Holly Johnson, left, and Laura Martinson were named Juneau's Citizens of the year on Thursday night. Martinson, who owns Caribou Crossings, and Johnson, president of Wings Airways, received the award in recognition of their leadership of the Protect Juneau’s Future committee. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

Chamber names Citizens of the Year

Martinson, Johnson share honor

Members of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce raised a glass Thursday night to toast Laura Martinson and Holly Johnson, who were named the 2021 Citizens of the Year at the Alaskan Brewing Tasting Room.

The evening marked the chamber’s first after-hours event since COVID-19 canceled many of the city’s social events for almost two years — including the chamber’s annual banquet, which is usually held each October in Centennial Hall.

Martinson, who owns Caribou Crossings, and Johnson, president of Wings Airways, received the award in recognition of their leadership of the Protect Juneau’s Future committee.

[Opinion: Think local this holiday season]

In the spring and early summer, the pair led an information campaign that organizers credit with stopping a trio of ballot initiatives that–if passed — would have changed the city’s charter and limited the number of cruise ship passengers arriving in Juneau each year.

“There was a rock solid group of dedicated people who came together to form and to fight for Protect Juneau’s Future,” said Tanja Cadigan, who presented the award. “However, there were particularly fierce leaders who steered the organization with a clear vision and full conviction of what they believed would work. They made something that seemed impossible, possible,” she said.

[Gold Town Theater prepares for drive-by Christmas Show]

Cadigan praised the pair’s long game for starting a conversation about the industry.

“Their steadfast directive was to push the positives of the industry, which is the heart of who these amazing individuals truly are,” she said. “They created a tidal wave of brilliant marketing tactics where the community was literally flooded with the undeniable black-and-white numbers-and stories of how tourism benefits Juneau.”

Craig Dahl, executive director of the chamber, called the pair a “dynamic duo” and praised their work ethic. Dahl said that he often arrived at the office to find emails Martinson and Johnson had sent before dawn, reporting the completion of tasks discussed only the day before.

[Opinion: Tourism is a local’s business]

Past President of the Chamber Eric Forst, said the Protect Juneau’s Future Group was launched to respond to a variety of issues facing local industries.

[It takes a village to create a holiday tradition]

“The visitor industry was one area that faced not only devastation from COVID but the potential for catastrophic restrictions as well,” he told the crowd before the award presentation.

He said that chamber members met last winter to start exploring potential solutions.

“The chamber took the lead in bringing together the various groups and focusing their efforts on a common solution. This gave rise to a new organization Protect Juneau’s Future,” First said.

Martinson and Johnson expressed surprise when Cadigan announced the pair as the winners.

“I’m shocked,” Martinson said after receiving her award. “It means so much from this group of people who I view as a room full of mentors. It’s such a surprise.”

In a Saturday morning phone interview, Johnson said that friends and neighbors had stopped by with wishes since the announcement.

“I’m shocked and humbled,” Johnson said. “It’s strange and beautiful to be honored like that.”

The Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce has been presenting the Citizen of the Year Award since 1977. Forst said that community members submit nominations for the award committee, which selects the winner.

Forst said the award honors people who go “above and beyond their traditional service to the community of Juneau.”

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

James Whistler, 8, operates a mini excavator during Gold Rush Days on Saturday, June 17, 2023. People young and old were offered a chance to place tires around traffic cones and other challenges after getting a brief introduction to the excavator. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
There’s good reason to be extra charged up for this year’s Juneau Gold Rush Days

Digital registration for logging/mining competitors new for 32nd annual event this weekend.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

Most Read