Sealaska’s process for selecting candidates to become endorsed nominees for its board of directors expanded this year to include the chairs of Sealaska’s Shareholder Participation Committees representing Southeast Alaska, the rest of Alaska, and outside Alaska.
Shareholder Participation Committees were established two years ago to help Sealaska be more responsive to the needs and priorities of its shareholders through active engagement. The committees are made up of 7-8 members from each of the three geographic areas, who volunteer to provide input on programs and initiatives. The committees’ guidelines include involvement in the selection of board-endorsed nominees.
Laird Jones is the chair of the Southeast Alaska committee, and was impressed with the interview process for board-endorsed nominees – and with the caliber of the candidates in the running this year. Jones was joined by Penny Gage, who chairs the “Other Alaska” committee, and Monico Ortiz, who chairs the “Outside Alaska” committee, in participating in the interview process for the top 10 candidates, along with members of Sealaska’s Governance and Nominations Committee. Candidates are being screened against a variety of criteria including education, professional experience, character, and connections to culture and communities.
“This was a professional process,” Jones said. “Just like in any job interview, you want to find the best candidate you can for this job – and it is a job. We’re a multimillion dollar company and a multinational company now, with lots of moving parts and pieces. The board is seriously wanting to find people with the skills needed to run it.”
Jodi Mitchell, who chairs the Nominations Committee, said gathering feedback from members of the SPC added valuable perspectives to the process.
“Their feedback was very helpful,” Mitchell said. “They each have full, interesting careers and different professional and personal networks than other members of the interview team. They were generous with their time and opinions, and I know our process is better because of it.”
The selection of board-endorsed nominees for the board of directors takes place in three phases:
- The first involves the solicitation of candidates interested in receiving the board’s endorsement. This pool of candidates is screened based on criteria published by the company in early February and narrowed to approximately 10 candidates.
- In the second step, the pool of finalists are interviewed by members of the Governance and Nominations Committee and, this year, the SPC chairs as well. These interviews were held via videoconference, allowing candidates and interviewers to participate regardless of their physical location. SPC members asked questions of the candidates and participated in analysis of their qualifications afterward.
- Following the interviews in the second step, a smaller group of finalists is interviewed by the full board. The board’s selection of candidates for its endorsement will be named in late April.
“I’ve worked at nonprofits and foundations in the past, and I’m a big fan of transparent decision making when it comes to filling board seats,” Gage, of the “Other Alaska” committee, said. “I believe you get really good candidates the more broad, open and transparent the process is.”
Ortiz’ committee represents Sealaska’s approximately 11,000 shareholders who live outside of Alaska, and said his committee members have commented on Sealaska’s efforts to be more inclusive of their perspectives in recent years.
“The committee I’m a part of represents shareholders who are no longer in Alaska or may never have been for whatever reason, so having that interaction is really important to them,” Ortiz said.
Independent and board-endorsed candidates will appear together on the 2020 Sealaska Proxy, which will be mailed to shareholders on or around April 30 and opens the campaign period leading up to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on June 26.