Shareholder Spotlight: Fred S. Elvsaas Jr.
Growing up steeped in Alaska Native politics has given CIRI Shareholder Fred S. Elvsaas Jr. (Aleut) a unique perspective on the history, culture, challenges and …
Shareholder Spotlight: Tayler Higgins
Growing up, CIRI Shareholder Tayler Tanginiq Higgins was affectionally called the “Rondy princess” by her mother.
Charles Anderson Jr.
Former CIRI Board Chair passes away at the age of 92.
A few quotes from the many hundreds of Shareholder and Descendant Spotlight interviews featured throughout the years.
Shareholder Spotlight: Jeff Hurlburt
CIRI shareholder Jeff Hurlburt has made it his “life’s passion” to assist and support Alaska Native people through his nonprofit organization Dena’ina Strong.
Shareholder Spotlight: KC Elvis
When other kids were reading the comics section of their local newspaper, KC Elvis was reading the business section.
Shareholder Spotlight: Tia Hale
CIRI shareholder Tia Hale (Athabascan and Inupiaq) is passionate about, well, just about everything.
More than Just Fish
Volunteers distributed 12,000 pounds of fish to Alaska Native families on March 25 and 26 as part of Operation Fish Drop, a grass-roots initiative to ensure Alaska Native Elders and others have access to traditional foods this spring.
Descendant Spotlight: Torin Jacobs
From an air-conditioned trailer in the Iraq desert, CIRI descendant Torin Jacobs started making the beats that would define him as a hip-hop artist, electronic musician and producer.
Shareholder Spotlight: Richard Perry
Original CIRI enrollee Richard Perry (Yup’ik and Athabascan) describes himself as an artist, writer and storyteller.
Shareholder Spotlight: Clara Amidon
CIRI shareholder Clara Amidon (Yup’ik and Unangan) never dreamed she’d be teaching virtually during a pandemic.
Shareholder Spotlight: Eric Watson
Even during a global pandemic, CIRI shareholder Eric Watson is committed to helping the eight federally recognized tribes within the Cook Inlet region collaborate and strengthen their relationships with each other and with Cook Inlet Tribal Council.
Shareholder Spotlight: Amber Christensen Fullmer
CIRI shareholder Amber Christensen Fullmer (Inupiaq) decided to mark her hands and arms with traditional lines because, as a mixed-race person, “I could step out of being Native and into whiteness without thinking about it,” she explains.
Shareholder Spotlight: Cynthia Demientieff
A family tragedy at a young age set CIRI shareholder Cynthia Demientieff on a lifelong path of helping others.
Descendant Spotlight: LeeAnn Cooper Garrick
When LeeAnn Cooper Garrick was a young teen, her father picked her up after school one day and took her to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to apply for her Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card.
Shareholder Spotlight: Rhonda Shelford Jansen
CIRI shareholder Rhonda Shelford Jansen’s art may evoke images of the past, but it took coming into her own as an adult and evolving past a “fear of failure that begins to diminish when you reach middle age” to commit to the act of creating said art.
Shareholder Spotlight: Clinton Ray Lageson
Though CIRI shareholder Clinton Ray Lageson spends much of his time collaborating with and advocating for Alaska Native and American Indian people across the U.S., his heart is at home with his Tribe and his family.
Shareholder Spotlight: Thomas Yates
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CIRI shareholder Thomas Yates (Athabascan) wanted to fight.
Descendant Spotlight: Piper Tolbert
With a background in political science, a heart to help and a passion for activism, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that CIRI descendant Piper Tolbert could one day hold the highest office in the land.
Descendant Spotlight: Caleb King
CIRI descendant Caleb King lives in the Midwest, but his heart belongs to Alaska.
Descendant Spotlight: Rachel Crosley
CIRI descendant Rachel Crosley dedicates two hours per week to the Fairbanks, Alaska, chapter of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support and increase the number of women in computer science.
Descendant Spotlight: Stephen Foster
“When you draw on baleen, everything you see is white, as opposed to pencil and paper, where everything you draw is black. You have to trick your mind to draw white; I was so used to drawing everything that was black.”
Shareholder Spotlight: Taylor Donovan
A love of Alaska and a passion for helping others shaped the career path of CIRI shareholder Taylor Donovan.
Shareholder Spotlight: Darla Graham
CIRI shareholder Darla Graham (Yup’ik) grew up with CIRI and is largely to thank for launching many of the company’s youth programs.
