Mike Wenstrup, Party Chair
Mike Wenstrup lives in Fairbanks with his wife and two children. Originally from the Midwest, he moved to Fairbanks on a whim in 2005. He quickly fell in love with Fairbanks and his wife Annie (who initially agreed to speak with him because she liked the Alaska Democrats bumper sticker on his truck) and decided to make Fairbanks his home. He opened his own law practice, specializing in criminal defense, workers’ compensation, and elder law. In addition to private case work, half of the practice was dedicated to court-appointed work representing individuals in Nome, Kotzebue, Utqiagvik, Fairbanks, and surrounding areas. In 2015, he closed his practice and joined NEA-Alaska as a full-time union representative and organizer.
In addition to his work as a father, lawyer, and union representative, Mike is a past chair of both the Interior Democrats and the Alaska Democratic Party. A proud “Double-Domer,” he holds a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Jessica Cook, First Vice Chair
Jessica Cook is a lifelong Alaskan who has over two decades of public service experience as a BIPOC public educator in the Anchorage School District. Most recently, she took a leave of absence to run for Lieutenant Governor. Cook strives to empower and provide opportunities for Alaskans to reach their potential and build successful futures. A lifelong learner, Cook achieved two master’s degrees and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction, focusing on creating online educational environments for neurodiverse learners. Currently living in Palmer, Jessica and her husband, Ed, enjoy spending time with their daughters and grandchildren.
Casey Steinau, Immediate Past Chair
Casey Steinau enjoys life in Big Lake with a great Denali view and 2 very spoiled cats. She has had a successful 20+-year career in real estate sales and investing. Casey is proud of her contributions to her community as a small business owner and long-time community volunteer for a variety of causes, from garbage clean-up to the fight against homelessness. She is currently a board member of the Mat-Su MLK Jr. Foundation and former President of the Big Lake Community Council. Electing Democrats up and down the ticket is her top priority.
Monica Southworth, Treasurer
Monica is a born and raised Alaskan who grew up in Unalaska. She comes from a family of strong union Democrats (mostly longshoremen) and currently works for NEA-Alaska as a UniServ Direct/ARPA Coordinator. She happily calls Juneau home and also volunteers for the Tongass Chapter of Trout Unlimited in between hiking and camping.
Monica has an affinity for Excel and went to St. Olaf College where she received a major in political science, an intentional minor in statistics, and an accidental minor in Middle Eastern studies.
Katherine Pfeiffer, Secretary
Katherine Pfeiffer was born in Fairbanks and has worked in the political non-profit arena, legislative and ballot measures, as a candidate consultant, manager, and union organizer.
She loves working to promote and elect candidates who reflect Alaska Democrats’ shared values, while getting to know new folks who come through the doors. Working together does not just make the Alaska Democratic Party party stronger, but helps neighborhoods, communities, regions, and cultures thrive. She is a graduate of Portland State University.
Brenda Knapp, DNC Committeewoman
Elected at the May 2020 state convention, Brenda Knapp is Alaska’s Democratic National Committeewoman. She resides in Juneau and has been active in the Tongass Democrats for more than thirty-five years, serving multiple terms as Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and State Central Committee member. She was also a Southeast Regional Vice Chair for several years and has been a Democratic National Convention delegate. She served on the Party Plan of Organization (PPO) Committee, and received the Queen Bess and ADP Lifetime Achievement awards.
Brenda had a forty-plus year career in health and human services, economic development and community development. She worked for three departments of the State of Alaska, the University of Alaska, non-profit and tribal organizations. Now retired, Brenda continues to be an active community volunteer. Last year, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly appointed her to a third term on the Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors, where she has served twice as Board President. She is a Regional Vice President of the Retired Public Employees of Alaska (RPEA) Executive Board and Southeast Chapter Chair, as well as a proud member of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 52. A strong supporter of public broadcasting, she has served on the KTOO Community Advisory Committee for many years. In addition to her volunteer work, she is an involved and committed grandmother who enjoys being actively engaged and traveling with her three grandchildren and her Goldendoodle.
Brenda received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alaska.
Charles ‘Chuck’ Degnan, DNC Committeeman
Charles “Chuck” Degnan is a self-employed Bering Sea commercial fisherman. He is also retired from the State of Alaska after working for many years as the Bering Strait Coastal Resource Service Area manager. Chuck earned a B.Ed. from the University of Alaska (1966) and an M.Ed. from Texas A&M Commerce (1987).
The State Central Committee, composed of volunteers from across Alaska, is the governing body of the Alaska Democratic Party.