Emerging Leaders


One of Governor Hickel’s main tenets was that Alaskans must understand the obligations of citizenship. With that in mind, the Institute has hosted a suite of opportunities that enable young Alaskans to be educated about – and engaged in – their responsibilities to one another, their community, and the state. These civic engagement programs are a way to participate in issues that affect our future, actively addressing our challenges, and leveraging our opportunities for a well-managed state and commons.


The Institute’s Emerging Leaders program has evolved over the years and been delivered in many forms. At its heart is a young leaders program that informs Alaskans ages 21-40 about – and engages them in – community and statewide policy issues.  The Institute of the North believes that young Alaskans are committed to a prosperous future in Alaska and are united in wanting to contribute meaningfully to that future. The Institute provides opportunities for young professionals and leaders to step up into key policy discussions; political and civic engagement; and professional development.


Emerging Leaders Dialogue

The Institute hosted its first Emerging Leaders Dialogue in 2008, as a result of the enthusiasm demonstrated at the 2007 Alaska Dialogue. The Emerging Leaders Dialogue builds upon the work and energy of past Alaska Dialogues, basing the theme and content of each year’s program on conversations with young professional development programs, statewide organizations and current leaders. The Institute of the North is committed to growing a generation of young leaders who recognize and act on their responsibility to Alaska; building strong relationships between Alaskans from across the state; and providing a platform for empowering emerging leaders.


Participants from across the state gathered in Kodiak with the goal of generating tactical solutions for making Alaska an enviable place to call home. We addressed topics such as:

  • Career development and networking strategies for young professionals
  • Common hurdles and cross-cutting challenges at work and in the community
  • Handling statewide policy issues and having a role in their resolution
2012 Emerging Leaders Dialogue – STRATEGIC DOING AND A VISION FOR ALASKA

Participants from around the state to a strategic doing session looking at Alaska’s mission and vision; critical issues facing the state; and roles for and responsibilities of the next generation. Along the way, attendees helped develop a plan for statewide connectivity. Lead:North community groups in Barrow, Sitka, Kodiak, the Aleutians, Kotzebue and Dillingham were introduced; and attendees worked on developing ideas for implementing rural-urban exchanges, launching meaningful community activities and taking advantage of mentoring opportunities.


Convened in Kotzebue, participants creatively addressed the financial and human challenges facing Alaska and built a strong network of responsible, informed decision-makers. Attendees engaged in a number of issues, including:

  • Energy and Transportation
  • Education and Community Development
  • Cultural Heritage and Social Capital


Lead:North Community Cohorts

In communities around the state, the Institute of the North has facilitated conversations among young leaders that have coalesced into active groups of community members, ages 21-40, who are working to develop opportunities in their community for young Alaskans to step up. Conversations have taken place in Petersburg, Barrow, Kotzebue, Dillingham, Unalaska, Kodiak, Prince Rupert, and Juneau. Here, and in many other communities, young Alaskans are striving to have a meaningful role in decision-making that impacts their future.


As young community leaders in the Aleutians region, we recognize:

  • The sharing and carrying forward of the knowledge and experience of our elders is critical, and important to all generations;
  • Our individual and community identity is derived from and maintained by our heritage and culture;
  • The stewardship of our unique natural and human resources determines our economic sustainability and future;
  • Formal, informal and traditional education is key to a healthy, growing community;
  • Our vision of the future must infuse well-established ideas with new perspectives.

Members of Lead: Aleutians are active and engaged community leaders who:

  • act as positive role models and mentors, share knowledge, and encourage the next generation;
  • take the initiative to learn from established leaders and better understand our history and current issues; and
  • address challenges by asking difficult questions and proactively seeking out answers


  • To improve the community and make Sitka a desirable place for younger generations to stay and raise families.
  • To facilitate communication in Sitka by reaching out to other groups, reaching out to each other, networking, and sharing information.
  • To encourage diverse backgrounds and ideas.
  • To process and implement great ideas.
  • To provide a fun, accessible mechanism for community involvement by youth.
  • To mentor and be mentored.
  • To set Sitka’s next generation of leaders up for success.
  • To engage high schoolers and support their leadership potential.
  • To maintain flexibility.
  • To pursue a wide variety of community development and youth leadership events and opportunities.
  • To create a platform for other new groups and individuals to be inspired and take action on what they care about in the community.

In five to ten years, we would like to see Sitka have:

  • More youthful leadership
  • A stronger youthful voice
  • More all-inclusive activities



Draft Vision Statement – Leadership: Kodiak brings those vested in Kodiak’s future together to create opportunities for emerging leaders.

Draft Mission Statement – Support and develop the growth of a diverse group by facilitating a forum for networking, leadership development, inspiration and mentoring.

Overall Interests in developing Leadership:Kodiak:

  • Community Involvement – understanding opportunities
  • Social Networking (including w/no alcohol)
  • Developing comfort level with assuming leadership
  • Empowering others to lead
  • Identifying Opportunities
  • Developing activities for community
  • Have Fun!
  • Offer solutions to community challenges
  • Find Local Mentors and offer mentorship
  • Support/Educate young leaders and board members
  • Make the organization inclusive!
  • Develop support and self-esteem base

Leadership:Barrow is an organization of individuals 21 to 40 years of age interested in leadership. Collectively we strive to develop, support, and empower one another as leaders in all aspects of life. Additionally we work to strengthen and promote meaningful and effective communication across generations.