Shareholder Spotlight: Kyla Morris
Now in her sixth year with The CIRI Foundation, CIRI shareholder Kyla Morris (Unangan) works with a “small but mighty team.”
Shareholder Spotlight: Max Dolchok Jr.
Most kids dread going to the orthodontist, but it was quite the opposite for CIRI shareholder Maxim “Max” Ricardo Dolchok Jr.
Shareholder Spotlight: Jennifer Showalter Yeoman
As a foster parent, CIRI shareholder Jennifer Showalter Yeoman (Dena’ina Athabascan) has made it her life’s mission to help stem the tide of intergenerational trauma that has impacted the lives of Alaska Native children and families.
Shareholder Spotlight: John Peratrovich
“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in law enforcement,” CIRI shareholder John Peratrovich said. “I didn’t come from a law-enforcement family, but it’s always something I was drawn to.”
Shareholder Spotlight: Ivan Encelewski
With “dual passions” around issues of subsistence rights and substance abuse prevention, it seems a natural fit that CIRI shareholder Ivan Encelewski would take active roles in organizations that focus on these areas.
Shareholder Spotlight: Tanisha Gleason
For CIRI shareholder Tanisha Gleason (Haida), working as a revenue analyst in CIRI’s Land and Resources department is more than a job – it’s a passion.
Shareholder Spotlight: DaJonee’ Hale
Meet CIRI shareholder DaJonee’ “Nene” Hale (Athabascan), a recent graduate of Central Methodist University and a rising basketball star.
Shareholder Spotlight: Karen Voy
“Be proud of who you are and where you come from, but be especially proud of how you treat others.” It’s an adage original CIRI shareholder Karen Voy (Athabascan) lives by.
Shareholder Spotlight: Dolly Hills
Dolly Hills’ son, Richard “Rick” Hills, disappeared February 2004 near the town of Sterling, Alaska. It would be 10 years before the family had any answers.
Shareholder Spotlight: Michael Kashevarof
With his boundless energy and upbeat personality, CIRI shareholder Michael Kashevarof (Aleut) has quickly established himself as a staff favorite at CIRI.
Shareholder Spotlight: Adam Leggett
Father, son, military veteran, business professional, recipient of a “Top 40 Under 40” award and Alaska Native culture bearer – CIRI shareholder Adam Leggett (Dena’ina Athabascan) wears many hats.
Descendant Spotlight: Danielle Larsen
Beadwork, painting and sewing – when it comes to creating art, CIRI descendant Danielle Larsen (Inupiaq, Koyukon Athabascan and Unangan Aleut) doesn’t play favorites.
Shareholder Spotlight: Marie Stewman
You learn a lot over more than two decades with the same employer. In the case of original CIRI shareholder Marie Stewman (Alutiiq), that includes discovering what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of the president and CEO.
Descendant Spotlight: Kristin Helvey
It seems a contradiction, but CIRI descendant Kristin Helvey’s (Athabascan and Yu’pik) small-town Alaska upbringing inspired her to see the world.
Shareholder Spotlight: Kenneth Boire
CIRI shareholder Kenneth “Ken” Boire (Iñupiaq) grew up inhabiting two worlds. As a young child, he lived on the edge of Nome in a one-room cabin without plumbing or electricity. The family dog team served as transportation.
Descendant Spotlight: Ben Jacuk
Without CIRI, Ben Jacuk jokes, “I’d probably be uneducated and single.” With a new wife and a second master’s degree in the works, Ben credits CIRI with helping him along the path to both higher education and love.
Shareholder Spotlight: Bob Crowe
Bob Crowe likes to keep moving. Whether fighting wildfires, putting out metaphorical fires in his job as an IT network specialist or engaging in his weekend hobby of overland hiking, “it all goes back to mobility.”
Shareholder Spotlight: Autumn Olson
Autumn Olson has some advice for young people interested in applying for CIRI’s summer internship.
When it comes to locating missing shareholders, CIRI’s Shareholder Relations department relies on a crack team that includes Lydia Thorne and Lucy Untiet.
Shareholder Spotlight: Paneen Petersen
Colorectal cancer took the life of Paneen Petersen’s mother when she was only 45 years old. Paneen was 12 at the time. “I grew up thinking her death was a fluke,” Paneen said.
