(Portage, AK) – The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center announces the departure of its founder, Mike Miller and his wife, Kelly, and the promotion of Dianna Whitney to Executive Director.
Mike started Big Game Alaska in 1993, as a for-profit. The operation became the non-profit Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in 2004. Mike’s determination, dedication and passion for wildlife turned the wildlife center into one of the top-rated tourist destinations in the state of Alaska.
For the past 25 years, Mike Miller has been the face of the Center while serving as the Executive Director. Mike was a familiar sight on his 4-wheeler, sharing his experience, wisdom and knowledge of the resident animals with millions of visitors.
One of Mike’s most important contributions to conservation was his decade-long role with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in rearing, and then releasing, 130 wood bison back into western Alaska. Wood bison were once abundant in much of Alaska until they disappeared more than 100 years ago and were thought to be extinct.
Kelly served as the Director of Education, creating the Bison in a Box program, animal-themed field trips and her famous porcupine presentations and scavenger hunts.
Whitney joined the AWCC team in September of 2016 and brings over a decade of management and operations experience to her new assignment. Prior to working at the wildlife center, she was the Vice President and General Manager of the ski area at Alyeska Resort.
Whitney has an Associate of Arts degree from the University of Alaska and is a Kenai Resource Advisory Commissioner and Visit Anchorage Board Member. She holds certifications in outdoor emergency care, swift water rescue, Alaska Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead, OSHA general construction and OSHA construction safety and health. An avid outdoor adventure seeker, she competed in the Arctic Winter Games, Senior Nordic Nationals and has climbed Denali twice.
As Executive Director, she is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs and strategic plan of the center.