Latest news, alerts, and events.

Feb 6, 2020
Posted Under: Foraker News

We are excited to welcome our newest board members to the Foraker team! Tom Panamaroff, Valerie Davidson, Bernie Washington, and Michael Fredericks have joined our Governance Board. Brenda Riley has joined our Operations Board.

Governance Board

Tom Panamaroff, Regional and Legislative Affairs Executive, Koniag, Inc.

We welcome Tom Panamaroff who jumped right in and became a Census Champion when he joined the Alaska Census Working Group just as it was beginning a few years ago. He is deeply committed to the nonprofit sector and has given strong support to ensuring an accurate count during the 2020 Census. Tom is the Regional & Legislative Affairs Executive for Koniag, Inc. directing Koniag’s legislative agenda and regional advocacy plan.  Tom has been associated with Koniag for over 25 years.  Born and raised in Kodiak, Alaska, Tom served as legislative staff in the Alaska State Legislature for nearly sixteen years.  During this time, Tom also served on the Board of Directors for Koniag, Inc. for over ten years. In 2000, Tom accepted employment with Koniag, Inc. as its Kodiak Corporate Affairs Manager. Two years later, he moved to Anchorage to accept the position of Vice President of Business Operations and later assumed the position of President/CEO of Koniag’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Koniag Development Corporation, which provided oversight of Koniag’s operating company sector. He then served as Interim President and President of Koniag, Inc. before transitioning to his current position. A past board member of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, and Resource Development Council for Alaska, Tom currently serves on the boards of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute, and the Koniag Education Foundation.

Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson

And a warm welcome back to Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson. Valerie is a former Governance Board member and served as board chair for two years. She also is an alumna of the Catalyst program. Valerie was appointed Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) by Governor Bill Walker in December 2014. She led nine state divisions within the department to promote and protect the health and well-being of Alaskans. Under Commissioner Davidson’s leadership, Alaska expanded Medicaid to provide healthcare to thousands of Alaskans. She also worked with the Alaska Legislature to negotiate a bipartisan Medicaid Reform bill, which provided for the redesign of Alaska’s Medicaid program, including comprehensive behavioral health reform. Valerie has worked to improve partnerships with tribes and tribal organizations in the delivery of health and child welfare services. She also negotiated a new tribal claiming policy to extend healthcare services by leveraging partnerships between tribal and non-tribal health organizations. ​Valerie is an enrolled tribal member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC). She has worked for over 15 years as a national policymaker on matters affecting Indian health. She served as the Senior Director of Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, where she represented Alaska Native health needs at federal and state levels. She served as Chair of the Tribal Technical Advisory Group to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from its inception in 2004 until August 2014. Valerie represented all tribes over a period that spanned the terms of several Secretaries of Health & Human Services and under both Republican and Democratic administrations. She earned her Juris doctorate, with a certificate in Indian law, from the University Of New Mexico School Of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in bilingual education from the University of Alaska Southeast. Valerie, a Yup’ik, was born in Bethel.

Bernie Washington, CFO, Alaska Public Media

We are thrilled, too, to have Bernie Washington back on the Governance Board. He was a founding board member and part of the group that envisioned The Foraker Group back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He previously served as board treasurer and has been part of our finance committee since we opened our doors. He also is one of the board members for Sultana. Bernie has a Bachelor’s in Mining Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and an MBA in Finance and Organizational Management from Pepperdine University. He has over 35 years’ experience in the energy business and has worked in positions in engineering, engineering management, finance, and accounting management. Bernie got into public broadcasting because he believes in the concept and credibility of the medium. Bernie is a longtime avid listener and viewer of Alaska Public Media, and that led him to want to be a part of such a fine organization. Many other nonprofits and many of our Partners have benefited from his wise counsel on the financial aspects of their management.



Michael Fredericks, President, SALT

Michael has served on the boards of several Foraker Partners. She was one of our original clients in Financial Shared Services when she was with the Georgetown Tribe and was also one of our early Pre-Development consultants. Michael is the President and majority owner of SALT.  Born and raised in Anchorage, Michael is an Alaska Native of Yupik descent. Her late father, Glenn Fredericks, was born in the Kuskokwim region and her late mother Jan Fredericks came to Alaska in the early ‘60s, after being raised all over the world in a military family. Michael received her Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of Washington and her Masters of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has leveraged her architectural training into a specialization in complex stakeholder engagement around design projects. Over her 16 years of experience, Michael’s facilitation services have evolved to include business planning, community engagement, project planning, complex problem solving, organizational planning, action planning, and focused conversations around challenging issues. A born listener, Michael strongly believes that the most successful initiatives harness collaborative thought and align the solution with the stakeholder – not the other way around. Providing a strong process for stakeholder engagement not only empowers the user but has proven to result in bottom-line savings as well. Michael is adept at helping groups define their unique version of success and provide them with a roadmap to achieve their goals. Away from the office, Michael lends her strategic thinking as a connector and community activator.   Her proudest accomplishment is the family she has created and the eclectic group that calls her mom. Her professional qualifications include a Master of Architecture and a Certification in the Technology of Participation.

