Supporting a Cleaner Community

Events Coordinator Dee Pletnikoff was thrilled with the turnout, “I thought the City Cleanup went great.  We had almost 40 participants, and we managed to collect three and a half truck loads of trash.  Employees Zorea Converse & Joe Tabios kick off the event with a safety briefing, and everyone went out, safely, and enjoyed the sunshine while helping our community,” she said. “All in all, it was a great success, and I really look forward to doing it again next year!”

Chugach would like to extend a huge thank you to the Events Committee for putting the clean-up together and to all the volunteers who helped make their community a better place!

Check out the video below to see some highlights from the clean-up.

Face to Face

In February 2019, a group of Chugach Alaska Corporation (Chugach) employees and dignitaries, including CEO Gabriel Kompkoff and Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta, paid a visit to Heidi & Cook (H&C), Chugach’s Hawaiian subsidiary. The group was greeted with a warm welcome at the H&C headquarters, which included opening remarks delivered by H&C President Todd Williams and a traditional Hawaiian song and dance performed by three H&C employees who were of Native Hawaiian heritage.

The song and dance was a Ha’a, which was choreographed to an Oli or chant. The Oli described a community effort to work together, and specifically depicted the harvesting of a log, or a koa, to build a canoe. The significance of the Oli is meant to foster collaboration, cooperation, and spiritual oneness in pursuit of a singular, collective goal.

Two of the H&C performers supported the third employee who served as the ceremonial ‘task master.’ As touched on, the Oli was performed to honor the coming together of two indigenous cultures, the Chugach and the Native Hawaiian culture. To this end, the event was also a cultural exchange or a “He A Lo A He Alo,” which means a Face-to-Face.

After the song and dance, the task master performed a “Pikai,’ a Native Hawaiian traditional blessing, which consecrated the H&C facility and the meeting of cultures. After the blessing, a Pa’ina (party) gave everyone a chance to interact and get to know each other.

Chugach would like to extend a huge thank you to the H&C leadership and the H&C events committee for orchestrating this heartfelt event. We’d also like to thank the students at James B. Castle High School for putting together an amazing video that captured the coming together of our two cultures.

Alaska Job Corps students take an icy plunge for a good cause

Chugach is so proud to manage Job Corps centers across the country. We’re especially proud of the Alaska Job Corps Center and the active role that the students take in their community. We pride ourselves in building community and these students are equally dedicated to making a difference.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, eight students from the Alaska Job Corps Center, and one of their staff advisors, jumped into the icy waters of Wasilla Lake as part of the 2019 Mat-Su Plunge. While they participated in the highly visible event, three other Alaska Job Corps student volunteers from the security and protective services trade were working hard in cold weather to guide both participants and guests safely to the activities.

The students who plunged into the lake jumped to raise awareness of important issues affecting young people and to elevate the visibility of the Y2Y student organization. Y2Y is a student-led group at Alaska Job Corps, and at all Job Corps centers nationwide, and is dedicated to preventing and eradicating bullying and youth violence. While the Y2Y students jumped to bring awareness to those causes, the $1,000 in funds they raised from the Alaska Job Corps Student Government Association were also donated to the Mat-Su Sertoma Club, which assists residents of the Mat-Su Valley with hearing problems.

The three security and protective services students who volunteered to spend their Saturday helping with this important event, Isaia Kuzmin Krohn, Luis Guintu, and Ryan Schmidt, braved chilly temperatures and busy crowds but were greatly appreciated by the visitors to the event.

The student jumpers say they enjoyed participating in the event, despite the cold water. One of the jumpers, Dorthy Outwater, an office administration student and the president of the Y2Y group, was so eager to jump in, she barely waited for her co-jumpers to get out before she sprinted in.

“It actually wasn’t too cold,” she said. “Plus, this is a great thing to do because it gets our name out in the community. And it doesn’t just get the Job Corps and the Y2Y name out there, but it also gets our cause out there.”

Outwater also says that she enjoys being in Y2Y because of the good they do not only for the students at the Alaska Job Corps Center, but also out in the broader community at large.

The Alaska Job Corps Center is a federally funded career training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and managed by Chugach Educational Services, Inc. The Center is committed to providing the highest quality programs for young adults by offering instructions in academics, trades and life skills through innovative methods that respond to the unique individual and group needs of today’s youth.

A Hard Working Mom

Barbara “Bo” Arteaga is a hard-working mom and a longstanding Chugach employee. In her current position, Bo serves as the Staffing Program Manager for Chugach Alaska Services (CAS). Her duties in this position are extensive—from assisting employees with any HR related issues to job postings and booking interviews, background checks, and drug tests.

