Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration 2022 Awardees

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The annual Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration will take place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. This event celebrates the fish, water, and people of Bristol Bay, home to the world’s most prolific commercial wild sockeye salmon fishery that is responsible for producing more than half of the sockeye sold worldwide. The event is attended by Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, BBNC board members and staff, and other supporters of salmon. The event recognizes and congratulates this year’s Fish First awardees:

Norm Van Vactor

Norman Van Vactor currently hails from Dillingham, Alaska. Born and raised in the Southern Philippines to Missionary parents, he flew to the US and Bristol Bay in 1975 the day after high school graduation looking for a summer job to pay for college. From Deckhand to tender Captain, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College a few years later, his heart has never been far from Bristol Bay. The bulk of his professional career has seen him in senior management capacities in the Alaska Seafood Industry splitting his time between Seattle and Bristol Bay. In 2013, Norm and his wife Lynn moved to Dillingham, Alaska when he accepted the offer to become the CEO/President of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.

He couldn’t stay away from the Commercial Fishing side though, and in 2022 helped navigate Silver Bay Seafoods and their fleet to the largest Commercial Catch by a single company in Bristol Bay’s history. Even more than his engagement with Alaska’s Commercial Fishing industry, Norman’s principal passion to which he has devoted significant personal time and resources has been his engagement on and with the Pebble Mine issue. He came to the issue early, over 20 years ago, and was one of the early/founding board members of the Renewable Resource Coalition. Later generically known as the RRC, the Renewable Resource Coalition was the first organized advocacy group that formed to specifically engage and educate Alaskans on the issues surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine Development. Norman is passionate about Bristol Bay, the Land, the People, and the region’s Resources.

Alannah Hurley

Alannah Hurley (Yup’ik) was born and raised in the Bristol Bay region. She serves as Executive Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Originally from Clark’s Point, she now resides in Dillingham. Alannah‘s passion lies in environmental justice and helping make self-determination a reality for Alaska’s indigenous people.

Bob Gillam

Robert Byron Gillam (Bob) was born in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1946. Bob graduated from Anchorage’s West High in 1964. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, and a master’s degree in business administration from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management in 1969. He founded McKinley Capital Management in 1990 which today manages over $2 billion in assets for private and institutional clients.

Bob was an ardent supporter of all things Alaskan and a true adventurer – he is a passionate self-taught outdoorsman, accomplished fly fisherman, big-game hunter, and float plane pilot for over 30 years. Bob had a home on Lake Clark near the Lake Clark National Park of Western Alaska for more than 25 years. He enjoyed a close relationship with many of the Alaska Native residents of Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough. On May 2, 2015, Bob was named Chief Koktuli by May Elder, a senior elder of the Alaska Native Village of Nondalton.

Bob was well known for his opposition to the development of the proposed Pebble Mine. He believed the plan proposed by the development companies had the ability to devastate the Bristol Bay river drainage system and irreparably harm the fish, caribou, and Alaskan Native way of life.

Bob has five children and was married to Mary Lou (Couch) Gillam. His eldest son, Rob, resides in Anchorage and is the CEO/CIO of McKinley Management; daughter Vicki is a business owner and entrepreneur in Portland, Oregon; son Clark runs a private equity firm; daughter Roxanne is a doctor of pediatrics; and son Hunter lives in Anchorage.

Senator Rick Halford

Rick Halford served nearly 25 years in the Alaska State Legislature with terms as both Senate President and Majority Leader. He is a former hunting guide and member of the Air National Guard. In true Alaskan style he is an avid pilot and active advocate on behalf of Bristol Bay and its fisheries. Rick has six grown children and three grandchildren. He and wife Rona (Sorensen) split their time between Dillingham and Chugiak.