Knutson hired as visitor center, events manager

The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center has hired Jan Knutson as its new visitor center manager and events coordinator. Knutson, 72, has been visiting and consulting in Alaska since the 1970s. 

A photographer, she moved to Homer last fall from Anchorage with her husband and fellow artist, Ed Hutchinson. She has worked as director of the University of Washington YWCA, Seattle, director of the King County, Wash., United Way, and with the Anchorage Senior Center endowment fund. She and Hutchinson also own Whetstone Gallery on Lupine Court in Homer.

“Jan’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her organizational skills top notch,” said chamber executive director Karen Zak. “We are so thrilled to have her aboard.”

Knutson first came to Alaska while working with the YWCA to help set up a women’s center in Fairbanks. The Seattle YWCA had started some of the first programs for women, such as a women’s health clinic and a rape counseling center. It was on that trip that Knutson first visited Homer.

“That was the first time I fell in love with Homer,” she said.

In 2005 she visited again and caught a 300-pound halibut.

“That was the clincher,” she said.

After moving to Homer, she and Hutchinson and Whetstone Gallery joined the chamber. She had known Zak from Anchorage.

“It was a great fit all the way around,” she said.

A Norwegian American, Knutson still has family in Norway. On May 26 as part of the start of her new job, she greeted the first cruise ship of the season, the Statendam, and Norwegian King Harald V on his visit.

“For me personally it was absolutely magical and an honor to welcome the cruise ship and the passengers and the King of Norway,” she said.

As events coordinator, Knutson has started work on her first big event, the Fourth of July parade. This year’s theme is “Pioneer Times: A Salute to Our Heritage.” 

Knutson said she hopes to track down the oldest living pioneers in the area and make a connection to them and their families to ride in classic cars in the parade. Knutson can be reached at the chamber offices at 235-7740.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at