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Energy Alumni gatherings started in Houston this year after the Anchorage winter lunch closed out 2022. Then came a record turnout at O'Malley's in August followed by a chance to network in San Antonio where SPE ATCE was hosted. The idea for the SPE happy hour was a result of learning that Terry Palisch is the fourth ARCO legacy employee to lead the organization.  “I am excited to carry on the legacy of the multiple SPE Presidents who are ARCO Alumni…a testament to the company,” said Terry. Terry and his wife, Sandy, also an ARCO alumnus, live in Dallas.

Outgoing SPE President and Chevron Emeritus Med Kamal welcomed incoming President Terry Palisch, Carbo Ceramics during an auspicious week. "This week we saw record output in the US," shared Med at the Energy Alumni happy hour. Also at the networking happy hour were Gerardo Cedillo and Vivek Peraser who learned about Energy Alumni from Rana ElGhonimy. All three of the BP Alalska alumni are now working for BP in Houston. Thank you, Rana, for spreading the word! Search the website, and if you find someone who is in the industry andd not yet a member, spread the word - we have events in Anchorage, Dallas, Houston, The Woodlands and other locations. Even if you can't make an event, joining this community will keep you connected through the newsletter and by logging on and seeing who has updated their profile.

Alaska residents at the Energy Alumni happy hour in San Antonio included Chantal and Tom Walsh, PRA; Andy Bond, Santos and his wife Lori and David Lachance who flew from Anchorage to San Antonio to see a friend receiving an award at one of the programs. David was able to catch up with BP Alaska friends who had left Anchorage for Houston and other places and were attending SPE ATCE. 

Other Alaska alums included Scott and Kim Smith who departed for the US in 1994 and made it as far as Calgary where they have since called home. They shared some good laughs with Keith Lynch who recently watched a video of Scott roasting Keith when he left Alaska in 1992. Kemp and Janet Copeland are neighbors of Susan and Keith Lynch. They live outside of San Antonio in Boerne, Texas. Also living in Boerne is Larry Parnell, who has been running a family business and shared that three of his children attended University in the UK - "it costs less and the quality of students is high" shared Larry.

Renewables were also a topic of conversation, including by the lunch speaker on Monday. Tom Walker relocated from Denver to The Woodlands with Occidental Petroleum,

who are working on a Carbon Removal Credit Purchase, invested in by Amazon and the US government in a bid to be carbon neutral by 2040.

William Cobb, an ARCO Alumnus and a past SPE President, gave a moving speech at an SPE lunch where he shared the reasons he gives back. "When I was a boy I was more interested in receiving, but now I am happy to give back, and SPE played an important role in my career development."

Pictured are ARCO alums who were SPE Presidents Med Kamal, Janeen Judah, now the Foundation President for 2024, and current SPE President Terry Palisch.

Exhibition at Black Cup Midtown, November 4-30

Anchorage Museum, November 24-25

You might know Scharine Kirchoff from her time at Unocal and her transition to Chevron, but following early retirement, she has been devoting her time to creating art. Scharine recently completed some new textile artwork and installed the pieces. Her solo exhibition is at Black Cup in Midtown Anchorage and the exhibit is entitled Materiality II: A Contemporary Showcase of Textile Materials and Techniques that Push Humble Threads from Material to Visual Language. The textile artwork will be on display until November 30. Scharine will also exhibit at the juried exhibit "Crafted in Alaska", November 24-25 at the Anchorage Museum.

Scharine has long-term ties with Alaska. "I was born in Okinawa, Japan, and my family moved to the U.S. in my youth," said Scharine. "We landed in Anchorage via my father's job transfer. Although the original plan was that we would be in Alaska for one year, my family stayed. My family still resides in Japan where my grandmother was a natural dyer, handweaver, and kimono maker. Hence, I learned a lot of textile techniques from various family members including my grandmother, and mother. The arts are deeply rooted in the Ryukyu (Okinawan) culture, and it is common to practice art on a daily basis. My grandfather was a furniture maker, and my uncle was a stage set designer for NHK television. So, it is with this family influence, that I've been practicing the arts since early childhood.

I specialized in 3D visualization, and I found the model quality was very much influenced by artistic techniques  - Scharine Kirchoff

"I attended undergraduate and graduate school on the East Coast, and returned to Alaska thereafter to work. However, the oil business moved me down to Houston where I worked for Chevron as a geoscientist/technologist. I specialized in 3D visualization, a technology in which seismic, and other data is used to create 3D subsurface earth models. Although the imaging data was technical in nature, I found that the model quality was very much influenced by an understanding of artistic techniques such as the application of color and opacity to the images. My work took me to Thailand, Brazil, and other U.S. locations; and, over time, I moved into managerial positions. During my entire oil business career, I continued to practice the arts on my own time."

During my career, I continued to practice my art  - Scharine Kirchoff

"Early retirement for me was driven by my wish to devote full time to my artistic practice. My grandmother had turned 100 years old, so I decided that it was time for me to learn everything that I could from her. So I traveled to Okinawa, and learned as much as I could about ancient Ryukyu art techniques from family members, and other Ryukyu artists for a two year period. Thereafter, I returned to the U.S., where I've been working as a full-time professional artist with studios in Anchorage, Alaska and Houston, Texas."

