Chugach’s 2023 Pek’stangiyaq Awards

  • We do things the right way
  • We create meaningful value
  • We empower people
  • We build community
  • We leave things better than we found them

In Sugpiaq, the language spoken in the Chugach region, Pek’stangiyaq means ‘Good Worker’, and it took a host of good workers to keep a village fed and prosperous. The 2023 Good Workers who kept our corporate village and its subsidiaries prosperous and successful are:

Kris Tabios, Chugach Heritage Foundation (CHF) Administrative Clerk: Kris Tabios is a valuable asset to the CHF team. Tabios diligently supports CHF’s programs, consistently going above and beyond to ensure that CHF is providing quality programs and services for Chugach’s shareholders and descendants. Tabios’ dedication to great work goes beyond doing “just a job.” He empowers others through his caring personality and will always stop to help a team member better understand something or share the knowledge he has. Tabios builds community through his dedication to our culture by regularly attending workshops and cultural events to learn more about traditional crafts. He has an amazing artistic ability that he shares by helping to pull together events, be it an exhibitor booth or a corporate party. He is a joy to be around and always keeps the CHF team laughing and engaged.

James “Tom” Wiggins, Chugach Government Solutions (CGS) Facility Manager, Project Site Midway Atoll: James “Tom” Wiggins is the Facilities Manager for the Midway Atoll project responsible for all of the facility maintenance. Wiggins is the type of guy that when he sees a need, he doesn’t hesitate to jump in and volunteer his time and skills to help. For example, he saw a need and volunteered his time and experience to help better organize the kitchen staff who are Thai nationals. Wiggins enjoys cooking and has taught our Thai staff how to properly cook steaks, barbecue, and good old southern cooking. He streamlined and organized the ordering process, storage and inventory of food products and improved the monthly menu rotation. He did this all while continuing stellar work in his facility manager role, keeping up with the old-outdated island infrastructure including buildings, water and waste water systems, power production and distribution system, piers and seawalls, roads and a 7,800 foot runway. During the customer’s Seabird Protection Project, he assisted in the building of a base camp on Eastern Island that included tents, water distribution, food storage, power production, and bird containment facilities.

Ashley Moore, CGS Lead Estimator: Ashley Moore is the Lead Estimator for the technical services division. Her workload has substantially increased as the unit has doubled in terms of number of employees over the recent history. Moore is integral in all price-to-win activities, cost narratives and competitive pricing. Her efforts directly bolstered the division’s above industry average win rate. In such a crucial position, she has unparalleled integrity in preparing cost volumes. With the division’s growth and workload increase, she mentors entry level estimators and constantly assists multiple captures. Moore voluntarily participates in all proposal teams working groups, teaming agreement generation, and everything associated with a winning culture. She is a consummate team player, always willing to share knowledge and experience. She is a mainstay in helping to organize our annual Special Olympics Charity Golf Tournament raising an average of $13-15,000 annually. Additionally, she leads our divisions Expo IPT and strategically selects the most optimal conferences to attend. Ashley coordinates every Chugach display booth with a quality layout while minimizing organic cost. These events give back so much to our customers and communities.

Jennie Sodergren, Chugach Commercial Holdings, TCC Training Coordinator: Jennie Sodergren was recognized for her exceptional contributions, her unwavering commitment to excellence, and her embodiment of the Chugach core values. Sodergren’s ability to foster team unity and maintain high productivity standards has been a cornerstone of our TCC’s resiliency and success. She has played a pivotal role in the development and execution of the onboarding process for new hires. Thanks to Jennie’s dedication and initiative, the critical implementation TCC’s new digital hiring process was executed flawlessly. Her proactive engagement in every step of the process, from planning to execution, ensured a seamless transition without disruptions. Additionally, Sodergren has been a driving force with the identification of training software that will enable TCC to present real-time data for training compliance. Her foresight, initiative, and flawless execution of critical projects have not only contributed to our current successes but have also laid the groundwork for future innovations.

Cultural Presentations Connect With Community

  • Whittier with the PWS Natural History Symposium
  • Chugach’s Annual Meeting
  • Alaska Federation of Natives convention
  • JBER military base in Anchorage
  • Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Alaska Resource Advisory Council

“Sharing the Chugach culture and knowledge about the Chugach region with others is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role with Chugach. It is always a pleasure to give these presentations where I get a lot of positive feedback from attendees.”

