Our Board of Directors and Local Advisory Committee Chairs
Board of Directors
Chris Brooks, President:
Chris has been involved in the leadership of the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society and has managed preservation projects and volunteer work parties at the lighthouse for nearly 20 years. He has also lead many conservation projects in the Pacific Northwest and in Alaska's national parks, forests and wilderness areas. In addition, Chris has supervised wilderness based recreation programs and conservation based programs that promote the development of leadership, job and life skills for youth throughout the region. Chris has a Masters of Science degree in Renewable Energy, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and has worked on rural community development and renewable energy projects in many parts of the world. He currently resides at Salmon Beach in Tacoma, WA.
Michael Kohan, Vice President:
“I have a diverse background in the natural sciences and science outreach. Most recently, I worked as a wildlife biologist with ADFG conducting research on diversity species (non-game) and education and outreach surrounding the diversity program. Aside from directed research, I had the opportunity to develop a citizen science program in Southeast Alaska to monitor bat populations. Previously, I worked as a research contractor with NOAA where I collected everything from zooplankton to spiny dogfish in the Bering Sea down to the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Somewhere in there I attended UAF and received a master’s in fisheries and was able to take a turn power trolling in Southeast for a summer.
Currently, I work with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute as the seafood technical director where I work side by side with the fishing industry to coordinate research, outreach and trade education to promote the value of Alaska's seafood. In 2011, I had the opportunity to help teach a high school marine biology module at the Cape Decision Lighthouse. I know how special this area is and how much opportunity the facility holds. As someone who is connected to the science community in Southeast, I believe I can help garner relationships and build a stronger base for fundraising, outreach and eventually long term involvement of key community groups with the lighthouse. Ultimately, I believe that more people should experience the beauty and solitude of this place to get a glimpse at how important the concept of wilderness conservation is and the opportunities that a facility like the lighthouse can and will offer.”
Andrew Washburn, Treasurer:
Andrew lives in Juneau where he is the Museum Registrar for the Alaska State Museums. He has worked in the museum and heritage field since 2001 including for the Ketchikan Museum Department, Yellowstone National Park, and the Center for Wooden Boats. Andrew holds a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Kenyon College. Andrew first visited Cape Decision in 2005. Since then, CDLS has greatly valued his energy, enthusiasm and knowledge as a specialist in historic preservation and a dedicated, hardworking volunteer.
Elizabeth Figus, Secretary:
Elizabeth is a Fisheries PhD Candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and currently lives in Juneau. During the summer months, she Captains a troll tender vessel from Port Alexander, on Baranof Island. Elizabeth first joined a work party to the Cape Decision Lighthouse in 2008, and has been volunteering with CDLS ever since. She joined the Board in 2014.
Mike Mayo, Representative:
“Hi, my name is michael james mayo. of 2808 sawmill creek rd, sitka, ak. i have lived in alaska since 1970, moving up from california. i hitched back down to california from fairbanks in 1971 with my daughter ilona and rekindled my love affair with the sea as i was offered a job trolling with a friend out of trinadad, ca. loads of fun, no money. hitching back to alaska i worked out of the laborer's union 942 in fairbanks. i was on their executive board for 3 years. with money saved and a loan from my mom i bought the f/v helen and quit working ashore in 1976. a friend , willis peters, helped me in the correct choice in buying the helen. i feel my most memorable thing i did in the laborers was getting women working on the pipeline.
since then i've fished from sitka to the bering sea [kiska] and down south to 300 miles off of san francisco [chasing tuna]. i tend to do boat work in the south. seattle, vancouver, victoria. i have passed cape decision and other lighthouses many times and have always been mesmerized by them-dreams of a lonely winter, filled with books and thoughts. when karen got the cape decision lighthouse society going i thought 'way cool'. i still do.
i still fish though not as much. i have an importing business going bringing in things from china [qi east qi west trading company]. i have 9 children, 15 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild and another child coming in march with my girlfriend, summer [shen, xiaoyan]. 2 of my children were born aboard boats. noah on the f/v helen and ocean on the f/v oceanus. coral was born in goddard and august and cedar were born on the back street. the rest were born in hospitals from glendale to fairbanks.
i have the f/v coral lee now. a 58ft longliner. i built it in 1991 after sinking the oceanus in 1989 out of seward in the gulf . each year we still fish to the west and southwest into the bering sea. i enjoy correcting people in that dutch harbor is south of us. after all, from dutch to sitka i put the compass on about 60, NE, heading home.
i have a degree in accounting [minor in philosophy] and did that till my mind and the 60's culture got the best of me. lucky me, i got to be on the sea instead of being in an office. for me, it is better to be puking on the sea than working in an office and i did a lot of puking my first year on the sea. it's been an enjoyable time; fishing, being on the sea, and as ratty would say "just messin with boats". now messing with a lighthouse that might be fun too.”
Steve Lanwermeyer, Representative:
Steve Lanwermeyer has been working on restoration and improvement projects at Cape Decision since 2005. Over the summers of 2010 and 2011 he helped develop field studies programs at the lighthouse for high school students earning college credit through the University of Alaska SE. Steve lives in Juneau, AK.
Ariel Rolfe, Representative:
Ariel Rolfe is a museum exhibition technician and developer. She is based out of Juneau and has worked in museums and heritage centers throughout the state of Alaska. Ariel was born in Fairbanks and has lived in Juneau most of her life, other than two years in Philadelphia where she received her Masters of Fine Arts in Museum Exhibition Planning & Design. She spends her winters crafting while most of her summers are spent fishing and foraging.
Scott Higgins, Representative:
“I have lived just over 60 years in Tacoma WA and worked just shy of 40 years for Airgas. The majority of my time at Airgas has been working as a service tech installing and maintaining CO2 systems. My interest in the Cape Decision Lighthouse springs from spending my summers on the shores of Fox Island in the Puget Sound, and winter weekends on Mount Rainier; the perfect combination of salt water and mountains. SE Alaska has a familiar and comfortable feeling when I have the opportunity to visit.
My introduction to Cape Decision came thru my good fortune of living next door to Chris Brooks at Salmon Beach upon his return to the States after two years in the Peace Corps. He almost immediately began working on me to come with him to Cape D for the summer work party. I made my first trip in July of 2005 and was hooked. I have been back 9 more times since, meeting some of the most amazing people and having the time of my life. The adventure of getting to and from the Lighthouse has been half the fun and is never the same, giving me a wonderful overview of challenges of everyday life in SE Alaska and insight for our goals at C.D.L.S.
In the years I have spent volunteering with C.D.L.S. I have seen great progress in both the comfort and livability at the Lighthouse, the growing interest for the work that is being done, and the dreams for our future. The location of Cape Decision Lighthouse is one of its greatest assets and also one of our greatest challenges to sharing this beautiful landmark with the public. With that said, I feel quite privileged to be able to help in whatever way I can to shape and forward the goals of the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society.”