"Since I enjoy hiking, and the outdoors, it was just natural that I would be drawn to local botanical dyes, particularly in Alaska. So, my artwork includes the incorporation of local botanicals as a source of color. I often combine my naturally dyed works with tactile structures from my own handweaving, and hand stitching. In addition to creating artwork, I also teach Ryukyu Kasuri (ikat), handweaving, indigo, and other natural dye workshops. I'm grateful to work as a fourth generation textile artist, and pleased that I'm able to carry on my family's textile legacy." 

I'm grateful to work as a fourth generation textile artist  - Scharine Kirchoff



ARCO and BP alumnus John Kurz joined Alyeska Pipeline in April of this year as the President and Chief Executive Officer.

“It’s exciting to be back working in Alaska and heading up Alyeska, an iconic Alaskan company,” John said. “Leading an organization and team of this significance is a tremendous responsibility and honor. And who would have predicted that I would do a third tour here? My three tours were actually with three different companies: ARCO, where I started my career in Anchorage in the 80’s working successively on the Prudhoe Bay, Lisburne, and Kuparuk fields; BP in the mid-2000’s heading up Operations for Prudhoe Bay; and now Alyeska."

John met and married his spouse, Cheryl (also an ARCO employee), in Anchorage, all three of his children were born here, and he holds a Master of Science Degree in Engineering Management from the University of Alaska.

It’s exciting to be back working in Alaska and heading up Alyeska, an iconic Alaskan company  - John Kurz

“We certainly have strong connections here,” John said. “After living and working overseas for so long, it has been special to reconnect with family and friends since we have been back. Our three children and their partners already visited in July, where we spent time on the Kenai Peninsula slaying reds, sea kayaking, hiking, and camping. With 75 family and friends joining, we also celebrated the 50 year anniversary of Cheryl’s family owning homestead property just outside Soldotna.”

Prior to joining Alyeska Pipeline, John was on the other side of the world with Australian-based Oil Search/Santos. The company’s Chief Operating Officer, John was involved in oil and gas developments in Papua New Guinea – oil fields that have been around for decades, and a 2-train LNG project sanctioned about 10 years ago. “A 2-train expansion is working through engineering and commercial negotiations,” he said. “I was responsible for all PNG operating activities except major projects. The PNG operations have many of the same issues you’d experience in any operation, so I was able to use my experience in Alaska and elsewhere to address the challenges and opportunities. Moreover, the Papua New Guineans are just wonderful people, and I really enjoyed working with them and helping them develop into a high performance organization. That’s the most rewarding part of the job,” said John.

John shares that he has been fortunate in his career. “I have had some really great opportunities,” he said. “I worked in Indonesia for 6 years, Egypt for 2, Azerbaijan for 7, and lived in Dubai while working in Iraq. Cheryl has traveled the globe with me and we are both thrilled to be back in Anchorage. Prior to University the kids went with us, so they are true third culture kids. The travel bug has also bit us all — Madison, our oldest, has the family lead at about 55 countries. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us for sure,” said John.

It has been special to reconnect with family and friends since we came back  - John Kurz



With over 95 individuals at the happy hour, we have a lot to share, and these updates won't cover everyone, but log onto the site and click on Who's Doing What to read more!

Upon arriving at the happy hour, Roger and Lorna Herrera were greeted by Pam Pope. Pam used to work for Roger in exploration and brought along a photo album from Roger's retirement party. Susie Holly is traveling, working at the school district and enjoying life!

David LaChance retired from BP after working in Kuwait, post-Alaska. "We've stayed in Alaska though have moved houses," posted David. 

Esther Fueg shared that she expected to live in Alaska for three years, and they have enjoyed their time so much they stayed. "We have lived here for 27 years; after BP, I thought I was semi retired, but I am enjoying retirement too much to work," said Esther. 
My career kept returning me to Alaska, and I retired there in 1999  - Harold Heinze

Harold Heinze joined Atlantic Richfield in 1965, and arrived in Alaska in 1969 when TAPS was put on hold for environmental review. "I left Alaska because the pipeline was put on hold, " said Harold. "Then I was among the first to move back when we were given the green light. When Harold retired from ARCO in 1999, he remained in Anchorage.

Also from ARCO was Gina Luckey who worked in external affairs 'spending the company's money' and enjoying a variety of responsibilities includign giving tours of the North Slope. Gina transitioned to ConocoPhillips Alaska, and retired in 2015. "I continue to live in Anchorage with my husband Ken. We're both enjoying retirement by spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf and gardening, to name a few." Patricia Lobel shared that she and Jed Chamberlain will vacation in Greece, celebrating Jed's retirement from COP Alaska. The couple enjoy a variety of activities including disc golf with David and Veronica Reem.

David had a good chuckle teasing Abhijeet Tambe about his sandals at the happy hour.

