The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce and the local visitor’s bureau, Discover Kodiak, both recently announced new executive directors. The new directors are taking the reins just in time for the busy summer season.
The two bureaus are housed in the same building, and their missions are similar. Each is aimed at making Kodiak a better place. Discover Kodiak focuses mostly on tourism, and the Chamber works to support small businesses in the community. Coincidentally, both entities were searching for new executive directors at the same time.
Brock Simmons spent the last month transitioning into his new position at Discover Kodiak.
“I’m really excited to start kind of a new chapter of helping people see the best parts of Kodiak and showing off the amazing area we live in!” he said.
Simmons first arrived in Kodiak and served in corrections, and later a police officer with the Kodiak Police Department. He worked as a state trooper after that. But while his career was in law enforcement, his wife’s family has had a strong connection to tourism and inspired him to join the industry after he retired.
“My wife’s family runs a bear viewing (company) working yachts over the Katmai Coast,” he said. “Her father was a sport fishing guide out of Old Harbor, (and I’ve) kind of always just admired their missions in trying to promote Kodiak.”
After Simmons retired from the troopers, he worked as bear viewing guide on Karluk Lake. He jumped at the chance to work for Discover Kodiak. He says he especially wants to expand the visitor bureau’s connection with hunters.
Across the hall in the Chamber of Commerce, their board selected Ellen Simeonoff as the new executive director.
“I have been working in sales promotions, advertising for over 20 years and I’ve worked with nonprofits, been on nonprofit boards, I was on the chamber board for six years, from 2014 to 2020,” she said.
Simeonoff is currently the general manager of KVOK radio and will be full time at the Chamber starting May 22. Jena Lowmaster, the previous executive director, is currently still working for the Chamber to help plan Crabfest and train Simeonoff until June 2.
Simeonoff grew up on the island and says she’s passionate about helping the community in a new way.
“I bring a lot of enthusiasm for our community and our local successes and helping to do what we can to support a positive economy (and) a positive business environment and help make this a great place to live,” she said.
Simmons and Simeonoff are taking on the new roles just in time for summer. Now that pandemic regulations are rolling back, more visitors will be able to come to the island, and this summer will see the largest cruise ship season since 2019. The first ship arrives in Kodiak on Tuesday.