Southeast Alaska’s largest environmental organization is advertising for a new executive director. Malena Marvin has led the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council for close to two years.
She’s stepping down after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Marvin said her prognosis is good, but she needs time to recover and prevent a recurrence.
Under her leadership, SEACC expanded its opposition to British Columbia mine projects near waterways that flow into Alaska.
“We’re a people who survive on fish and seafood and we need clean water for that to continue to be a healthy resource for communities,” Marvin said.
It’s also continued work on climate change, forest preservation and transportation.
Marvin expects the organization to continue its course as promoters of clean water and healthy forests.
“As someone who has cancer and struggles with the seemingly random nature of the disease, it’s just really, really hit me how important it is that we ask the Department of Environmental Conservation to raise our standards,” she said.
That includes state rules listing the acceptable rate of cancer, which she said is too low.
SEACC began in 1970 as a Tongass National Forest preservation group that fought large-scale logging in the courts.
Board President Clay Frick said that will continue under new leadership.
“Anytime you collaborate with folks, I think you end with up a better outcome. You end up building more power and I think that’s something this region is very much in need of. So when we can we certainly will,” Frick said.
Frick said Marvin moved SEACC in the right direction, citing a new Tongass planning effort and other recent programs.
“She’s laid some really important foundation work for us to continue forward. … We look forward to whoever steps to the plate or whoever we find will have a very solid base to spring off of,” Frick said.
Marvin continues to do some work for SEACC. Her resignation takes effect Jan. 1st. The job was posted online earlier this month.
Marvin said SEACC’s strength is its regional roots.
“It isn’t an outside environmental group. It’s not somebody who lives in Anchorage or Seattle or New York. It’s thousands of people, the members of SEACC, who live here and work here and always have,” she said.
Before taking over at SEACC, Marvin spent five years with Oregon’s Klamath Riverkeeper. It campaigned to remove dams on the salmon-producing river.
SEACC’s prior executive director, Lindsey Ketchel, spent about five years on the job before resigning.
SEACC Development Director Emily Ferry is filling in as acting executive director, but said she is not applying for the permanent job.