On Friday, May 5, 2017, SOM honored our Beta Gamma Sigma inductees for 2017.
Beta Gamma Sigma is a national honor society recognizing the highest scholastic honor a student can achieve in Business Administration at an AACSB accredited institution. To be eligible for membership in this distinguished
organization, a student must rank in the top of their class.
Top 10 percent of the Junior class
Top 10 percent of the Senior class
Top 20 percent of MBA students
Tara Ann Ellis
On Saturday, May 6, 2017 they celebrated the culmination of hours of studying, numerous papers and presentations, and stressful exams. Combine all that with juggling work, family, and out-of-classroom activities necessary to prepare for careers, and these students should feel proud that they are ready to lead into the future.
On April 15, 2017, the School of Management honored Steve Lundgren, President and CEO of Denali State Bank, as the 2017 Business Leader of the Year award.
The UAF Business Leader of the Year award is given to a deserving recipient based on leadership in the Fairbanks business community, business achievements, community service, and educational support.
The event sold out for the eighth year in a row. Many SOM students worked hard to make the night a success, volunteering their time in order to earn a ticket to the event. They sold tickets, ironed hundreds of chair sashes, worked with vendors, and decorated the venue.
Funds raised through the Business Leader of the Year event support student organizations at SOM. The audience, made up of the Interior community and business leaders, demonstrated enthusiastic support for our students, collectively raising over $36,000 – all of which will go back to the future business leaders of Alaska: UAF School of Management students.
To view photos and videos from the event, click the links below:
Lori is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Alaska, Far North and Interior District. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing in 1996.
Why did you choose to attend UAF?
I had taken a year off from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. My family lived in Alaska, so I decided to move here and continue my education at UAF. SOM had the same AACSB accreditation as schools like Harvard, Cal Poly, and many other top business schools, yet it provided a more intimate learning environment.
Share with us an outstanding teacher or class. My very best Professor was Dr. Laura Milner. She demanded excellence and pushed us to be better students and to think outside the box. She was tough, but she was fair. I remember a group project that we spent hours on, but we turned it in 30 minutes late. When we met with her, she told us that when we handed it in late she wanted nothing more than to fail us because deadlines are critical, and as professionals there are no excuses for being late. However, the paper was so well done that she had no choice but to give us an A, and in fact our recommendations were implemented by the company we did the research for. She taught me a great lesson about commitments and fairness. I can’t remember the name of most of my professors, but I do remember hers, as she taught me the most.
What is a favorite SOM memory?
Working on the Business Leader of the Year was a lot of fun. I was working full time while going to school, so my ability to get involved in campus life was rather limited. Being a part of working on this event in my final year was truly one of my best memories.
How did SOM prepare you for your professional career?
I learned that, in addition to “book learning,” teamwork and cooperation are critical to success. A willingness to ask questions, respecting other people’s time, and working as a high functioning team will produce much better results than working individually.
What does being a UAF alumna mean to you? I have lived in Fairbanks for the past 25 years and am very proud to be able to say that I am a UAF alumna. When I hear teenagers criticize or downgrade UAF because it is in their back yard, I can easily give testimony to the fantastic education that I received.
What keeps you enthusiastic about your career?
I appreciate being able to put my education and knowledge to work for the good of our community. The many curve balls I’ve experienced in my own life have helped me understand the importance of nonprofits to our community. Not only do we provide many jobs, but we are the safety net for when life throws those curve balls. I am honored to be able to put my arm around a family that just lost their home to a fire and let them know someone cares, they are not alone, and we will help. I am passionate about the mission of the American Red Cross. Fires and disasters do not discriminate; they are great equalizers and we are able to help regardless of all the factors that tend to divide people.
I am never bored. I am constantly challenged by the importance of providing a positive working environment for my staff and volunteers, an environment that encourages team work yet individuality, inspiration when we are so busy that we can’t think, open communication across service lines, and the support they need to do their jobs effectively.
What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success? Honesty and integrity are the primary skills that have contributed to my success. No one can truly be successful if those around them do not trust them, and that only comes from working with honesty and integrity.
