A Word from the President, December 2015

Photo by Yuit, LLC.
Photo by Yuit, LLC.

It’s been an exciting year for CIRI — a year in which the company has seen a lot of change and growth. Last year at this time, I took the opportunity to reflect upon the business transactions and growth CIRI had achieved in 2014, another big year for the company. CIRI’s business ventures are important because they generate the revenue that enables CIRI to distribute dividends to our shareholders.

But CIRI also has another important role: to be a responsible member of the community. To that end, the company originally created several affiliated nonprofits that offer important services to CIRI shareholders and descendants and other Alaska Native and American Indian people.

The company, and its employees, also contribute to the health and welfare of our community by supporting a variety of non-affiliated nonprofit organizations. In last month’s newsletter, you may have read about CIRI’s participation in United Way’s Workplace Campaign. This is an annual event through which CIRI employees raise funds for United Way, which in turn supports a large number of community-oriented organizations and programs that deliver health, education, anti-homelessness and other social services to those in need. This year, participation from CIRI employees increased by 40 percent, with more than $68,000 pledged — an amount that CIRI will match at 50 cents on the dollar.

But CIRI giving doesn’t come around just once a year. The company and its employees engage in a number of opportunities to give their time and money to great causes. For example, you may remember that CIRI employees recently gathered 3,580 pounds of food for donation to the Food Bank of Alaska, and that this year’s CIRI Golf Tournament raised over $110,000 for local youth and educational organizations.

In November, I had the privilege of once again contributing to Covenant House Alaska’s (CHA) Sleep Out event, while CIRI Senior Vice President of Land and Energy Development Ethan Schutt, who has served on the CHA Board of Directors since 2002, participated in the Sleep Out. Each year, participants sleep outside to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth. These funds are put to work immediately, maintaining a safe refuge for homeless kids in Anchorage and in communities across the country. This is a cause close to my heart, given CHA’s positive impact upon homeless and at-risk youth, and the fact that some of our own CIRI shareholders or descendants have benefited from the services of this organization. It is an honor to continue to support the important work of CHA.

CIRI staff serve without compensation on a large number of non-affiliated nonprofit boards, donating countless hours of personal time annually. To encourage employees to give back to the community, CIRI implemented a volunteer policy that offers two hours of paid time off per month for employees to volunteer. Employees may work with any nonprofit organization of their choice during these volunteer hours.

In addition, CIRI continues to organize volunteers to serve lunch each month at Bean’s Café, a facility in Anchorage that serves hot meals to those who are hungry. Bean’s Café’s services are particularly important during the cold winter months, and it is gratifying for CIRI employees to help those in need.

CIRI employees also volunteer at Muldoon Elementary School. CIRI partnered with the school in 2006, and since that time employees have regularly visited the school to help students with their homework. And CIRI employees continue to volunteer for the Children’s Lunchbox, a Bean’s Café program that supplies healthy snacks and meals for kids who would not otherwise have food after school or over the weekend.

Giving back to the community is important enough to the CIRI family that when employees revised the company’s corporate values, they included the idea of volunteerism and charitable giving under the Respect value: CIRI and its employees can demonstrate respect by treating people with dignity, showing empathy and acting as a champion for others.

This holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our families and reflect upon what we have. But as you celebrate the passing of another year and the beginning of a new one, I hope you’ll also consider sharing with others, whether it’s by donating money or items to a charity close to your heart or giving your time to a worthy cause.