Hoonah’s Native corporation names new CEO

The Native corporation for the Southeast village of Hoonah will soon have its first shareholder CEO.

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Russell Dick will take over as Huna Totem CEO this fall. The Native corporation for Hoonah operates the Icy Strait Point tourist attraction. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau)
Russell Dick will take over as Huna Totem CEO this fall. The Native corporation for Hoonah operates the Icy Strait Point tourist attraction. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau)

Huna Totem CEO and President Larry Gaffaney will leave this fall after seven years on the job. He’ll be replaced by Russell Dick, current chairman of the corporation’s board of directors.

Gaffaney, who is not a shareholder, said he’s hoped for years to turn the reigns over to a tribal member.

“We’ve got a solid corporation and we’ve got an absolutely qualified, energetic and enthusiastic guy to take the helm. So the time’s absolutely right to do it,” he said.

Huna Totem has about 1,350 Tlingit shareholders with ties to Glacier Bay and Hoonah, about 40 miles southwest of Juneau. It employed about 110 shareholders last year.

It’s best known for its Icy Strait Point cruise-ship attraction, which was built around a renovated cannery.

Dick has been CEO of Sitka-based Alaskan Dream Cruises for about two and a half years. Before that, he ran Sealaska’s Haa Aaní subsidiary, which focused on regional business development. He’s also been vice chairman of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board since 2013.

Dick wasn’t available for immediate comment. Gaffaney said Dick grew up with Huna Totem.

“He certainly understands this corporation and its people and its mission down to his bones. He’s also got the requisite business experience to take it forward and he’s got the full support of the board,” he said.

Dick will be based at Huna Totem’s corporate headquarters in Juneau. Gaffaney said he will move on to another business opportunity after leaving the corporation, though he wouldn’t discuss details.

Huna Totem also runs Alaska Native Voices, a business providing cultural interpreters on cruise ships in Glacier Bay and other parts of Southeast.

A relatively new business is Dear North, which produces and distributes smoked and dried salmon treats.

Huna Totem does not release details of earnings. Its most recent shareholder dividend, in February, paid out $1.65 per share.

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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.