Willie Hensley is the Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Business and Public Policy at UAA. He retired from Alyeska Pipeline Service Company where he served as Manager of Federal Government Relations in Washington, DC for nine years.
Prior to his employment with Alyeska, Mr. Hensley was appointed Commissioner of Commerce and Economic Development by Governor Tony Knowles. As Commerce Commissioner, Hensley was responsible for state involvement in tourism and seafood marketing, international trade, insurance, banking and securities as well as occupational licensing. He also served on the Oil and Gas Policy Council, the Board of directors of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, the Alaska Railroad and the Alaska Industrial Development Authority. Mr. Hensley served on the Board of Regents for the University of Alaska from 1984 to 1987 and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University in 1980.
Hensley was born in Kotzebue, lived with his parents John and Priscilla Hensley and their large family in the Noatak delta area as a boy. He attended a boarding school in Tennessee where he received his high school diploma, attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and graduated with a degree in Political Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He was elected to the House of Representatives just months after graduation, representing the Kotzebue/Barrow areas. He then ran for the Senate and served a full four year term. Governor Steve Cowper appointed him to serve out the remaining two year term of Sen. Frank Ferguson following his stroke.
He served as a director of NANA for 20 years, became the president of NANA Development Corporation and finally President of NANA Regional Corporation. He was a founder of AFN in 1966 and served as a director, executive director, President and co-Chair. He serves as co-chair of the First Alaskans Institute.
Willie and his wife Abbe have a total of six children and fourteen grandchildren.