Thanking him for seven years of dedication, hard work, and leadership, Gov. Tony Knowles today announced that Jim Ayers will resign as his Chief of Staff, effective January 4. Ayers has accepted a job as an Alaska-based regional director of Oceana, a newly formed international organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the world's oceans, fisheries, and marine life.
"For seven years, the longest tenure of any chief of staff that I'm aware of, Jim Ayers has been at the forefront of every major issue that we have tackled," Knowles said. "Jim is a unique individual and has made exceptional contributions to our efforts to create jobs, protect children and families, improve our educational system, strengthen our economy, and protect habitat and water quality. He's also been a good friend and an effective coach to one of the best teams that any governor has fielded."
"It has been a rare honor and personal privilege to work with Gov. Knowles, his wife Susan and their family, and with such a great team in the governor's office," Ayers said. "We have made tremendous progress toward protecting kids, improving our schools, strengthening the economy, and preserving and protecting Alaska's waters and habitat.
"We've accomplished this thanks to the leadership of Gov. Knowles and Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, and one of the best groups of dedicated public servants ever assembled," Ayers added. "It's been a blast."
Ayers will remain in Juneau as Oceana's regional director for the North Pacific. "Jim Ayers knows Alaska, and he knows the importance of ocean conservation here and throughout the North Pacific,” said Oceana’s president Steve Roady. "Alaska plays a vital role in ocean conservation, that’s why we are excited that Jim will captain our North Pacific team. He has detailed experience with the key issues, from destructive fishing practices to pollution. We are delighted and honored to have Jim join us as our first regional director."
Based in Washington, D.C., Oceana is a new international organization created with the sole purpose of protecting the world’s oceans through public policy advocacy, science and economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education. The North Pacific office is the first of Oceana’s regional branches, which eventually will include offices in Europe and South America.
Ayers has served as Chief of Staff since Knowles took office in December 1994. Previously, he served as deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, director of the Alaska Marine Highway System, and executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustees Council.
A successor as Chief of Staff will be named prior to Ayers' departure. Ayers will continue to coach the Juneau Douglas High School varsity baseball team.
Contact: Bob King, Press Secretary for Gov. Knowles, 907/465-3500