Shareholder Spotlight: Rona Johnson
A self-described “late bloomer” when it came to her career, CIRI shareholder Rona Johnson has more than made up for lost time.
Shareholder Spotlight: Sarah Whalen-Lunn
A CIRI shareholder of Iñupiaq descent, Sarah Whalen-Lunn has for the last year and a half been working as a traditional Inuit tattoo artist.
Shareholder Spotlight: Argent Kvasnikoff
Argent Kvasnikoff, an artist based in Ninilchik, Alaska, wants young Alaska Native people to embrace their culture – “whatever that culture means to them,” he emphasized.
Shareholder Spotlight: Sharon Padilla
CIRI shareholder Sharon Padilla and her husband, Perry, were settling happily into life as empty nesters when she received an email “out of the blue.”
Descendant Spotlight: Alden Butzke
Ambition. Alden Butzke’s got it. From foreign language classes to competitive sports, this 16-year-old Anchorage high-school student participates in a plethora of activities.
Descendant Spotlight: Sam Schimmel
“I want to be a lawyer, so let’s try this out.” Those were Sam Schimmel’s thoughts when he decided to apply to 2016 Color of Justice (COJ).
Shareholder Spotlight: Erma Syers
Honoring those who have passed on is a labor of love for CIRI shareholder Erma Syers.
Shareholder Spotlight: Tammy Ashley
Tammy Ashley drinks a lot of coffee. With a full-time job, a busy family life and volunteer commitments that range from Girl Scouts to emergency medical response, it’s easy to see why. “I don’t really sleep,” she admits.
Shareholder Spotlight: Deb Winkelman
After 25 years as an elementary-school teacher, Deb Winkelman was looking forward to retirement. But it wasn’t the life of leisure she envisioned. “I knew I wanted to own my own business,” she said.
Long-Serving CIRI Board Member Jerry Brown Passes Away at 82
Long-serving CIRI Director and CIRI Elders’ Settlement Trust trustee Gerald “Jerry” Grant Brown passed away July 30 at home in Everett, Wash., surrounded by his family. He was 82.
Descendant Spotlight: Rosemary Berg
Originally from Point Hope, Rosemary Berg isn’t your typical beauty pageant contestant – and that suits her just fine. Initially, the half Inupiaq, half African-American woman “had a stereotype of what a pageant queen looks like…
Shareholder Spotlight: Olive Blumenstein
An uprooted childhood, a Navy career fueled by wanderlust, family lost and found – Olive Blumenstein’s life reads like the most incredible fiction.
Shareholder Spotlight: Storme Webber
In many ways, CIRI shareholder Storme Webber defies categorization. A mixed-race woman of Aleut, African-American and Choctaw descent, she is a poet, playwright, educator and interdisciplinary artist.
Shareholder Spotlight: Sabrina Walker
The first time she ran the 16-mile Lost Lake Run, CIRI shareholder Sabrina Walker (Tlingit) was greeted by a face at each half-mile marker. The faces were photos of Alaskans who had been affected by cystic fibrosis (CF).
CIRI’s Oldest Living Shareholder Turning 100
“It’s not your nationality that counts as much as it is your character and your personality.” These were a teacher’s words of wisdom to CIRI shareholder Fiocla Wilson […]
Shareholder Spotlight: Nikki Graham
CIRI shareholder Nikki Graham hadn’t even been to her first meeting of the Alaska Native Professional Association (ANPA) when one of the organization’s directors encouraged her to consider joining the board.
Shareholder Spotlight: Michael Clark Sr.
Michael Clark Sr. has a reputation. When he goes to art shows, the other artists know him as the ATM killer – the guy who persuades customers to pull out cash and buy his stone carvings until the ATM is empty. It’s a pretty good reputation to have.
Shareholder Spotlight: Charles Peter Toloff
You see a lot over the course of 94 years. But as CIRI’s oldest original shareholder can tell you, some things stay the same, too.
Shareholder and Descendant Spotlight: Cy Two Elk
“The idea behind this was to create a business where we could control our own schedules and keep our family close together,” says CIRI descendant Cy Two Elk.
Spotlight: Allison Knox
Growing up, CIRI shareholder Allison Knox says her parents were always encouraging her to explore, travel and be open to learning new things. In high school, Knox wanted to follow her parents into the tourism industry.
Spotlight: John Warren Jr.
