Beth Kerttula, who until recently was the Democratic leader of the Alaska State House of Representatives, joins Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions today as a Visiting Fellow. In addition to her 15 years as an elected official, she brings expertise in ocean and coastal issues to Stanford, where she will expand the Center’s capacity on marine and coastal ecosystem policy.

“We are excited to have Beth join our team at Stanford,” said Meg Caldwell, executive director of the Center for Ocean Solutions and a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Her insights from serving as a state lawmaker, her experience with ocean and coastal policy, as well as her relationships with the very people we’re hoping to bring together, make her the perfect fit.”

Upon resigning her seat on January 21, Kerttula said she had some regret about leaving in the middle of her term but that the “the opportunity was just too great.” She also said the coastal and ocean issues she will be working on will have a bearing on Alaska.

She will be based in the Center’s office near its home institute, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, on the Stanford campus.

Kerttula is returning to Stanford, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1978. She then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1981 before returning to her native state of Alaska to tackle ocean issues through work in the public and private sectors.

At Stanford, Kerttula plans to work with the Center for Ocean Solutions to convene state and regional decision-makers along the West Coast, from Alaska to California. One of her main goals is to connect policymakers and researchers from multiple disciplines to foster engagement on the critical interplay among oceans, climate and society.

Throughout her career, Kerttula has been a leader on coastal and ocean issues. Before her legislative service, she was an attorney in the State of Alaska Attorney General’s office, where she worked on coastal zone management issues and later worked in the Oil, Gas and Mining Section. She was then elected to the Alaska State House of Representatives eight times and served for 15 years, seven of them as minority leader. While in office, she sponsored landmark legislation on cruise-ship pollution and led efforts to defend and improve the Alaska Coastal Zone Management Program.

Kerttula also brings experience in forging relationships across disciplines and sectors to support academic research on crucial ocean issues. As a legislator, she championed budget allocations and legislation for the University of Alaska to study ocean acidification. Her experience dovetails well with the Center’s emphasis on ocean acidification science and policy.