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Ahtna Kanas Winter 2024

Ahtna Diversified Holdings, LLC and the Society of American Military Engineers – An Enduring Partnership

By Lori Kropidlowski, Sr. BD & Marketing Group Manager of ADH and Past President of SAME Anchorage Post

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) and the group of companies that are under Ahtna Diversified Holdings (ADH) have a long and rich history spanning more than a decade. SAME unites the A/E/C and environmental firms in the public and private sector with agencies and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to prepare for—and overcome—natural and manmade disasters, and to improve security at home and abroad. ADH and its staff have fully embraced that common purpose.

SAME is comprised of more than 29,000 members around the globe, organized by various Posts (often known as Chapters) in different locations. Individual members and sustaining member firms are the backbone of each Post’s membership. ADH companies are registered sustaining member firms with six Posts – Anchorage, Huntsville, Omaha, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Seattle. Additionally, we have 25 staff members who are individual members in nine other Posts – Cape Fear, Charleston, Japan, Keiser, Kentuckiana, Mobile, Rein, Savannah, and Tulsa. All are very active in our communities and Posts. Staff positions held on a local Post level include President, Vice President, Junior Vice President, Secretary, and board members. National participation includes being part of the STEM K-12 Outreach Community of Interest (COI), and the annual Post Leadership Training in Florida (paid for by SAME National). Our staff members are active with many committees, including the Anchorage Post’s annual Scholarship Banquet, golf tournaments, and the scholarship application review and selection process.

In addition to Post involvement, SAME and ADH connect in many areas that improve our business opportunities and networking with clients and teaming partners. Annual attendance at the SAME Small Business Conference is an especially good tool to network, and ADH begins planning for this huge national conference in May for the November event. We also attend the Capitol Week event in Washington DC and the Meet the Agency event in Seattle. SAME holds numerous events in various locations called “Industry Days”, where the local USACE Districts present their forecasts for coming projects in the next one to five years. These events are especially important to Ahtna and our capture managers so we can position ourselves to win upcoming projects.

SAME also offers its members some unique training, and ADH’s staff take full advantage of these opportunities. Our staff regularly attends the Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo (JETC). Our staff members who sit on SAME Boards take advantage of their annual Post Leadership Training in Florida (paid for by SAME National). In addition, SAME National holds an annual Leaders Development Program that is very competitive to be accepted into. Only 1 person from each of SAME’s 18 regions worldwide is selected to participate. In 2021, after two applications, I was selected as the Pacific Region (Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and Japan) participant. This was fully funded by SAME National (including all required travel) and was a great learning experience that I would highly recommend to others. This year-long training included virtual and in-person monthly meetings, reading assignments (four leadership books), mentorships, attending SAME Small Business Conference and JETC, as well as completing a capstone project at the end of the year.

My capstone project involved using SAME National grant money awarded to it by the United Engineering Foundation (UEF) for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Outreach to Indigenous Youth. In 2022, with the assistance of a committee of Ahtna shareholder leaders, we planned and executed a two-day STEM camp in Anchorage for nine high school-aged Ahtna shareholders (and their chaperones). It was hugely successful, and since that time I have aided SAME National with their UEF grant application; we just heard we have been awarded $129,000 for 2024 to be used for STEM outreach to any Post servicing Indigenous communities. This is more than double the amount previously awarded, so there are plans to conduct another Ahtna camp in the fall of 2024 using a portion of this money.

SAME National has recognized Ahtna’s service and contributions in many ways, including awards and publications. In 2020, Ahtna Environmental was recognized as SAME National’s Small Business of the Year. Staff members have also been admitted into their Fellows program, and I was awarded the Vice President Medal of Honor for outstanding contributions to SAME. In 2020, Morgan Bruno was recognized as SAME Engineer of the Year for her outstanding contributions to the engineering industry. In addition to awards, the SAME National magazine “The Military Engineer” has accepted and published numerous articles from us showcasing Ahtna projects. Dating back to 2014, ADH companies have been published 13 times, most recently featured as the cover story for our work at Camp Parks, CA titled “Remediating Challenges at Camp Parks.”