Sealaska's Board of Directors recently elected 22-year-old Megan Gregory, originally from Kake, to serve in its inaugural youth board advisory position.
The new year-long position was announced during Sealaska's 2009 Annual Meeting on June 27 in Sitka. As youth advisor, Gregory will provide input on youth perspectives and gain board membership training.
"I am absolutely ecstatic," Gregory said. "I'm very grateful to have the position, and I look forward to working with the board and with the youth, of course."
As a new position, the board is stilling working out the specifics of Gregory's position, but according to director Joe Nelson, it will be just like any other board seat, although she will be "valued as a young person."
"We're very excited to have her on board," Nelson said. "This position has been under discussion for many years, and we're happy to see it come to fruition."
One of Sealaska's most important investments is in its young people, he said, and now is a perfect time for Sealaska to induct Gregory.
Because shareholders voted in 2007 to issue stock to all Sealaska descendants who were born after 1971, there is an influx of new shareholders coming into the company, Nelson explained.
"This position will help improve the communications both ways with that population of young people - mostly shareholders in their 20s who are just now becoming familiar with the corporation as shareholders," he said. "We value diversity on the board, and we have a very diverse board right now. But she'll be broadening that a little bit, making sure we cover the perspective of the young people."
Rosita Worl, Sealaska board vice chair, agreed.
"Haa Shagoon (Our Ancestors) is one of the guiding Native values for Sealaska's board and management, which recognizes the bonds between our ancestors, current generation and future generations," she said. "The board recognizes the newest generation of shareholders has much to contribute and participants will certainly develop leadership skills throughout the experience."
Gregory, a 2005 Kake High School graduate, has lived in Juneau on and off since 2005. She heard about the position through her job as project assistant for the Sealaska Heritage Institute.
"I noticed there was an application online, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me, so I applied," she said.
In the summer of 2005, Gregory interned with Sen. Lisa Murkowski's office in Washington, D.C., which allowed her to shadow Murkowski while presiding on the Senate floor.
Most recently, she volunteered with Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She has also volunteered as a field and business coordinator for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.
During her term, Gregory hopes to gain a better perspective on how a corporation is operated.
"I hope to help the youth in any way that I can and encourage them to strive for more," Gregory said.
In the near future, Gregory plans to attend the University of Alaska Southeast to major in business and minor in political science, hopefully graduating in the next two years.
Gregory highlighted that the position may include an education scholarship at the end of the term.
"That's also encouraging to young people if they're wanting to back to school as I am," Gregory said.
YEARS TO COME
Nelson said the pool of applicants for the youth board advisor position was fairly competitive in its first year, but he hopes to see it grow.
"My hope is that not too far down the line here, some of these people who come through the program will become regularly seated board members," he said.
Gregory will serve until Sealaska's next annual meeting in June 2010, when a new youth advisor will be announced. The position is paid to participate but not the same as a regular board position. She will attend her first board meeting on July 31.
Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at firstname.lastname@example.org.