Bo has been a manager with CAS for almost four years, but she has been a member of the Chugach family for much longer, with her history with the company going back to 2008. After graduating high school at the age of 17, she took some time to figure out what she wanted to do. “I spent a year going to college and being young,” Bo reflected. Then, a familiar story to many Chugach shareholders, that’s when Millie Johnson, Vice President of Shareholder Development, stepped in. “I don’t when my mom and Millie started talking, but before I knew it, Millie reached out to me wanting to talk about opportunities at Chugach.”

After that fateful conversation, Bo took on the role of the Shareholder Development Intern. This afforded her the ability to continue her schooling at the University of Alaska Anchorage where she obtained a degree in Human Services, all while gaining valuable work experience and, most importantly, taking home a paycheck.

After graduating college, she took some time off and spent a few years in Hawaii. When she returned to Alaska, she applied for work at a different company. That’s when Millie stepped in once again and had a job in mind for Bo, which is how she was hired for her current position.

Bo says that Chugach has afforded her some amazing opportunities. “Being able to develop and obtain work experience sits at the top of the list,” she said. “But what I’ve been most grateful for was the ability to obtain my degree with no student debt. Chugach paid for everything—my tuition, books and even parking permits.”

Looking back over the last ten years, Bo says there is one area in her job that she finds the most rewarding and beneficial. “Just being able to work with our people, the shareholders and descendants. Being able to watch them graduate and then have the opportunity to hire them and see them join our work force. It’s really great to bring them into the fold and see them become a part of Chugach.”

Outside of work, Bo is all about family. “My daughter and my family are my world.” From gymnastics to swim lessons, Bo is a full-time mom. “That’s where my heart is. I really take pride in that.”

If you ever need to contact CAS (or if you need some advice on front flips or backstrokes), Bo is the person you need to speak with, and she will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

And if you’re a Chugach shareholder or descendant and you’re interested in checking out scholarship opportunities, be sure to visit and then go to the Chugach Heritage Foundation portal so you, too, can graduate without any student debt:

And, of course, Millie Johnson and Jayme Selanoff with Shareholder Development are always available to discuss internships, apprenticeships and other opportunities.

A Charitable Lunch

On December 14, 2018, Chugach Alaska Corporation held a holiday lunch for their employees at corporate headquarters. Chugach’s Facilities Team hosted the event and provided punch, cupcakes, and a tasty lunch from Anchorage’s Hula Hands restaurant.

One of the Chugach Core Behaviors is We Build Community. In the simplest terms, this behavior means that our employees try to make a positive difference in the communities where they live and work. After lunch, the employees did what they do best, they made a difference for the folks who live the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center. Delivered in the form of small gift bags that the employees stuffed with essential items; hats, socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, Chap Stick, tissue paper, and even a little candy.

Phyllis Kilgore, the center’s Developmental Officer, picked up the gift bags and expressed her appreciation. Kilgore explained how these bags were going to be part of a larger donation for residents, and she touched on the fact that these gift bags would be especially helpful to some of the residents who have been without necessities since the massive earthquake that rocked southcentral Alaska on November 30.

Lilly Lockyer, HR & Facilities Admin Support, was very pleased with the way the gift bags came together. “It was really amazing that we were able to do this,” Lilly said, and she touched on the most important part of the afternoon – “It looked like everyone was having a good time putting the donations together.”

After the luncheon, the employees built some community amongst themselves and participated in a holiday gift exchange. Gifts ranged from wine glasses and cozy blankets to small, decorative shelves. One fortunate employee was the recipient of a board game called “What’s That Smell?” This gag gift was well received and only added to the afternoon’s fun and camaraderie.

Our employees make Chugach a special place to work. They are the heart of our community, they put our values into action, and they ensure that Chugach does its part to be a responsible neighbor.

For more information about the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center and how to make a donation, go to

Hip Hop and Higher Education

Hip Hop and Higher Education are two terms that normally do not go together. But that’s exactly what Stephen Grantier has done. Since 2007, he has used the strengths of these two worlds to place Chugach shareholders and descendants on the path to success.

If you have ever applied for a Chugach Heritage Foundation (CHF) scholarship, there is a good chance you already know who Stephen is. In his role as the CHF Program Manager, Stephen works with scholarship applicants and connects them with CHF’s college and vocational funding.

He started as an intern with CHF and quickly rose to his current position, and for more than 11 years, he has processed nearly all of the applications that have passed through CHF. While he finds this accomplishment rewarding, Stephen’s favorite part of the job is the interaction with students.

