Vol. 6, No. 2 | February 2012.

NDC President’s Message:
Is It March Yet?

Helvi Sandvik

In Alaska, we are still literally digging ourselves out of snow. Which makes me reminisce on my visit to Australia last December when I saw folks Christmas shopping in shorts and t-shirts, and I was told that Santa arrives on a surfboard, not a sleigh.

In Anchorage, Fur Rendezvous events help see us through winter—dog mushing, running with reindeer (a take-off on the bulls in Pamplona) and the Utukkuu Snow Golf challenge which is played on the ice and benefits the Aqqaluk Trust.

Saturday also marks the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome. We’re rooting for last year’s winner, John Baker from Kotzebue.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I found myself in Louisiana—stuck in parade traffic while driving to a meeting with our GIS family. What’s the deal, I thought. They really celebrate the game down here. The people at GIS set me straight. "It’s not the Super Bowl; it’s Mardi Gras season."

NANA grows larger every day, with operations in all 50 dates, multiple countries and several continents. As we add to our NANA family, it’s a bit like a marriage. We learn about each member and the pride they each have in their customs, culture and celebrations.

Wherever you are—whether March Madness means following dog teams or cheering for basketball games – enjoy!


Helvi K. Sandvik, President
NANA Development Corporation


NDC Fosters Relationships at National 8(a) Conference

NDC Vice President of Business Development Clyde Gooden, right, and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Javier Palomarez at the National 8(a) Conference

The National 8(a) Association conference’s mission can be summed up in two words, bridge building. From government agencies to small businesses, the conference works to bring those groups together and form meaningful relationships. About 250 people attended last year’s conference but this year’s event in Orlando, Fla., welcomed nearly 500 people, including NANA Development Corporation (NDC) and its subsidiaries.

NDC has participated in the conference for many years, and employees have formed strong relationships with multiple federal, commercial and local organizations. Clyde Gooden is one of the most active and connected NDC employees at the conference. Although his title is vice president of Business Development, he serves as an ambassador for Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) and fosters relationships with other organizations.

Gooden is a connector. He helps outside companies and federal agencies navigate the expansive maze that is NDC and its many subsidiaries, connecting people with the right person within the NANA family of companies.

With NDC Gooden’s role is similar to what the National 8(a) Association conference strives to accomplish: building relationships. One of the event’s many lures is the opportunity for small companies to meet officials from large agencies, like Boeing, the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Association and the U.S. Intelligence Community. Along with making connections with these government groups, participants can also form other important relationships.

"You have the government who’s going to show you how to contract, you have the government who’s going to give you a contract and you have large private industry who might be the right partner to mentor you into that role," Gooden says.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognized the National 8(a) Association this year as one of 11 participants in a pilot program to create jobs and encourage collaboration between small businesses to help acquire large federal contracts.

"They saw the value of National 8(a) and what it brings to the table so they were awarded a grant to build an infrastructure to support the matchmaking effort," Gooden says.

An example of what the National 8(a) Association has done is to forge an understanding between Alaska Natives and the U.S. Hispanic community. Many years ago, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was prepared to attack the ANCs, but National 8(a) Association President Ron Perry opened the walls of communication   the first step in forming a relationship.

"They believed we had an unfair bidding advantage in the federal contracting arena. Ron was able to say, ‘You don’t know what Alaska Native Corporations are all about,’ so he was able to bridge that relationship   and NANA was one of those fortunate companies to stand there with him," Gooden says.

This year Perry has taken another step further and introduced the African-American community to the National 8(a) Association conference.

Although Gooden is optimistic about the direction of the National 8(a) Association and the relationships that arise from the conferences, he knows cultivating those partnerships into business is a slow and steady process.

"It takes time to build those relationships," Gooden says.


Akima Facilities Management Saves USDA Research Centers Time and Money

The Akima team at the USDA Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) in Albany, Calif.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) in Albany, California is a premiere research facility with a mission to enhance the healthfulness of foods, develop new food and industrial products from renewable resources, and protect and enhance the quality of the environment. Akima has had the privilege of providing facilities operations and maintenance services to WRRC since 2006. We view our service to WRRC in the context of mission support to the important research conducted at the facility.

