In her prior position as Executive Vice President ANCSA and Community Affairs, Hickel was instrumental in executing groundbreaking land development opportunities for the corporation, including the carbon credit offset (CCO) project and Bering River coal rights transaction. She also spearheaded a massive effort to distribute Chugach’s more than $24 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to shareholders, shareholder-owned businesses, and community organizations within just a few months.
Most recently, she has been a steadfast advocate for continued progress on the Chugach Lands Study Act, which opens the door for a potential land exchange for Chugach.
“As Chugach has evolved, we recognize the importance of a leadership role that can focus solely on nurturing our relationship with our ANCSA lands, our communities, and our culture,” said Board Chair Sheri Buretta. “As a shareholder, Josie has a deep personal connection to the Board’s 100-year vision of Intergenerational Prosperity, and professionally she has an understanding of what it will take to achieve what Chugach leaders put in motion many years ago – a just land exchange for our shareholders.”
Hickel is a lifelong Alaskan with more than three decades of leadership experience at a range of commercial companies. Prior to joining Chugach, she served as chief administrative officer for Petro 49, Inc., where she directed administrative functions for its petroleum distribution and marine transportation operations throughout Alaska and the Yukon Territory. She is an active Board member and volunteer for several nonprofits, including the Alaska Sealife Center, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council and the Resource Development Council of Alaska. She was inducted into the Athena Society in 2012 for outstanding leadership in both business and community service.
In the coming months, Chugach will be recruiting for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to lead the growth of Chugach’s Business Enterprises and oversee Chugach’s Corporate Services departments.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed into law in March 2020 allocated $2.2 trillion to stem the tide of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic – $8 billion of which was set aside for Indian tribes to recover economic losses in their communities and lower the health impact of COVID-19.
Over $500 million of CARES Act funding was to go to Alaska Native Corporations (ANC) to be dispersed to lessen the impact of COVI D-19 on the approximately 140,000 Natives who call Alaska home. Unfortunately, several tribes led by Indigenous Peoples in the Lower 48 filed a lawsuit that blocked ANCs from receiving the much-needed CARES Act funding. At the heart of the lawsuit was the tribal status of ANCs. In June 2021, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that ANCs are, in fact, Indian tribes as defined in the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). With this ruling, ANCs were granted access to CARES Act funding.
Working within the U.S. Treasury Department’s four-month deadline for usage of the funds (the date for disbursement has since been extended to Sept. 30, 2022, although funds still had to be committed by the end of 2021), and within the stringent restrictions on fund usage, Chugach immediately mobilized its team members and developed a COVID Relief Funds program, including processes and procedures.
Ultimately, Chugach committed $24.2 million to shareholders, shareholder-owned businesses, statewide Alaska Native entities, statewide non-profits, and Chugach region entities.
The funds provided much-needed relief to individual shareholders and their businesses, and also addressed critical needs within our communities:
For Sodergren, the reason she stepped forward and nominated the ACS is the fact that cancer continues to be so prevalent. “There is no one I know who can say they do not have a friend or relative who has battled this terrible illness,” Sodergren says. “And I have personally walked in the Relay for Life in Valdez for several years with friends and family to help raise money to fight cancer.”
Millions of people walk or run in the annual Relay for Life events throughout Alaska and the United States to raise funds for the ACS. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars are raised each year to invest in cancer research, patient support, prevention information and education, and detection and treatment.
The biggest reason that Sodergren participates in the Relay For Life is the immediate benefit it provides to those impacted by cancer. “It’s the one fundraising event the ACS promotes that helps build awareness of this dreaded disease and that makes a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer HERE AND NOW!” Sodergren passionately states.
Sodergren’s enthusiasm for the Relay For Life can be traced back to the founding of the event 20 years ago when she and two of her college associates established the fundraiser in Valdez. At the time classmates Sodergren and Rainer Masters and Professor Gail Rendardson were members of Prince William Sound Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa. For Sodergren and the other members of this honor society, membership focused on more than achieving high academic scores, it also centered on bettering their community. With this higher pursue in mind, the three took on the project of introducing the Relay For Life to their town. Now two-decades later, this fundraiser brings in large numbers of participants who annually come together for a marathon evening of walking, running and fun with the collective purpose of raising money for the ACS.
