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 development and business team in Anchorage, which serves the radio mission with core administrative support.

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

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

After a short stint of service in the developing world, KJ’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, as the college radio station KRUA’s marketing and underwriting coordinator.

KJ first heard about KNOM through her husband. He spent his teen years in the village of White Mountain, 60 miles east of Nome. While volunteering as a camp aide and mentor to rural teen students, particularly working for 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 Christian organization in Anchorage, she saw a job listing for the mission’s development office in Anchorage on KNOM’s website in 2018 and it wasn’t long before she was an integral part of the team.

Day-to-day, KJ is the connection point between the mission’s donor family across the country and the radio crew “on the ground” in Nome. She also composes the “Nome Static”, the mission’s monthly newsletter, directs the station’s advertising and marketing efforts, and helps keep the website up to date.

Outside of work, she enjoys listening to podcasts, berry-picking, volunteering at church, and hiking.