Shareholders consider shrinking Sealaska board

Sealaska Building

Sealaska corporate headquarters is in Juneau. The Southeast regional Native corporation will hold its annual meeting June 24 in Hydaburg. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Should Southeast’s regional Native corporation shrink its governing board? That’s a question before Sealaska’s more than 22,000 shareholders. Management opposes the change.

Juneau-headquartered Sealaska has 13 members on its board of directors.

Shareholder Karen Taug thinks that’s too many — and costs too much.

“I believe that if we were a moneymaking machine and we were just rolling in successful corporations and we had a lot to manage, I think it’s justified to have more board members,” she said.

But, she said, that’s not the case.

Taug, who works in finance, is one of 12 shareholders running for four seats on Sealaska’s board of directors this spring.

She’s also the author of a resolution to shrink the board from 13 to nine members.

Sealaska opposes the measure, though it would not grant an interview on the topic. A statement on its website said a smaller board would result “in decreased representation of shareholder interests.” It also said fewer seats would lessen the chance of independent candidates being elected.

Part of the resolution would make it harder for longtime board members to win re-election, by prohibiting a management endorsement. Taug reads from her proposal.

“The longest-serving directors will not be eligible for the board slate. However, (they) will be able to run as an independent candidate to begin in the year 2018 and each year thereafter until there are nine members,” she said.

Sealaska opposes the measure, saying it would damage the corporation.

On its website, officials wrote “The resolution as written targets longest-serving directors for removal to accomplish the reduction, regardless of their experience.”

Nicole Hallingstad, also an independent board candidate, said that’s the point.

“I think the current resolution is one more way that shareholders are trying to deliver their message that there are directors who have served far too long on Sealaska’s board,” she said.

Previous resolutions proposed term limits or changes in discretionary voting. All failed.

To pass, a resolution needs to attract more than 50 percent of all shares that could be cast. That’s a higher standard than a majority of just the shares cast that year.

There’s no standard board size for Alaska’s 12 regional Native corporations. Sealaska is one of three with 13 members. Another three have nine. The others range from 11 to 23.

Edgar Blatchford is a former regional Native corporation CEO. He teaches journalism and Native studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Blatchford said reducing board size just puts more power in a few shareholders’ hands.

“In my experience in dealing with Chugach Alaska Corp., I think it has left holes in the argument that it has created efficiencies. I think what it has created is a lack of transparency and it has put more corporate control, more board control, in the board of directors,” he said.

Most Sealaska shareholders have already cast their ballots, called proxies, by mail or online. The final deadline is at Sealaska’s annual meeting, June 24, in Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island. Results will be announced there.

The ballots also list the names of those shareholders running for four board seats.

Here are brief summaries of the the candidates, in alphabetical order, condensed from http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection.

Doug Chilton, 51, independent, Juneau.

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees
  • Occupation: Business owner, operator of Chilton Silver & Gold.
  • Education: Graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School.
  • Directorships: LaPeruse AK Association.
  • Affiliations: One People Canoe Society, Juneau Tlingit & Haida Community Council, Tlingit & Haida Central Council, ANB Camp 2.

Jon Duncan, 45, independent, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  • Website: www.jonbduncan.com
  • Occupation: Vice president, sales & marketing, Endowance Corp.
  • Education: Master of Business Administration, St. Mary’s College of CA; Bachelor of Arts, Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Sealaska positions: Former president and CEO, Managed Business Solutions, LLC and Managed Business Solutions Systems, LLC.
  • Directorships: Chairman of the Board, Taku, Inc.; Chairman of the Board, One Nation Walking Together.
  • Affiliations: One Nation Walking Together; Colorado Springs Diversity Forum (Chairman).

Sidney Edenshaw, 54, incumbent running on the management slate, Hydaburg

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/board-slate/sidney-edenshaw
  • Occupation: Commercial Fisherman, owner of the F/V Jerilyn, and the Walking Boss Dispatcher for Southeast Stevedoring.
  • Education: Graduate of Hydaburg High School.
  • Sealaska positions: Served on the Sealaska Board since March 2005, manager on the Haa Aaní LLC Board.
  • Directorships: Former Haida Corp. Board member.
  • Affiliations: President of Hydaburg’s Tribal Association. Member of Hydaburg ANB Camp 6, president of the tribe’s nonprofit foundation, XKKF, Tlingit & Haida Hydaburg Delegate. Shell Fish Preservation Alliance.

Bradley Fluetsch, 54, independent, Lamy, New Mexico.

  • He has withdrawn from the race but his name remains on the ballot.

