Graduate program’s second class gains leadership skills and more
A graduate of the first cohort of students from the Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program (ANELP), CIRI employee Rhonda Oliver recently found herself back in class – this time not as a student, but as a guest speaker.
Oliver, an Ahtna shareholder, exemplifies the kind of individual ANELP was designed to benefit: a young Alaska Native professional who displays leadership qualities and wants to learn the ins and outs of managing a large corporation.
“The program is geared toward more than working for an Alaska Native corporation,” Oliver explains. “It’s about growing leaders, and it covered a variety of leadership topics that, as you develop professionally, you’re going to need. I learned a lot of tangible, practical skills that I draw on daily.”
Oliver, the corporate controller for CIRI, shared insights on finance and budgeting with the current ANELP class, which included CIRI shareholder and employee Cheryl Bailey, who was in her fourth month of the nine-month program. ANELP grew from a partnership between CIRI and several other Alaska Native corporations, along with Alaska Pacific University, and places emphasis on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and the formation and management of ANCSA corporations.
“As a shareholder, I thought I knew a lot about ANCSA,” Bailey says. “Then we had our module on ANCSA context and history, with guest speakers who brought to life the struggles Alaska Native leaders went through. ANCSA corporations are assigned the unique duty of protecting Alaska Native lands and representing the assets we received from the land claims settlement. Understanding that has made the biggest impact on me in this class.”
Upon completion of the program, students earn a certification and nine credits that can be applied to a master’s degree. Oliver and Bailey participated in ANELP as a standalone certification program, but the course has them both considering completing a master’s degree in the near future. For now, they’re putting the skills they’ve gained to work – and seeing things a little differently, thanks to their experience.
“As somebody looking back on ANCSA, working for a successful corporation, 40 years after the fact, that’s the only perspective I had,” explains Oliver. “Being in the course, hearing these speakers, it let me look at ANCSA through a different lens.”