Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson

Sealaska Board Chair

Alaska Federation of Natives


Juneau, AK

“Sealaska is a local company that is on mission to make a positive impact globally. Today our ancient values – our connection to place and our collective identity — are driving our profits, partnerships and decisions.”

As the Chairman, Joe works with the board, management, and partners to further Sealaska’s strategic plan and fulfill their purpose of strengthening our people, our culture and our homelands.  

He first found his way to the Sealaska boardroom as an attorney, helping to craft and develop a stock package for the new class of descendant shareholders. Joe was a member of the board when shareholders voted to approve the new stock, inviting thousands of descendants to enroll.  Understanding indigenous values, Joe continually advocates for younger voices in the boardroom and throughout Sealaska, knowing that decisions made today will impact generations yet to come.  He helped establish the Board Youth Advisor position in 2009.  All of these young people are continuing to make significant positive impacts within the community.

As board chair, he serves as ex-officio member to all committees. He serves as a director on Spruce Root’s board and ex-officio trustee for Sealaska Heritage Institute. Joe has been a Sealaska director since 2003 and has been board chair since 2014. Joe also serves as the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives, a trustee to Sitka’s Outer Coast College and a director for Alaska Legal Services.

Joe is a Brown Bear (Teikweidí) from Yakutat.  He is also a Kwáashk’I kwaan yádi. His Tlingit name is Kaaxúxgu. Joe grew up commercial fishing and subsistence living in Yakutat. After graduating from Yakutat High School, Joe completed a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA. He also has a juris doctorate from Loyola Law School.   

Joe, his wife Crystal and children, Job, Nora, and Jude live in Juneau.