Huna Totem Corporation Board Chair Russell Dick to take the reins as CEO and president
Photo courtesy of Huna Totem Corporation
After seven years of leading Huna Totem Corporation, CEO and President Lawrence Gaffaney will step down this fall, passing the baton to Board Chair Russell Dick. A Huna Totem shareholder, Dick will begin his new role on Oct. 1.
A member of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan and Eagle moiety, Dick was elected to the Huna Totem Board of Directors in 2002. Fellow board members voted him into the chair position in 2008, a role he has held ever since.
Outside of Huna Totem, Dick gained valuable business acumen as the CEO of Alaskan Dream Cruises, a private, Tlingit-owned small ship cruise line, and as the president and CEO of Haa Aaní, LLC, a subsidiary of Sealaska Corp. He’s served as the vice-chair of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority Board since 2013.
Born in 1972 soon after the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Dick represents the next generation of Huna Totem shareholders benefitting from the hard fought battle for Alaska Native land claims. Scholarships from both Huna Totem and Sealaska Corp. helped him in pursuit of his education. He holds a master’s of science in management from Stanford Graduate School of Business; a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University; and a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from the University of Phoenix.
“Huna Totem’s mission is to advance the economic aspirations and culture of the ‘Xúna Kaawu’ [the people of Hoonah] through business excellence, sustainable economic growth, leadership and education,” Gaffaney said. “Having worked closely with Russell, I know his passion for our mission and share the board’s confidence in his capabilities to continue Huna Totem’s 42-year drive toward a future where the economic and cultural achievements of the ‘Xúna Kaawu’ are recognized as the standard of excellence in the advancement of Native people.”
Gaffaney also noted that he told the Huna Totem Board in 2009 that he would consider his CEO tenure a success if a shareholder succeeded him.
Gaffaney’s accomplishments at Huna Totem extend much further. Over the past seven years, the company has grown as a result of strategic investments into its future. To diversify its business, Dear North, an Alaska lifestyle brand was conceived and launched, initially selling gourmet Alaska seafood products. In less than a year, the brand has received several awards and been welcomed by retailers in eight states.
Investments in Huna Totem’s tourism businesses have also yielded rewards. In partnership with the State of Alaska and City of Hoonah, a new dock was built at Icy Strait Point this year, a collaborative $40 million project that has taken years to usher in. The dock, new adventure center and upgraded Duck Point Restaurant are the most visible visitor enhancements, reinforcing Icy Strait Point’s reputation as a world-class tourism destination that is 100 percent Native owned and operated.
Since 2010, Huna Totem has invested in the next generation of leaders through its internship program, which has provided 15 Alaska Natives the opportunity to learn about their culture and corporation from the inside. Two interns have subsequently joined Huna Totem as full-time employees.
“Larry’s leadership has been pivotal in this organization’s success over the past seven years and our entire board is grateful for his vision,” Dick said.
“Larry understood it was not just about increasing our earnings, but building a sustainably profitable organization that was able to honor the sacrifice of those who came before us by supporting our culture as well as economic and educational opportunities for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Larry became a member of the ‘Xúna Kaawu’ through his service, and by formal adoption into the Wooshkeetaan clan. I know he will remain an esteemed member of our community and I look forward to maintaining our close ties.”
Huna Totem Corporation is the village corporation formed in 1973 under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The company is owned by approximately 1,350 Alaska Natives with aboriginal ties to “Sít’ Eeti Gheeyi” [Glacier Bay] and Hoonah.