New DOWL HKM employee has long history with NANA

Mike Johnson may be fresh out of college, but he already has a longstanding relationship with his new employer that few graduates could hope to match. Johnson is a civil engineer with DOWL HKM, a NANA company, and he’s also a NANA shareholder. In fact, his shareholder roots reach back to the very beginning of NANA Regional Corporation.

Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in December from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He transitioned from UAA to an engineering job with DOWL HKM with the help of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP). ANSEP supports Alaska Native students in their studies in engineering and the scientific disciplines.
“The program was set up really well for getting you out there and involved,” Johnson said. “In ANSEP, they already have something lined up for you and the best benefit is that you can talk to students further along.”

Several NANA companies – including DOWL HKM – participate in ANSEP. The program enabled Johnston to work at DOWL HKM part time during the school year, and full time during the summers, while still an undergraduate college student – a tremendous advantage that he now brings to the workplace.

He’s also among the growing ranks of shareholders who have moved into professional positions within the company.

“We want our shareholders to be in a position to lead our companies,” Shareholder Development Manager Kristina Siiqsiniq Patrick said. “This is how we’re going to get there.”
At DOWL HKM, Johnson has worked on a variety of projects, including the Tikahtnu Commons, the retail development that houses the Muldoon Target and the IMAX theater.

“You don’t really get 90-some-acre projects in town anymore,” Johnson said. “That was a big project, and I worked on it from the ground level and went all the way to completion.”
In a way, Johnson has been a NANA project from the ground up – his grandfather was Robert Aqqaluk Newlin, Sr. the first president of NANA Regional Corporation.

“It was cool to have him there because it exposed me to the region. I probably made it to a lot more events as a kid than I would have if I was a random shareholder,” Johnson said.

Day by day, living in Anchorage and working at DOWL HKM, Johnson sees what NANA has accomplished and his grandfather’s influence, which is preserved today in the Robert Aqqaluk Newlin, Sr. Memorial Trust, which provides scholarships for university and vocational training. Aqqaluk also is the name of the deposit now being developed at the Red Dog Mine.

“The older I get, the more I notice the impact he had on the company, like shaping it and setting the foundation,” Johnson said.

From UAA to ANSEP to DOWL HKM, Johnson has followed the journey that his grandfather had hoped for the Inupiat people.

“Our ultimate goal is that we improve the quality of life of our people,” Patrick said. “That’s our mission.”

For more information visit Native 8(a) Works.