The Sealaska Board of Directors elevated shareholder Jason Gubatayao to the position of general manager of Haa Aaní, Sealaska’s land-management company, when it met Jan. 20-21. The board also decided to continue holding most Sealaska meetings virtually while pandemic circumstances remain uncertain—including the annual meeting of shareholders on June 25.
Haa Aaní is responsible for Sealaska’s land holdings in Southeast Alaska, including many land management activities like ensuring access for hunting and fishing through road maintenance and other infrastructure, and the selective harvest of trees and bark for cultural purposes.
Gubatayao grew up in Ketchikan and is Tlingit and Tsimshian. Gubatayao is a former Sealaska intern and scholarship recipient. He moved home to Southeast Alaska after graduating from college with a bachelor of science in environmental systems. For the past several years, he has worked as a forestry technician with former Haa Aaní General Manager Jim Tuttle, who retired in December after 14 years with Sealaska Timber Company. Gubatayao developed a wide range of skills from forest layouts and permitting to using geographic information systems (GIS) to plan our next harvest areas. Jason has great knowledge of our lands and is excited to increase the financial, community and cultural benefit that come from Sealaska lands.
“Jason is an example of a shareholder building his career to be able to manage an entire unit of our company,” Sealaska Board Chair Joe Nelson said. “This is a great example of something that’s been a priority for the entire board—seeing Sealaska provide meaningful jobs for people to grow into.”
Community outreach was also at the top of the board’s agenda. Sealaska has been holding virtual meetings throughout the region and in the Pacific Northwest with village corporation, municipal, tribal and other community leaders. In the past year, 28 have been held with more than 4,000 participants.
“Hearing directly from the communities helps us ensure our public policy and advocacy work is well aligned with local priorities to make the greatest impact,” Nelson said. “If there’s a way Sealaska can support and resonate local priorities, we want to do it.”
Sealaska directors and executives have been eager to get back to hosting in-person meetings in communities, which hasn’t been possible since 2019. But with the omicron wave still hitting communities very hard, the decision was made to continue in a virtual environment until the end of June, reassessing along the way.
The board’s next meeting is April 7-8, during which it will approve the spring distribution to shareholders and the corporation’s audited financials for 2021. The board is excited about Sealaska’s business vision of Ocean Health and is focused on increasing shareholder benefits that tie to shareholder priorities.