Frances Leach, pictured here in this undated photo, has been named the new executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska, effective Jan. 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy the United Fishermen of Alaska)

Frances Leach, pictured here in this undated photo, has been named the new executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska, effective Jan. 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy the United Fishermen of Alaska)

UFA names new executive director

The biggest commercial fishing organization in the state will have a new executive director in January.

The United Fishermen of Alaska, a statewide umbrella trade organization bringing together 34 area-specific fishing groups, announced the selection of Frances Leach as its new executive director. Leach, a Juneau resident, grew up in a commercial fishing family in Ketchikan, according to a Thursday news release.

“Frances has a proven track record of success and has demonstrated leadership during her professional career,” said UFA President Jerry McCune in the news release. “In addition, her life experience working in her family’s commercial fishing business makes her uniquely qualified to be UFA’s Executive Director.”

Leach, who is currently a regulations specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is finishing up her work there this year and will take up her position at United Fishermen of Alaska on Jan. 5, 2018.

“I am excited for the opportunity to represent UFA,” Leach said in the news release. “Having grown up in a commercial fishing family in a coastal community, I understand the importance of commercial fishing to Alaska’s economy and cultural heritage. The commercial fishing industry faces many challenges at the state and federal level, and I look forward to addressing these challenges as UFA’s Executive Director.”

It will be the first time in two years that the organization has had an executive director, since former executive director Julianne Curry left at the end of 2015, said executive administrator Mark Vinsel.

The board of directors has stepped up and he has been filling in for some of the executive director’s duties in the meantime, he said.

“It’s really been a stretch, and we really look forward to having someone really qualified,” he said.

The United Fishermen of Alaska regularly lobbies on the behalf of the commercial fishing industry to the Alaska Legislature, the Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and holds meetings in various regions on commercial fishing issues. The organization also conducts surveys and initiatives among commercial fishermen, such as its Salmon Habitat Information Project launched in July 2016.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Dr. Kim Thiele stands by a wall of newspaper clippings and images of family members and precursors in his office near Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A ministry for me’

Kalifornsky doctor wraps up career after 44 years

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman game seizure bill received warmly in Senate committee

Of the roughly 150 animals the department takes each year, an average of between one and two are determined to be wrongfully seized

A collage of photos of Nikiski North Star Elementary students taking swimming lessons at the Nikiski Pool. (Photo collages provided by Nikiski North Star Elementary)
Community effort puts 200 Nikiski North Star students through swimming lessons

The lessons covered “everything,” from basic flotation to constructing rough-but-functional life jackets out of clothing

From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes BSA increase, with other education provisions

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where lawmakers must approve the bill as-is before it can head to the governor’s desk

Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about
House considers, rejects multiple school funding amendments during Wednesday floor debate

Over several hours, lawmakers considered six different increases in the Base Student Allocation to public schools

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Most Read