Sealaska President, CEO Announces Retirement After Nearly 13 Years, Replacement Search Starts


Sealaska recently announced the retirement of President & CEO Chris E. McNeil, Jr.

“Chris has a long history with Sealaska, and his leadership has guided us through many challenges and opportunities,” said Albert Kookesh, Sealaska board chair. “He has worked tirelessly on behalf of our tribal member shareholders and the Alaska Native community and we owe him and his family a tremendous debt of gratitude for his service.”

McNeil served as president and CEO for the past 12 years, and will retire within the next nine months, after a successor has been selected by Sealaska’s board of directors. McNeil will continue to lead Sealaska as its president and CEO throughout the recruitment and hiring of a new chief executive officer.

“Our entire management team and board will continue to be highly focused on accomplishing our strategic plan,” McNeil said. “My personal and professional commitment is to work closely with the board and an independent and reputable executive recruitment firm to ensure a seamless leadership transition.

“Sealaska is searching for a CEO to lead the next phase of innovation,” he added. “This transition of leadership will be carefully managed and transparent to tribal member shareholders.”

Sealaska is the regional Native institution for Southeast Alaska formed in 1972 pursuant to the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.  It represents more than 21,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribal member shareholders. Prior to becoming chief executive in 2001, McNeil served as a member of Sealaska’s board of directors and as the company’s corporate secretary and executive vice president and general counsel.

When McNeil was elected as CEO in 2001, Sealaska’s operations were in a difficult position.  He turned around those operations, and significantly increased Sealaska’s shareholder’s equity and its permanent fund.  In addition, he successfully led the enrollment of shareholder descendants and conveyance of additional shares for Elders to fruition, and brought the initially contentious Sealaska’s land bill to a point to where all major interest groups support the proposed legislation.
Sealaska has been communicating with its tribal member shareholders throughout 2013 about the transformation underway at the company and its increased focus on its operations.  The core Native values on which Sealaska’s business is based have led the company to evaluate its portfolio of companies, and act to align those subsidiaries with these values.

McNeil is Tlingit and a member of the Nisga’a Nation. He is Eagle Dakl’aweidí (Killer Whale) House and his Tlingit name is Shaakakóoni.  He and his wife Mary have two grown children, and two young grandchildren.

“I approach my retirement with the deepest respect and appreciation for Sealaska’s employees who work so hard for our shareholders,” McNeil said. “I have full confidence that Sealaska will reach ever higher to fulfill its purpose: to strengthen our people, culture and homelands.”