Members of the Council today elected Joan Dukes, an Oregon member, chair of the Council for 2012, and Rhonda Whiting, a Montana member, vice chair. The Council elects officers annually. In 2011, Dukes served as vice chair and Whiting served as chair of the Council’s Public Affairs Committee.
"I am looking forward to chairing the Council, which has responsibility for long-term power planning in the Northwest and for protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin," Dukes said. "The rapid increase in wind power, the future of fish hatcheries, predation on adult and juvenile fish in the Columbia River, and improving our ability to monitor and evaluate the success of fish and wildlife projects, which cost the region’s electricity ratepayers more than $200 million per year – these all are issues that are on the Council’s plate in 2012. It will be an interesting year."
Dukes was appointed to the Council by then-Governor of Oregon Ted Kulongoski in 2004. She served two previous terms as Council vice chair, in 2006 and 2007. Dukes resigned her seat in the Oregon Senate, where she had served since 1987, to join the Council. She is a resident of Svensen, a community near Astoria. Dukes, who served a four-year term as a Clatsop County commissioner before being elected to the Senate, has a broad base of experience in budget, education, transportation, forestry, and fisheries issues at the local, county and state levels, including having served as chair of the Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force, an association of western legislators that works on regional fish issues. She is a graduate of the Evergreen State College.
Whiting was appointed to the Council by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer in 2004. Whiting chaired the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee for five years, and the Public Affairs Committee for the last two years.
Whiting, who lives in Missoula, is from St. Ignatuis, Montana, and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Before her appointment to the Council, she was vice president of communications and intergovernmental affairs for Salish and Kootenai Technologies, the largest information technology company in Montana. In 1998 she was appointed by President Clinton to oversee 17 tribal business information centers across the nation, and she also has operated her own communications consulting firm. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, and a law degree, all from the University of Montana.