Kelly Harrell | Anchorage
Director of Fisheries and Coastal Communities, Ecotrust

“Systems thinking and methods are arguably the only effective way to address salmon issues in Alaska and beyond. This is because salmon are so deeply interconnected to our ecological, socio-economic and cultural systems. Salmon are a bedrock for families, communities, economies, cultures, and ecosystems. They are in our storybooks, songs, oceans, rivers, forests, and on our dinner tables. Identifying the root causes of challenges facing today’s salmon systems is critical; finding patterns and discovering synergies to generate meaningful impact are vastly different from the linear, compartmentalized thinking and analysis that underlies traditional policy and management decisions. Systems thinking provides each stakeholder with an opportunity to take a step back and comprehend, in a different light, their unique place in a particular system. It also generates a more thorough understanding of human values which drive decisions, and can shine light on commonalities that may not have been apparent beforehand.”


Kelly Harrell is an aspiring social entrepreneur who is passionate about the intersection of the local foods and regenerative economy movements with Alaskan fisheries.  She is an innovative, results-driven change maker with 13 years of experience in community-based fisheries, social enterprise, seafood business, and nonprofit leadership. Her diverse educational background includes degrees in philosophy and political science, coursework towards a Master’s Degree in Resource Management with a focus on fisheries, and recent completion of an M.B.A. with an emphasis on seafood business. 


In her current role as Director of Fisheries and Coastal Communities for Ecotrust, Harrell spearheads the growth and development of Ecotrust’s fisheries program with a focus on seafood value chain improvement and fishing business development throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  Prior to her leadership at Ecotrust, she held roles as the Executive Director and Friends of Bristol Bay Project Director at the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.


Harrell is passionate about systems-level change that tackles root causes and results in significant impact. “I’m curious about system levers,” explains Harrell, “and the promise of social entrepreneurship and triple-bottom line business approaches to transform our environment, communities, and ways of life.” She views the Fellows program as providing space for social experimentation and the opportunity to collaborate with other “big thinkers” and salmon devotees to create a better future for salmon. “The diverse array of individuals who are part of the Fellows program are not the types of people I have the opportunity to interact with regularly and meaningfully,” she continues. “The Fellows program creates space and structure for deeply impactful learning and relationship building that will be invaluable to both my personal and professional growth.”