One of the Chugach Employee Core Behaviors is We Build Community, which means that our employees seek to better the communities where they live and work. We’re proud of the example Jennifer Sodergren has set in building community, and since Sodergren lives and works in Valdez and since she is a founder and an ardent supporter of her local Relay For Life, Chugach is making this month’s $1,000 donation directly to the event she helped to establish: the Valdez Relay For Life.
Chugach thanks Sodergren for the work that she does on our behalf in Valdez with TCC, and we thank her for taking part in the 12 Months of Giving Campaign.
The Best of Alaska Business awards are organized and published by Alaska Business; the magazine’s readers vote on their favorite businesses in various categories in March, with results published July 1.
Denali Winner: Business Adaptation to COVID
At Chugach, we place safety at the forefront of all that we do. The shift in how we conducted business in the past three years to lower employee and customer exposure to COVID-19 was no exception, and the readers of Alaska Business magazine – many of whom are our amazing employees and shareholders – recognized the measures we took and voted Chugach as the Denali Winner (1st Place) in the Business Adaptation to COVID-19 category.
This recognition is particularly significant, as it reinforces the fact that our actions were amongst the best taken to lessen the impact and severity of the pandemic on our community of employees, shareholders, and neighbors.
Denali Winner: Editor’s ChoiceCorporate Citizen
Over the last 50 years, Chugach and our employees have always endeavored to do the right thing, especially when it comes to making a positive difference in the communities where we live and work. While the pandemic created many challenges, it did not challenge our commitment to building community.
During the last three years, our employees met, surpassed and even took on new fundraising efforts. Alaska Business was paying attention, because Chugach was also named as the Denali Winner (1st Place) in the Editor’s Choice Corporate Citizen category. For us, giving back and building community are not about awards, so we’re very humbled to be recognized as the Alaska Business 2022 Corporate Citizen.
St. Elias Winner: Best Place to Work 250+ Employees
We are especially pleased to receive the Best Place to Work award in 2022, which also marks our 50th anniversary. Over the last five decades, we have evolved as a company with the goal of always striving to be better. Being recognized as one of the best places to work is a perfect reflection of what we aspire to be as a company and as an employer.
Thank you to all of the employees and business partners who have made our 50th Anniversary possible and thank you for positioning Chugach for success in the next 50 years and beyond.
We are grateful to everyone who voted for Chugach in the 2022 Best of Alaska Business awards!
IAFF provides disaster relief efforts to citizens and their communities, including financial, food and water, clothing, shelter, medical aid, behavioral health counseling, and more. The IAFF organization offers a variety of support for fallen IAFF members and their families, including a Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where it recognizes Fire Fighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In addition, the IAFF organization offers burn injury support and an annual Burn Camp in Washington D.C. for teenage burn survivors. Lastly, IAFF offers children of fallen IAFF members scholarship opportunities for members of the IAFF Foundation, occupation cancer support and behavioral health and wellness support are offered. The IAFF Foundation also has a Burn Fund that is dedicated to fire presentation and burn awareness education, as well as advocacy, research, and improvement of quality of life for burn survivors.
Nominated by CGS employee and former professional and volunteer Fire Fighter, Keith Feen, shared of the IAFF Foundation Burn Fund “Burn survivors survive because they have the will and want to survive. They deal with several challenges everyday of their life, both mentally and physically, that is why they are the strongest people I know.” Keith said a quote he lives by is “If your responsible for your actions and yourself, then you can be there for others.” He stated “I have learned this from my parents and throughout my life, that is why helping others is so important to me. I really value this foundation because they give back and help so many people.”
Jenny Hanie, Deputy Director of Foundation Management and Non-Profit Partnerships for the IAFF Foundation expressed “On behalf of the IAFF Foundation, we commend the efforts of the Chugach Corporation on behalf of the Alaska Native people of the Chugach region and beyond. Thank you for this generous donation in support of the IAFF Foundation Burn Fund.”
Thank you to Keith Feen on submitting the IAFF Foundation in the 12 Months of Giving campaign. We are proud to recognize and support such an impactful organization that support Fire Fighters and citizens around the country. The IAFF Burn Fund will receive a $1000 donation as part of the Chugach 12 Months of Giving program.
To learn more about the IAFF Foundation, click here and to learn more about the Burn Fund, click here. Individual donations to this foundation can be made here. Nominations for the Chugach 12 Months of Giving campaign are still happening! To nominate an organization that is special to you, simply go to 12months.chugach.com and take a few minutes to describe how this organization is having an impact on the community.
