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Marisa Sharrah after completing her first 5k in 2016

Marisa is the president and CEO of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2001 with a concentration in marketing.

Why did you choose to attend UAF?
It was important for me to stay in Fairbanks and remain close to my family. I felt fortunate that UAF had a degree that fit with my long-term goals. The choice was easy and it felt right at the time, and I can say that over 15 years later, I still think it was the right choice.

Share with us an outstanding teacher or class.
I loved Claudia Clark! She demonstrated the right balance between being firm and flexible. She held students accountable and reminded us we live in an unforgiving world, but she was also fun to be around and kept us laughing while learning.

What is a favorite SOM memory?
Attending commencement in a sea of black caps and gowns, and having my then 3-year-old son spot me in the crowd and yell “MAMA!” from the mezzanine during the ceremony.

How did SOM prepare you for your professional career?
SOM classes covered the right breadth of issues to prepare me for my career. Everything from human resources and business law to customer service and marketing topics came in handy almost immediately and have remained relevant in the 15+ years since I graduated. The program provided a great foundation for me professionally.

What does being a UAF alumna mean to you?
Being a UAF grad adds to my sense of community. I love Fairbanks and am always proud to share that I’m a UAF graduate. I find pride by supporting our teams, reading about innovations and ideas generated by students, faculty, and graduates, and seeing our community rally to support this institution that has such an important role in our community.

What keeps you enthusiastic about your career?
Change. Change can be incredibly difficult until you accept that all great things happen as a result of change. Even during times when I had the same role in an organization for several years, I found fulfillment in trying new and creative ideas. Change keeps things exciting and fresh.

What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success?
I think my ability to foster a team environment has been one of the biggest factors that helps me feel successful. I know results are better when the right team of people are working on a common and well vetted goal, and it feels good to be able to celebrate wins with everyone that helped achieve a successful outcome.

What advice do you have for current students?
Find people in your community who you admire and make them your mentors. You don’t have to ask them or literally assign them that role. Just start asking questions and for advice, observe how they communicate, who they surround themselves with, what they do in their spare time, etc. They will be your mentors as soon as you decide they are.

The Fairbanks Chamber team celebrates a successful Military Appreciation Event: Elizabeth Warlick, Amanda Blanchard, Elena Sudduth, Marisa Sharrah, Christina Tachick, and Alla Gutsul. Photo by Isaiah Mangum.

  • Favorite breakfast food?  Peanut butter protein shake or waffles
  • Dream vacation destination?  Beach. Book. Beverage.
  • Book you are currently reading?  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Last music digital download or streaming music channel?  Sam Smith
  • When was the last time you sang out loud?  Odds are I’m singing out loud right now


Marisa with her son Thomas, mom Teresa, and grandpa Tom during grandpa’s annual visit to Alaska in 2017