Longtime leader Rosita Worl to leave Sealaska board

Longtime Sealaska regional Native corporation board member Rosita Worl will step down as a director in June. She will continue to head up the Sealaska Heritage Institute. (Photo by Lakeidra Chavis/KTOO)

One of the Sealaska regional Native corporation’s longest-serving leaders is stepping down.

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Rosita Worl has spent 30 years on the Juneau-based corporation’s board of directors. She said she’s been thinking about leaving for a while.

“I probably would have resigned three years ago, but at that point in time, I was chair of the Lands Legislation (Committee) and I felt like I wanted to see that completed before I left the board,” Worl said.

That controversial bill traded corporate land near shareholder communities for more valuable timber properties within Southeast’s Tongass National Forest.

After several attempts, it passed Congress in 2014.

Worl will complete her final three-year board term, which ends in June. That will leave an open seat on Sealaska’s board of directors, to be filled during spring shareholder elections.

In the past, many departing board members resigned during their terms and were replaced by an appointee, who then ran as an incumbent.

Worl will continue as president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, the corporation’s cultural arm.

The anthropologist, who’s taught at the University of Alaska Southeast, says she’s looking forward to completing some academic projects.

“I’ve had to spend most of my energies on Sealaska and Sealaska Heritage Institute. And I’d like to finish a couple of manuscripts that I have: Tlingit property law and an ANCSA study, for example,” Worl said.

Worl, of Juneau, is one of the longest-served members of Sealaska’s 13-person corporate board.

Only Albert Kookesh of Angoon has served longer.

Worl’s leadership roles have extended outside Southeast Alaska.

She’s been on the boards of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Indigenous Languages Institute and the National Museum of the American Indian.

She’s also chaired the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee.

Her Tlingít names are Yeidiklats’akw and Kaa háni and she is Eagle of the Shungukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kaawdliyaayi Hit (House Lowered from the Sun) of Klukwan and a Lukaax.ádi yadi (Child of the Sockeye Clan).

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.