Many in the audience have known John throughout his career at Chugach, and these long-term relationships often cultivate the warmest interactions.

Shortly after his presentation to the BLM’s Alaska Resource Advisory Council, John received an email from BLM’s public affairs office in which Dina Torres, who is a Management and Program Analyst, stated, “I’ve worked with John Johnson for 20 years on the conveyance of historical places and cemetery sites under Section 14(h)(1) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. What an incredible journey it has been.”

Johnson’s presentations also touched on the distinguished military service of Alaska Natives from the Chugach region, which often resonate with audience members. “As a Veteran myself, I had no idea my career in the Air Force would lead me to working on the Alaska Land Transfer Program for the Bureau of Land Management,” Torres stated. “I’ve had the honor and privilege of adjudicating hundreds of Section 14(h)(1) selection applications for the transfer of these very important historic and prehistoric sites to Chugach Alaska Corporation.”

These presentations have also led to field trips in the Chugach region. “In 2016, I had the honor of visiting the Nuuciq Spirit Camp on Hinchinbrook Island, where we were led by John on a tour of the cultural camp,” Torres remembered. “It will always be a highlight in my career that I will never forget. I am dedicated and committed to the continued work we have in our obligation under ANCSA and look forward to many more patent signing ceremonies with John and all those at Chugach Alaska Corporation. Thank you, John, for your remarkable presentation.”

Johnson and BLM officials and members of the Alaska Resource Advisory Council enjoy a dinner after the cultural presentation.

Lee Hart, Executive Director of the Alaska Outdoor Alliance, also joined Torres in providing feedback to Johnson on the presentation he shared with the BLM staff.

“I was fascinated and intrigued by John’s presentation. I have lived in Prince William Sound and was so amazed to learn about the rich cultural history and ongoing efforts to restore and preserve it,” Hart stated. “I’ve now discovered an entirely new dimension of Prince William Sound and sincerely hope Alaska Outdoor Alliance’s work may align with and support Chugach Alaska Corporation’s priorities.”

The above photo was taken on June 10, 2022 when BLM officials delivered land conveyances to Chugach’s corporate offices. In photo, left to right, are Abby Muth, Land Law Examiner; Dina Torres, Chief, Branch of Adjudication; Steve Cohn, BLM Alaska State Director; John F. C. Johnson, Chugach’s Vice President of Cultural Resources; Rebecca Curtiss, Land Law Examiner; Paul Krabacher, Associate Deputy State Director, Division of Lands and Cadastral; and Eileen Ford, Land Transfer Resolution Specialist.

John F.C. Johnson, Steve Cohn, and Chugach Chairman Sheri Buretta proudly displaying the conveyances.

Chugach Announces New CEO Jonathan Dalrymple

As CEO, Dalrymple will be responsible for overseeing Chugach’s business enterprise, including its portfolio of operating companies and investments, and the 4,500 employees who support them. He will work in close collaboration with the Board of Directors (Board) and alongside Chief Operating Officer (COO) Peter Andersen and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Angie Astle to establish strategy, inspire best-in-class operations, and navigate Chugach’s next chapter. He will also partner with the Board, President Josie Hickel, and VP of ANCSA and Community Affairs Katherine Carlton, who oversee Chugach’s lands, community development, and cultural resources initiatives to deliver long-term growth and value on behalf of shareholders.

“After a comprehensive nationwide search in partnership with executive recruiting firm Herd Freed Hartz, the Board is pleased to have found the ideal candidate to continue charting our course for future growth,” said Sheri Buretta, Chugach’s Chairman of the Board. “Jonathan is a well-respected, values-driven, and visionary leader with a track record of successfully navigating organizational transformation and growth initiatives. This, combined with his deep defense industry knowledge, makes Jonathan uniquely qualified to lead Chugach’s business operations at a crucial time for our corporation.”

Dalrymple is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years progressive leadership and business development experience in the aerospace, defense, and intelligence contracting industries. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Strategy, Business Development, and Program Services for VSE Corporation. Prior to that, he was President of a consulting firm for a diverse client list including private equity portfolio companies, venture capital backed start-ups, and strategic public companies, preceded by leadership roles spanning Raytheon, L3, and Textron Systems.

“I’m honored that the Board has entrusted me to continue building upon Chugach’s legacy that has been defined by a number of remarkable leaders over the last five decades,” expressed Dalrymple. “Chugach has all the characteristics of a successful business – an impressive operations footprint, respected reputation, talented people, and unlimited growth potential. I look forward to partnering with the executive leadership team and employees to continue building a winning business and driving long-term sustainable growth for Chugach.”

Dalrymple is a U.S. Navy veteran and holds an honors bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the University of Georgia and a master’s in business administration degree from SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy. He is engaged in supporting the arts, children’s hospitals, educational initiatives, and Habitat for Humanity. Dalrymple will relocate to Anchorage with his family, and is excited to join the Chugach team and Alaska community.

High Heels Raise Funds & Awareness For Sexual Violence

This year, two members of Chugach Alaska Corporation’s (Chugach) executive team will elevate their arches with a pair of high heels for the very first time – alongside a few experienced high-heel veterans – to raise awareness about sexual violence and help educate the public on how to prevent it. Their goal is to have every wobbly and uncomfortable step they take raise funds for local crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and sexual violence education and prevention programs.

This year’s Walk A Mile In Her Shoes takes place on September 23, 2023 at Dimond Center at 11 a.m. Our participation goes beyond just taking steps. It’s a statement that we stand united against sexual violence and dedicated to creating positive change in our community.

“I have two daughters, and welcomed my first granddaughter last year,” said Peter Andersen, Chugach’s Chief Operating Officer. “Not only do organizations like STAR emphasize education and awareness to prevent sexual violence, but they provide support and resources to navigate the challenges that so many victims face.”

“Encouraging men to get involved as allies and join the conversation in raising awareness of sexual assault is critically important to create a culture of consent and respect,” CGS Vice President of BD Chris Crosta said. “I’m proud to be a part of that narrative, and I would challenge other Chugach team members to consider joining our team or showing their support during the event on Sept. 23.”

Lace up and let’s do this! Click Here to Join or Donate to Team Chugach!

Chugach Employees Take On PWS Volunteer Opportunity

On August 18, 2023, Chugach’s Mission and Core Behaviors came together in unison as a group of Chugach employees set sail from Whittier on a United State s Forest Service (USFS) marine vessel to participate in a volunteer opportunity in Prince William Sound (PWS).

This year, Chugach started the Employee Volunteer Program, which allows our employees to work a half day at charities and non-profits, or on projects that benefit the community. “Under this program, our Lands, Community, and Culture departments decided to select a project in our region that would strengthen our ties to our lands” said Jack Blackwell, Chugach’s Vice President of Land and Resources.

Jack continued, “I knew that the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation (PWSSF) coordinated volunteer and stewardship opportunities in the PWS, so I approached them about a potential project that Chugach employees could take part in. They directed us to the USFS which was seeking volunteers to help make improvements and upgrades to the 17-Mile Campsite.”

This recreational site is named after its 17-mile proximity to Whittier. Blackstone Glacier is at the head of Blackstone Bay and is one of the primary destinations in west PWS. People camp at 17-Mile while recreating in the area. To ensure accessibility, it requires annual maintenance and upkeep, as well as improvements that allow visitors to enjoy all that the site has to offer.

“17-Mile encompasses three camping areas and an interlocking trail system that connects these sites. There are multiple campsites in each of the three areas,” Jack shared. “We spent the day installing signs along the beach to identify the trails that lead to the campsites and worked to clear the trails. Vegetation grows quickly in this environment, so it’s necessary to clear the trees and brush on yearly basis that, if left untended, will encroach on the trails and make them impassable.”

Chugach President Josie Hickel was amongst the group of Chugach volunteers and wanted to thank those who took part. “It was a beautiful, sunny day on the water to and from 17-Mile, and the reward of giving back to the region further added to the day’s enjoyment,” Josie said. “I want to thank Jack for organizing this effort, and I want to thank Diana Brinkman and Anastasia Buretta from our Finance team who joined the effort along with Matthew Ellis who works in our Lands department and Tatianna Turner who works for Chugach’s Cultural Resources for doing their part to build community and better the 17-Mile Campsite.”

Jack Blackwell extended his gratitude as well. “I want to thank my fellow Chugach employees for volunteering at 17-Mile, and I would also like to acknowledge Charla Hughes, PWSSF Executive Director; Chris Stewart, USFS Glacier District Ranger; Tim Lydon, USFS Area Manager; and Barbara Lydon, USFS Wilderness Ranger, for coordinating this project on our behalf. Their dedication and commitment to protecting the land and waters of Prince William Sound is greatly appreciated.”