Operations Board

Brenda Riley, Executive Director, United Way of Tanana Valley

Brenda Riley, co-founder and executive director for the Fairbanks Children’s Museum for nearly eight years has just become the new executive director United Way of Tanana Valley. Brenda is a born and raised Alaskan and a graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Currently, she serves on the Board of Advisors for UAF, is a member of the FNSB Downtown Planning Group, and is the President of the UAF Alumni Association, Fairbanks Chapter. Brenda has used many Foraker services during her nonprofit career. We are delighted she has joined the Operations Board and that we will have the benefit of all her volunteer and nonprofit work experiences.

Jan 20, 2020
Posted Under: Foraker News

Rather than a “day off,” let this be a “day in” where we lean into our community and one another to build bridges through acts of service and kindness to each other. Thank you for all you do every day to serve your community. Laurie

Jan 19, 2020
Posted Under: Management

Are you ready for planned change? What about change that isn’t planned? Have you and your board talked about executive transition? Whether you are a new CEO, near retirement, or somewhere in between, it’s critical to know how mission will last beyond you. In this class, we will lead you through the steps that will ensure that your organization successfully manages inevitable leadership change.

Come to this session with your questions, your ideas, and your next steps. Along the way, we will share some tools and a process you might consider.
This session is for CEOs/executive directors. We encourage you to bring your board chair or a board member along.

Three sessions of Succession Planning: Assuring a Smooth Transition When You Change Leaders are on the schedule:

  • Wednesday, February 12, 9:00 to 11:00 am – Camp Fire Conference Room, 161 Klevin Street, Anchorage
  • Thursday, April 30, 1:00 to 3:00 pm – Fairbanks Community Hospital, 1650 Cowles, Fairbanks
  • Tuesday, May 12, 1:00 to 3:00 pm – Cook Inlet Aquaculture, 40610 Kalifornsky Beach Rd., Kenai

You can find more information and register here.

Jan 19, 2020
Posted Under: 2020 Census

Governor Dunleavy joined the director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, at the Alaska Native Heritage Center Friday morning to kick off the 2020 Census.

Congratulations to everyone who has been working extremely hard to let Alaskans know about the census. Alaska Counts, a project developed by the Alaska Census Working Group, has put together a comprehensive and exciting campaign that stresses to Alaskans the importance to the state’s future of participating in the census count. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more about the census and how you can work in your community to encourage participation.

You can also see some of the media coverage of the kick-off here and here.

Foraker is proud to be the convener of the Alaska Census Working Group. We will continue to support them and chair Gabe Layman, a Foraker Operations Board member, as they work closely with communities, the state, and the Census Bureau to ensure a successful census count in our state.

Jan 8, 2020
Posted Under: President's letter

2020 – the year of perfect vision – the year of hindsight and insight. I could use all of that, couldn’t you? What isn’t there to love about more understanding and an opportunity to learn? I am a true believer in the learning organization, where mistakes are information – where we get to try and risk and try again – where we can get it wrong and figure out a better way. There are few guidebooks worth their weight that can tell us exactly how to be and act and do our work. In fact, much of the attraction of our work is that it brings together people who are willing to break the mold and try new things in order to get a better result for their communities. I love this spirit in our sector. Sure, sometimes we make the day harder than it needs to be, especially when we think that if we didn’t invent it ourselves it must not be as good. And sure, we are sometimes running too fast to learn from the insights and the mistakes of others who have traveled the same road. I’m ready for a year that by its very name promises us clear vision and more insight on becoming better. Aren’t you?

So, what will we do with all this insight and improved vision? What are we striving for?

There are many answers to this question, of course. There are the long-term and short-term definitions of success for your mission and your organization. There are the goals set by your community. There are larger goals that as humans we all can and need to focus on in order to see necessary change. For me, all these versions of success require one common ingredient: connection.

