Longtime CIRI director and chairman emeritus William C. Prosser resigned from CIRI’s Board of Directors effective Feb. 1. Prosser’s 33 years of service on the Board include all but three years of the Alaska Native corporation’s existence.
“Bill has served on CIRI’s Board almost since its inception. He’s helped make this company one of Alaska’s most successful corporations,” said Charles Anderson, CIRI Board chairman. “We’re grateful to him for his many years of dedicated service to CIRI and its shareholders.”
Prosser, a Russian Aleut, served on the CIRI Board from 1975 to 1984 and 1985 to 2009. He served as chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2000 and 2004 to 2006. Prosser served as president and chief executive officer of Ninilchik Native Association Inc. from 1993 to 1998. He is the president and chief executive officer of Prosser Corp., a land development company. Prosser currently serves on the CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp. board.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Washington, Prosser taught economics at the University of Washington from 1967 to 1971. Ultimately deciding he did not want to be an economist, he came back up to Alaska.
Prosser’s uncle, Martin Cooper, one of the original incorporators of CIRI, along with CIRI Board members Alex Segura and George Miller, recruited Prosser to run for the CIRI Board in 1974. Although unsuccessful, with the help of his lifelong friend Gosta Dagg, who was a CIRI Board member at the time, he was elected the following year.
“It was an opportunity for me to use the technical background I had, to use economic theory and expertise to participate in decisions that you’d never get to do yourself,” said Prosser.
Prosser was chairman of the Board’s Building Committee when CIRI’s Anchorage headquarters building was constructed. He also served for many years on the CIRI Board’s Finance and Investment Committee. The Board accomplishment that he is most proud of during his tenure is the $50,000 shareholder dividend in 2000.
“It flew in the face of expectations at the time,” said Prosser. “I consider it the single most important thing I had input on. The fact that we were able to do it tax free was an extra bonus. A lot of creative minds worked on that accomplishment.”
Prosser noted the maturation of CIRI’s Board-management relationship over the years.
“The Board didn’t have much confidence in its management at the beginning,” said Prosser. “As management improved, the Board pulled back more and more from the day-to-day business of the company.We went from there to a very mature organization with more of the traditional roles of management and board. One of the main reasons we’ve done so well as a company is we’ve respected this.”
Prosser feels that CIRI’s future success will come in part from boards that are balanced between technical expertise and traditional leadership.
“Our company needs Boards that emphasize first and foremost integrity and professionalism, and finally professional individual expertise,” said Prosser. “In the end, the Board’s primary job is one of judgment. You can come from quite diverse backgrounds and still have good judgment. We’ve had good Boards at CIRI; we’ve learned how to close the ranks between us and best serve the needs of the company.”
Prosser’s son Loren, a CIRI shareholder, is community president of Wells Fargo in Nome. Alan, Prosser’s other son and also a CIRI shareholder, is partnered with CIRI Board member Rolf Dagg in Prosser-Dagg Construction Co. LLC, a general contracting and land development company in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley.