Who We Are


The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (CED) is a university based partnership promoting economic diversity through entrepreneurship, community building, and action oriented strategy. CED is a program of the University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute and is one of 52 University Centers designated by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.



A team of lifelong learners and intellectually curious creators, we are action oriented and results driven. 


Nolan Klouda, CEcD - Executive Director

As Executive Director, Nolan provides overall leadership for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, as well as support for other programs of the UAA Business Enterprise Institute. Prior to taking his current role in 2014, Nolan served as Associate Director. He has been a strategic advisor to tribal governments, municipal governments, non-profits, Alaska Native Corporations and private business groups, assisting them in realizing their economic goals. Nolan’s areas of professional interest include feasibility analysis, rural economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation policy, and engagement between the public and private sectors. He is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council, is a board member for the University Economic Development Association, and serves on the Municipality of Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission. Nolan was named to Alaska’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2015. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts, History and Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College.


Gretchen Fauske - Associate Director

A marketing minded economic developer fueled by a passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business, Gretchen is the associate director for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development. She is responsible for leading the entrepreneurship, marketing, and outreach efforts of CED as well as providing strategic leadership for both CED and the UAA Business Enterprise Institute. Prior to joining CED, she worked in the State of Alaska Division of Economic Development, for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, and in the private sector. From this experience, she developed keen insight to private, political, and governmental drivers and their impact on the economy. Gretchen has worked on a number of award-winning economic development projects, spoken at TEDx Anchorage, and was named to Alaska’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Whitman College, is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach, and earned her “Foundations in Design Thinking” certification from IDEO in 2018. Gretchen serves on the boards of Launch Alaska and the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, is a member of the organizing committee for 1 Million Cup s, and previously chaired the Municipality of Anchorage Library Advisory Board. She writes a monthly column about economic development for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Margo Fliss - Manager of Strategic Engagement

Margo leads facilitation, strategic planning, and client services for CED, as well as the Upstart Internship program. Prior to joining CED, she worked in the education sector for numerous school districts and universities in California and Alaska, as well as served as a VISTA volunteer with UCLA BruinCorps. These experiences provided Margo with expertise in stakeholder engagement, consensus building, action-oriented strategy, public speaking, grant management, outcome based metrics, and policy analysis. Margo holds a Master of Public Policy from Mills College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She earned her “Foundations in Design Thinking” certification from IDEO in 2018, and currently serves on the boards of the University Economic Development Association and thread.


Richelle Johnson - Lead Analyst

As Lead Analyst, Richelle uses her expertise in quantitative analysis, economics, and research to advance economic development on behalf of CED’s clients. Prior to joining CED, Richelle worked with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, the Alaska Energy Authority, and the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, where she helped rural communities solve energy and development issues. She is experienced with regression analysis, feasibility studies, and SWOT analysis. Her professional interests include energy policy and development, rural development, and discovering ways to use the strengths of our communities to create new opportunities. Richelle holds a Bachelors of Arts in Economics from the University of Alaska Anchorage and received the Fran Ulmer Transformative Research Award for her undergraduate capstone project. Richelle is a member of the 1 Million Cups organizing committee.

Julia Casey - Entrepreneurship and Accelerator Lead

Julia supports startups through education, technical assistance, and identifying finance opportunities. She is the lead instructor to the Upstart Accelerator and has created much of CED’s entrepreneur development curriculum. Her background is in e-commerce and she is experienced in working with entrepreneurial ventures at varying stages of development and scope. Julia focuses on capacity building within Alaska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and developing digital tools for use by startups across the state. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in International Business and in Management: Entrepreneurship from Creighton University earned her “Foundations in Design Thinking” certification from IDEO in 2018. Julia is a member of the 1 Million Cups organizing committee.

Ian Mills - Economic Analyst

As an Economic Analyst, Ian works on CED’s applied research projects. Prior to joining CED, he worked in UAA Administrative Services as an Accounting Assistant and as a Fixed Asset Manager. In the accounting department he oversaw, and helped to direct, the adoption of new processes and practices which were designed to be streamlined, secure, and time-saving. Ian is experienced with data management and analysis, workflow management, and research practices. Professionally, he is interested in macroeconomic market dynamics, economic efficiency and development, economic policy, and investment. Ian graduated from UAA with a BBA in Economics.


CED is a nimble organization with access to graduate students, temporary employees, and contractors, allowing us to quickly assemble project teams to meet clients’ needs or take deep dives into specific areas of study. 

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Samantha Davenport - Startups Storyteller

Samantha Davenport is the Startups Storyteller for CED. Before joining CED, she was the executive editor of The Northern Light — UAA’s student-run newspaper — for 2.5 years. During her time at UAA, she completed internships at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. She graduated from UAA in December of 2018 with bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science. Sam is a member of the 1 Million Cups organizing committee. In additional to her work at CED, Samantha is an Anchorage-based freelance writer and managing editor of The Spenardian, an award-winning hyperlocal magazine about the neighborhood of Spenard. She is also a board member of the Alaska Press Club, a network of journalists and media in Alaska and previously served on the Spenard Community Council's executive board as treasurer.


Julie Gardella - Entrepreneurship Fellow

As the Entrepreneurship Fellow, Julie will be helping lead workshops throughout Alaska on startups and early-stage small business development as well as assisting with catalyzers and CED’s student accelerator. She is a member of the 2019-2020 class of the Alaska Fellows Program (AFP) in Anchorage. Prior to joining AFP and CED, Julie worked at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Environment and Natural Resources Program, where she coordinated research and speaker series events, supported the course technology platform, and oversaw the student summer internship funding program. Julie holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from New York University, where she studied at three of NYU’s global campuses, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Sydney. She also holds a graduate certificate in Environmental Policy and International Development from the Harvard Extension School. Julie is a member of the 1 Million Cups organizing committee.



Want to keep up with Team CED? Check out our Insta feed, where we share some of our adventures!