Juneau Speakers

V.I.P. Speakers

John MacKinnon
Commissioner
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

John MacKinnon serves as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Under his direction, the department is responsible for the planning, design, construction, and the maintenance and operation of Alaska’s transportation system, public buildings and facilities.
MacKinnon previously spent five years as the department’s deputy commissioner of highways and public facilities, between 2003-2007. In this role, he was responsible for the state highway program, policy and planning, administration, budget, and legislative relations.
From 2008 to 2018, MacKinnon was executive director for the Associated General Contractors of Alaska. Before 2003, he was acting city manager for the City and Borough of Juneau and served on the Juneau Planning Commission and the Juneau Assembly for 12 years, the last six as deputy mayor.
MacKinnon’s 24 years as a building contractor, along with other business interests, contribute to his experience and knowledge in both the private and public sectors. He is a fourth generation Alaskan and has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Resource Ecology from Huxley College of Environmental Studies.


Agency Panel

Statewide ADOT&PF, Juneau Airport, and SBA Office of Advocacy
Learn about upcoming procurement opportunities and business resources to grow your business.

  • Mark Neidhold, P.E. DOT&PF Chief Design Construction Standards
  • Charlie Deininger, P.E. DOT&PF Chief Contracts Officer, Contracts & Appeals Section
  • Richard Fuhriman, Regional Advocate US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
  • Patty Wahto, Juneau International Airport, Airport Manager

Industry Expert Presenters | Business Workshops

Workforce Retention Strategies that “work”

Learn about key strategies to retained a highly skilled workforce while producing high performance teams.

Presenter: Jennifer Adams

MBA, Director, Juneau
Alaska Small Business Development Center

Jennifer Adams is the Juneau Director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center. She is originally from Allakaket and Fairbanks, Alaska. Mrs. Adams holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is a seasoned business professional in various executive-level positions such as CEO of a state agency housing/construction agency, director of planning and development for a large Alaska Native social service agency, and executive director of an Alaska Native Elders’ organization. In the past, she worked for The Status Group in Las Vegas writing business plans for small business clients wishing to pursue bank loans. Ms. Adams also has a background in human resources, corporate legal experience, budget development, technical writing, and since 2013 she has owned a consulting business. Jennifer loves her job, living in Juneau and serving entrepreneurs in Southeast Alaska. 


SBA Guaranty Business Loans – What Lenders Look For and Tips for Winning Them Over

Take the next step to start or grow your business and join us for an interactive session where you’ll learn:

  • How to get access to capital through the use of SBA Guarantee Loan Programs
  • Criteria used by loan officers to evaluate a loan request, also known as, the 5 C’s of Credit
  • Preparing to meet with your lender and what lenders look for
  • Resources to help you prepare

Presenter: Nelinda Irvine

Lender Relations Specialist
Alaska District Office
U.S. Small Business Administration

Nelida Irvine works as a Lender Relations Specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Anchorage, AK.   Nelida’s background includes 30 + years of combined experience in business and economic development, financial management, marketing, and event management.   Prior to working for SBA, she worked for the private sector, state government, and owned an event management business. Nelida is the point of contact for SBA’s Guarantee Loan Programs in the State of Alaska.  Her main responsibilities include assisting SBA lenders with support and training in areas such as: loan structuring, loan processing, loan servicing, liquidation guidance, eligibility and compliance of SBA lending procedures, policies and regulations, as well as, marketing SBA programs and services to Alaska diverse small business communities.  In addition to her main responsibilities, Nelida is, also, the District International Trade Officer. Nelida has worked at SBA for 13 years. She has a B.A. in Hospitality Management from Alaska Pacific University.


Strategic Management 101

Learn how to identify common pitfalls facing start-up as well as on-going business concerns, keys to Success in developing effective business development strategies and applying strategic planning techniques to enhance your business.

Presenter: Paul Johnson

President/CEO, MBA-TM, MSGSM
Highliner Consulting Group, LLC

With over eighteen years (18) of professional work experience in the fields of: project management; project development; business formations; international business; global logistics/supply chain management as well as business and technology management; Paul Johnson provides a wide and diverse business development background to clients, partnerships, and potential employers. Relevant work history includes: serving as Business Development Manager and Project Manager for two of Alaska’s largest Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs); serving as an Economic Development Consultant for a prominent private engineering and construction firm; serving as a Vice President of Business Development for an Alaska-based commercial brokerage firm specializing in Alaska Native Corporations and Federally Recognized Tribes and privately held companies which focused on wealth management and accountancy. In addition to key positions with other firms, Paul Johnson has also served as Principal – Business Manager and Director of Global Logistics for a Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVO) firm providing international construction management services to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Iraq and for the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in Greece.

Applicable work experience pertained to serving as a supply chain project manager for NANA Pacific in the development of the largest commercial wind farm development in the State of Montana.


Tackle Contracting in Construction 101

This workshop will give you a general overview on how to effectively and efficiently provide administrative support to construction administration processes.

Silica Training – New OSHA Requirements

Which contractors, subcontractors, supervisors and others are responsible for training and how to implement the employer’s silica control plan.

Presenter: Kirstie Gray

Gray Services, LLC

Kirstie Gray began her company, Gray Services, LLC, to help fill the gap she observed in the construction industry. This gap allows Kirstie to serve multiple companies, working hand in hand with each company to provide the range of services each one needs. Kirstie has worked in the construction industry for the past 6 years, and her clients appreciate her capacity for bookkeeping, construction support services, construction permitting, bid proposal oversight, and Silica regulations. Kirstie also takes pride in supporting organizations like Associated General Contractors of Alaska by participating in their Safety Committee which provides training and safety events to educate the community, as well as AGC’s Membership Committee and their Associates Council. Kirstie is also one of the youngest members of The Petroleum Club’s House Committee. 

Realizing the construction industry is changing with technology and regulations, she continues to further her education and training, to support her client’s needs. Ms. Gray participates in her children’s School’s PTSA programs, coaches soccer during the summer and enjoys fishing as often as she can get to the water.