Senator Murkowski is a lifelong Alaskan who has served the state of Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 2002, and previously in the Alaska State Legislature from 1999 until 2002. During both tenures, she has proven to be a fierce advocate for Alaska, and has championed critical issues that address the needs of Alaska Native people and communities. Through her roles as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, she holds a strategic position that enables her to advance Alaska Native interests.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Chugach Alaska Corporation – an incredible leader for the Eyak, Alutiiq, and Sugpiag peoples, and for our state as a whole.” said Senator Murkowski. “We have worked hard to defend ANCSA, improve access to critical services, and increase rural infrastructure, together. I value the work that we have collaborated on for many years and intend to work hard for the Native peoples, lands, and prosperity of southcentral Alaska for years to come.”
Among those are land issues, which hold particular significance to Alaska Native Corporations that collectively represent the largest landowners in the state. Senator Murkowski understands the complexities surrounding land ownership in Alaska, and both the challenges and opportunities created for Alaska Native landowners through the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).
Chugach has long sought a remedy for the conflict spawned after Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) settlement funds were used to purchase surface estate and conservation easements in areas where Chugach owns the subsurface estate. This split ownership between Chugach and the federal government creates a conflict in land management and use that is not in the best interest of the public, nor Chugach and the shareholders it represents. Senator Murkowski recognizes this, and supported the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act to support a land exchange to resolve this conflict.
“Senator Murkowski believes that Alaska’s greatest resource is its people. She has been an important ally for Alaska Native people, and more broadly for all of Alaska,” said Chugach Chairman Sheri Buretta. “She often works across the aisle on bipartisan efforts in order to bring about policy changes that are in the best interest of Alaska.”
Senator Murkowski also understands the importance of economic development in Alaska, including the need for responsible investment in fisheries, tourism, and natural resource management. She has long supported efforts to strengthen Alaska’s economy, including advocating for a strong military presence in our state. Chugach is closely aligned with issues related to supporting the state’s military and defense activity and arctic policies, given our long history of government contracting, primarily for the Department of Defense.
The U.S. Senate elections will be held Nov. 8, 2022. For more information on the upcoming elections, voting locations, or voting registration, visit https://www.vote.org/.
Congressman Young was best known as a fierce advocate for Alaska and the people who call the state home, earning him the title of “Congressman for All Alaska.” He was an ally to the Alaska Native people, and partner to Alaska Native regional and villagcorporations.
In her remarks, Hegna highlighted Congressman Young’s remarkable career spanning nine presidential terms. “He served as Congress’ institutional memory and Alaska’s indispensable representative. His work became legendary.” She went on to describe how he saw 123 bills signed into law during his tenure, and his service to Alaskans not only through his words, but also his actions.
Senator Murkowski reflected on Congressman Young’s love for the state and directed this comment to Secretary Haaland regarding her visit to Alaska: “This is an opportunity for you to understand and see first-hand what an extraordinary state we have, and how blessed we are with the resources we have – not only what God has given us in the ground and the waters but also the human resource of its people.”
In a final toast of the evening, Chugach Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta recalled her time spent with Congressman Young and the deep bond and friendship forged over their passion for doing the right thing for Alaska. “I’ve been doing this job for 25 years and have had the opportunity to visit with the Congressman in Washington, D.C. each year. It’s important to take this moment to recognize and honor the passage of time, and to pay tribute to Congressman Young’s service and dedication to our state.”
Young was first elected to the U.S. House in 1973 and has held it ever since. He served in Congress for 49 years. During his tenure, he paved the way for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which would become an economic engine for the state. He worked tirelessly as a champion for Alaska Native rights, from protecting subsistence rights, to advocating for capital spending in rural Alaska, to supporting the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. His contributions to Alaska are matched only by his larger-than-life personality – both of which will not be soon forgotten.
Our condolences and deepest sympathies go out to Congressman Young’s family. We mourn with you and share in the pain of your loss. May his memory be eternal.
In lieu of donations, Congressman Young’s family asks that individuals consider donating to one or both of the following charities in his honor:
Lu Young Children’s Fund for Alaska Native Children (lycf.org): The Lu Young Children’s Fund was created in 2004 to leave a legacy of support for Alaska’s Native children and their families. Through the fund, outreach and support is provided to these children and families who need and deserve to live happier, healthier lives. The Lu Young Children’s Fund (LYCF) is organized under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to LYCF are deductible for federal income tax purposes. LYCF can receive individual and corporate donations without limit.
The Lu Young Children’s Fund
P.O. Box 27924
Washington, DC 20038
The Don Young Institute for Alaska: The purpose of The Don Young Institute for Alaska is to honor and commemorate Congressman Don Young’s long and distinguished career, to be a repository for his historical papers and artifacts for preservation, education, and research. The Institute is registered with the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and is registered (and in good standing) with the State of Alaska. Donations to the Institute are deductible for federal income tax purposes and corporations and individuals may contribute without limit.The Don Young
Institute for Alaska
3705 Arctic Blvd. #571
Anchorage, AK 99503
Anchorage, AK – A clear path forward to increase housing and services for those experiencing homelessness in Anchorage has convinced private funders to contribute millions, matching the Municipality of Anchorage’s commitment.
In all, the Anchorage Assembly has appropriated $6 million and private funders have committed $7 million for a total of $13 million to move people from shelter to housing. This public-private partnership will systematically address how best to serve specific populations and minimize neighborhood impacts.
Funders in addition to the Municipality are: Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Calista Corp., Chugach Alaska Corp., Doyon Ltd., Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Providence Alaska, Rasmuson Foundation and Weidner Apartment Homes.
“The Municipality of Anchorage stands behind these public-private partnerships that will help our city’s most vulnerable get the resources they need to be healthy and successful,” said Mayor Bronson. “I look forward to working together with our community to make sure no one is without shelter or care.”
The Bronson administration, the Anchorage Assembly, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and funders, represented by Rasmuson Foundation, took part in a facilitated process to come to agreement. The result is a plan to move more than 700 people out of the Sullivan Arena and local hotels — temporary mass care that was necessary during the pandemic but is intended to end on June 30.
“Along with our many partners, we are having success connecting our neighbors experiencing homelessness to housing that meets their individual needs,” said Meg Zaletel, interim executive director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. “We need all hands on deck to continue this momentum! Community partnership and collaboration is key to making homelessness in Anchorage rare, brief and one-time.”
Alaska philanthropies and corporations are backing the unified plan with commitments totaling $7 million to ensure stable housing and shelter with services leading to housing for those experiencing homelessness. The Assembly has appropriated $6 million.
“We are at a transformational moment for addressing homelessness in our community,” said Anchorage Assembly Member Felix Rivera. “This work builds on the Anchored Home Plan to end homelessness in Anchorage and is the culmination of years of hard work from many community partners. I thank the mayor, the Assembly and our community partners for your commitment to this audacious goal.”
The public-private partnership agreed on an approach with smaller, geographically distributed facilities tailored to specific needs. The group is pleased to announce four fast-track projects that together will house 500 or more individuals:
Complex care. Located at 303 W. Fireweed Lane in what was the Sockeye Inn, the facility includes 61 rooms including some doubles and will serve those with ongoing or unmet medical needs. It will open in June with Catholic Social Services as the operator. The sale closed March 30.
Navigation center and shelter for single adults. A shelter at Tudor and Elmore roads is intended to house up to 200 single adults with surge capacity for 130 more. The navigation center will quickly connect individuals to services and stable housing.
Workforce and permanent supportive housing. A facility at Fifth Avenue and Cordova Street will provide stable housing in 130 rooms. Some individuals will double up. A purchase agreement is pending.
Residential treatment center for those with substance misuse disorders. A facility to be run by the Salvation Army is under renovation at 660 E. 48th Ave. The center will house up to 68 individuals.
Those who need complex care — often because of ongoing or unmet medical needs — will be served at 303 W. Fireweed Lane. (Photo by Matt Waliszek)
Those projects will serve four of the five specific populations identified by the workgroup and ensure the comprehensive approach sought by funders. A project being developed separately will address the fifth area of need, specialized populations that include couples, women, LGBTQ+ individuals and the elderly.
“Nonprofit organizations already are providing excellent care in Anchorage to those most in need, but more services and more types of support are needed. Our philanthropic partners have wanted to do more, but they needed to see consensus among key players,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Productive negotiations by the workgroup have paid off, and we hope hundreds of Alaskans will live better lives as a result.”
The Municipality of Anchorage’s goal is to systematically bring compassionate care to our residents experiencing homelessness. The strategy involves housing, transitional housing, supportive housing, treatment and navigation centers among other initiatives. It calls for a ‘no wrong door’ approach with services tailored to individual needs.
The mission of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness is to provide dynamic leadership in making homelessness rare, brief and one time. As the lead for the Anchorage Continuum of Care, ACEH seeks to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts to quickly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness while minimizing trauma and dislocation; promote access to services needed by individuals and families experiencing homelessness; and optimize self-sufficiency.
Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are solutions to homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.
The formation of Alaskans for TARA underscores how strongly ARA believes that Sweeney is the most qualified candidate to grow Alaska’s economy. Alaskans for TARA will also accept support from others in the civic and business community who wish to support Sweeney.
“Tara’s track record of success, her unique understanding of rural and urban Alaska, and her experience in Juneau and Washington D.C. are critically important as she seeks to become Alaska’s sole member of the House of Representatives,” said ARA President Kim Reitmeier.
Sweeney has served Alaska internationally as chair of the multi-national Arctic Economic Council. She was also the first Alaska Native Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), and special assistant for Rural Affairs and Education during Gov. Murkowski’s administration. Sweeney, a Republican, was also co-chair of the late Congressman Don Young’s campaign.
“Tara’s depth and breadth of service at all levels, in both public and private sectors, simply cannot be matched by any other candidate running for this seat,” said ARA Vice-Chair and Bering Straits Native Corporation President and CEO Gail Schubert.
Sheri Buretta, Chugach Alaska Corporation chairman of the board, is president of Alaskans for TARA. Gail Schubert is vice-president, Ahtna, Inc. President Michelle Anderson is treasurer, and Sarah Lukin, chief strategy officer for Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) is secretary.
Alaskans for TARA is assembling an experienced campaign team that spans the political spectrum, all uniting around a single goal—electing Tara Katuk Sweeney to Alaska’s at-large house seat.
The special election to fill the remainder of Congressman Young’s term begins with a by-mail open primary, with ballots due or postmarked by June 11. The top four vote getters will advance to a special ranked-choice general election on August 16.
Paid for by Alaskans for T.A.R.A. (True Alaska Representation Alliance) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Alaskans for T.A.R.A. (True Alaska Representation Alliance), 11500 Sukdu Way, Suite 150 Anchorage, AK 99515
“It is rare for ARA to support a political candidate, but a candidate as experienced and qualified as Tara Katuk Sweeney is also rare,” said ARA President Kim Reitmeier. “As our nation’s first Alaska Native Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Tara fought tirelessly from our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. to help create jobs and economic opportunity for all Alaskans, including those in rural communities.”
Born and raised in Alaska, Tara has a unique understanding of our state’s issues. She has a proven ability to listen, learn and bring people together to solve problems, successfully advocating for responsible resource development, infrastructure projects, and equitable access to broadband, housing, and transportation.
“Tara has made a tremendous positive impact on Alaska both in the public and private sectors,” said ARA Vice-Chair and Bering Straits Native Corporation President and CEO Gail R. Schubert. “Her public service at the international level as Chair of the multi-national Arctic Economic Council, at the national level as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, and at the state level as Co-Chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives and as Special Assistant for Rural Affairs and Education during the Murkowski administration have well-prepared her to represent all of Alaska as our only member in the House of Representatives.”
In addition to her work locally and internationally, she also served as the late Congressman Don Young’s campaign co-chair. The special election to fill the remainder of Young’s term begins with a by-mail open primary June 11. The top four vote getters will advance to a special ranked-choice general election on August 16.
About ANCSA Regional Association (ARA): ARA represents the presidents and chief executive officers of the twelve land-based Alaska Native regional corporations that were created pursuant to the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. ARA’s member corporations are owned by more than 150,000 Alaska Native shareholders. Its purpose is to promote and foster the continued growth and economic strength of Alaska Native corporations on behalf of Alaska Native shareholders and communities. Together, ANCSA corporations employ tens of thousands in Alaska and across the world, providing critical support for national industries as well as communities throughout Alaska. Learn more at ancsaregional.com.
Shareholders and employees are critical in achieving our vision to advance the Chugach culture and community forever