What advice would you give to current students? No amount of advancement up the corporate ladder is worthwhile if it is not achieved with honesty, integrity, and ethical decisions. Part of that means not making commitments that you can’t keep. Do not forget appointments, do not promise to do something and then not do it, and never pass the buck – if you made a mistake, own it and learn from it. No matter how good you are at the tasks of a job, if you cannot be trusted as a person of your word, you will never truly succeed. Additionally, you should never be afraid to ask questions; there is never a time when you will need to pretend to know everything and have all the answers. Finally, have fun! It’s OK to laugh and have fun at work, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be productive, but work shouldn’t be a place of misery – laughter does wonders!
Lori heading to Hawaii with her daughters
What is your favorite breakfast food?Smoothie
Dream vacation destination? A sandy beach with lots of sunshine
Last music digital download or streaming music channel?Google Play
When was the last time you sang out loud? Yesterday just to watch my daughter cringe since I sing off key
What was your last DIY project?Building my shed
Lori with Red Cross staff on Community Smoke Alarm Install Day
Sam Alexander is an instructor in the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) program and the faculty advisor for the Native Alaskan Business Leaders student organization. HSEM is an fast-growing major and SOM instructors like Sam helps bring both academic concepts and real-world experience into the classroom. Sam encourages businesses to hire students, who can offer new perspectives for their organizations.
Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. (UCM) is a fourth-generation family-owned business. Joe Usibelli Jr. currently serves as President of the corporation and his father, Joe Usibelli, 1978 UAF Business Leader of the Year, is chairman of the board of directors. UCM was founded in 1943 by Emil Usibelli in the mountains of the Alaska Range, near the town of Healy, Alaska. The mine is located 115 miles south of Fairbanks. UCM currently holds six permits that provide access to over 100-million tons of coal. In 2017, the mine is projected to produce approximately 1-million tons. Today, UCM provides coal to the six power plants in Interior Alaska: GVEA’s Healy 1 & 2, Aurora Energy in downtown Fairbanks, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright Army Post, and the UAF Combined Heat & Power plant on campus.
Four generations of the Usibelli family have lived in or near Healy. With the mine in the family’s backyard, it was no surprise that six years before it was required by federal law, UCM pioneered a successful land restoration program to establish a natural landscape on mined land. The land is contoured and then seeded with a mixture of grasses and plants indigenous to northern regions. Over the years, through a partnership with the local school, children have helped collect cones from local trees to germinate seedlings for transplanting.
The mine supports many community events and activities, and through the Usibelli foundation, provides grants to more than 100 organizations annually throughout Alaska.
UCM’s involvement with SOM
SOM plays a critical role in providing students with the education, tools, and resources they need to be successful in the workplace upon graduation; this is important not only for the mine, but for businesses across the state. UCM has a long history of supporting UAF and SOM, including management team members serving on the Business Advisory Council and the Accounting Advisory Board, sponsorship and volunteers for the annual Business Leader of the Year Banquet, participation in the annual Spring Etiquette Seminar and Dinner, and two $5,000 scholarships per year for SOM students. Earlier this year, UCM pledged $75,000 to become the lead sponsor for the UAF Arctic Innovation Competition for the next three years.
UCM support of UAF
Since 1977, UCM has donated more than $4.2 million dollars to UAF, including the UA Museum of the North. The importance of a healthy community fueled by the commitment from private enterprise remains a priority for the Usibelli family and for the mine. From funding scholarships to providing the lead gift for the Engineering Building and from establishing the Usibelli Awards to supporting university athletes, UCM has a long and proud relationship with UAF.
Join UCM in Support
For UCM, the choice to support SOM and UAF is an easy one. UAF is the state’s premier educational institution and over the years the university has assisted with research projects directly related to the coal mining industry, natural resource development, and the electrical power generation business. UAF is truly building the workforce of the future – something that benefits every business in the state. Supporting UAF is a two-way partnership!
UAF Chancellor Dana Thomas, UA President Jim Johnsen, UCM VP of Public Relations Lisa Herbert, SOM Dean Mark Herrmann, and Dr. Ping Lan at AIC 2016
David Hale is a family man and community leader in Fairbanks, Alaska. David was the winner of the 2013 Business Leader of the Year and is well known for his great involvement in the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. David is the president of Hale & Associates, where he assists clients with commercial coverage for construction, public, and municipal entities. David Hale understands the importance of education and offers SOM students uplifting advice on the opportunities ahead.