In 2008, a study revealed that sanitation was a serious issue in Kivalina. CIRI shareholder John Warren Jr. was moved to do something about the situation. “As an engineer, I couldn’t look the other way,” Warren says.
“I’ve been all over Alaska, but this is my home,” says 82-year-old CIRI shareholder Joseph Carlough Sr. of Seldovia.
Spotlight: Tyonek’s community garden
Getting food from Anchorage is a problem nearly everyone in Tyonek faces — which is part of the reason why, in 2008, the village made it a priority to start growing fresh local vegetables.
Spotlight: Albert Harrison and Lisa Wade
Every Thursday, between 20 and 75 people gather for the weekly Elders’ Lunch in Chickaloon—an opportunity for folks in the community to catch up, connect and share stories.
Spotlight: Debbie Fullenwider
“I haven’t retired. I keep hearing that rumor, but I never said I was retiring,” insists Debbie Fullenwider. Since 1973, she’s served in a variety of leadership positions on the Eklutna Inc. board of directors, including president and vice president.
Spotlight: Hallie Bissett
“I literally worked from the ground up to get on the CIRI board,” says Hallie Bissett, CIRI shareholder and member of CIRI’s Board of Directors. She landed her first CIRI job – as a groundskeeper – at age 14.
Spotlight: Arlen Fisk
Building from adrenaline: CIRI shareholder Arlen Fisk (Aleut) isn’t afraid to work hard. December 2013 found him staying late in the labs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, doing homework for…
Spotlight: Elaine Stefanowicz
1982: “The world was not as accessible then,” says CIRI shareholder Elaine Stefanowicz (Iñupiaq) of Tacoma, Washington.
Spotlight: Caitlin Stewman
At 14, few people have the presence of mind or emotional maturity to handle the pressures of a professional job. Most are too busy with Instagram and YouTube to think about employment.
Spotlight: Gretchen Sagan
Imagine a seal slicing through frigid water, climbing through fathoms toward a hole in the ice. Just before he breaks the surface to take a breath: This is the moment that interests CIRI shareholder Gretchen Sagan (Iñupiaq).
Spotlight: Rochelle Hellmann
“I’m one of those people who isn’t great at interviewing,” CIRI shareholder and descendant Rochelle Hellman, of Anchorage, admits when she sits down to talk about her experience as the new CIRI Real Estate Intern.
Cynthia Darosett: Reunited
Early on the morning of February 4 of this year, four words took Cynthia Darosett’s breath away: “The twins found us.” The CIRI shareholder stood …
Spotlight: Kassidy Whitley
CIRI shareholder Kassidy Whitley isn’t your typical beauty pageant contestant. The hair stylist and newly certified professional trainer dyes her short hair a vibrant shade of red and doesn’t bother to hide her tattoos or piercings.
Spotlight: Trinity Standifer
Spirit of Youth award recipient CIRI descendant Trinity Standifer, of Tyonek, has a superpower. She can’t see through walls or fly without the aid of …
Spotlight: Janie Leask
CIRI shareholder Janie Leask grew up in two worlds. Raised by a Haida/Tsimshian father and an Irish/German mother in Metlakatla and Anchorage, Leask often found herself trying to square the two sides of her heritage…
Spotlight: Megan Saunders
As an AmeriCorps volunteer just out of college, CIRI descendant Megan Saunders was certain of one thing: “I wanted to have this big, broad impact on the world. I was working with the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency…
Spotlight: Abigail Slater
Early in January, CIRI descendant Abigail “Abby” Slater, 19, sat in front of her computer, watching her email reload.
Spotlight: Josh Brown
Don’t let anyone tell Josh Brown he can’t fight a god; he’s already tried. Competing at 132.2 pounds, the smallest men’s judo weight class, Brown, 21, trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., from four to five hours a day.
Spotlight: Tiffany Tutiakoff
Nine years ago, as an eager intern, CIRI shareholder Tiffany Tutiakoff stepped into the offices of the advertising agency Northwest Strategies. Her previous jobs at the Alaska Federation of Natives and CIRI…
Spotlight: Aaron Leggett
At 32 years of age, CIRI shareholder Aaron Leggett has played a vital role in preserving and perpetuating the Dena’ina language and culture. As the Special Exhibits Curator at the Anchorage Museum…
Spotlight: April Kyle
April Kyle, Recipient of Top 40 Under 40 award