AEDC staff is small but accomplishes much. Although each position is structured to provide a specialized function, the staff interacts closely on projects, combining their expertise to see a project to fruition. Listed below is a brief description of each person’s background and the major focus of his or her position.
President & CEO
Bill Popp has spent more than 40 years in both the Alaska private and public sectors. As President & CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation since 2007, he sets the strategic direction in marketing Anchorage and Alaska to companies and global industries considering Anchorage as a place in which to do business and assists local businesses looking to expand both within Anchorage and Alaska as well as Lower 48 and international markets.
Prior to joining AEDC, Popp was a special assistant in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor’s office focused on oil and gas and mining policy. Popp was also an elected municipal government official for the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) and presided over the KPB Assembly as president in 2000. He has also served as project coordinator of the Challenger Learning Center for Alaska.
Popp is currently Chair of the 49th State Angel Fund Business Advisory Committee, He is a board member of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Visit Anchorage, Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Alaska Public Media, Anchorage Concert Association, and membership development committee of the International Economic Development Council. Popp also serves as a member of the Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board, and is chair of the Mayor’s Base Economic Analysis Research (BEAR) Working Group.
He has previously served as a member of Governor Bill Walker’s Transition Committee and member of Mayor-Elect Ethan Berkowitz’s Transition Committee. He has also served as chair of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force, the UAA College of Business and Public Policy Advisory Board, and the Municipality of Anchorage Energy Policy Task Force.
Other past service includes serving on the Legislative Energy Policy Stakeholders Group; chairman of the KPB Economic Development Criteria Task Force; chair of the Economic Development Committee for the Municipality of Anchorage; vice chairman of the Alaska Stranded Gas Act Municipal Advisory Group; co-chair of Governor Murkowski’s Agrium Task Force; chair of the Kenai Peninsula Development Coalition; consultant for the British Columbia Provincial Government’s Offshore Oil and Gas Team.
Will Kyzer - Logistics Business Development Director
As the Logistics Business Development Director, Will creates and executes strategies to attract investment to Anchorage related to the air cargo advantages of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Will was promoted to this position in June 2015.
Will joined AEDC in 2012 as the Business and Economic Development Assistant Director and was promoted to Business and Economic Development Director in 2013. Prior to AEDC, Will served as Prospect Manager with the Iowa Economic Development Authority. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with Distinction, as well as a certificate in entrepreneurial management from The University of Iowa.
Will was nominated to join the Board of Directors for the Export Council of Alaska in 2017, an organization that promotes the export of Alaska goods and services through training, mentoring and trade policy recommendations. Will has served on the ANC Airport Master Plan Update Committee, Anchorage Industrial Lands Assessment Committee and completed a two-year term as an ex-officio Board member for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce. In the spring of 2015, Will was selected as the Young Professional of the quarter by the 250 members of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Young Professional Group.
A third-generation Alaskan, Will was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska.
Moira Gallagher - Live. Work. Play. Director
As Live. Work. Play. Director, Moira spearheads the AEDC initiative to make Anchorage the #1 city in America to Live, Work and Play. Her responsibilities include bringing together partners for the initiative, enhancing community participation and providing sound advocacy to achieve this very important goal for our city.
Before joining AEDC, Moira was with the U.S. Treasury Department. Her prior experience includes working for Fortune 500 companies as a strategy consultant for Oliver Wyman.
Moira is a fifth-generation Alaskan, born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage where she graduated from A.J. Dimond High School in 2003. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College and a Masters in Finance degree from Trinity College, Dublin. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Bridge Builders of Anchorage, the Alaska Statewide Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan Steering Committee, the 1+1 Alaska Advisory Board, and the Welcoming Anchorage Steering Committee. She is deeply passionate about economic development and community engagement in her hometown, loves Arctic Roadrunner cheeseburgers, camping in the Susitna Valley, and running, skiing, or biking on Anchorage’s amazing trails system.
Darleen Fernandez - Development Director
As Development Director, Darleen is responsible for AEDC Investor relations and events. In addition to working to attract new companies to join AEDC, she also ensures current Investors fully leverage membership benefits and opportunities. Highly committed to AEDC’s mission to grow a prosperous, sustainable and diverse economy, she works closely with the Board of Directors and Investor Relations Committee to continually improve offerings and services.
Before joining AEDC Darleen was development director at Girl Scouts of Alaska following nearly 20 years as an administrator and fundraiser with local arts organizations including the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra and Sitka Summer Music Festival. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Communications from UAA.
Outside of work Darleen is often found in the company of amazing friends she’s had the good fortune to make since her family moved to Anchorage from San Francisco in the mid-’70s, rarely misses the chance to walk the Coastal Trail and routinely checks Alaska Airlines’ website for travel opportunities.
Sean Carpenter - Communications Director
As Communications Director, Sean works with the Communications Coordinator and is responsible for developing and implementing all external communications at AEDC including marketing, public relations, social media, and online presences.
