Thank you for taking the time to catch up on the latest news and events at your corporation. Here in Alaska, it’s hard to believe the summer season is already halfway over. I hope yours has been filled with sunny days, friendly visits and fortunate fishing.
At CIRI, we have been busy with exciting new developments at our family of companies, many of which you can read about in this issue of the Raven’s Circle. As you may have read on the front page, we are pleased to welcome Chris Leichtweis as the new president and chief strategic officer of the North Wind Group.
The North Wind Group became part of the CIRI family in 2009 and has consistently delivered strong financial results. CIRI conducted a lengthy, nationwide search to select North Wind’s new president and now, with Chris on the team, we are eager to benefit from his strong leadership and impressive experience in the field of environmental services.
Summer is also the time of year CIRI begins accepting nominations for the CIRI Shareholder and Elder Shareholder of the Year Awards. The Awards recognize shareholders who have shown dedication to Alaska Native culture, heritage and communities. As I meet with many of you and read about your accomplishments in the newsletter and elsewhere, I am continually amazed at the success, innovation and dedication of CIRI shareholders. These awards are an important recognition of our shareholders’ accomplishments and commitment to CIRI and our Native heritage.
CIRI looks forward to receiving many nominations and I encourage you to reflect on who you think best fits the criteria for these awards. CIRI has recently updated our Shareholder and Elder of the Year nomination form and simplified the submission process. The form is now located on the CIRI website at www.ciri.com.
To give you an idea of the characteristics that impress the award selection committee, last year’s winners are highlighted below.
2012 Shareholder of the Year: B. Agnes Brown
I could fill all of the pages of this newsletter with the contributions Agnes has made to CIRI and the larger Alaska Native population. More than 40 years ago, Agnes was active in helping to win passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and was a founding board member of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She took her spirited enthusiasm onto the CIRI Board of Directors and played a critical role as a member of the Land Negotiating Committee that worked to ensure CIRI obtained resource-rich lands in the Cook Inlet region. Agnes has the distinction of being the longest serving woman onCIRI’s Board, having served from 1974 to 2011.
2012 Elder of the Year: Ernie “Big Bear” Berestoff
Big Bear is never one to let obstacles get in the way of pursuing his goals. Born hard of hearing, Big Bear was placed in the Jesse Lee Home orphanage at a young age and was eventually taken in by a Seattle family. He went on to excel in boxing and basketball at the Washington School for the Deaf, becoming an All Star and All American athlete. Big Bear helped establish the Hearing Loss Center in Spokane, Wash., and, in 2011, he was inducted into the Washington School for the Deaf Alumni Association Hall of Fame. Big Bear stays active in his corporation and it was great to see him again at the CIRI Annual Meeting in Puyallup last month.
These are just two examples of the wonderful, dedicated CIRI shareholders who have made a difference and we are honored to recognize their achievements and contributions. I encourage all of you to go to the CIRI website and nominate the shareholder you feel deserves recognition in 2013.
2013: Youth Recognition Award
We are particularly excited this year because CIRI is adding a new award category – a Youth Recognition Award. CIRI knows the importance of engaging the next generation of shareholders and descendants and wants to recognize their achievements and contributions. Youth who are CIRI shareholders or descendants, age 12 to 17, can be nominated for superior academic achievements, demonstrated leadership qualities, dedication to Alaska Native culture and heritage, outstanding contributions to community and family and exceptional determination and stamina in overcoming significant life challenges. The new Youth Recognition Award nomination form can also be found on the CIRI website.
The CIRI Shareholder and Elder of the Year, along with the Youth Recognition Award, will be announced at the CIRI and The CIRI Foundation Friendship Potlatches in the fall. We will have more details on the times and locations of the potlatches in upcoming issues of the Raven’s Circle. Until then, I sincerely hope you can make the most of the remaining summer months before the salmon have spawned and the fireweed has fully bloomed.