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Meet the Council

Our nine member Traditional Council / Tribal Government, currently operates seven (7) departments: Health and Social Services, Housing, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Justice, Transportation, and Accounting/Administration, to serve the needs of our Tribal citizens and another estimated 2,373 Alaska Natives and Native American Peoples living in our service area, as well as the non-native community members living in Glacier View, Chickaloon, Sutton, Palmer, and Butte.



Council Members are:  Chief Gary Harrison-Traditional Chief and Co-Chairman, Rick Harrison-Co-Chairman, Shawna Larson-Vice-Chairman, Member, Penny Westing-Secretary/Elder, Albert Harrison-Treasurer/Elder, Doug Wade-Member/Elder, Kari Shaginoff-Member, Lisa Wade-Member, and ninth member seat is currently vacant.


Executive Staff are: Gary Hay-Executive Director, Shelia Olson-Executive Assistant.

  Gary Harrison, Traditional Chief and Co-Chairman: Chief Gary was elected to the Traditional Council in 1984 and was named Traditional Chief in 1994. Chief Gary is the longest standing member of the Council. For the past 25 years Chief Gary has been an amazing and courageous leader. It is because of his foundational work on behalf of Chickaloon Native Village that we have come so far as a Tribal Government and that we are considered role models for other indigenous communities around the world. Chief has served on Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Tribal Justice Advisory Group, Office of Justice Programs, Justice Programs Council on Native American Affairs, Organization Of The American States, Arctic Athabascan Council, Indigenous Peoples Secretariat, Arctic Council, the Sovereignty Network, United Tribes of Alaska and the International Environmental Network. As a Council Member, Chief brings a passion and enthusiasm for promoting quality health services for all Alaska Natives, advocating for community and economic development projects that benefit the communities of Sutton and Chickaloon, and ensuring that our Tribal Government is recognized as a sovereign Nation.


Rick Harrison, Co-Chairman: was seated on the Traditional Council in 2004. Rick is also on the Board of Directors for Cook Inlet Tribal Council, a non-profit subsidiary of Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, providing a range of social and behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, education, and job training services to Alaska Native and American Indians living in the Municipality of Anchorage and other Cook Inlet communities. Rick is also an alternate Board Member for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Rick is the youngest member of the Traditional Council and is also a member of the Finance Committee.


Shawna Larson, Vice-Chairman: Shawna is a Senior Program Coordinator at the University of Arizona.  She is Ahtna Athabascan from Chickaloon Village on her father’s side, and Supiaq from the village of Port Graham on her mother’s side.  Shawna’s previous experience includes spending 13 years with Environmental non-profits working on International and local human rights and environmental policies.  Previously she served four years on the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council and was selected by the Utne Reader magazine as a young visionary.  She has worked extensively in community organizing at an international, national, and local level.


Penny Westing, Secretary/Elder: She was seated on the Traditional Council in 1996. Penny is the Council Secretary, and she is also a long-time staff member. Penny has worked for the Tribal government since we were federally recognized in 1996 wearing many hats; Tribal Administrator, Bureau of Indian Affairs Project Director, Tribal Enrollment Officer, Education Department Administrator, Health Department Office Manager and currently, Penny has been the Program Manager of our Indian Child Welfare Program for the past nine years. Penny is a tireless advocate on behalf Alaska Native Children and Families and was nominated for the annual Light of Hope Award in 2008 and won the award in 2009. This award is given to those who work tirelessly to educate and heal families and when necessary rescue children at risk. Penny’s wisdom, spirituality and sense of justice make her an invaluable council member.


  Albert Harrison, Treasurer, Elder: He was seated on the Traditional Council in 2007, and in 2008 he was elected Treasurer. Albert has been a constant support, mentor, teacher and volunteer for CNV since 1990 when he returned home after many years outside. While outside, Albert lived mostly in California with his wife and worked as an electrician. Albert currently lives in Sutton, close to all CNV activities and offices. Albert is a very active Council Member; never missing a council meeting, committee meeting, community gathering, or Elder lunch. Frequently, Albert can be seen visiting each department quizzing staff about their current projects.


Doug Wade, Member/Elder: He was seated on the Traditional Council in 2002 and was the Council Chairman 2004 – 2012. Doug is also a member of the Finance Committee. Doug leads with confidence, charisma, and a fantastic sense of humor. Doug spent much of his life working as an electrician on large and small projects and as a heavy equipment operator, experience that frequently sends the staff his way, when they are in need of advice on a construction/building project. Doug cares deeply for all the staff, Tribal and non-Tribal, and makes the time in his busy schedule to check in with all of them about their work on a regular basis. Doug has also been instrumental in helping to streamline council meetings so more work is accomplished in less time.
  Kari Shaginoff, Member:  Kari was seated on the Traditional Council in 2015. She is a Program Manager, for the Chickaloon Village ANA Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kayax Dahwdoldiix Ce’e Project . She is Ahtna Athabascan from Chickaloon Village on her father’s side, and Pyramid Paiute from the Northern Nevada on mother’s side.  Kari is a mother of two and lives in Sutton, Alaska along Ts’es Tac’ilaexde Eska Creek.  She worked previously as the Program Coordinator, C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Center, Program Manager, ANA Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kenaege’ Be’endze’ Project, Administrative Assistant, International Indian Treaty Council, Language Coordinator, Ahtna Heritage Foundation, Teacher Apprentice, ANA Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kenaege’ Mentorship Project, and Education Director, Ya Ne Dah Ah School.

Kari believes in our Tribal Government and the true meaning of tribal sovereignty and activity learning about the Ahtna culture and language so we can pass on to the next generations.


Lisa Wade, Member: She was temporarily seated on the Traditional Council in September 2012 until the next election. She has also been working for the Tribal government as the Health and Social Services Director since 2007.  With her team, Lisa successfully re-opened our small clinic as a community health clinic in 2011.  Elders hold a special place in her heart and she works tirelessly to ensure that we keep the Elders Lunch Program going each week and that they receive the culturally-appropriate medical care that they need.  Her other passion is Ya Ne Dah Ah, Chickaloon’s school. She and the school staff revamped the interior and are upgrading the curriculum. She previously served as the Council’s Treasurer in the 1990’s.




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