In today’s world where divisiveness reigns through partisanship and competition and silo bubble-like thinking, and where there is still a temptation and a reality to go it alone, let’s take a step toward our goals with all of our new insights and lean in deeper to connect. At Foraker we are ready to help you and your organizations in so many ways, and in 2020 we are especially committed to the ideas of connection through collaboration, diversification, and support. Let’s explore what taking steps together could look like this year.

Connection through cross-sector collaboration

In our work connection could look like asking harder questions about why the issues we are tackling exist, and what structural barriers exist that prevent us from solving the problems we face. Asking and answering these questions requires us to talk with other nonprofits, government (local, tribal, state, federal), community leaders, and more. It requires us to get outside our own organizational structure and to see if that structure is part of the problem and not the solution that we had hoped it would be. It requires us to be both a guest and a host in conversations and to understand the power dynamics of both roles. It requires us to have courage, to be wrong, to acknowledge a different path, to see a bigger opportunity. None of this is easy, but neither are the systemic problems we were called upon to solve. Doing our work the same way year after year will get us the same results. The problems are bigger than any one of us and making space for new and different connections across the ecosystems of our communities is essential. Convener, joiner, host, guest – 2020 is the year to try them all with the clear intention of deeper connection.

Connection through diversification

As board members or staff executives, board connection can look like taking meaningful steps to recruit and retain diverse board members. You likely don’t need another study to tell you that your board room is not diverse. If you are like most boards in America, you can see it and feel it. Just wishing it were different or saying “I tried but…” is not enough. It never was. There are a number of pretty good (not perfect) nonprofit tools that can help, but none of them are as important as the first conversations. Let 2020 be the year that at a minimum we have two of them: 1) the conversation recognizing that achieving your mission is less effective because you lack diversity and perspectives on your board, and 2) the conversation where you document the WHY of conversation number one. Only after we acknowledge the need for change, and we know our WHY, can we use any of the tools out in the world to better connect and engage the next iteration of board members.

It is easy to get defensive in this conversation if you are from a dominant ethnicity, gender, generation, or perspective. If this is you, please don’t stop serving your community, but walk the path of consciously understanding how it could be better for you, your mission, and your community. Diversifying the board is not about asking less of you if you are part of the dominant group, it is about making purposeful space to be and act differently. It is – as we have talked about for more than a decade – about the right people at the right time to move mission forward. Twenty years ago, we at Foraker talked about boards as “boundary spanners.” This notion is still true – that connection in the board room is the space to expand the boundaries with people who can move mission forward with new ideas, different perspectives, and diverse experiences. It is about connecting people into a constellation that forms mission not just holding onto the perceived super stars. These thoughts are not new, you have heard them from us and others before, but the world in 2020 demands us to prioritize this connection. Our mission goals and our communities require it.

Connection through support of self-care/we-care

If you are striving for more personal balance in your life with work, family, friends, and yourself, then connection takes a different spin. If we thought we were challenged by collaborative behavior or diversifying action, then we have truly met our match in the effort to connect with ourselves. Historically and currently, we are workaholics. We are driven to a bigger goal outside ourselves, and we give our whole self to it every day. Maybe some of us have learned better boundaries and some self-care. Maybe you have made considerable progress and model it for others in your nonprofit circle – wonderful, keep it up. But for most of us this is a regular item on our “to do” list. So, what will you do to better connect with yourself? Will you mark spots on your calendar every week for one self-care moment? Will it look like joyful exercise or a phone date with a friend or a family night dinner or a vacation from social media or securing a mentor or a coach or getting a new skill to feel more confident or journaling or what? If this was easy, it would have happened already. So, I remind us all that “self-care” is really “we care” and that all of it requires support from your circle, which we hope includes us. Let’s make a commitment together and support those around us to connect to what they need to feel a deeper connection to themselves.

Connection can be achieved in so many ways and each path will be as unique as you and the circumstances require. What I am certain of is that true connection has some common features. It is intentional – meaning you are consciously doing it on purpose. It is meaningful in that you can feel it, not just see it – that literally your senses are living the experience rather than just being able to say that you did it. This all means we have to make space in our lives to do it, and it likely means we will need some support to see progress. If we can be that support, great. Either way, I hope by the end of 2020 the result for all of us is that we are living more fully. We are committing to diving deeper into what matters to each of us, and that ultimately we have come together in our efforts to connect to do something greater than any one of us could do on our own – we healed across divides. We have improved not just our own life but the lives of people and places in our world. To this end, bring on 2020. Let the healing connection begin.