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Commemorating the Signing of ANCSA; Hosted by the Alaska Native Heritage Center  -  Part 5 - Barbara Donatelli
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Gloria O’Neil: Thank you, Julie. Next, I’m honored and pleased to introduce to you, Barbara Donatelli. Barbara is the executive vice president of CIRI. A 21-year veteran of the corporation, Barbara is the second senior officer of the corporation. She is responsible for assisting the CEO in developing corporate policies, plans and budgets. Barbara is actively involved in a number of community service organizations, and she is also a board member of MTNT, Limited, a Native village corporation of four interior villages. Barbara directs CIRI’s corporate giving, and was instrumental in achieving the Outstanding Business and Philanthropy Award presented to CIRI in 1997. She was selected as one of the Alaska Journal of Commerce’s “Top 25 Most Powerful Alaskans” for 1999 and was recognized among Alaska’s YWCA 1998 Women of Achievement Awards. She was born and raised in Anchorage. She is a shareholder of the Doyan Native Corporation, and she is of Yup’ik Eskimo descent. Ladies and gentlemen, Barbara Donatelli.

Barbara Donatelli (ANHC)
Barbara Donatelli: Thank you, Gloria, for that introduction. It’s an honor for me to be here on the eve of this important anniversary of the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, and to be here as a representative of CIRI. While CIRI is truly one of ANCSA’s success stories, our history shows that we have faced and overcome many hardships and obstacles. In that way, I believe CIRI, the organization, shares some similarities with Alaska Natives as people who have successfully met many challenges over their long histories.

I really appreciated the inspirational remarks from both Julie and Willie. Willie talking about all of the people and the many hard efforts and sacrifice and dedication that led to the Land Claims Settlement Act, and Julie talking about the Alaska Federation of Natives and the important role it has played and continues to play in taking leadership on important issues facing Alaska Native people.

I’m also very pleased that we’re celebrating the role that Tyonek played in getting the act passed. Adam Kroto has given us some insight into the village’s decision to share their resources and I, as I’m sure you are, are inspired by his remarks and the generosity of Tyonek and the role they played in the formation of the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Alaska Land Claims Settlement Act.

I’ve been asked to direct some of my comments to the future, and I appreciate this request because that is where CIRI focuses much of its attention. We are particularly concerned about the importance of education. In keeping with that goal, our board of directors has made significant contributions to the CIRI Foundation over the years -- and this year in particular. The foundation’s endowment is now well over 40 million dollars. Such an endowment is an enduring base that will be there for many years into the future, and will provide educational scholarships and grants for many generations to come.

All of the 13 Alaska Native regional corporations created under ANCSA have set up nonprofit foundations or other funds to promote higher education, and now these foundations have combined forces and will work together to address the needs of Alaska Native higher education. These scholarship providers have formed a group known as the ANCSA Education Consortium. I believe this consortium is an important example of the many developments that are taking place today, and that will have a very positive impact on the future of Alaska Natives.

I would also like to point out that our emcees today, Jack Zayan and Gloria O’Neil, represent our young Native leaders. Their leadership was demonstrated a few years ago with their involvement in the formation of the Alaska Native Professional Association. ANPA is already looking ahead and developing a mentoring program partnership between Big Brothers and Big Sisters as well as with the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

Jack and Gloria and many others like them are our future. I’m pleased that many of the entities that benefited from ANCSA have put their focus in our future leaders. I’m confident that they will be standing here, ten years from now, celebrating our continued success.

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