Robbie headshot image

Robbie Townsend Vennel

Executive Director

Roberta (Robbie) Townsend VenneI has been supporting successful economic development in rural Alaska for over 30 years. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Master’s in Accounting and Finance in 1986 and immediately joined the staff of the Anchorage office of Price Waterhouse where she participated in the implementation of both the Federal and State Single Audit Act in audits of rural municipalities and governments. Her long association with the Kodiak Archipelago began when she joined Afognak Native Corporation (ANC) as its Finance Director in 1989. Robbie was with ANC for 15 years and in that time served as its Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer, and its Senior Governance Officer as ANC grew from a small regional company to a highly successful, nationally recognized Alaska Native Corporation. During her tenure with ANC she also worked to establish the Native Village of Afognak, a federally recognized tribe, negotiated the tribe’s first 638 contract, sourced funding for the Old Afognak Village Data Recovery Project, and initiated the “Light the Past, Spark the Future, Dig Afognak”, program. Robbie’s many contributions to the Afognak community were recognized at the 2000 Esgahlluku Takukaaq, Awakening Bear celebration when she was gifted with the Alutiiq name of “Anuiq”.

Since leaving ANC in 2004, Robbie focuses on supporting the long-term sustainability of Alaska’s rural communities. She is a founding member of the Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum (the Forum) and the Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute (KALI) and has served as the Forum’s facilitator and as KALl’s Project Director since their inception. As the Forum Facilitator, she works with community leadership to plan forum work sessions, leads Forum identified planning efforts, and coordinates critical rural community advocacy efforts. As Executive Director, Robbie leads KALl’s efforts to establish a network of community and Alaska Native-owned farms to enhance community sustainability and economic development.

Robbie is a strong supporter of education and has assisted many community colleges around the country in developing projects and obtaining federal funding in support of first-time college learners and Alaska Native and American Indian students. She has also supported language revitalization efforts for the Aleutian Pribiloff Islands region including the facilitation and development of the Unagam Tunuu Strategic Plan. The plan was utilized to successfully fund Unangam Tunuu Achigaasalix- Teaching the Aluet Language, a regionally-based language certification program.

Robbie was the 2022 recipient of the Alaska Federation of Natives Denali Award. The Denali Award recognizes the contributions of a non-Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska.