Bristol Bay FISH EXPO Founders/Organizers

Bathed in the mission of the Bristol Bay FISH EXPO, Sharon and Katie launched the event in Naknek, Alaska in June 2017.   Their purpose was twofold.   The first was to provide a sustainable funding source to operate and implement a constant improvement program for the Little Angels Childcare Academy 501 (c)(3) serving the fishing community of Naknek, Alaska.     The second was to provide an event immediately preceding the fishing season for the world's largest wild salmon fishery in the world with the intent to better connect the community with the industry that so heavily relies on the fishery.  

 Katie Copps-Wilson

Katie Copps-Wilson

Katie Copps-Wilson

Mother to three amazing and remarkable women Elena, Sassa and Francie.   They are her fire, her glory and her drive.

Helping organize Bristol Bay Fish Expo is Katie's hobby.   The creative process and building empires with her battle buddy, Sharon,  feeds her soul.   Through the process of creating and building the Bristol Bay Fish Expo, she has been humbled to work with a group of powerhouse women who are movers and shakers of the industry.  It blows her mind how the simple idea of Bristol Bay Fish Expo has come to fruition and has become a platform for the Bristol Bay fishing industry and community to come together.  Katie strongly believes that the industry and community all have the same goal and that is to protect our natural resources and harvest our fish.  The industry needs the community and the community needs the industry, we would be nothing without the other. 

Katie's occupation is a Physician's Assistant with a passion for rural medicine and working with the underserved.   If you get to know her, you will learn she is never short of an idea and the drive to just get things done.   

Traveling is her crack.  Freedom is her sanity.  She loves going on adventures with her girls or somewhere celebrating Mother Earth on the river, trails, in the sun, snow or rain.   Her favorite Bristol Bay activities are picking berries or picking fish.  She has the best friends and family on earth.   

 Sharon Wlaysewski-Thompson

Sharon Wlaysewski-Thompson

Sharon Wlaysewski-Thompson

Sharon was born in Alaska but migrated to the lower 48 and grew up in Montana.  After completing college in the midwest and film study in Los Angeles, she finally returned to her home state and landed in Bristol Bay to work in a cannery with her sister.  The process and the place transformed her.

Over a decade later, Sharon still makes her home there with three children.  Her babies cut their teeth on smoked salmon strips and napped in fish boxes.  She and the kids love to work their subsistence net and bring fish to her sister for custom processing. 

Being a mother and raising her children in a healthy and safe environment is her primary occupation.  She also continues to work on her filmmaking and writing craft.  Steelbird Productions is her boutique film company and making a feature film is her dream.  For now, she captures footage throughout the year for different endeavors, including the <NN> Cannery History Project.  She also works as Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Borough Chamber of Commerce and serves as Board President of Little Angels Childcare Academy. 

Bristol Bay Fish Expo was an idea conceived in the basement of Camai by two moms and a grandpa.  It would be a yearly fundraiser and sustainability plan for Little Angels Childcare Academy.  Unafraid to think outside of the box, Sharon and Katie have devoted the last two years of their lives to making their local Expo a success, with the help of many generous and talented individuals who have lent their expertise. 

Sharon has come to appreciate the raw beauty of Bristol Bay, the solid support of true friends, and the incredible wild salmon resource that returns every year to sustain life here.  With all the dysfunction and hardship, she believes there is still a net positive in Bristol Bay.