hunting, and adventure opportunities that the state offers. Kevin was drawn to Alaska's Interior Region due to its wide expanses of undeveloped land, delightfully quirky yet friendly people, and as a gateway to adventures in the Arctic. When not dodging mosquitoes and bears, while conducting remote fisheries fieldwork, he is usually found chasing after Chinook salmon or sheefish with a fly rod. Kevin is particularly interesting in liaising with other members of the outdoor recreation community on conservation issues that affect Alaska's natural resources.

 


 

Michael Willis, Secretary 

Michael was born and raised on the eastern shore of rural Maryland. While not from a hunting family, he grew up spending time outside fishing and exploring the woods and waters and frequenting the Appalachians of western Maryland. Those experiences and a hankering for wilder country prompted his move to Fairbanks when he turned 19, where he obtained a degree in Environmental Science. Michael learned to hunt from friends he made that harvested big game for their freezers. Along with pursuing big game, Michael enjoys chasing upland birds with his wife Rachel and their GSP dog. He is always searching for new opportunities to learn how to become a better hunter, informed citizen, and conservationist.  

 


 

JC Croft, Treasurer

Born and raised in east Anchorage, JC spent a lot of time outside with his family when he was a kid. As with many Alaskans, this was at least partially sparked by the desire to eat wild things. In college and law school in Oregon, he kept up with the outdoors way of life. He also became committed to preserving wilderness and the unique experience and opportunity it holds for everyone. Now that he's back in Alaska, JC lives in the same neighborhood he grew up in and spends much of his free time hunting, hiking, fishing, boating, biking, backpacking and doing anything else outside.


 

 

Barry_and_moose.jpg

 

Barry Whitehill, BOD Emeritus; Historian.

Growing up in eastern Washington, Barry was fortunate to have public lands close at hand. Starting with his first elk at age 14, it became obvious to him that deep, dark holes on public lands were places to be consistently successful as a hunter. Also, they were a place where Barry could rejuvenate his soul. That has been repeatedly validated when Barry lived in Idaho, northern Nevada, and, since 1992, in Fairbanks, Alaska


Nate Kibbey, Interior Representative

Originally from Ohio, Nate spent 8 years on active duty across several states. He fell in love with the Alaskan landscape and decided to switch over to Army reserves. Nate and his wife love the Fairbanks area and are bird obsessed. Nate’s wife works at Creamers Field waterfowl refuge and Nate gets to join in on banding at times. He loves duck season but ptarmigan enchiladas must be his favorite game dish. Nate hopes to get others excited about the idea of keeping Alaska wild and accessible.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Sarah Matula, Board Member at Large

Sarah grew up on the south side of Chicago. As life took her from sub-saharan Africa to nursing school to western Washington, the appreciation of the outdoors and public land grew. Moving to Juneau, Alaska in 2013 to take a job as a Medevac Flight Nurse was life changing in all the ways. The community of southeast Alaska was key in teaching and developing hunting skill sets and led her to the streams where fish and bears are wild. The big, wild beauty of the Tongass is now an integral part of Sarah's everyday life. It is amazing to live and be a part of the community of Southeast AK- a community that wants to share the beauty, wonder, and the skills needed to appreciate and protect this land. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dave May, Armed Forces Initiative Liaison

Dave is the proud father of three daughters and devoted husband to his wife, Marissa. He was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania where he learned to hunt and fish on PA’s public Game Lands. His adventurous spirit led him into an Enlistment with the U.S. Navy at the early age of 18, where he has served for 20 years.  His worldly travel finally deposited him in Eagle River, AK in 2017, where he was introduced to BHA. Throughout his travel, it became apparent to Dave just how special public land is and just how critical preserving its existence is to both the present and future generations of outdoor enthusiast.  Dave is a dedicated woodsman and committed servant to BHA’s mission as the Alaska Chapter, Armed Forces Initiative Liaison.

 


 

 

 

Rory O'hanrahan, Events Chair

Rory Grew up in Kona, Hawai'i and moved to Alaska for the variety of seasons and incredible fly fishing. When the weather gets colder, he follows his dogs chasing upland birds in the mountains around Anchorage. Rory is a self-described adult onset hunter but what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm. He is always striving to learn something new, most recently, archery. Rarely without his family in tow, Rory sees all of his time spent outside as an opportunity to learn and share new life lessons. Exploring and promoting public lands is something Rory plans on doing for a very long time.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Justin Mason, ADFG AC/RAC Liaison

Justin Mason is a multifaceted professional and a passionate outdoorsman. His career journey includes roles as diverse as an emergency room tech, maintenance director, plumber assistant, fishing guide, manny, welder, hunting guide, EMT, and technology aide. Additionally, Justin holds a nursing degree and has made his mark as a published professional photographer.

At his core, Justin is a devoted family man and community member. He’s a familiar face at the rink for his kids’ hockey endeavors, always ready to pour a hot cup of coffee for fellow parents and share family stories. Though still exploring his ultimate career path, he consistently delivers top-tier performance in every endeavor.

Justin’s deep connection to the outdoors is a legacy passed down from his father and Grandpa Mason, originating in Michigan. Their Mason family bond with the outdoors was fortified through shared experiences like hunting and fishing. 

The move from Montana to Alaska with his wife opened yet another chapter in Justin’s outdoor adventures, bringing them closer to the state’s vast public lands and waters. Here, Justin’s commitment to outdoor education and advocacy deepened, working closely with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) and serving on various advisory committees. His passion for the outdoors is something he eagerly shares with his two children, ensuring the family tradition thrives.

