Frances Leach | Juneau
Executive Director, United Fishermen of Alaska
“I believe Alaska’s salmon/people system is a giant puzzle and everyone has different pieces to that puzzle — be it someone who is living a subsistence lifestyle on the Kuskokwim, a sport fisherman on the Kenai, a salmon seiner in Southeast Alaska, or a fisheries biologist/manager trying to make sure everyone gets a fair cut while also maintaining salmon stocks for a sustainable future. Until all the pieces fit together, find a way to listen to each other, hear each other sides, and respect one another’s experiences and opinions, the puzzle can never truly be assembled. “
Frances Leach brings extensive experience with several sectors of Alaska’s salmon-people system and a deep knowledge of fisheries issues. She began commercial fishing with her father out of Ketchikan at an early age and, after graduating from Oregon State University with a B.S. and The George Washington University with a M.A., Leach has held a range of positions working for the State of Alaska and also in the non-profit sector.
Leach has been in her current role as Executive Director of United Fishermen of Alaska in Juneau since the beginning of the year. Prior to that, she worked for the State of Alaska in the Department of Fish & Game and the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums. She led the Juneau Lyric Opera for several years as Executive Director, served as Executive Director for the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines, worked as a museum technician with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and early on in her career served as Collections Management Intern for Senator Ted Stevens in Washington, DC.
Leach is excited to advocate for salmon as an Alaska Salmon Fellow. “Salmon are amazing creatures that go through an obstacle course to survive,” she reflects. “They are able to jump up raging waterfalls and swim past bears and sport hooks to their spawning grounds. They spend years navigating oceans avoiding predators, yet they come back home to their spawning ground to offer new life before they die. However, we as humans are their biggest threat being responsible for manmade pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, and over-fishing. When I am old and gray, I don’t want to be an Alaskan who contributed to the devastation or extinction of salmon stocks. I want to be on the other side of the fence and be known as someone who helped save the salmon and who was an advocate for them, while promoting sustainability for use by subsistence, sport and commercial alike. Salmon need us more than ever right now, and in turn, we need them. I would be honored to be their voice.”