Chugach’s 12 Months of Giving campaign donates $1,000 to USO Alaska

“My family and I have long supported the USO with our personal contributions for almost 25 years,” Brian said. “So I want to thank Chugach for selecting such a wonderful organization to support financially and for recognizing its important work for our men and women, and their families, who serve in the armed forces.”

For Brian and his family, the credo of the USO is probably the greatest factor that has garnered their support over the last quarter of a century: To Be Always By Their Side. Now, representing Chugach in our nation’s capital, support for the USO has taken on an even greater resonance. “This sounds so much like Chugach and everything that we do for the Armed Forces. I think of the many ways that Chugach stands by the side of our U.S. Military, with our extensive Federal contracts and the many veterans who work for our company throughout the world, and consequently, I’ve gained a deeper respect for the company I have the privilege to represent.”

Speaking on a more personal level, Brian stated how Chugach’s contribution to the USO will help to make a difference. “Here in Washington, D.C., I have friends and colleagues who work for the National USO organization, so I have learned from them that Chugach’s generous contribution at the state level will be valued and appreciated.”

Brian Knapp with Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola.

Brian’s primary responsibility in Washington is to regularly meet with Alaska’s delegation, and other members of Congress and administration officials to ensure that the interests of Chugach and our subsidiaries are advanced to the benefit of our employees and shareholders. Chugach’s charitable contributions has allowed Brian to perform this duty with pride. “I feel fortunate to work for a company that recognizes the importance of giving to others who can benefit from our financial success,” Brian expressed. “And I thank Chugach so much for helping the Alaska chapter of the USO.”

To learn more about the Alaska USO’s mission and to make a donation to this incredible organization, go to https://alaska.uso.org/. Every month, Chugach makes a $1,000 donation to similar organizations based on the nominations of our employees; to nominate your favorite organization or charity, go 12months.chugach.com.

Team Tammy Soars To $24,000

For eight years, Chugach employees, families and friends who make up our team have taken home first-place awards in these two categories. Over the life of the AKRFW, our generous team-member donations to the annual event have surpassed more than $140,000.

The run was held on Saturday, June 10th, with Chugach team members adorned in pink superhero capes in honor of long-time Chugach employee Tammy Morton-Bilak, who passed away in February 2023 after a battle with breast cancer.

“With one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, nearly all of us have been touched by the devastating impacts of this disease,” said Angie Astle, Chugach’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “This year we had the honor of running on behalf of our dear friend, coworker, and ‘superhero’ Tammy Morton-Bilak, who has been an inspiration and steadfast advocate of the AKRFW throughout her diagnosis and treatment.”

Thank you to all who joined Team Tammy, especially Tammy’s family members who ran the race with us from start to finish. We look forward to coming together next year and running the race again for Tammy and for all the women and their families who have been touched by breast cancer.

Until then Team Tammy, wear your capes with pride!

Sheri Buretta Family Scholarship Established

Her tenure on the UA Board of Regents began in 2015 and ended in 2023. While serving as a Regent, Sheri wholeheartedly supported UA’s mission to inspire learning, and advance and disseminate knowledge through teaching, research, and public service, while emphasizing the North and its diverse peoples.

As she steps down from her regency position, her legacy at UA will live on through the Sheri Buretta Family Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to students who demonstrate need and are Alaska residents.

Sheri Buretta was born in Anchorage. Her family is from the village of Tatitlek, located in Prince William Sound. She holds a degree in accounting from UAA, and she has a heart and passion for young people in need in Alaska and, through this scholarship, wants them to provide a support system for them to achieve their higher education dreams.

Sheri remembers a time in her adolescence when similar support allowed her to learn and prosper in the classroom. “Sheri told me that she wanted to support a scholarship for students in need, because she remembers her school, Nunaka Valley Elementary, was a ‘safe haven’ for her,” said former Alaska Governor Sean Parnell who is currently serving as the UAA Chancellor. “And she hopes that the support of the scholarship named in her honor will help to changes lives – personally and economically.”

Chancellor Parnell went on to say, “We intend to endow the Sheri Buretta Family Scholarship and make it available to assist UAA students for generations to come.” To this end, the Chancellor and his wife Sandy were amongst the first to step forward and contribute funds to place this scholarship on the path toward endowment.