Akima was awarded a similar facility support contract for the USDA Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in 2005. Located on the other side of the country from WRRC, ERRC is just minutes outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ERRC is home to the nation’s leading scientists and engineers in agriculture solving problems facing the U.S. today and for tomorrow with fundamental, applied and developmental research studies on agricultural commodities including milk, meat, poultry, hides, leather, wool, fats, oils, rendered protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and juices.

Akima’s support of USDA missions at both research centers comprises facility and grounds maintenance at the 16.6-acre site in California and an 18-acre site in Pennsylvania. The research centers include specialized laboratories, sophisticated environmental controls, and a multitude of utility systems. Our customers at each location appreciate Akima’s attention to detail. "We have just finished another successful year with your company and the accomplishments we have achieved are just too numerous to list," said ERRC Center Director Dr. Sevim Z. Erhan. "The assistance provided by Akima was outstanding."


NANA Subsidiary Cazador Opens Elmendorf Hospital’s Lynx Wing

The Lynx Wing at Elmendorf hospital was outfitted by NDC subsidiary Cazador

When the new Lynx Wing of the U.S. Air Force’s Elmendorf Hospital opened on Feb. 16, patients, personnel and visitors got their first look at a facility made turnkey-ready by NANA Development Corporation subsidiary Cazador.

Cazador specializes in large-scale outfitting and transition services on large, complex projects such as the Anchorage-area Air Force hospital expansion. Essentially, Cazador works with hospitals to ensure new facilities are ready to receive and care for patients the moment they open. The company’s services include project management, interior design, budgeting, public relations and the planning, delivery and installation of furniture, medical equipment and fixtures, as well as testing, certification and site cleanup.

Cazador’s team led by Mark Dias   Director of Operations included: included Deanna Winslow   Designer; Buck Conner and Jonathan Shapland   Equipment Planning; Peter Oster   Project Manager; Amy Gallagher   Public Relations and Kathy Marcero   Transition Planning. The Air Force with this project created new spaces for their Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Center combining TBI services with Neurology and Pain Management. The buildings also houses Public Health, Mental Health and Family Advocacy Departments/Flights.

"Typically, when construction finishes, we want to be right behind it," said Cazador project manager Peter Oster, who oversaw the work of outfitting the 35,000-square-foot facility with everything from paint and fixtures to hospital beds, television sets and artwork   over 5,000 line items in all.

Cazador is somewhat unique in that it is a "virtual office," with employees located all over the country. Oster and his coworkers communicate by e-mail and conference call, and they travel to meet at their project sites. In Alaska, local labor was also used to assemble and install furnishings, and some of the interior design work was done by RIM Architects, an Anchorage firm. Oster said the virtual office model works well for the company, which is now beginning work on a new hospital in Okinawa.

"You don’t have a water cooler. That’s the only problem," Oster joked.

Oster said the Elmendorf project was incredibly rewarding for the Cazador team, although there were challenges along the way. In order to streamline the outfitting process and keep costs down, furniture, fixtures and equipment were consolidated in Tacoma, Wash., and barged up to Whittier. The barges left Tacoma on Jan. 2, and were expected to arrive in Whittier about a week later   just as record snowfall slammed Southcentral Alaska.

"The barges couldn’t get into Whittier," Oster said. Work was delayed an extra week, and the team ended up working long hours and weekends to get the facility finished.

Cazador also had to get creative when a design change meant a space that was originally intended to house the flight medicine offices was redesigned as a home for the hospital’s traumatic brain injury (TBI), neurology and pain management center. Patients undergoing care for TBI have unique needs that had to be addressed in the center’s design.

"These patients like a very quiet, low-light environment while they’re waiting," Oster explained. "We put in a sound masking system and an acoustical treatment on the walls." Since no architectural changes could be made, the Cazador team had to repurpose the space using the existing design.

"It was supposed to be a cube farm," Oster said. Instead, Cazador turned it into a soothing place where TBI patients can recover in comfort. It became a labor of love. "It had to be a safe place for these patients," Oster said. "That was really special."

Elmendorf Hospital uses animals to designate various areas of the campus   there’s a Bear Wing, a Moose Wing and a Wolf Wing   and designer Deanna Winslow picked up the lynx theme in design elements throughout the new facility.