PURPOSE: Leadership:Barrow will address leadership gaps in our community by acting as a link between generations; successfully developing and supporting one another; and, fostering and nurturing leadership in the next generation.

METHOD: Leadership:Barrow will accomplish this by being action-oriented; developing mentor and recognition opportunities; volunteering and serving in our community; acting as role models; sharing and connecting skill sets, and knowledge; and offering leadership development training.


  • Our actions are strengthened with virtue, honor and clarity.
  • We are interdependent and collectively, we have the potential to uplift and inspire a strong society.
  • Our power lies in our ability to think and act with compassion and encourage healthy relationships and choices.
  • Iñua. Walking a path of grace and spirit, we are interconnected and in good standing with all living things.
  • There is great opportunity in a clear, intelligent, honest and open vision.
  • Together we inspire our highest purpose and create opportunity for a powerful connection to each other.
  • Laughter provides an important lightness and offers us a sense of renewal and humility.
  • When we live in balance we are able to adapt and endure no matter our hardships.
Conference of Young Alaskans

In 2006, the first Conference of Young Alaskans (COYA) took place in Fairbanks to commemorate the 50th anniversary of statehood. The 55 young delegates at that conference came away feeling like they had been part of something special, that they had created something unique, and that they could make a difference in the future of their state. They insisted the experience be replicated and expanded. With that in mind, the second COYA was held in 2009 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Alaska’s Statehood, with 53 young Alaskans, ages 16-25, gathered in Girdwood to revive the spirit that brought life to our State’s Constitution and struggle for Statehood. Inspired by the voices of history, these young leaders took the lessons from their lives and turned them into visions, goals, and proposed actions for our state and its people. Representing 26 communities, the Conference of Young Alaskans delegates deliberated on five topic areas. The three days of dialogue resulted in a final document, which represents the consensus of the group. In addition to this report, the delegates developed respect for Alaska’s past and present leaders, discovered insights into the challenges facing the diverse regions of Alaska, and found inspiration for making a positive difference in our State’s future. COYA reconvened in 2012 in Juneau.

Mission Statement and principles of coordination

The mission of the Conference of Young Alaskans is to connect young Alaskans to a rich history, a vibrant present and a thriving future. The principles of coordination around this mission are:

  • Fairness in representation
  • Diversity of perspectives
  • Commitment to one another and the state
  • Value in sharing, dialogue and trust
  • Nurturing relationships

The conference will draw delegates from across the state to consider the challenges facing Alaska and her people. Together, delegates will develop an overall vision statement, goals and proposed courses of action in five issue areas. COYA delegates represent the voice of Alaska’s next generation of leaders, demonstrating the potential and possibility of Alaskans putting aside their differences to work together for the common good. A major goal is to recreate the atmosphere of unity and cooperation that marked the struggle for statehood. At the same time, conveying to young Alaskans the many aspects of our history that together shape our future is a primary goal of COYA. Delegates also receive a primer on current issues and, together, articulate a path for Alaska’s future. This is a learning opportunity and provides young Alaskans the chance to demonstrate leadership, facilitation, negotiation and strategic planning skills.

Fiscal Futures

The Institute of the North believes that young Alaskans should be at the forefront in determining what their future looks like. A solid foundation in fiscal policy will help in establishing that, leading the Institute of the North and Elevate Alaska to host a unique evening fiscal program aimed to inspire creative thought and consideration of the state’s fiscal future.

The event was convened by Nils Andreassen, Benjamin Mohr, Skye Rubadeau McRoberts, and Stacy Schubert. Over a four course meal at the Captain Cook Hotel, in downtown Anchorage, established leaders presented young Alaskans with four possible fiscal future for the state, touching on important issues from constitutional rights, to petroleum management, to tax structure.

Watch the Video


Prepared by Scott Goldsmith, December 10, 2010

Download Full Version: Fiscal Futures Scenarios


Those who think good luck will keep the good times coming can point to a number of times in the past when luck did save the day for Alaska—say, the Prudhoe Bay oil discovery, or the high oil prices that have spared us from most of the effects of the current national recession. So it’s possible to be optimistic and believe that the state’s luck will hold—with rising oil prices driving future developments and keeping the economy healthy and the state treasury full.


Alaskans who know the state’s history as a boom-and-bust economy—and especially the economic turmoil Alaska went through when oil prices crashed in the mid-1980s—have reason to believe it could happen again. World oil markets are nothing if not volatile. So it’s possible to be pessimistic and think plummeting oil prices could dry up investment in petroleum development and blindside Alaska’s economy again.


The economy enjoyed moderate, steady growth in the 1990s. But at the same time flat oil prices and falling oil production were eating away the state’s oil revenues. The state balanced the budget during most of the 1990s by using the Constitutional Budget Reserve—and if it hadn’t been for that rainy-day account, the need for dramatic budget cuts and tax increases would have put the brakes on the economy. So it’s not unreasonable to think that if future oil prices flattened and there was little new exploration and development, both state spending and the economy could dwindle.


Alaska does have a record of actively managing its publicly owned resources for the maximum benefit of residents (as the state constitution requires). One of the first acts of the new state legislature was banning fish traps and breaking the hold of outside interests on Alaska’s salmon fisheries. A more recent example is creation of the Permanent Fund, which Alaskans approved as a way to save part of oil revenues, in anticipation of a time when those revenues would be gone. So looking ahead, there is precedent for the state to actively manage its petroleum resource—through strategic planning—instead of letting world oil markets, the federal government, or other outside interests determine the fate of our economy.