Sean was born and raised in Anchorage. He graduated from UAA with a degree in Journalism and Public Communications and began working at Alaska Public Media, where he was an intern during his undergrad. Sean was the marketing manager and was responsible for communications and marketing for an NPR radio station, a PBS television station, and a thriving online news site.
His passion for business led him to pursue his MBA — which he uses to help AEDC assist in fostering a business friendly environment in Anchorage.
Emma Kelly - Business & Economic Development Director
As Business and Economic Development Director, Emma is responsible for creating and executing strategies to help grow and diversify Anchorage’s economy. These strategies include the design and execution of AEDC’s Business Retention & Expansion program, attracting new businesses and industries to Anchorage, assisting Alaska entrepreneurs in building their businesses and helping existing Anchorage companies grow.
Emma spent her early years in Southeast Alaska but grew up in Anchorage. She graduated with a Political Science Degree from Gonzaga University and moved back to Anchorage soon after. Emma loves to be involved in her community and is the current chair of the Anchorage Chamber Young Professionals Group. Prior to joining the team at AEDC, Emma worked in Marketing and Public Involvement in the private sector.
A self-proclaimed “weekend warrior,” Emma loves to spend her time outside running, hiking, and cross country skiing with her dog, June Bee.
Allison Meyers - Operations Manager
As Operations Manager, Allison executes the day-to-day operations of the AEDC offices including managing human resources, accounting, IT as well as grant writing and administration and plays a support role to division directors in driving AEDC’s key strategic initiatives and visions. Allison graduated from UAA with a degree in investment finance and spent three years at BP in Procurement and Supply Chain Management before moving on to restaurant management and joining AEDC in spring 2016. Allison comes from a family of entrepreneurs and owned her first business at 17; she continues to own a role in family businesses as well as personal ventures.
Allison is a lifelong Alaskan from Bethel. Because of the isolated nature of Bethel and the extreme weather, in her youth it was customary to be able to seek solutions to inordinate obstacles. Seventy-foot snow drifts separating her from the schools bus, frozen water pipes, and escaped pigs from her family’s farm — these early challenges influenced how she views the world and her ability to focus and find out-of-the-box solutions to perceived challenges.
Allison is an outdoor, subsistence and travel enthusiast. She has lived in Australia and has spent time in Indonesia, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Europe. She now lives in Anchorage with her dog, two cats, four chickens and two beehives.
Connor Keesecker - Live. Work. Play. Coordinator
As Live. Work. Play. Coordinator, Connor supports the development of the initiative’s Areas of Focus and implementation of LWP’s goal to make Anchorage the #1 city in America to live, work, and play.
Connor was born in Anchorage and raised in Eagle River. He attended the University of Alaska Anchorage earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies with minors in political science and history in 2016. While attending UAA, Connor served as a news reporter and later station manager of UAA’s radio station, KRUA 88.1 FM.
Depending on the season, Connor enjoys skiing, cycling and climbing in Alaska’s wilderness. A sophisticated pizza and beer connoisseur, he is too often found enjoying the company of his friends at Moose’s Tooth.
Samantha Luban - Business & Economic Development Coordinator
As the Business and Economic Development Coordinator, Samantha works with the BED Director to create sustainable strategies to expand and diversify Anchorage’s economy.
Samantha was born on a Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana and was raised in New York and Anchorage. She’s lived in Anchorage for 13 years and graduates from UAA with a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics and a minor in Russian. She spent a year studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia and is articulate in both the Russian language and culture.
During her time at UAA, Samantha worked as a research assistant in the Experimental Economics Laboratory, where she assisted professors in conducting social science experiments. She has always had a passion for behavioral and international economics and hopes to employ that interest to promote economic growth.
Samantha was lucky enough to be afforded many opportunities to travel when she was younger, which established in her an unquenchable desire to see the world. Aside from travel, she also has a love of art, dance and photography. She is an avid writer and loves to cook in her spare time.
Kirsten Swann - Communications Coordinator
As Communications Coordinator, Kirsten helps meet AEDC’s diverse marketing and communications needs, working with the Communications Director and other department leaders to produce everything from targeted email newsletter campaigns to economic reports to tailored social media content.
Raised in Anchorage, Kirsten studied journalism at Hillsdale College in Michigan before returning to Alaska to work as a reporter, web editor, freelance journalist and special sections writer for various local news organizations: KTBY and KYUR, KTVA, the Anchorage Press, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Dispatch News and the Chugiak-Eagle River Star. Covering topics ranging from crime, culture, municipal government and education to Alaska’s resource, tourism, construction and transportation industries, she loved seizing any opportunity to report stories from some of Alaska’s most far-flung regions.
While she catches a serious travel bug every six months or so, there’s nothing quite like coming back to Anchorage again, and Kirsten loves spending her free time learning more about her community and dreaming up new ways to connect the people in it. She publishes news and feature stories from her neighborhood via the hyperlocal Mountain View Post blog and magazine, and you can often find her at the local park with her three dogs.