"She took off from the lynx idea to create some really nice artwork," Oster said. "She went beyond the furniture to really be creative. She did a beautiful job."

Lynx photographs hang throughout the building, and visitors enter the wing through a passage that is decorated with art and text that tell a story about the lynx. Another special addition arrived a few days after the facility opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony   a bronze sculpture of a lynx, designed by Alaska artists Shala Dobson and Jim Dault, to sit outside the wing.

"It is a beautiful building," Oster said.


Shareholder Takes Long Route to Washington, D.C.

NDC Director of Government Affairs Kutraluk Bolton, right, and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich

As a young boy growing up in Kotzebue, Kutraluk Bolton thought he would follow his mother’s dream and one day become a pilot. A career in flying made sense in rural Alaska but Bolton’s dreams changed after moving to Anchorage during high school.

Bolton decided he wanted to become an anthropologist and travel the world.

He followed those aspirations, graduating from Cornell University with a degree in anthropology, then moving to Japan for several years to teach English to Japanese junior high school students. He became so intrigued with various aspects of the Japanese culture that he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. It wasn’t quite how he had envisioned his career path, but Bolton says it was nonetheless rewarding.

"My dream was to go to Papua New Guinea and write books, which is the classic image people have of cultural anthropologists," says Bolton, now 45. "Instead, I became a more conventional anthropologist, one who speaks Japanese and knows the best places to eat sushi and get espresso in Tokyo."

And after drinking copious amounts of espresso, Bolton received his Ph.D. from Stanford University last month. But he’s the last person in the room to tell you about his degree. He’d rather talk about his current job as NANA Development Corporation’s director of external affairs in Washington, D.C, a position he’s held for two years, and one that puts his "people skills" to task. Bolton had been looking for academic work when NDC offered him the job, and he decided to take what he had learned about researching people to help build relationships for NANA on the Hill.

Bolton’s responsibilities include keeping NDC management informed on the development and potential impact of federal legislation He also plans actions to protect NDC’s business interests relative to legislation as well as attending hearings and meetings with Congressional delegates and federal agencies. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Bolton truly exemplifies the next generation of corporate Native leaders.

"With his international experience, he brings a global perspective to the table that can only help to expand NANA Development’s already impressive business portfolio," Murkowski says.

Bolton is a registered lobbyist and spends much of his time providing information to lawmakers from states in which NDC does business. He educates them about the work that NDC does and the benefits that are returned to the NANA Region and its shareholders.

"Sometimes when I’m sitting in a hearing, I’m just amazed that I get to do this. I feel like the work I do has an impact on shareholders, on my people, and that’s pretty incredible," says Bolton.

The job has its highs, but can be frustrating, especially when legislation important to NDC gets stalled or rewritten. It’s during those times that he draws on past experiences to get him through, although it’s not the years of critical research he turns to. Bolton remembers what he learned while teaching English in the Japanese countryside to 13-year olds.

"Patience," laughs Bolton. "Those kids taught me something. That’s what I rely on so much here in Washington."


NANA Shareholders Shine in ‘Big Miracle’ – on Set and Behind the Scenes

Shareholder Dolly Norton talks to the media about her movie role at the "Big Miracle" premiere

For some NANA shareholders, working on the movie "Big Miracle" was more than a job   it was a life-changing experience.

Wally Scott, a NANA shareholder who recently graduated from High Point University with a degree in media studies and film, had never worked on a feature film before. On his dad’s recommendation, Scott spent a day in Anchorage attending a production assistant (PA) "boot camp" run by Alaska Crew Training, a non profit designed to train Alaskans in the film industry. That led to an opportunity to work on the film, first coordinating casting calls in Kotzebue, then assisting in Anchorage and Fairbanks. He also worked as a "background talent wrangler," getting the film’s extras and stand-ins through wardrobe, hair and makeup and onto the set.

"This was probably the best job any kid out of college could ask for," Scott said.

Not only did the film give him some professional production experience, it presented him with an opportunity to rediscover his culture.

"Before I worked on ‘Big Miracle,’ I hadn’t been back with my Native people in a long time," Scott said. "I’ve been pretty nomadic. Getting a job after school that let me interact with Natives from around the state, especially Iñupiaq Eskimos   that was probably the most humbling experience."