“It’s amazing to see the growth of the recipients,” Stephen said. “From when they first come in, to four to six years later when they end up with a degree. Just being able to stay in touch with them throughout the process and see their progress makes it all worthwhile.”

Grantier says that Chugach’s Core Behaviors are the driving force behind his work, especially leaving things better than you found them. “When I had the opportunity to step into this role, I knew the scholarship program was something I could definitely contribute to, knowing that our programs lift people up and help them reach their full potential and better themselves.”

This is where hip hop also comes into play. Stephen started dancing around the turn of the century, and since 2000, it has grown to be an important part of his life. “It started out as a hobby, but now it’s become part of who I am.”

Similar to his rise from intern to manager, Stephen rose from novice to teacher as a member of Anchorage’s Underground Dance Company. With his increased ability, he’s been able to compete all over the world—from Hawaii, Florida, and Georgia, to Las Vegas and London.

Through his travels, Stephen has found that dancing helps him connect with communities. “Wherever I land, whether for work or dance, the first thing I do is find a studio and get to know the people.”

More importantly, for Stephen, hip hop gives him the freedom to express himself. “The music simply takes over, and you truly get to figure out who you are.”

All of this comes full circle. Stephen takes the expression that he’s found for himself and the ability to connect with diverse communities, and he puts it all to work for the students he serves. “That’s what we’re all trying to do—just find ourselves and connect. Whether it’s dance or English or computer science or a vocational profession, I want to help our applicants figure out who they are and make it easier for them to find their way.”

Be sure to connect with Stephen and the Chugach Heritage Foundation, and check out the new CHF Scholarship Portal for all of your scholarship needs. It takes less than five minutes to sign up, and you can access it anywhere, even on your smartphone. CHF funding is available to Chugach shareholders and direct lineal descendants. Through CHF’s new, easy-to-use online platform, you can apply for scholarships, and check on the status of your application and funding.

If you need any help or have any questions, be sure to give Stephen a call. He will be more than happy to show you some moves, and pop and lock your future.

(907) 261-0400

Cake, Candy, and Costumes

Chugach Alaska Corporation’s annual Halloween Celebration has grown to epic proportions, and this year was no exception. As in years past, employees and their families were invited to attend, dress up and celebrate the holiday in spook-tacular fashion with fun games, cake and, of course, lots of candy.

The Chugach offices and boardrooms were transformed into landscapes ranging from the macabre to the lighted hearted and whimsical. After navigating our decorated headquarters, attendees were treated to a cakewalk, in which costumed participants eagerly walked around a numbered circle with scary music filling the air. Then, with the music abruptly stopping, a number was called out, and the individual standing on the lucky number won a cake!

After the children secured a cake, parents and their costume-clad children toured the headquarters and—just in case an entire cake wasn’t enough—enjoyed a traditional round of trick-or-treating. Employees, in costumes of their own, greeted the children and filled bags with an assortment of tasty treats. Smiles and sugar were definitely had by all.

New to the Chugach team and this annual festival, Chugach’s Events Coordinator Dee Pletnikoff was very pleased. “It was so much fun! Seeing all the families and kids dressed up and enjoying themselves was very heartwarming.”

Thank you to Dee and all the employees who embraced the holiday and made for another amazing year, and we’ll see you next year.

Representing Chugach in D.C.

In mid-July 2018, Ben Cutrell, CAC apprentice, and Anastasia Buretta, CGS intern, traveled to Washington D.C. and attended the Emerging Native Leaders’ Summit (ENLS) hosted by the Native American Contractors Association (NACA). NACA is an organization comprised of lobbyists and government relations specialists that advocate for their members on Native American issues throughout the United States. The ENLS provides training for things such as business basics and Indian law and advocacy. This year’s summit focused on how Native American leaders increasingly play a role on the national stage.

Throughout the three-day conference, they attended an array of presentations and discussions designed to create awareness about the Native American community and its growing position in our nation’s commerce. Topics of discussion also focused on the Small Business Administration 8(a) development program and how this federal contracting source has helped to grow small, Native owned companies.

On the second day of the summit, they took part in a mock senate hearing. “It was actually kind of intense,” Ben said. He and Anastasia, along with a few others, represented Chugach as they led their group to a win. Afterwards, they were able to attend an actual senate hearing, which was about water rights for a Native American tribe. Ben and Anastasia described the hearing as a lot more intense than the practice session.

