Barbara Belknap spent the first half of her life in 20 different communities, from her birthplace of Portland, Ore., to Kodiak, Alaska, to Puerto Rico, and several points in between. With a father in the Marine Corps and then a husband in the Coast Guard, moving was the norm. In 1989, Belknap and her family moved from Washington, D.C., to Juneau, Alaska, to put down permanent roots.
In October 2001, Barbara was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer and had two major surgeries. She retired from her position as executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in 2002 to allow her body to recover. After several months of healing and adjustment, she went about the task of learning how to follow her passion for lifelong learning, community building, women’s issues, politics, and travel. After a decade of working with men in the rough and tumble world of commercial fishing and processing, she turned her efforts back to women and women’s issues.
Since 2002, Belknap has facilitated many women’s gatherings around a wide variety of topics, including a series of events called “Hearing Women’s Voices” that she co-hosted with Andrea Doll, a former Vision 2020 Delegate from Alaska. She uses circle principles, World Café, and Open Process to bring people (mostly women) together. Belknap has been President of several women’s organizations, including Juneau NOW and the Alaska Women's Network, Member of the Board of Governors of the National Military Family Association, two-time recipient of of the (Alaska) Governor's Women's Volunteer Achievement Aware, and the current President of Gather the Women.
She attended Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., Kodiak (AK) Community College, University of Alaska Southeast, and, since her retirement, availed herself of workshops in non-violent communications, Open Process, leadership, and community building with Margaret Wheatley, and Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea of PeerSpirit.