Anchorage Mayor-elect LaFrance chooses transition team of prominent nonprofit and business leaders, former politicians

Anchorage Mayor-elect Suzanne LaFrance on Thursday announced 18 leaders of her transition team, as she prepares to take office July 1 after winning the runoff race for mayor against incumbent Dave Bronson.

Three teams — led by prominent Anchorage residents, former legislators and community leaders — will focus on LaFrance’s three priority areas: “good government,” “safe streets and trails” and “building our future,” according to a written statement.

Members of the teams include Bill Popp, a former longtime Anchorage economic development leader who lost the mayoral race during the regular election and later endorsed LaFrance in the May runoff.

Also on the teams are Aaron Leggett, president of the Native Village of Eklutna; Democratic former state Rep. Ivy Spohnholz; and former Assembly member and Republican state Rep. Jennifer Johnston.

The “good government” group will focus on issues with fully staffing city departments, balancing the city budget and delivering better services. “Safe streets and trails” will dive into homelessness, filling vacancies at the police department and making public spaces safe, while the “building our future” team will look at ways to “deliver better economic opportunities, more housing, affordable childcare, and a reliable energy future,” according to the statement.

Each team will gather input from affected community members. LaFrance has tasked the teams with producing an overview of current challenges in each focus area, along with “a concise list of actions the municipality can take to make progress,” according to the statement.

They’ll also recommend how the LaFrance administration can continue to work with residents, community groups and businesses affected by the issues.


Earlier this week, LaFrance appointed former municipal attorney Becky Windt Pearson to serve as Anchorage’s municipal manager and Katie Scovic, who was LaFrance’s campaign manager, to serve as chief of staff.

“Anchorage faces big challenges and also big opportunities to move our community forward,” LaFrance said in Thursday’s statement. “It’s going to take all of us working together. I’m honored to have talented leaders on board as we engage our community to identify obstacles and opportunities.”

The groups will submit their findings after LaFrance takes office, according to the statement.

“Good governance” group members:

• Eleanor Andrews: civic entrepreneur, former state and city administrator.

• Mike Abbott: former interim president and CEO of United Way of Anchorage and municipal manager under the Berkowitz and Begich administrations.

Jane Angvik: former member of the Anchorage Charter Commission and Anchorage Assembly member and chair.

• Jennifer Johnston: former Anchorage Assembly member and Republican state legislator.

• Jasmin Smith: local entrepreneur, community organizer, 2023 finalist for national Black media network theGRIO’s Hero award.

“Safe streets and trails” members:

• Bob Doehl: current vice president of operations at Rasmuson Foundation, former city director of Development Services and Alaska Air National Guard deputy commander.

• LeeAnn Garrick: chief operating officer of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, former vice president of Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

• Walt Monegan: former president of Alaska Native Justice Center, commissioner of Alaska Department of Public Safety and Anchorage police chief.

• Beth Nordlund: executive director of the Anchorage Park Foundation.

• Dave Rittenberg: senior director of adult homeless services at Catholic Social Services.

“Building our future” members:

• Sheldon Fisher: former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue and managing partner and investor in major downtown development.


• Carol Gore: former president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority.

• Joelle Hall: president of the Alaska AFL-CIO.

• Radhika Krishna: executive director of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.

• Aaron Leggett: president of Native Village of Eklutna.

• Bill Popp: former president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

• Ivy Spohnholz: Alaska state director with the Nature Conservancy and Democratic former state legislator.

• Jonathan Taylor: director of public affairs at the University of Alaska.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Mike Abbott’s current status with United Way of Anchorage. As of Thursday, Eric Utraq Billingsley was the president and CEO of United Way of Anchorage, and Abbott was no longer interim president and CEO.]

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Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at