By: Margie Brown, CIRI president and CEO
Our early leaders understood the importance of being actively involved in the affairs of the Native rights organizations that advocated for Alaska Native land claims. As you will read on page 3, CIRI original enrollee Alice Brown fought tirelessly for the rights of Alaska Natives and laid the groundwork for many others who followed her lead in the fight for the settlement of Alaska Native land claims. As the first woman on the original Board of the Alaska Federation of Natives, she was the role model for Native and non-Native women alike. She led by example and helped pioneer the belief that neither gender nor race alone should determine whether an individual is qualified to serve. As an Alaska Native woman, I thank her personally for her strength and courage.
Alice’s sense of civic responsibility is one from which we can all learn. CIRI shareholders’ responsibilities start with being knowledgeable about the business of your Company. Reading the monthly newsletters and annual reports and attending shareholder information meetings are excellent ways to do this. Shareholders also can apply to serve on a Shareholder Participation Committee. Several committee members have moved on to become CIRI’s directors. To learn more about the committees, check the first proxy packet that was mailed to you or go online to CIRI’s website.
One of the most important responsibilities of being a CIRI shareholder is to select well-qualified shareholders to serve on the CIRI Board of Directors to oversee the direction and decisions of the company. Shareholders with a good understanding of the current activities, opportunities and challenges facing CIRI can better evaluate the candidates and vote for directors who are qualified, knowledgeable and committed to continuing the growth of the Company. CIRI has flourished over the years with a strong Board of Directors that merges new, fresh perspectives into a Board that offers stability, expertise, and focus on the business of the Company.
Much of the Company’s success, particularly CIRI’s relationships, flows from this steady, wise leadership. These are relationships with shareholders, CIRI employees, partners, vendors, banking institutions and the community as a whole. The company has worked hard to build these connections, which, in turn, have contributed to attracting and retaining high-quality management, obtaining expert partners and securing outstanding business and financial opportunities.
It is vital, therefore, that shareholders take the time to learn about this year’s Board candidates, their background, experience, ideas and vision for the Company. Please take time to study carefully the materials that have been sent to you during the election season.
I encourage you to attend our 2010 Annual Meeting of CIRI shareholders in Puyallup, Wash., on June 5. If you do not plan to attend the annual meeting in person, I encourage you to participate in the meeting by sending in a proxy prior to 5 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time on Friday, May 28, 2010.
Just as Alice Brown helped to lay the groundwork for future generations, CIRI recognizes the importance of involving descendants in the affairs of the Company and preparing them for their future as informed and involved shareholders. CIRI will once again host a “Youth Voting” booth at the annual meeting, where descendants from kindergarten through age 18 can cast a mock ballot and be eligible for prizes.
Your active involvement helps ensure that CIRI shareholders of today and future generations may all benefit from our strength and prosperity. While the circumstances have changed since Alice Brown fought for Alaska Native land claims and rights, a key principle she exemplified remains the same: we must be actively involved in the affairs of our Alaska Native corporations and communities to ensure that we control our own destiny.