A Who’s Who in the history of Alaska Native land claims became the first instructors for the inaugural class of the Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program. The classes got underway in September at Alaska Pacific University (APU).
The students, including three CIRI employees and five CIRI shareholders, heard about Native land battles from former CIRI President Margie Brown; they heard about the political struggle to accomplish the Alaska Native Lands Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) from Willie Hensley; they listened to Andrew Guy as he discussed the land claims from a Yup’ik perspective; and Byron Mallott shared wisdom about the importance of communicating across cultural lines, collaborating and cultivating long-lasting relationships.
Students also heard from attorney David Case, who talked about some of the legal issues created by the settlement, and from CIRI’s Vice President of Government Contracting Gregory Razo who spoke about ANCSA federal Indian policy and the reorganization of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
The graduate-level program covers nine weeks of intensive study in the history, operation and challenges of managing Alaska’s Native corporations. Each student who completes the program will receive a certification and nine credits that can be applied to a master’s degree.
“This is an impressive inaugural class. I am especially proud of the CIRI shareholders and employees who are embarking on this challenge,” Sophie Minich, president and CEO of CIRI, told the students at the kick-off breakfast.
Several Alaska Native corporations, including CIRI, are supporting the program. The collaboration with APU began as a way to help prepare the next generation of Alaska Native corporate leaders for the challenges of managing large corporations.
“As this program evolves, we will listen to the feedback we receive from the students and staff and we will respond and adapt to ensure the students receive the tools necessary for success,” said Don Bantz, APU president.
The class includes CIRI employees Rhonda Oliver, betsy Peratrovich and Maylen Prosser who is also a CIRI shareholder. CIRI shareholders Tammy Ashley, April Kyle, Denise Morris and Tabetha Toloff are also part of the first class.
The mission of CIRI is to promote the economic and social well-being and Alaska Native heritage of our Shareholders, now and into the future, through prudent stewardship of the company’s resources, while furthering self-sufficiency among CIRI Shareholders and their families.
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Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) is one of 12 regional corporations established in Alaska by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. CIRI is owned by over 9,100 Shareholders, primarily of Athabascan, Southeast Indian, Inupiat, Yup’ik, Alutiiq/Sugpiaq and Aleut/Unangax descent.