Alaska Small Business Development Center

Operations Staff

The Alaska SBDC Operations Office supports all regional centers, business advisors, directors, and clients across the state. The Operations Office oversees the management of Alaska SBDC marketing and communications, client onboarding, support and relationships, events and workshops, and data and reporting.

Jon Bittner

Executive Director

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As Executive Director of the Alaska SBDC, Jon Bittner oversees seven regional centers to ensure that the Alaska SBDC provides accessible, high-quality business assistance services to individuals and existing businesses. In his role, he provides program management, advocacy, and fundraising in addition to serving as the Lead Investigator for the various grant programs that are run through Alaska SBDC. He formerly served as vice president of Anchorage Economic Development Center (AEDC). Jon also served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

Julie Nolen

Matanuska-Susitna Center Director and Associate State Director

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Julie is a life-long Alaska who has been involved in family business her entire life. She joined the team at the Alaska Small Business Development Center in 2009 and has been helping businesses grow and thrive throughout the state of Alaska ever since. Her areas of expertise include QuickBooks, financial projections, loan package development, and business acquisition.

Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from Northern Arizona University and currently lives in Wasilla with her husband and son. In her free time, Julie enjoys quilting, gardening, snow-machining, and spending time at her remote cabin on the Yentna River.

Kendra Conroy

Operations Manager

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With over 17-years of Alaska SBDC experience under her belt, Kendra Conroy is an integral leader of the Alaska SBDC team. As the Operations Manager, she oversees the day-to-day functions of the Executive Office, serves as the HR liaison, and maintains Alaska SBDC policies and procedures. Kendra also manages the Alaska SBDC’s vast client database and ensures proper and timely reporting of all Alaska SBDC metrics.

Katie Ashbaugh

BuyAlaska Program Manager

buyalaska@aksbdc.org | message

Katie Ashbaugh is the BuyAlaska Program Manager and is thrilled to be finding ways to promote Alaska’s small businesses and to encourage shopping local first. With a background in the natural sciences and sustainable forest management, she took her passion for sustainability into the field of business and has an MBA in Sustainable Systems.

Katie has a breadth of experience working in small business management from tourism to e-commerce and understands the needs and hurdles that small businesses face daily. Katie has always felt a sense of entrepreneurship and is currently undertaking her small business venture. Outside of the office, Katie is an avid swimmer, skier, and lover of the outdoors.

Winnie Cichosz

SBDC Program Specialist

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Winnie Cichosz moved to Bethel, Alaska in 2003 and has never left our beautiful state.  Winnie first worked for the Alaska SBDC from 2006 – 2011 and then in 2022 the team was excited to welcome her back as a Program Specialist.  Winnie has extensive experience in customer service and loves helping small businesses. One of her best professional attributes is her experience and skills in communicating with people of various economic, cultural, and diverse educational backgrounds effectively. Over the years, she has served a myriad of people through her work with SBDC and with the State of Alaska Department of Transportation Civil Rights Office for 10 years as a Contract Compliance and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification Officer.  She has extensive experience working with small business owners, entrepreneurs, community partners, and stakeholders with the primary focus on assisting small businesses expand. Winnie’s passion is to be a valuable resource to all small businesses specifically for disadvantaged entrepreneurs and especially minority women.

Frances Wesley

Client Coordinator

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Frances Wesley, a long-time Alaskan has over 30 years of administrative experience including Operations Analyst, IT Project Management, and Human Resources. She takes pride in being an effective team worker, customer service, and helping to ensure projects are completed. She has done various volunteer work at many nonprofit organizations in Anchorage and is currently an officer on the board of a nonprofit organization that is helping to serve the community housing needs.

Frances received her Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis on Human Resources Organizational Development from Alaska Pacific University.