Q & A with Linda Adams
Anchorage, AK July 15, 2015
A Conversation with Linda Adams, Paralegal II
This is part of a series of interviews with our shareholder employees.
Linda Adams, a NANA shareholder originally from Kotzebue, is a paralegal with NANA Development Corporation.
What is your Iñupiaq name?
Kuutuuq. I was named after the wife of my aana’s (grandmother’s) grandfather.
What is your job?
How long have you been with NANA?
Have you had other jobs within NANA?
I started with NANA as a payroll technician, then became the payroll supervisor. To gain more experience, I was also an assistant accountant. Then I was hired at NMS, first as the security background supervisor and later as a housekeeping/kitchen manager intern at the Alaska Native Medical Center. I returned to NDC as the assistant payroll supervisor.
In 2006, Jacquie Luke, then NANA’s chief legal officer, asked me to join her department. Jacquie encouraged me to go back to school part-time and, in 2012, I earned my associate degree and paralegal certificate. I studied legal terminology, processes and procedures.
What are your main job responsibilities?
I maintain corporate minutes and resolutions, and I draft the proxy statement in preparation for the annual meeting. I maintain corporate records for all 56 of our NANA companies. I also stay current on the reorganization of companies. Our documents are now maintained electronically, so that our companies have immediate access to information.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Kotzebue, and moved to Anchorage in 1993, when I was seven-months pregnant with our son.
What is your first memory of NANA and of being a NANA shareholder?
I remember going to a shareholders’ meeting with my aana and taata (grandparents).
I also remember that our old house needed to be moved, so that the original Nullaġvik Hotel could be built. After the house was gone, I remember digging on those grounds for alġaqsaq (artifacts).
What was your first job?
In Kotzebue, I worked at Hanson’s Trading Company on Front Street, as a cashier. (Much later the store was operated by Carrs-Safeway and, in 2012, it was torn down so that the new Nullaġvik Hotel could be built.)
Where did you study?
At the University of Alaska Anchorage, where I’m working on my bachelor’s degree in legal studies. I’m 75 percent there.
Who has inspired you?
My grandparents. They were my biggest fans. I loved the way they cared for me and my sister Deb. Our grandfather wanted a better life for us.
We didn’t have money, but having a good life doesn’t mean having money all the time. We didn’t have running water, but we felt rich, because we had everything we needed.
Our grandfather wanted us to learn and to get an education. He said, “Do your best. Be a good person. Treat everyone with respect. Don’t tease or make fun of people.” He imparted good values.
What is your favorite memory of your grandparents?
In our little house, we always had company. My grandmother was constantly feeding people. Friends and relatives came from the villages and stayed with us when they came to Kotzebue to see the doctor or just to visit. I remember some mornings, we’d have to step over our guests who were sleeping on the floor. Everyone visited a lot back then. There was no TV, no internet, and few distractions. We were so content just to listen to the Elders talk and tell stories.
Tell us about someone who has inspired you at NANA.
I mentioned Jacquie Luke, the chief legal officer. She created an environment in NANA’s legal department that made me want to learn. I was strong in accounting and in numbers, but I had to learn to use language in a different, specific way. I had to write. Jacquie always encouraged me, and helped me understand the process. She wanted me, as a shareholder, to advance. I was like a sponge; I wanted to take it all in. I represented NANA, so it was important to me to hold that integrity.
What are important lessons that you have learned?
I’m proud of our leadership. In the business world, there are a lot of hardships to overcome. How could we grow without making mistakes? It’s important to support the leaders, and appreciate their hard work.
What has surprised you most about working at NANA?
I’ve seen a lot of change. For many people, change is hard, but it’s been good. We are striving for the goals that were set (by the board and senior leaders).
What is the best thing that has happened since you started working with NANA?
I’m always reminded of our Iñupiaq values. Our Elders did not have the educational opportunities we have now, but they were wise. They let us make our own mistakes, and learn from them. It’s a lifelong practice.
What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy the challenges and the fast-paced environment. I want to do the best that I can, where I am. And I want to continue to learn, because you have to stimulate your brain.
What are your strongest beliefs about work?
Actions speak louder than words. Having the loudest voice in the room doesn’t automatically make you right. Speak through your actions.
What advice do you have for young shareholders?
Don’t ever let fear stop you. Go after your dreams! We all have choices, and our choices have consequences. Even if you made a bad choice, you can learn from your mistakes.
What do you want people to know about NANA?
It’s a privilege to work here. I’m not owed a job because I’m a shareholder. I’m proud to be a NANA employee. I have to do my part. I have to make sure I have the qualifications I need to do my job.
Linda Adams was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.