Aside from the summit, they were able to visit the Capital Building, the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court Building, the Smithsonian, and the International Spy Museum.

The whole trip—including travel, hotel, per diem, and the application fee to attend the summit—was sponsored by Chugach’s Shareholder Development department.

“This was a great opportunity to learn more about congress and how it impacts our people,” said Millie Johnson, Vice President of Shareholder Development and Relations.

“The three-day conference was a whirlwind. The variety of speakers including experts in the fields of advocacy, government relations, small business administration as well as, CEO’s and VP’s of several Native American and Tribal Corporations was inspiring, and I learned more than I thought possible,” Ben said. “The trip was a once-in-lifetime experience.”

For Anastasia, the trip demonstrated the importance of having a voice for Native Americans. “I would say that the most valuable part of participating in the NACA Emerging Native Leaders’ Summit was seeing how important it is to advocate today for ourselves and our people. I left knowing that it’s possible to make positive changes for our people or community, and that there are others willing to help,” she said.

Visiting the Bottom of the World

Antarctica is a land steeped in mystery and frozen wonder. It’s the home of H.P. Lovecraft stories and the setting for the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And for most of us, it’s a place that we’ll only visit through the medium of photos and video. But for Matt Ellis, Chugach’s Land Resource Specialist, Antarctica lost some of its mystery. It’s not a distant landscape captured in photos. For Matt, despite the continent’s frozen exterior, Antarctica is actually a warm memory that he got to share with his grandfather.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2017, Matt and his grandfather set sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina aboard the cruise ship Seabourn for a month-long trip that included a visit to the world’s 7th continent. The highlight of the trip was seven stops along the world’s most remote coastline.

For Matt’s grandfather, Antarctica represented the last continent for him to visit. With six continents under his belt, Antarctica was the only continent he had yet to step foot on. Though, by the end of the cruise, he had added continent number seven to his travels. Not only that, he and Matt did it while standing in the middle of a waddle of penguins, which is the term used to describe a group of penguins huddled together on land.

“At any given time, they were literally two feet away from us,” Matt said. “And what really blew me away was the fact that they smelled.”

Matt also had the opportunity to kayak through a raft of penguins, which is the term used to describe a group of swimming penguins. Matt and his grandfather took full advantage of their trip to the world’s least explored place. They made seven trips onto the ice sheets that encase the bottom of the world; they paddled along towering cliffs of ice and through elephant seals, penguins and icebergs; and more importantly, they captured memories together that few people will ever get to enjoy.

“If I had to use one word to describe Antarctica, it would have to be majestic,” Matt said, reflecting back on the trip. “The scale is hard to describe. We think he have glaciers and ice in Alaska, but we really don’t, at least nothing compared to what my grandfather and I experienced.”

Corporate Recess is Huge Success

On July 18, you could not have asked for a better day to host Chugach Alaska Corporation’s Corporate Recess, which was a fundraiser that supported the Alaska Heart Walk. The sun was bright and shining, and it was a nice, balmy 70 degrees.

Subway provided the catering. Attendees—which included employees from Chugach, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, Hilcorp and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation—had the opportunity to pre-register for the main Heart Walk that will be held on September 22. And the highlight of the day was a volleyball tournament that brought out some friendly rivalry between the attending companies.

The tournament ran long and had to end prematurely, though the fun lasted the entire afternoon. Before the volleyball stopped flying, the Chugach team played two games. We won the first game against Alyeska, but lost the second game to Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. We still came out way ahead with the camaraderie and sunshine.

Chugach Team member Lilly Lockyer was thankful to participate, stating, “Attending the Corporate Recess was such a treat! At noon we were greeted with beautiful sunshine at the Springer Park. I really enjoyed the opportunity to have some quality time with my co-workers outside of the office on such a beautiful day!” Lilly went on to say, “I was so happy to see my especially shy co-workers break out of their shell and have fun! I got to learn a lot of interesting skills about my peers, and had a great time while doing it!”

In all, more than 200 corporate neighbors were able to attend the Corporate Recess-slash-Picnic-slash-Volleyball game-slash-fundraiser. Chugach won the award for most money raised, which will all go towards the fundraising efforts that will culminate in the September Heart Walk.

“Chugach Alaska Services (CAS) would like to thank each and every one who helped Chugach support the American Heart Association at the Corporate Recess event. It’s truly an example of how ‘We Build Community’ and it was for a great cause. This is a great start in support of our team effort for the larger Heart Walk event that will be Saturday, September 22 in Downtown Anchorage at the Delaney Park Strip,” said Ryan Kegley, General Manager for CAS.