Q & A with Shareholder Employees
Anchorage, AK March 7, 2017
A Conversation with Ginger Douglas, Accounting Analyst for NANA's Natural Resources Department
This is part of a series of interviews with NANA’s shareholder-employees.
Ginger Douglas, a shareholder originally from Ambler, is an accounting analyst in NANA Regional Corporation’s finance and natural resources departments. Photo by Chris Arend.
What is your Iñupiaq name?
Uvaŋa atiga Napaaqtulik. I don’t know if it directly translates into anything. (A similar word, Napaaqtuq, means tree.) I was named after Glen Russell from Selawik, because he saved my mom when she was little. She had a seizure and he brought her to the clinic by snow machine. His sister, Amelia Ballot of Selawik, calls me “sister.”
Where did you grow up?
I went back and forth between Anchorage and Ambler. From the 6th grade on, I stayed in Ambler, until I graduated from high school. I moved back to Anchorage in 2006.
What is your job?
I work in NANA’s finance department as the accounting analyst.
What are your job responsibilities?
I manage all the accounting files, I process (check coding & enter invoices into the system) and pay invoices, I handle deposits and billing, and I assist in the budgeting process for NANA Regional Corporation. I also support the natural resources department.
I report to Kim Cunningham, the vice president of finance. She’s amazing and super smart. April Albeza, NANA’s director of accounting, has been a really good mentor to me and is teaching me so much.
Where did you study or train?
I completed my bachelor’s degree in business administration and management at Alaska Pacific University. I graduated with high honors, magna cum laude, while working full-time and being a single mother of two.
I started as a receptionist (at NANA Development Corporation) when I was going to UAA (the University of Alaska Anchorage). I earned my associate’s degree in small business administration there.
What do you like about accounting?
In 2004, I worked at Maniilaq in Kotzebue, Alaska. I did medical billing in the business office. (Maniilaq Association provides health and social services in the NANA region.) That is where I learned that I liked accounting. It’s very clear. Things have to balance. You know what you need to do.
What was your first job?
In high school, I worked at the Native store in Ambler. I also clerked at Ron’s store. Even then, I was dealing with money.
Who has inspired you?
My aana (grandmother), Lydia Douglas. She was kind of the one who raised me. She taught us cleanliness and accountability. She was very strict and trained us to be independent. If you were late for curfew, you knew you were in the wrong.
We learned from her example that education was important. She was a special education teacher at the school in Ambler. She earned her associate’s degree long-distance, via phone and mail. All her children, and most of her grandchildren, have graduated from high school. She was always available to work with her grandchildren on whatever area we were struggling with.
When I was in the 9th grade, I went through a rebellious streak. I didn’t do my homework, and I got a D in math. Aana came to the classroom, pulled me out to discuss my report card and said, “What’s this? (Pointing at the grade) This grade better come up, or you’re going to stay in next semester.”
Now that I’m older, I try to make her laugh. I phone her up and jokingly say, “Hi Aana. It’s your favorite granddaughter.”
I understand a lot of Iñupiaq and speak some because my grandparents spoke it to each other. We heard it all the time, growing up.
Why did you want to work at NANA?
When I moved down to Anchorage, I applied for several jobs. I got offers at NANA and BP. BP paid more, but at NANA I could pursue my education, and there were more opportunities for growth. But, both parties have to want that. You have to do your part. If the company is not going to meet you, you can move on.
What advice do you have for younger shareholders?
Have a plan, set goals, and further your education.
Never stop learning. It’s important to learn as much as you can. Only you can limit yourself. Once you’ve obtained the knowledge it can never be taken from you.
What important lessons have you learned?
Getting an education makes a difference. Do whatever you need to do to make that happen. Have a support system in place—friends, co-workers, family. Most importantly, you need to believe in yourself. I tell my kids, you can do this.
You must be responsible for your mistakes, and learn from them.
Write everything down. Some procedures may seem complicated. Have those steps written down. Some days, when your brain is not making connections, you can pull your notes out.
What do you like best about your job?
I like the repetitive, methodical type of work. You come in and you know what you need to do. You can master what you’ve learned and move forward. I enjoy learning new things and analyzing data.
What’s the best news you’ve heard lately?
I graduated from APU (Alaska Pacific University). That was a big load off my shoulders. Now I can focus on learning everything I can in my position.
What has surprised you about working at NANA?
Coming from a village, we hold the same values at NANA. We’re a family. We work together. We eat together when we can. We share niqipiaq (Native food). We get our work done, but we have fun. We like to laugh and joke. I have a dry sense of humor. People don’t always know when I’m joking.
What are your strongest beliefs about what you do for NANA?
I want to continue to learn. The more I learn the more I can grow, the more I become an asset to NANA and a benefit to our shareholders.
NANA helps our shareholders be successful, in their own way. Maybe my story might provide a little inspiration.
Ginger Douglas was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.