Doyon shareholders elect one newcomer

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Just one seat changed hands in last week's election for the Doyon Ltd. board, but while no major policy switch was expected, the vote gave the Native corporation's governing panel a female majority.

Doyon Chairman Mike Irwin said he thought it was the first time an Alaska Native corporation board has had more women than men.

Shareholders Friday elected newcomer Shay Huntington McEwen and three incumbents. McEwen's victory gives the 13-member Doyon board seven female members.

Nineteen candidates competed for the four three-year board positions open. The four candidates receiving the most votes filled the slots.

McEwen was the top vote-getter, followed by incumbents Shirley Demientieff, Robert Silas and Miranda Wright.

McEwen was originally from Galena. She came to Fairbanks in 1993 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks and moved to town permanently in 1997. She's a project organizer with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

McEwen also ran for the board last year, but she was unsuccessful then. She attributed her victory this time around to a more organized campaign, including a mass mailing and a Web site.

''I learned a lot from running last year,'' she said. ''We had more of a campaign strategy this year.''

McEwen replaced vice-chairman Victor Nicholas, a Nulato store owner and commercial fisherman elected in 1998.

Two of the other successful candidates live in Fairbanks, Demientieff, a foster mother, and Wright, Doyon's executive director. Silas lives in Northway and serves as Doyon's treasurer. He's also president of Dineega Corp., the village Native corporation for Ruby.

Demientieff said she didn't think the Board's new gender ratio was indicative of anything about Doyon or Athabascan culture in particular. ''It's just something that happened,'' she said. ''There wasn't any set thing about women.''

In addition to the board elections, stockholders considered three ballot issues.

Demientieff said only 61 percent of shareholders registered this year, so it was impossible to pass two of the ballot measures that required super majorities.

One was a proposal to prohibit a person from serving as the president/CEO of Doyon and as a board member at the same time. That measure needed yes votes from 75 percent of the shares to pass.

A ballot question proposing several changes to Doyon's articles of incorporation to bring the company in line with Alaska state corporate laws also was rejected, failing to get the required two-thirds of all shares.

Voters did approve a bylaw change to make the wording of the bylaws gender-neutral and easier to understand, as well as making them compatible with state laws. The measure, which needed a simple majority, also makes the vice-chairman of the board an official office of the corporation and limits board membership to voting shareholders.

Doyon has nearly 15,000 shareholders and owns 12.5 million acres of land.

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