Woman in blue jacket and red-and-white shirt stands in front of sign that reads “KNOM | 780 AM | 96.1 FM.”
KJ McElwee outside the KNOM station, March 2019. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

KJ (Kjersti) McElwee is part of KNOM’s three-person business and development team in Anchorage, which serves the radio mission with administrative support.

No stranger to the north, KJ grew up just across the north pole from KNOM; in Sykkylven, Norway.

Her passion for development began at an early age, watching her Lutheran grandmother faithfully raffle off knit socks and mittens to benefit missions causes halfway across the globe.

Her family’s global awareness eventually led her to the United States, and a degree in Strategic Communication. Her university studies were split between Pacific Lutheran University in the Seattle area and the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she finished her degree. UAA was her first introduction to radio marketing, as the college radio station KRUA’s marketing and underwriting coordinator.

KJ first heard about KNOM through her husband, who spent his teenage years in the village of White Mountain, about 60 miles east of Nome. While serving rural high school- and college students at various camps and programs like RAHI (Rural Alaska Honors Institute) at the University of Alaska, she started thinking about ways to use her gifts and talents to serve Western Alaskans.

After a year and a half doing marketing work for a pro-life organization in Anchorage, she saw a job listing for the mission’s development office in Anchorage on KNOM’s website and it wasn’t long before she was part of the team.

Day-to-day, KJ works alongside business manager and development director Lynette Schmidt as the connection point between the mission’s donor family across the country and the radio crew “on the ground” in Nome. She also helps compose the “Nome Static”, the mission’s monthly newsletter, manages advertising and marketing efforts for the mission, and helps keep the website up to date.

When not at work, she enjoys reading, hiking, and berry-picking.