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TNC’s Spohnholz Inducted into Anchorage Chamber’s ATHENA Society

Northern Lights flash in the dark winter sky over a spruce forest.
Heavenly fire 2 Heavenly fire 2 // Hoping to photograph the northern lights, I took a trip to Fairbanks, AK, in March of 2016.  While cloudy skies ruined a few nights of photography, the heavenly show dazzled us on several other occasions. On this particular night in the White Mountains recreation area, 2-1/2 hours north and west of Fairbanks, I was treated to the most spectacular display of northern lights I could ever imagine. © Dominique Braud/TNC Photo Contest 2022

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The Alaska state director for the Nature Conservancy, Ivy Spohnholz, has been named to the Anchorage Chamber’s ATHENA Society, joining nine other Anchorage business and community leaders in the 2024 class of inductees.

The ATHENA Society is a nationwide program designed to recognize women in the business sector for their contributions to their communities and professional achievements, as well as for supporting the advancement of other women. 

Spohnholz was selected based on her lifetime of service to Anchorage and Alaska in both personal and professional capacities, a commitment that led her to serve three terms in the Alaska State Legislature, from 2016-2023. She joined The Nature Conservancy as Alaska state director in October of 2022, where she works to advance conservation through effective and respectful partnerships with people and communities throughout Alaska. 

Prior to her service in the Legislature, Spohnholz worked for community-focused Anchorage nonprofits and institutions, including The Salvation Army, University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Conservation Foundation and Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, developing innovative partnerships and attracting private investment in pursuit of solutions on a broad range of issues. 

Current and former colleagues enthusiastically supported her nomination: 

“In her role, Ivy leads TNC Alaska’s conservation strategy, influencing public policy, strengthening community relationships and providing leadership for a team of 26 staff,” said Melanie Osborne, chair of The Nature Conservancy in Alaska’s board of trustees and senior counsel for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. “Ivy has been a steadfast advocate for local stewardship, supporting local and Indigenous leadership to build resilient communities.” 

“As a founding member of Foster Kids First and past chair of the Alaska Children's Trust, Ivy has played a pivotal role in advocating for the well-being and empowerment of women and children in our community,” said Tlisa Northcutt, chief donor relations officer for the University of Alaska Foundation. “Her leadership in these organizations has resulted in tangible outcomes, including increased support services for vulnerable populations and greater opportunities for women to thrive in leadership roles.”

“Time and again, she would take on difficult challenges, work with others to devise positive solutions, and fight hard for women’s rights,” said Beth Rose, friend, nonprofit colleague, and former supervisor. “Ivy is one of the most impressive and inspiring leaders that I know. I have witnessed time and again how she takes on challenges, works with others to find positive solutions, and to be a strong supporter of female colleagues in every place that she has worked.”

Spohnholz was born in a small cabin in remote Nabesna, in what is now Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration, both from the University of Washington. She has been a foster and adoptive parent and is the past chair of the board of directors for the Alaska Children’s Trust. Spohnholz splits time between Anchorage and Talkeetna with her husband, Troy Bowler, with whom she has three adult daughters. In her free time, Spohnholz loves to hike, ski and gather wild Alaska foods and fish. 

Over its 35-year history, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has built a reputation for harnessing the power of scientific inquiry and a collaborative, non-partisan approach to make change possible. In Alaska, TNC is clearing obstacles to urgently needed climate solutions, stewarding sustainable fisheries and supporting resilient communities, all while amplifying the expertise of local leaders and influencing policy.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.