Mark shares that he is attempting to get started on this "retirement" thing after a 42-year working career. He caught up with a number of colleagues including Olga Fedorova who is working contract for Hilcorp, raising her son, finding time to exercise, even if it means a quick run up the hillside and back down, and agreeing to lead the Energy Alumni Club! John Hentges retired from COP Alaska and soon found himself employed with a Europen firm working in the carbon capture space. "Summers in Alaska are not to be wasted, and I let the company know I will be back in the fall," said John. With both of their children living in Anchorage, John and Christina are one of many alums staying in Anchorage.

After a 42 year career, I am attempting to get started on this 'retirement' thing  - Mark Pachak

Melissa and Brad Simpson are happy to be back in Anchorage with their two sons and their own activities keeping them busy. Melissa was with BP, working environmental and crisis management and Brad is with Hilcorp. Melissa shares that she worked for BP for 17 years between three different Business units; Alaska, Trinidad and Tobago, and Gulf of Mexico. "I now volunteer at my son's school, church, Catholic Social Services and I will start working at Providence Hospital as a volunteer in October. I am looking forward to reconnecting with former colleagues and make some new ones along the way."

I am looking forward to reconnecting with former colleagues and make some new ones 
- Melissa Simpson

We were sorry to miss a number of colleagues including Russ Doig and Linda Petrie who are traveling across Canada, Ken Elmore who was recovering from surgery, Janet and Troy Weiss who were river rafting, John Kurz who was on the Kenai, and Katria Kangas whose daugher was competing against the worlds top youth in a Spartan world champion race in Atlantis in the Bahamas. Katria was with BP Alaska from 2010 to 2018.


She is a Contracts Manager for developments and engineering for greenfield with Santos, and is also on the Board of Food Bank of Alaska. Katria's daughter, Zaylee Mullinax, won the World Spartan Youth Championship last year in Florida. 

New Members

We also welcome our newest members, including Cindy Bailey, Santos External Affairs; Brian Noel, Scharine Kirchoff, who is a fourth generation artist following her retirement; Joanne Jordan who shares she is spending her retirement between Wrangell St Elias Park, Maui, and Idaho; Renée Salvucci, Kitty Kincaid who is working an aviation contract as a Program Analyst, which she shares involves lots of Data Analysis and Scheduling in P6; Terri Norene, Conoco Phillips Alaska HR; and Karen Thomas.

Evolution of the Northern Lights Energy Alumni Club

In 1988, the Northern Lights Energy Alumni began as the Atlantic Richfield Retirees organization. Throughout the past decades the club has evolved and changed names and purpose to match the evolving membership. Last year the organization name was changed to the Northern Lights Energy Alumni in order to welcome alumni, retirees, and those still working in the industry. At the 2023 summer event, a new board of directors was elected. The board is discussing overlap of members and purpose of Energy Alumni and the Northern Lights Energy Alumni Club. The board recommends closing the 501(c) (7) non-profit organization and growing membership and hosting events through Energy Alumni. The board would continue it its role and support the mission of Energy Alumni to facilitate networking amongst energy industry professionals. 

At our December event there will be a vote to ask whether the Northern Lights Energy Alumni Club members agree to drop the non-profit status.  Members of Energy Alumni benefit from the online community, regular newsletters, and events hosted in Anchorage and other cities. Regardless of the vote, the current elected board will continue to represent the Alaska members and the board will assist in community outreach, work to expand membership, solicit members to participate in volunteer activities, and plan Anchorage social events.

The Northern Lights Energy Alumni Board includes Olga Fedorova, President; Pam Pope, Vice President, Joan Kulish, Treasurer and returning board member, Katie Nitzberg Parmelee, Secretary.

Olga Fedorova is currently consulting as a mechanical engineer in the energy industry; she started her own company after the birth of her wonderful son Yuri. Prior to that, Olga worked for Hilcorp Energy and BP Alaska for 13 years in various technical and leadership capacities. If not parenting or working, you'll find her biking, running or skiing in the great Alaska outdoors.

Pamela Pope retired from BP after 34 years as a HSE Professional in Alaska and the UK.  Pam now is a volunteer ski patroller, travels to do walking trips and does many other outdoor sports.  Pam also manages the Northern Lights Energy Alumni facebook page, which you can join here.

Joan Kulish retired from BP Alaska after 19 years as an Administrative Professional and Petro-Technologist. Her background also includes 10 years with American Guard & Alert/Wackenhut Security providing security guards & medics to the Trans Alaska Pipeline, North Slope oil & gas fields, the Kenai peninsula, and other areas within the state of Alaska. She is currently employed by GCI as a Support Services Manager.  In her free, time Joan likes to putter around the yard and greenhouse, needle crafts, baking, traveling and spending time with her family.

Katie Nitzberg Parmelee is a long-time  board member of the Northern Lights Retiree Club, providing continuity as the club moves forward.  She began her energy industry career with ARCO and retired after 30+ years as a BP Alaska petroleum geologist.

Log on to RSVP for the December 13 luncheon.


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