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.
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 Nave 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 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 effectively with people of various economic, cultural, and diverse educational backgrounds. 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, 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.
Erin Baca serves as the Alaska SSBCI Equity Fund Director and is the former Director of Alaska’s former SSBCI fund, 49th State Angel Fund (49SAF). Erin has built a career in investing, startup ecosystem building, economic development, and strategy and operations management while working for both startups and established companies in engineering and aerospace. At the core of Erin’s work is the belief that an inclusive and equitable business landscape will be the foundation for an innovative and diverse Alaskan economy. She currently serves on the board of the Alaska Investor Network and formerly served as an advisory board member for Gener8tor. In 2022, Erin was selected as a CDFA Franzini Fellow, named an Alaska Top 40 Under 40 in 2021, and a Wefunder Venture Partner since 2019. She holds an MA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and BAs in Communications and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Jay has been part of the lending industry for more than 30 years starting as a construction lending officer and working his way to the executive office and consultant. In the past he has worked diligently as a liaison between lenders and governmental agencies helping the organizations work together to reach their common goals. Being part of Alaska for the past decade both in the southeast and south central area, Jay understands the uniqueness, great gifts and challenges the State offers. Assisting business/agencies/organizations in working together is his personal aspiration to positively affect communities and individuals in Alaska. As the director of the SSBCI lending programs, Jay is working to bring the current initiative to the banking and credit unions with the same innovation, coordination and commitment of previous successes.