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Alaska Pacific University Helps Prepare the Next Generation of Native Business Leaders


This Friday, eighteen mid-career Native business professionals will shift gears to become students again as they attend a two-day class in Alaska Pacific University’s Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program (ANELP).  They will hear from Alaska’s history makers and experts on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act as part of their second course, ANCSA History & Context.

Professionals from eleven Alaska Native regional and village corporations and Alaska Native non-profits were selected by their companies’ management teams for ANELP’s nine month, intensive Masters-level business education program specifically designed for emerging Native Alaska business leaders.

Courses range from human resource management, to financial management, to working with boards of directors. The program requires upfront preparation, two days of class time per subject, and follow-on course work.  Students are joined, on a space-available basis, by APU’s enrolled MBA students.

In its second year, APU’s ANELP “is a transformational program that is preparing the next generation of Alaska Native Executives,” says Shauna Hegna, Chief Administrative Officer at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, a driver behind the establishment of this program and a graduate herself from last year’s program.  

“It is engaging education that students find immediately applicable to real life situations.  The education gives them tools to work through current workplace challenges, grow in their leadership roles, and prepare them for future challenges as they advance in their careers,” states Beverly Dennis, APU’s professor who taught the first course in September, Leadership Styles and Effective Communication.

The program is a partnership between APU and founding partners Afognak Native Corporation, The Aleut Corporation, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, and Chugach Alaska Corporation. This year these corporations are joined by Southcentral Foundation, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium,  Calista Corporation, Gana-A‘Yoo Limited, Saint Mary’s Native Corporation, and The Tatitlek Corporation.

Dr.Tracy Stewart, APU’s Academic Dean, says “This program is a wonderful partnership between our corporate partners and APU. This weekend’s focus on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act features Greg Razo, CIRI’s Vice President of Government Contracting, leading discussions with six guests, including Willy Hensley, Margie Brown and Nelson Angapak,  and our group of  future Native business leaders.  Mr. Razo teaches the class in collaboration with APU’s Dr. Carole Lund, Associate Professor of Business Administration. At the conclusion of the course, participants will more clearly understand ANCSA and the unique roles and responsibilities for Alaska Native corporations that have resulted from ANCSA.”

Tabetha Toloff, Alaska Native Program Director at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and  part of the first cohort of students when the program began last year, states,  “I was able to further develop my business acumen and build my understanding of the important Alaska Native issues that have a great impact on our businesses, our community, and Alaska’s economy.”

"Professors in APU’s MBA program partnered with Alaska Native leaders to develop a robust program that will ensure Alaska Native executives are prepared to lead. The modules are rooted in Alaska Native values and corporate best-practices," says Ms. Hegna. Students who successfully complete the program receive an Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program Certificate.

Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Alaska Pacific University is committed to personalized, experiential learning that incorporates Alaska as our principal classroom. APU is Alaska’s only four-year, private baccalaureate liberal arts University.


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