Working with Elders on the set helped him reconnect with his heritage, Scott said.

One of the background talent Scott "wrangled" was Dolly Norton, another NANA shareholder who worked on the production. Norton and a friend responded to a casting call for extras on a whim, and she was surprised and excited when she was contacted to appear in the film. When filmmakers found out Norton grew up in Barrow, they set her up to consult with costume designer Shay Cunliffe, who worked from a 1986 photo album of Norton’s to bring authenticity to the film’s wardrobe.

"It was really amazing seeing her create those images from the photos," Norton said.

Norton spent quite a bit of time on the set, getting to know some of the crew members (who called her "Giggles" because of her infectious laugh) and meeting the set designer and director. When it came time to work as an extra, she took her responsibilities seriously.

"I made sure I was the best extra," she said. "When they said ‘do this’, I gave it 110 percent." It meant a lot to her that the movie took Iñupiaq culture seriously.

"When they asked us to speak Iñupiaq, I really knew I was contributing to this movie, and I’m proud of that," Norton said. "To be truly Iñupiaq is to be proud of who you are and to be proud that your ancestors have instilled in you the language, the humor, the love, the compassion   all the good Iñupiaq values."

At least one NANA shareholder who worked on the film already had deep roots in the film industry as well as the Arctic. Ted Mala, grandson of Iñupiaq film star Ray Mala, spent eight years in Hollywood working in the movies. In "Big Miracle," he has a small part as a film producer. He spent a day filming with Kristen Bell, who plays a reporter in the film. For Mala, it was exciting to be part of an authentic Alaska production.

"I thought it was a great thing for Alaska," Mala said. "What made the difference for me was that it was close to home, close to heart. It was great to see a lot of NANA shareholders on the set."

Unlike some filmmakers who have taken a careless approach to their portrayals of Alaska and Alaska Natives, Mala said, the "Big Miracle" crew was respectful and committed to accuracy.

The week after "Big Miracle" premiered, Piksik production manager Schildt organized an outing for Anchorage-area extras to see the film together. A crowd including Norton, her son and friends filled a theater at Regal Tikahtnu theatre.While extras weren’t invited to the official film premiere, the gathering felt just as celebratory, Norton said.

"What I took from that movie is that I am a proud Iñupiaq, and I can be 110 percent Native, even on the big screen," Norton said. "I can be my Iñupiaq self wherever I go."

To learn more about Piksik, go to http://piksik.com/ or follow them on Facebook.


NANA Employees Strive to Improve Speaking and Leadership Skills

NDC Resource Accountant Jim Duffield is a member of NANA's Toastmaster's Club

Who hasn’t panicked before giving a toast at a wedding or making a presentation to co-workers? People all around the world attend Toastmasters meetings to ensure they’re prepared   and calm   for these opportunities. The international organization formed to help people improve their communications and leadership abilities   and now NANA Development Corporation (NDC) has its own club.

NDC Communications and Marketing department members Ildiko Geuss and Courtny Brooks introduced Toastmasters to employees last summer because they both recognized the value of a stress-free environment to help sharpen communications skills.

"Whether it’s one-on-one, a presentation to a small group or talking to an audience of hundreds, we are always communicating," Geuss says.

At noon on Thursdays, NANA employees from different departments   IT, human resources, engineering and marketing   meet at the headquarters building in Anchorage to work on public speaking, including improvised speeches on assigned topics and to develop skills related to grammar and parliamentary procedure. Currently, the NANA Toastmasters Club has 23 members who evaluate and provide feedback for one another’s presentations.

"The best part about our Toastmasters Club is that it is a safe place to practice and refine not just public speaking but overall communication skills," Geuss says.

NDC Resource Accountant Jim Duffield has been a member of Toastmasters since July. He decided to join because he wanted to continue to improve his public speaking skills and he knew that it is a good way to learn from his co-workers.

"It has improved my confidence and opened my eyes to many techniques to make me a more effective speaker and negotiator. By doing this with co-workers, we have all learned more about one another and really strive to help one another improve on our skills and have fun while doing it," Duffield says.

The NANA Toastmasters Club is open to all employees. For more information, contact ildiko.geuss@nana.com

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1001 East Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99508