The Alaska Policy Forum (APF) is a non-partisan think tank that promotes individual freedom, limited government, and pro-liberty policies in Alaska. 1 APF’s primary concerns are state budget and taxes, health care, and education. 2
The Alaska Policy Forum is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. 3 While APF is non-partisan, members of its staff and board have affiliations with the Republican Party.
APF advocates for a reduction in state spending in order for Alaska to recover from its budget crisis, instead of increasing taxes on the oil industry or introducing new sales and income taxes. APF claims that introducing new taxes would have crippling long-term effects on Alaska’s economy. 4
APF supports direct primary care (DPC) and medical cost sharing (MCS) programs to provide alternatives to health insurance. APF claims that programs like DPC and MCS will provide the most efficient, affordable, and transparent health care. 5
APF supports making emergency telehealth reforms that were implemented during COVID-19 permanent and was one of 33 pro-liberty organizations to sign a letter urging policymakers to do so. Reforms include allowing providers to practice across state lines, allowing providers to treat new patients, and authorizing Medicaid reimbursements. Other signers include the National Taxpayers Union, the Institute for Liberty, and the Foundation for Government Accountability. 6
APF advocates for a tuition freeze for the University of Alaska, along with cuts to unnecessary administrators and “innovative spending reductions.” APF points to Perdue University as an example of a school that has experienced an increase in revenue, and claims this increase is due to its tuition freeze and administrative cuts. 7
APF supports the Alaska Reads Act, a statewide reading policy designed to improve reading outcomes in students in Kindergarten through third grade. APF advocates for a policy that includes proficiency-based promotion instead of “social promotion,” claiming that retention at a younger age has fewer harmful effects on students. 8
APF supports a school choice system and advocates for a state constitutional amendment to authorize educational vouchers. 9 APF claims that a school voucher system would help the fiscal health of school districts and cites a 2013 study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (now EdChoice) to substantiate its claim. 10
In July 2020, APF launched Protect My Ballot, an educational campaign opposing Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). APF claims that RCV disenfranchises voters by creating a complicated system that will ultimately decrease voter turnout. 11
The Alaska Policy Forum is funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. While APF does not disclose its donors, tax filings indicate notable donations from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ($70,000 in 2019),12 Donors Capital Fund ($192,000 between 2009 and 2010),13 and EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice) ($91,000 between 2012 and 2013). 14
Bethany Marcum is the CEO of Alaska Policy Forum and formerly served as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. 15 In 2020, Marcum was appointed to the State Redistricting Board by Governor Mike Dunleavy (R). 16
Timothy Barto is the vice president of external relations at APF and a former special agent for the U.S. Department of Defense. 17
Melodie Wilterdink is the vice president of operations and communications at APF. Wilterdink formerly worked as the director of publications, communications, and marketing at the Independent Institute and the director of operations at the Archbridge Institute. 18
Quinn Townsend is the policy manager at APF. Townsend formerly served as an economic research analyst at the Buckeye Institute. 19
Tom Fink serves as the chair of the Education Task Force at APF and as the head of Alaskans for Educational Choice. Fink formerly served as a Republican mayor of Anchorage. 20
Bob Griffin is the senior education research fellow for APF. Griffin serves on the board of AFP and as a member of the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Childhood Development. Griffin formerly served as the chair of the budget advisory commission for both the Municipality of Anchorage and the Anchorage School District. 21
Casey Dschaak is a policy fellow at APF and formerly served as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. 22 Dschaak was appointed to the Alaska Marijuana Control Board in 2020. 23
Ben Wilterdink is a visiting fellow at APF and the director of programs at the Archbridge Institute. Wilterdink formerly worked as the director of the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council. 24
Board of Directors
Ann Brown serves as vice president of the board and vice chair of the Alaska Republican Party. 25
Paula Easley serves as the chair of the Alaska Land Rights Coalition. 26
Elizabeth Holm is a member of the Republican Women of Fairbanks. 27
Nicholas Begich III works as a fellow at the Club for Growth. 28
- “Vision, Mission, & Principles.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/aboutus/vision-mission/.
- “Issues.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/issues/.
- “The Network: Alaska.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://spn.org/directory/#AK.
- Wilterdink, Ben. “Reduce State Spending to Solve Alaska’s Budget Crisis.” Alaska Policy Institute, August 12, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/08/reduce-spending-solve-budget/.
- Marcum, Bethany. “America’s Sickening Lack of Health Care Options.” Alaska Policy Institute, October 26, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/10/lack-of-health-care-options/.
- “Telehealth Resolutions Letter.” Alaska Policy Institute, December 4, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. http://alaskapolicyforum.org/wp-content/uploads/Telehealth-Resolutions-Letter_TE.pdf.
- Montelbano, Sarah. “University Tuition Freeze: A Surprising Way to Raise Revenue.” Alaska Policy Institute, October 1, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/10/tuition-freeze-raise-revenue/.
- Griffin, Bob. “Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding The Alaska Reads Act.” Alaska Policy Institute, March 4, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/03/top-10-myths-and-misconceptions-surrounding-senate-bill-6-the-alaska-reads-act/.
- “Poll: Alaska Voters Support School Choice.” Alaska Policy Institute, February 6, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2014/02/poll-alaska-voters-support-school-choice/.
- “Vouchers can improve the fiscal health of school districts.” Alaska Policy Institute, March 23, 2013. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2013/03/vouchers-can-improve-the-fiscal-health-of-school-districts/.
- Soto, Johan. “Ranked-Choice Voting Disenfranchises Voters.” Alaska Policy Institute, October 12, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/10/rcv-disenfranchises-voters/.
- “2019 Year in Review.” The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4152914/2019_Year-in-Review_BradleyFoundation-1.pdf.
- Donors Capital Fund, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2009-2010, Schedule I, Part II.
- The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice Inc., Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2012-2013, Schedule I, Part II.
- “Bethany Marcum.” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Bethany_Marcum.
- Wilterdink, Melanie. “APF Executive Director Bethany Marcum Appointed to Redistricting Board.” Alaska Policy Institute, August 13, 2020. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/08/appointed-redistricting-board/.
- “Timothy Barto.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/author/timothyb/.
- “Melodie Wilterdink.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/author/melodie/.
- “Quinn Townsend.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/author/quinn/.
- Fink, Tom. “Tom Fink: Alaska should approve school choice legislation.” Anchorage Daily News, June 29, 2016. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.adn.com/commentary/article/tom-fink-alaska-should-approve-school-choice-legislation/2011/11/06/.
- “Bob Griffin.” Alaska Policy Institute, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskapolicyforum.org/author/bgriffin/.
- “Casey Schaak.” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Casey_Dschaak.
- “Dunleavy Appoints New Member to Alaska Marijuana Board.” U.S. News and World Report, January 15, 2020. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/alaska/articles/2020-01-15/dunleavy-appoints-new-member-to-alaska-marijuana-board.
- “Staff.” Archbridge Institute, 2019. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.archbridgeinstitute.org/staff/.
- “Party Leadership.” Alaska Republican Party, 2020. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://alaskagop.net/about/party-leadership/.
- “Home.” Alaska Land Rights Coalition. Accessed January 17, 2021. http://www.landrights.org/ak/lrc/index.htm.
- “About Us.” Republican Women of Fairbanks. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://republicanwomenfairbanks.com/about-us.
- “Nicholas Begich III.” LinkedIn, 2021. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nbegich/.