CELEBRATING THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OUR SHAREHOLDERS!
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has chosen a Stanford student who aims to become a tribal lawyer as this year’s recipient of its Judson L. Brown Leadership Award.
The honor was given to Tlingit, Athabascan and Aquinnah Wampanoag student Jade Araujo, who has held numerous leadership roles during her tenure at the California university.
The $5,000 award goes to students who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership skills, said SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D.
“At a young age, Jade already has a proven track record of leadership at a number of school associations and cultural organizations. We also commend her quest to fight for her people at the legal level. She is exactly the type of young scholar we envisioned when we established the Judson Brown award,” Worl said.
Araujo worked for the Aquinnah Cultural Center and Museum, where she rose to lead docent and helped educate visitors about Native cultures and customs. She is also holds leadership positions in three campus organizations at Stanford, including the Alaska Native Student Association, the Stanford American Indian Organization and Stanford Women in Politics.
After graduation, she intends to pursue a law degree with a goal of becoming a tribal lawyer.
“I plan to be a leader in the field of constitutional law who fights for the rights of Native peoples,” Araujo wrote. “Native leaders in law can change the legal landscape to better support Native communities for many generations to come.”
Chris and Mary McNeil established the scholarship fund in 2006 in honor of Chris’ uncle, Tlingit leader Judson Lawrence Brown, who was the first chair of the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, now known as the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and a forceful advocate for education and leadership development. The endowment is administered by Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Jade is a Kootznoowoo, Inc. shareholder and KCEF Scholarship Recipient. This article is reprinted courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.
At the July 2023 Regular Board Meeting, Director Edwell John, Jr. submitted his resignation from the Board. Edwell had accepted a position of employment with Kootznoowoo as a Business Analyst.
“Serving on the board has been such an honour for me and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me as a director,” said Edwell. “However, Kootznoowoo is at a critical time in our corporation’s history. Developing and growing strong businesses that bring the corporation to a place of financial security is a huge priority for our shareholders. I believe that as Kootznoowoo’s Business Analyst, I will be better able to contribute to the business interests of the corporation and better serve shareholders.”
In this new role, Edwell will work closely with the Executive Team on business initiatives for the corporation. He will be responsible for analyzing key business metrics, developing improvement plans, and looking at the risks, finances, and profitability of business opportunities.
“The corporation is looking forward to integrating Edwell’s business acumen, knowledge of systems, processes, and budgeting, and his experience into the corporation’s goals and objectives,” said Kootznoowoo President & CEO Thomas E. Wilbur.
Edwell holds a Master of Business Administration from Alaska Pacific University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Executive Leadership at the University of Charleston. Prior to joining Kootznoowoo as an employee, Edwell served on the Board of Directors.
Edwell retired from the State of Alaska in 2021, and he currently owns several small businesses in Juneau.
Katherine “Katie” Pittman recently graduated with a Master of Educational Leadership from the University of Alaska Southeast. This is Katie’s second degree having previously earned a Bachelor of Education from Arizona State University. In addition to KCEF, Katie also received scholarships from Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Preparing Indigenous Teachers & Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program.
“This was such an intensive but transformative program for me,” said Katie who completed the program’s required 36 graduate level credit hours in just 12 months. While pursuing her degree, she also worked at Harborview’s Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy Program (TCLL) in Juneau, Alaska, as the program’s special education teacher.
“I loved my time at TCLL and am proud of the work and advocacy that I was able to support on behalf of the program and students,” said Katie. “This master’s degree gave me the administrative certification credential necessary to pursue my dream job and I’m excited to announce that I have been hired as the Native Student Success Coordinator at the Juneau School District (JSD).” This new role places Katie in a position to expand work with local and regional partners to develop and enhance the Tlingit language and cultural experiences for all JSD students.
Katie is the daughter of Tom (L’eeneidi) and Loretta Pittman and the granddaughter of William Samato (L’eeneidi) and Ann Rudolph Samato. She was born in Juneau and feels fortunate to have spent her childhood in Angoon and Juneau. Katie’s Tlingit name is Kaasgeiy and she is Shangukeidi from the Xeitl and Kaawdiyaayi Hits.
Kootznoowoo shareholder Nadja Kookesh was promoted this past June to the position of Vice President of Human Resources at Goldbelt, Inc.
“The title of Vice President shows the importance of Nadja’s work and the level of seniority her position holds,” said McHugh Pierre, Goldbelt’s President & CEO. “Nadja has years of experience growing with Goldbelt and she brings a unique perspective from her years of working with other large businesses.”
Nadja first joined Goldbelt in 1996 as a college intern. After earning a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Western Washington University, Nadja stayed in the Lower 48 and grew her professional experience with positions at companies that include Microsoft and Amazon. In 2009, Nadja moved back to Alaska and later in 2015, she joined Goldbelt corporate’s Human Resources department.
In her role as Vice President, Nadja is responsible for overseeing the human resource functions for all Goldbelt companies including the corporate office, Alaska operations, and the corporation’s multiple government contracting subsidiaries.
Shareholder Erica George has a passion for helping others and is excited to be a part of the Kootznoowoo team. She joined the corporation as an employee in fall 2018. “I am so happy to work at the corporate office,” said Erica. “Before I started working here, I didn’t know much about Kootznoowoo. But in this short time, I have learned so much and am impressed at how far we’ve come as a corporation.”
Erica is a 2006 graduate of Juneau Douglas High School. At age fourteen she began gaining work experience through Central Council Tlingit & Haida’s Youth Employment Services Program. After finishing high school, she worked for four years as a Recreation Aid at the Zack Gordon Youth Center in Juneau.
“That was an awesome experience,” shared Erica. “I love working with our youth. In the future, I hope to be able to continue helping support and grow our younger generation.” In her career, Erica has also worked at Fred Meyers, H&R Block, and also for Sealaska Corporation’s Shareholder Relations Department.
In her role at Kootznoowoo, Erica is responsible for providing front line support and takes pride in greeting everyone with a smile. Through her work in Shareholder Services she is also currently working on several projects to help improve customer service and efficiency of the department including converting all shareholder records from paper to electronic and is enthusiastic to be of service.
“I want to encourage all shareholders to make sure to complete their Testamentary Disposition,” said Erica. “Life happens and it’s such an important document that makes sure a shareholder’s shares will go to the people they want upon their passing.”
Erica is a second generation shareholder who received her shares via a gift from her father, Jeffrey George, and also through inheritance. Her mother is Victoria Milton and she is Raven Beaver Deisheetaan from Took’ka Hit (Needlefish House) and her Tlingit name is Shaachooka. Erica resides in Juneau with her two daughters, McKayla and MaKenna.