Although the opportunity to serve as a Sealaska Board Youth Advisor (BYA) was on her radar for several years, Michaela Demmert said she waited until the time felt right to apply.
For Demmert (Tlingit, Blackfeet, Nez Perce), who is Taakw.aaneidí (Raven/Sea Lion Clan), the right time rolled around last year. Demmert graduated from Dartmouth College in 2018, and plans to begin working on a master’s degree in social work starting this fall. She said she was looking for an opportunity to strengthen her leadership skills before starting her journey to become a licensed clinician.
“I had been intrigued by this position,” Demmert said. “I wanted to give back to my communities.”
Demmert hopes to serve the Native community during her career by addressing the need for culturally relevant health services and said that she believes the position will also help her grow as an advocate.
To be considered for the BYA position, she submitted an application consisting of a resume, two personal essays, three letters of recommendation and personal data including shareholder identification. “The process is pretty standard,” Demmert said. “But you want to make sure you ask for recommendations that can identify your unique role in the community.”
In June 2020, Demmert was named Sealaska’s 2020-2021 Board Youth Advisor. Her academic background and visibility in her traditional community and within the culture led to her selection.
In the years leading up to her BYA appointment, Demmert established herself as a leader in her village of Klawock and across Southeast Alaska. Not only was she usually on the Hoonah bench cheering for her dad at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, she worked for the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and the Tribal Court as the youth healing to wellness specialist.
Now roughly halfway through her term, Demmert said the BYA position has impacted her beyond professional development. “I feel as though this experience has grounded me in integrity,” she said.
In her role as a non-voting member on the Sealaska board, Demmert has learned about and provided input on the company’s business, operations and key priorities.
“I’m proud to be a part of an entity that supports the revitalization of our languages, is committed to our ocean’s health, and is invested in our youth,” Demmert said. “I’ve seen how our values can be practiced outside of the region and on a national and even international level.”
The application for the 2021-2022 BYA position is now open. Demmert said that one piece of advice she would offer to anyone who is interested is to not be afraid to apply.
“This is an opportunity to share space with strong leaders who have diverse and rich wisdom,” Demmert said. “This is an opportunity that will help you grow in more ways than you know.”
About the Sealaska Board Youth Advisor program
The Board Youth Advisor position helps cultivate leadership skills among Sealaska shareholders and descendants between the ages of 18 and 25 who meet program qualifications. During the one-year term, Board Youth Advisors share their perspective in board and committee meetings while receiving valuable training on board processes and procedures. The position is an opportunity to develop professional networks and a broad outlook on the issues and opportunities faced by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people and the Southeast Alaska region.
Applications are due by March 25, 2021. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.mysealaska.com/Opportunities/BoardYouthAdvisor.