Often referred to as “Mr. Southeast”, Robert has lived and worked in Southeast Alaska since arriving in Haines in 1984. Robert managed the local branch for a regional wholesale distributor and served for seven years on the Haines Chamber of Commerce, with 2 terms as the Chamber’s president. He went on to work with the local municipality, first as the Economic Development Director and then as the Haines Borough Manager.
Robert’s involvement with Southeast Conference began in 1997 through the Haines Chamber of Commerce. He then joined the SEC Board of Directors in 2001 and served as Board President in 2005. Robert stepped down from the board in 2008 to take the role of Energy Coordinator. In this new role, Robert helped facilitate the first regional energy plan (SE IRP), was a member of the Alaska House Energy Committee Stakeholder’s Group and worked with utilities and communities to develop key infrastructure of hydros and interties throughout the region.
In 2014, Robert’s role expanded to include transportation projects with a focus on reforming the Alaska Marine Highway System. This multi-phase, statewide project brought together a dynamic and diverse group of stakeholders and contractors that developed both the methodology and recommendations for the next generation of AMHS service. He was a member of the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board and the Governor’s AMHS Reshaping Work Group. In 2017, Robert was appointed as the Southeast Conference Executive Director.
After more than 30 years in Haines, Robert and his wife moved to the “big city” of Juneau where he continues to pursue his passion for sustainable communities, capacity building and love of the great outdoors.
During his tenure with Southeast Conference, Venables has worked on planning and project development for multiple industry sectors in the region including hydro energy, transportation and AMHS Reform, natural resource development, including biomass, tourism, broadband and most recently mariculture development. His passion for Southeast Alaska, its people, sustainable communities, and capacity building is unrivaled.