Dear friends in the CIRI community:
After 14 years of service, I have chosen to step aside from the CIRI Board of Directors. It is a decision made with profound gratefulness for the opportunity to have served, coupled with an understanding that one must always lead by example. It has been an incredible honor to serve you in this role. I am especially thankful to those who gave me your trust and steadfast support over the years. Please know I have done my best to fulfill the duties of a Director with integrity and respect and to demonstrate our shared Alaska Native values.
In 2009, I entered this office with the intent of being a leader who listens to all. In my numerous conversations with Shareholders and Descendants over the years, many of you gifted me with your personal stories, details about our Alaska Native history and valuable cultural knowledge. In addition, you specified your concerns and priorities regarding the business of our corporation. Please know, every time I entered the Board room, I carried your information with me. Thank you for helping me become a more effective leader. Along the way, I learned it is essential to bring our shared Native values into our discussions and decision-making.
In 2023, I leave the Board with the awareness that we must create space for new voices and fresh perspectives. We can no longer simply talk about including the next generation in the future of CIRI— the next generation is here, and they are prepared to do the work. It is incumbent on all of us to give them, the second and third wave of Shareholders and Descendants, an opportunity to set a new course for CIRI for the next 50 years.
As an original Shareholder, I have felt the constant presence of CIRI in my life since its inception in 1972. I am fortunate to have been part of its first 50 years, and I am proud of our corporation’s many accomplishments. In a way, it feels like I grew up with CIRI. When the initial dividend was issued, I was about 10 years old and promptly bought myself a 10-speed bicycle in red, white and blue. Even though I learned of proxy votes and Board seats early on, I never expected to become more involved with CIRI because I didn’t think that was an option available to me. Decades later, upon my acceptance to law school, I used another dividend to purchase a laptop computer. While my interest in the corporation would ebb and flow over the years, I remained a proud CIRI Shareholder who recognized it not only as a secondary source of income, but as a real connection with Alaska and part of my identity as a Native woman. I am forever grateful I was given a chance to interview and earn a seat on the Board of Directors. I sincerely hope young Shareholders and Descendants will envision a future for themselves at CIRI, in a form of service suitable for them.
To be an Alaska Native person is to live in relationship—with creation, the Creator and especially with our community, whether it be a tribe, village or Alaska Native corporation. Without a doubt, my favorite part of this journey has been getting to know our wonderfully diverse community of CIRI Shareholders and Descendants. Thank you for welcoming me into your lives.
As we move into 2023, I thoughtfully ask each of you to set aside time to get involved in the CIRI community. Educate yourself about your corporation. Learn the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Attend Shareholder and Descendant meetings. Read the Annual Report. Apply to serve on the CIRI Participation Committees. Vote your proxy. Speak up. Find a way to participate, whether virtually or in person. We must all make an effort to remain informed about the business of our corporation. We are CIRI and the Cook Inlet region; our opinions and ideas are important.