Native Corporation With Northwest Shareholders Picks New Leaders

Jul 9, 2014

A Native American-owned corporation with thousands of shareholders in the Pacific Northwest has new leadership. The Alaska-based business is trying to bounce back from heavy losses. CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld reports from Juneau.


Sealaska Board Chairman Joe Nelson poses at corpoartion headquarters in Juneau. Nelson was chosen as the new chairman following the corporation's annual meeting June 28 near Seattle.
Credit Ed Schoenfeld / Northwest News Network

Sealaska Corporation’s 22,000 Tlingit and Haida Indian shareholders have roots in Southeast Alaska, also known as the state’s Panhandle. But more than a quarter live in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

That’s why the Juneau-based corporation held its recent annual meeting at a hotel near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

One new leader is Joe Nelson, who was named chairman of the board of directors. The other is Anthony Mallott, who took over as Sealaska’s CEO.

Nelson says they’re looking to buy or start a business that can increase profits. But it has to pass several tests.

Nelson: "We need to invest in areas that we care about. We need to invest in areas that we’re able to be passionate about and we want to be the best in."

The effort comes as Sealaska recovers from last year’s $57 million operational loss. That year’s revenues were also down 20 percent.

CEO Mallott says the corporation is considering investments in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Alaska.

Mallott: "We’ve looked at the sustainable food industry. We’ve looked pretty in-depth into the fisheries landscape to see where we may fit. And we’ve also looked into government contracting."

The two new leaders are about 20 years younger than their predecessors.

But their goals are similar to the people they replaced. That includes pursuing federal legislation allowing the corporation to log more land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

Sealaska’s seeing growth in the number of tribal-member shareholders living in the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, an analysis of 2010 Census Bureau data shows Tlingits and Haidas are the largest-growing – and second-largest overall -- Native American group in the region.

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