Justin’s outdoor experiences were further enriched through adventures with his brother in Montana and Alaska. A poignant memory is an Alaska grizzly bear hunt with his daughter, marking both a family milestone and a moment of reflection on his brother’s legacy.

Dedicated to preserving and accessing public lands, Justin continues to share stories and inspire others to explore and appreciate the outdoors. His mission is rooted in ensuring that the appreciation and stewardship of nature, a value deeply embedded in his family, is passed on to future generations.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paul A. Foward, Board Member at Large

Paul grew up in Eagle River, Alaska and currently resides in Girdwood with his wife, Erin and son, Ren. He grew up in a family obsessed with hunting big game animals with longbows and recurves and harvested his first moose and caribou with a recurve around age 12. Since then, he’s been on countless, mostly solo, extended wilderness bow hunts and is particularly passionate about chasing sheep and mountain goats with his longbow. In addition, he enjoys many other hunting opportunities around the state, sometimes with his wife and young son. While hunting is always the priority in the fall, Paul spends his summers enjoying all manner of rivers in whitewater kayaks and the winters exploring Alaska’s vast public lands in pursuit of deep snow and steep slopes backcountry skiing. Since 2012 he has spent each winter working as a heli ski guide based out of Girdwood. He splits the rest of his year between Girdwood and his place in Kotzebue where he has worked as a physician since 2016. Prior to 2016 he did similar rural physician work in Kodiak and still spends at least a few weeks there hunting each year. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cody Rosenberg, Board Member at Large

Cody grew up in various locations across East Coast and Germany and was introduced to hunting, fishing, and skiing at a young age. He quickly found the outdoors as a way to bond with his family and calm his mind. Cody joined the Army and 2017, and in 2022 he was stationed in JBER. Since arriving in Alaska, he has discovered a unique community centered around an almost overwhelming number of outdoor activities. He spends most of his time with his girlfriend, Clare, skiing or fishing across Chugach State Park or training their dog, Juneau, a six-month-old GWP. Outside of the outdoors, Cody enjoys reading “boring history or policy books” (Clare’s words, not his), traveling, and slugging 12 cups of coffee a day to fuel his commitment, not addiction, to caffeine. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ryan Schuman, Southeast Representative

Ryan grew up in Southeast Michigan, on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Most of his time was spent fishing for bass and panfish there or chasing squirrels on nearby tracts of public land. Ryan moved to Alaska in 2015 to start a job as a fish hatchery technician. Eventually moving to Kake, AK in 2018 to manage a salmon hatchery. He lives in Kake with his finance, and they spend the majority of their free time wandering the logging roads looking for grouse, moose, black bear, and deer. Ryan has always had a passion for the outdoors but didn't become a dedicated big game hunter until moving to Alaska. The ability to fully subsist of successful hunts for a year or more is what has him enthralled with public land hunting, and the immense adventure of doing it in Alaska is what has made Ryan want to be proactively involved in protecting our opportunities. Ryan is very excited for the opportunity to contribute to BHA's mission in Alaska. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Stevie Gawryluk, Board Member at Large

Stevie is an ardent hunter, angler, and conservation advocate residing in Juneau. Prior to moving to Alaska, Stevie spent a decade chasing public land and water adventures in the west. Although she spent many early childhood and adolescent mornings hunting with her family, it wasn’t until later in life that she decided it was time to be the hunter. Becoming a hunter was life-changing, taking her passion for hiking and public land advocacy to an entirely new level. She loves big game, waterfowl, and upland bird hunting, and you will often find her trying to catch any size fish in any body of water she is near. Stevie is an ambassador for Artemis Sportswomen and Sporting Lead-Free. Stevie is a dedicated conservation advocate, always looking to learn more and to amplify the voices of conservation. You can usually find Stevie outside exploring the endless natural wonders within our public lands and waters.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cody Strathe, Board Member at Large

Cody Strathe has lived in Alaska for 23 years. Growing up in Iowa and Wisconsin, he spent his young years exploring on his horse or four-wheeler with a .410 shotgun and fishing pole. Cody received a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and instantly moved to Alaska to become a guide and environmental educator. In 2005 he moved to Fairbanks to get a Masters in Archaeology at UAF and spent several years working in some extremely remote arctic locations. He joined forces with his wife, Paige Drobny, to help her do King salmon research and worked with subsistence fishers to collect data from their catch in almost every community on the Yukon River. During his time at UAF, he and Paige got addicted to sled dogs and racing. Cody has run the Iditarod and Yukon Quest multiple times. Today they operate the Susitna Adventure Lodge and Squid Acres Kennel on the Denali Highway. Hunting, fishing, and protecting public lands are a part of his daily life.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jeff Knisley, Board Member at Large

Jeff was born and raised in northeast Washington.  As a child, with his siblings and friends they were allowed to roam in the outdoors learning to fish, collect wild mussels, and trap ground squirrels.  After completing hunters’ safety, he began hunting forest grouse and waterfowl before moving onto deer and elk.

Jeff attended college at the University of Idaho pursuing a degree in Wildlife Biology while working summers doing fisheries work for the USFS in southern Idaho.  After college, he began his career in natural resource protection which took him to Arizona, northern California, Idaho, and now Alaska where he lives with his wife in Anchorage.  Jeff and his wife enjoy spending time experiencing all that Alaska has to offer hiking, packrafting, fat-tire biking, snowshoeing, hunting, and fishing.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Click here to contact the Alaska Chapter Board