Board Corner: A Message from CIRI Board Director Pat Marrs

When I joined the CIRI Board of Directors in 1977, John Colberg served as Board Chair. Like me, John was from Seldovia. He reminded me that I did not represent any one group, tribe or village, and that I worked on behalf of all CIRI Shareholders and Descendants. He said our job was to help CIRI develop an investment strategy that would return strong, consistent and sustainable returns to Shareholders and their families.

John’s advice served as a guidepost for me throughout my time on the CIRI Board (1977-2000 and 2001-2023). In addition to John, I am fortunate to have had other mentors. I must mention CIRI Shareholder Clare Swan, who has been a great mentor to me. She is a visionary, outspoken and humorous woman with great compassion. Thank you, Clare.

To be eligible for ANCSA, a person had to be alive on Dec. 18, 1971, have at least one-quarter Alaska Native blood and be an American citizen. All Native people born after 1971 were therefore ineligible for inclusion in the settlement. Those of us born prior to the 1971 cutoff date are fortunate that, in a moment of time, our ancestors paved a way for our participation in the freedoms and self-determination all Native people deserve.

Current Shareholders owe the same to future generations. That is why I view my CIRI shares as something to pass along to my descendants. Long ago, I gifted shares to my children and then to my grandchildren. I encourage my fellow Shareholders to do the same. The value is not so much in the distributions, but in belonging to the CIRI family.

CIRI’s dividend and distribution policy has always been one of the most challenging topics the CIRI Board has tackled. The equity-based distribution policy was adopted by the CIRI Board of Directors in 2007. Currently, the policy calculates distributions such that the total CIRI distribution payment to Shareholders in any given year is equal to 3.50% of the prior year’s Shareholders’ equity. I was in favor of this conservative approach, and over time, CIRI’s distribution policy has produced a stable stream of distributions while allowing us to grow the company so it can pay future distributions.

When I sold my business, Communication North, four years ago, I missed the work of solving communications and navigation problems, but I quickly found other ways to fill my time. The same is true of my time on the CIRI Board. I will now have more time to dedicate to my children and grandchildren. As I depart the Board, I encourage the next generation of CIRI Shareholders and Descendants to get involved with your corporation—your vision, energy and perspective is needed!