Posted by Jeff Clarke, Vice President

All aboard! With those words, Alaska Railroad CEO Pat Gamble welcomed the 13th Annual Ed Tour to the round trip to Indian. Under intermittent sun, the nine Tour guests and 110 nonprofit and civic leaders boarded what KTUU-Channel 2 reporter Rhonda McBride, when covering the event two years ago, called the Philanthropy Express.

The Philanthropy Express is a work of logistics art made possible by the Alaska Railroad, Wells Fargo Bank Alaska and some pretty dedicated event planners. The idea is simple: create a unique opportunity for each guest, with their specific funding interests and a small amount of time here in state, to meet the many organizations doing great work while celebrating Alaska’s beauty. What’s more Alaskan than an evening on the Alaska Railroad cruising along Turnagain Arm?

In essence, its an informal and mobile philanthropic meet and greet. Hosted by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and First Lady Lynnette Sullivan, the evening allowed the guests to meet a subset of our nonprofit and civic leadership and hear about their innovative work, while also serving as a venue to connect the nonprofit and civic leaders with one another.

Because the funding interests of the Ed Tour participants range from the arts, education, economic development, and Alaska Native issues to conservation, health, human services and affordable housing, you can imagine just how varied each conversation was. To say that there were some passionate people aboard would be understatement.

As I talked with one educational leader, she observed (over the roar of the impassioned conversation) that it was a humbling experience just people watching because everyone onboard was so dedicated to improving the quality of life here in Alaska. I think that our guests came away with that same sense of awe at the stories, the innovation, the passion and the commitment to which they were introduced. The energy was undeniable.

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