“I want to thank the Chancellor and Sandy for this gesture, and it was a privilege to work with Chancellor Parnell and my friends who serve on the UA Board of Regents,” said Sheri Buretta. “At Chugach, I know the scholarships we provide to our shareholders and descendants are the most meaningful way that we serve our community, so I am incredibly touched to have my name attached to this new scholarship at UAA.”

“I am so thankful for my eight years of service on the UA Board of Regents. It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience,” Buretta expressed. “I cannot think of a better way to pay it forward than to provide funding for education at UAA for those in need.”

During the recent UAA Giving Days, the $25,000 endowment goal was surpassed, so the new goal is $50,000 and a process for distribution for the next year school year is being developed. So please consider contributing to this worthy effort by clicking here.

Sheri Buretta Receives ATHENA Leadership Award

Chugach recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Sheri has served on its Board of Directors for half of those five decades helping to guide Chugach through significant growth.

Sheri’s professional career extends beyond her leadership position with Chugach. She is an active community member, serving on the board of Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) for 25 years; Native American Contractor’s Association; Silver Salmon Creek Leadership Institute; Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska (ROSSIA); and The Tatitlek Corporation and Copper Mountain Foundation. In 2015, Sheri was appointed to serve on the University of Alaska Board of Regents where she was elected to serve 3 years as Chair through her term ending in February 2023.

She also served as President for the ANSCA Regional Association (ARA) Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008 and as a board director from 1999-2008. Sheri is especially proud to have safeguarded the ancestral waters of the Chugach Region through her services on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Group.

During Sheri’s tenure as Chairman, Chugach has maintained its standing on Alaska Business Monthly’s Top 49er List for more than a decade, regularly earning the 5th or 6th rank amongst Alaska’s most profitable businesses. During her time leading Chugach, the corporation has also been the recipient of numerous awards from Best of Alaska Business, the Anchorage Chamber, and the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Within the corporation, Sheri was recognized with a Visionary Award for her work to get legislation passed for Alaska Native settlement trusts to benefit generations to come; and for lobbying the California Air Resource Board to include Alaska forests in their inventory for potential carbon sequestration projects and her contributions leading to the successful Bering River Coal Field (BRCF) coal rights sale. Bringing the carbon market to Alaska and retiring the coal rights was a huge component of Chugach’s 100-year plan, placing Chugach on a path to intergenerational prosperity and funding the CHF educational endowment.

Sheri serves as Interim CEO for Chugach during periods of transition in leadership and is also Chairman of the Chugach Heritage Foundation and Chugach Heritage Museum & Archaeological Repository, both nonprofits serving the Chugach people.

Chugach President Josie Hickel said “The Chugach family is so proud of the accomplishments that Sheri has made in her role with the corporation, as well as with the many organizations she has served to promote a strong and healthy Alaska. She has established herself among an elite group of strong Alaska Native leaders for her diligent efforts to elevate the lives of the Alaska Native people. She is well deserving of this recognition, and we offer our hearty congratulations.”

Her accomplishments earned her a previous induction into the ATHENA Society, which recognizes excellence. Sheri is also the recipient of the YWCA Women of Achievement Award.

Above all, Sheri is a steadfast advocate for Alaska Native self-determination and this advocacy manifests itself in all aspects of her life – including her work, community involvement and personal passions.

Sheri was born in Anchorage, Alaska; though, her family is from the Native Village of Tatitlek located in Prince William Sound. Sheri holds a degree from the University of Alaska and from Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. She and her husband Gary have two beautiful children, Anastasia and Bo.

Please join us in congratulating Sheri on being the well-deserved recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award.

 

About Anchorage ATHENA Society

A part of the International ATHENA Society, which bears the name of the Greek goddess of wisdom, the Anchorage ATHENA Society (AAS) is a program of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce that works year-round to encourage the potential of all women as valued members and leaders of the business community. In addition, the members of the AAS devote themselves to raising money for scholarships, creating leadership initiatives, and establishing local mentoring and scholarship programs.

The AAS now approaches 275 members, representing a diverse group of professionals with 11 new inductees joining the group each year through the annual ATHENA Award ceremony. The first award was given to Dr. Joyce Murphy in 1988, and then in 1995, it was presented to Eleanor Andrews, the current Anchorage ATHENA Society Chair. That year she traveled to the National ATHENA Conference which inspired her to start Anchorage’s local group.