United Fishermen of Alaska Executive Director Frances Leach is leaving the statewide umbrella group for commercial fishing entities at year’s end to begin a new career as a lobbyist in Juneau.
Her new firm, CapitolCompass, is already signing up clients, but will not perform any actual work for them as a lobbyist or in strategic planning until after Jan. 1, 2022, she said. Her new website is www.capitolcompass.com.
It’s a move that Leach, who grew up in a commercial fishing family in Southeast Alaska, said she is eager for.
“I like being able to advocate, especially for things I am really passionate about,” she said.
Even as a child she was always politically engaged she said, although she never wanted to be an actual politician.
“I am very passionate about sustainability (in fisheries) and environmental issues,” said Leach, who opposes development and operation of the proposed copper, gold and molybdenum mine abutting the Bristol Bay watershed. “I am not anti-mining at all, but I do believe in right places for mines and wrong places for mines.”
Leach has served as executive director for UFA for four years. Before that, she spent about seven years with the Alaska Board of Fisheries as a regulations specialist, and also as a publications specialist and regional coordinator.
As a child growing up in Ketchikan and on Prince of Wales Island, Leach crewed and worked in canneries and fished commercially. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in science from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in art from George Washington University.
“I watched our environment changing rapidly and have seen climate change,” she said of her time in commercial fishing. “I have always wanted to be a pro commercial fishing and pro-environment spokesman.”
While some people don’t believe you can be both, she said that she does, but knows that there are naysayers out there who don’t recognize or deny what is actually happening to the environment.
“We need to realize we should not be fighting with each other, but fighting to protect the resource,” she remarked. “I’m looking to find a balance between using our beautiful seafood resources, but also working for sustainability.”