KJ (Kjersti) McElwee is no stranger to northern regions: she grew up in Sykkylven, a municipality of Norway just two degrees south of the latitude of Nome, Alaska (62° vs. 64° north), and bit north of her current home, Anchorage (61° N).
KJ moved to Alaska in 2014, while studying 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. Her communications experience at UAA was both academic and professional, working at college radio station KRUA as their marketing and underwriting coordinator.
KJ first heard about KNOM through her husband, who spent his teenage years in the listening community of White Mountain, about 60 miles east of Nome. While working with rural high school- and college students at various camps and programs like RAHI (Rural Alaska Honors Institute) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she started thinking about ways to use her gifts and talents for the good of Western Alaska. After she saw a job listing for the mission’s development office in Anchorage it wasn’t long before she was part of the team.
Day-to-day, KJ is a crucial part of KNOM’s development office in Anchorage, which acts as a support channel between the mission’s donor family across the country and its on-the-ground efforts in Nome. Alongside business manager and development director Lynette Schmidt, KJ manages advertising and direct marketing efforts for the mission. She’s also a point of contact for donors and handles incoming donations.
When not at work, she enjoys “reading, tea drinking, berry-picking, and spending time with people,” all activities well-suited to long winters in Alaska — or Norway.