Nicole Hallingstad, 51, independent, Arlington, Virginia

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees
  • Occupation: Director of Operations, National Congress of American Indians.
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts in History, University of AK Fairbanks; Master of Arts in European History, University of CA Berkeley.
  • Sealaska positions: Former Sealaska VP & Corporate Secretary, VP of Human Resources, VP of Communications; former Director of Alaska Coastal Aggregates and Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc.
  • Directorships: Board service for Cancer Connection, Capital Community Broadcasting Inc., Bartlett Hospital Foundation, United Way of SE Alaska.
  • Affiliations: Member ANS Camp 16 Petersburg; Member of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; Individual Member of NCAI.

Morgan Howard, 48, running on the management slate, Kirkland, Washington.

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/board-slate/morgan-howard
  • Occupation: Owner of Morgan Howard Communications, LLC.
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from Columbia College – Hollywood; Bachelor of Science in Communications from Northern Arizona University.
  • Sealaska positions: Provided communications and public relations services to Sealaska in 2016. Consulting, creative and design services, writing, advertising and media support.
  • Directorships: Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corp. (8 Years); Yak-tat Kwaan Inc. (10 years from 2006-2016)
  • Affiliations: Seattle Chapter of CCTHITA, Treasurer and Delegate; Alaska Native Village CEO Association, Founding Member; Alaska Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group, Founding Member; and Fledge.Co start-up mentor.

Adrian LeCornu, 38, independent, Anchorage

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees
  • Occupation: Self-employed.
  • Education: B.A. Philosophy from University of Alaska Anchorage and M.L.S. Indigenous Peoples Law from University of Oklahoma.
  • Directorships: Director of Haida Corp., Chair of Shaan Seet, Inc.
  • Affiliations: Shaan Seet Inc. and Haida Corp.

Cory Mann, 47, independent, Juneau.

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees
  • Occupation: CEO Stories & Legends, Inc. owner; Juneau Marketing owner; Juneau Guesthouse owner.
  • Education: Attended Northern Arizona University Business School; Attended University of Athens, Greece; Internet Marketing; and UAS-AA degree.
  • Directorships: Secretary of Kaudli Nutz Productions Corp.

Michael Roberts, 54, independent, Longmont, Colorado.

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees
  • Occupation: President and CEO, First Nations Development Institute.
  • Education: MBA, Finance & Operations Management, University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
  • Directorships: Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders; Three Affiliated Tribes – the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara; Center for Native American Public Radio; The National Center for Family Philanthropy; Native Americans in Philanthropy; First Nations Development Institute; chair of First Nations Oweesta Corp.; and Four Times Foundation.

Ross Soboleff, 65, incumbent running on the management slate, Juneau

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/board-slate/ross-soboleff
  • Occupation: Writer, small business owner, commercial fisherman.
  • Education: Bachelor of Science in Community Service and Public Affairs from the University of Oregon.
  • Sealaska positions: Former VP Corporate Communications of Sealaska. Member of the Sealaska Board of Directors since June 2014. Trustee of the Elders’ Settlement Trust.

Karen Taug, 62, independent, Juneau

  • Profile: Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/independent-nominees (scroll down)
  • Occupation: Controller, Bartlett Regional Hospital.
  • Education: BBA – Accounting, University of Alaska Southeast.
  • Sealaska positions: Former Senior Accountant, Sealaska Corp.
  • Directorships: University of Alaska Southeast Advisory Board, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, former Director of Goldbelt, Inc.
  • Affiliations: Juneau Community Foundation, Juneau Planning Commission and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 70.

Ed Thomas, 75, incumbent running on the management slate, Kingston, Washington.

  • Profile: http://www.sealaska.com/election-connection/board-slate/edward-k-thomas
  • Occupation: Retired. Former President of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (27 years), President Emeritus.
  • Education: Associates in Science from Sheldon Jackson College; Bachelor of Science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and a Master of Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University.
  • Sealaska positions: Sealaska Board member since October 1993. Member of the Haa Aaní, LLC Board of Managers, director of the Spruce Root, Inc. Board (formerly known as Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc.).
  • Directorships: Former director and chairman of Shaan Seet, Inc. (Craig Village Corp.). Former President of Ketchikan Indian Community.
  • Affiliations: Former president of Ketchikan ANB Camp 14, a former 1st vice-president ANB Grand Camp and the parliamentarian of the 2016 ANB Convention; former executive director of the Ketchikan Indian Education Program; elected secretary of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and parliamentarian; former board member of the Alaska Federation of Natives, member of the Council for the Advancement of Alaska Natives.

For the curious and informed.

For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – a free, weekly news email from KTOO’s news team

Recent headlines

X