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Western Alaska Leaders Meet in Seattle to Discuss Future of Region and State

Follow up to March meeting in Bethel


Leaders from Western Alaska.

Courtesy photo

ANCHORAGE, AK – Representatives from key organizations in Western Alaska met in Seattle last week with the goal of fostering stronger working relationships to overcome shared challenges facing the State of Alaska and the Y-K Delta region in particular. The meeting, which took place on Thursday, September 22nd, was organized by Calista Corporation (Calista) and hosted by Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF).


The meeting served as a follow-up to an initial gathering that took place in Bethel in March 2016. All regional organizations were invited, and the following were able to participate:


  •     Andrew Guy – Calista Corporation
  •     Margaret Pohjola – Calista Corporation
  •     Johnnie Evan – Calista Corporation
  •     Paul George Guy – Calista Corporation
  •     Morgen Crow – Coastal Villages Region Fund
  •     Richard Jung – Coastal Villages Region Fund
  •     Stephen Maxie, Jr. – Coastal Villages Region Fund
  •     James Paul – Association of Village Council Presidents
  •     Edgar Hoelscher – Association of Village Council Presidents, Lower Yukon School District
  •     Wayne Morgan – Association of Village Council Presidents Rural Housing Authority
  •     Ragnar Alstrom – Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association
  •     Simon Andrews – Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association
  •     Jennifer Williams – Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association
  •     Tiffany Zulkosky – Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation


“I would like to thank Calista, and Calista’s CEO Andrew Guy in particular, for bravely reaching out to the organizations that need to be working together to help our region grow out of learned helplessness,” said CVRF Executive Director, Morgen Crow. “We have to begin by fixing our own problems, and that healing and fixing began in March and was furthered at this meeting.  I look forward to working closely with those who care about the people of Western Alaska.”


The meeting agenda focused on building respect and understanding among organizations and also included topics related to the state fiscal crisis, public safety, proposed legislation to form a new borough in Western Alaska, improvements to the CDQ program, alcohol and drug deaths, burial assistance, the ANCSA 14(c) municipal land provision, regional legislative priorities, and more.


"We are thankful to and impressed with CVRF for hosting this important Y-K Delta organizational meeting,” said Margaret Pohjola, Calista’s Board Chair. “The people we serve deserve our best efforts and commitment. The organizations learned much about each other's work and operations which helps foster a more effective relationship all for the benefit of our constituencies.”


“While the meeting intentionally did not result in any formal decisions or positions on issues, it facilitated continuing steps toward better collaboration between the groups that were represented,” said CVRF Board President, Richard Jung.  “Given the challenges facing our region and state, it is critically important that the Y-K Delta is unified and committed to speaking with one powerful voice on issues that impact our people and our communities.”


The group plans to meet again in Juneau during the 2017 state legislative session and will be working to continue strengthening regional communication in the meantime.


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