Staff news: Long-time science manager retires

Joe Banta
Joe Banta

Joe  Banta, project  manager for the Council’s environmental monitoring program, retired this past April. In 1990, Banta was the first project manager hired for the Council, serving for almost 30 years.
In his early years at the Council, he managed oil spill planning projects for the Council’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Committee. He later took a position working with the Scientific Advisory Committee, managing the Council’s long-term environmental monitoring program, and projects to study issues such as oil spill dispersants, the toxicity of crude oil, and the social effects of oil spills on communities.

Prior to joining the Council, Banta witnessed the Exxon Valdez oil spill first hand as a Cordova fisherman and helped with the spill response, rescuing oiled wildlife. Banta was called upon over the years to advise other communities about oil spills. After the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, he visited that area, helping those dealing with the effects of the oil. That same year, he testified about how the Exxon spill affected him, his family, and his community to a U.S. Senate Committee who was looking into the effects of the BP disaster.

”Even though the faces changed over the years since the Council was formed, the one constant was Joe Banta,” said Donna Schantz, executive director for the Council. “Joe not only gave advice to the oil industry and regulators, he was a mentor to anyone seeking to learn about environmental stewardship. I had the pleasure of working with Joe for the past 20 years and he will be missed.”

Valdez project manager Love takes over science programs

Austin Love

Banta’s position has been filled by Valdez staff member Austin Love. Love has been the Council’s manager for projects related to operations at the Valdez Marine Terminal for the past five years, working closely with the Council’s Terminal Operations and Environmental Monitoring Committee. Love has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

New project manager assistant in Anchorage

Photo of Hans Odegard
Hans Odegard

Hans Odegard has taken the position of project manager assistant, left vacant by Shawna Popovici. Odegard grew up in Eagle River, Alaska, and graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in business administration. Hans has fished commercially out of Prince William Sound, worked in agriculture in Palmer, held various positions within the School of Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and worked as a social worker at Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Anchorage.