Who we are

First Entrepreneur LLC is a network of professionals dedicated to helping you start, sustain, and grow your nonprofit or small business in Alaska.

We have experience in business consulting, education, business development, finance, accounting, management, evaluation, and research.

Yaso Thiru


I want to live and work in a community where people are prosperous. Healthy, wealthy, and happy people prosper. In my studies, travels, and work I have come to know and understand how impact focused businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs have helped create prosperous communities all over the world. It is my passion to see a prosperous Alaska fueled by entrepreneurs and nonprofits committed to equity and social responsibility for the resilience of their communities. I use my knowledge, experience, and understanding of finance, strategy, and governance to support nonprofits, small businesses, and social entrepreneurs achieve their vision. Strength in strategy, governance, and financial planning and analysis.

Cathy Colwell


The common thread throughout my professional and personal journey has been the empowerment of people. I have done this through study and experience working with diverse populations in human service and educational organizations in Alaska, California, Colorado, and most recently in South Dakota. This work has provided me a strong background in communications, human relations, leadership training, program development and evaluation, and problem-solving. Supporting social entrepreneurs are of special interest to me because of the outcomes they produce. I am a Certified trainer for Person-Centered Practice and Organizations through the International Learning Community. Committed to supporting people, organizations and cultures to develop their own economic identity and value.

Rachel Watters


I recently completed my AmeriCorps year of service as a job training developer at Catholic Social Services, Refugee Assistance and Immigration services. This was my most fulfilling job yet because I made a difference in people’s lives every day. It was great seeing refugees learn about different jobs, gain employment and become economically self-sufficient. I love empowering people and seeing them grow and reach their full potential. I have held positions in Sales, HR & Logistics Management in corporations. I currently work at UAA as an advisor in the TRIO Upward Bound Program. Dedicated to supporting job creation and empowerment of economically disadvantaged individuals.

Cathy Taylor


The most important outcome of my education and career in accounting and financial management has been the ability to share the knowledge, experience and leadership skills that I have acquired in academic, nonprofit, and small business environments. I have used this background over the years to support the missions and passions of nonprofit and business enterprises to carry out their desires for social good and financial independence. I believe that financial administration is a foundation for success; it provides information that leads to informed decision making and the attainment of strategic goals. Experienced in establishing and maintaining accounting systems that provide critical information for the realization of strategic goals.

Ryan Gilbert


I enjoy working with diverse teams to solve problems, accomplish objectives and improve profitability for businesses in all industries and in all stages of the business life cycle. I worked as an Engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, founded and grew an international company headquartered in southern Japan, worked in the non-profit sector in Alaska developing a social enterprise which led to self-sustainability and economic strength for mission-based organizations. I have also led a team of professional consultants providing strategic and financial strategies to businesses at University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute. Expert in market, financial and operational analyses with focus on strategic planning and process improvements.

Kirsten Halpin


Applied finance is a conduit that can transform ideas into reality. One of my most rewarding jobs was to analyze public financial markets, assist in designing strategic investment plans and implement strategies to achieve the clients’ long-term goals. Turning numbers on a page into tangible results requires not only experts but also a dedicated team. That in part drives my passion for teaching finance. I believe financial literacy is a dynamic tool that empowers individuals and entities to leverage their financial resources and achieve their goals.

I look forward to contributing my finance background at the local level with the team at First Entrepreneurs. My current areas of interest are (1) exploring the development of additional diversified capital sources for Alaska small businesses, and (2) ways to democratize opportunities for local investing. These tools combined can create a framework that perpetuates local wealth, which is key to a healthy and robust Alaskan economy for our future generations.