After enlisting as a junior in high school, I served six years as army infantry. First stop was Fort Benning for basic training; followed by an assignment at Fort Wainwright and then Washington State. I was deployed twice. In 2008 I served in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the second time in 2011 in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. After the army, I moved back to Fairbanks, where my family has made our home.
When I began my university studies, I explored several career options, including nursing or history. I eventually found my way to the School of Management (SOM) and decided the business program fit well with my military background, given my experience with organizational strategy and management.
Opportunities to learn beyond the classroom is one of the best things about SOM. Joining the Associated Students of Business student organization enabled me to travel to San Francisco with the National Millennial Community. It was one of my most impactful experiences as a student. During this trip, I met students from other universities and networked with executives from wellknown organizations including: the Golden State Warriors NBA team, Google, Verizon, and eBay.
Another standout experience was working as a student assistant in the SOM Dean’s office. Although I have an outgoing personality and am comfortable with people, it was my first post-army job and I had no actual office experience. This position prepared me for the professional workforce by giving me the knowledge, skills, and confidence to interact in an office environment and relax. I learned that if I don’t know how to do something, I can simply ask for help and guidance. These are skills that employers look for, and I believe that SOM helped me gain those skills.
After graduating this semester, I will officially be a SOM alumnus. Looking back, the best advice I can give to students is to put in the hard work. For example, in my marketing class we were able to choose an option that required more work, but also offered more experience and a challenging group project. I can honestly say I learned so much more than I would have if I had taken the easier option. I also created a feasibility study for an entrepreneurship class, which involved writing a business plan for a company that I would want to start. I did my plan on a donut shop and learned a lot through trial and error.
Networking is essential to success and I recommend students start networking as early as possible. I wish I would have gotten involved earlier in my studies. It feels good to be building a professional network with people at this early stage of my career. I am proud to say my hard work and networking paid off and I recently accepted a position as an HR Analyst for UA Statewide.
My sense of loyalty to SOM is strong and I want to stay connected. I enjoy mentoring students and I would love to come back as a guest speaker. In addition, I hope to support the school financially as much as I can. Please join me in staying connected to SOM, and give any way you can.
Hayden Nilson is a UAF alumnus who graduated in the spring of 2016 with a double major in finance and accounting. Hayden was very involved with the GAAP (Great Alaskan Accounting People) student organization during his time at UAF, participating in events like the Alaska Native Corporations Seminar and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. After graduation, Hayden took a position with Robinson & Ward, PC in Fairbanks. Hayden understands the importance of staying involved with UAF after graduation and gives current students advice about how to get more involved at SOM.
Steve Lundgren is President and CEO of Denali State Bank, a locally-owned community bank. Steve’s career in the financial services industry is a true success story spanning over three decades, during which he has served the Fairbanks business community as a leader, mentor, and influencer. He demonstrates the mission, vision, and goals of Denali State Bank every day as he reaches out to our community. One only has to step into his banking facility to recognize his focus on customers and their needs.
Steve began his career in Oregon as a management trainee at a small S&L after graduating from Oregon State University. Young, single, and adventuresome, Steve then signed a three-year contract in the early 80s to relocate from Portland to Fairbanks and work for Alaska USA FCU. Finding winters cold in Fairbanks, and finding Susan Virgin, a native Fairbanksan with long-term Alaskan roots, Steve convinced Susan to marry him and they decided to make Fairbanks their home. Steve next accepted a position at Key Bank working with Mike Milam, who would become a lifelong friend. After nearly 15 years at Key Bank, Bart LeBon offered Steve a position at Mt. McKinley Bank, where he worked for six years before moving to Denali State Bank.
Steve has been a progressive leader in the local banking industry and is also well recognized nationally. He’s the Alaskan representative on the American Bankers Association Community Bankers Council, and he’s past president of the Alaska Bankers Association, representing all seven banks that operate within the state of Alaska.
Steve serves on the board of directors, is a past board chair, and currently chairs the Finance Committee of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. He’s a member and past president of the Fairbanks Sunrisers Rotary Club, and a former board chair of Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. Steve has also served in leadership positions for many other community and service organizations, including the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Community Advisory Board, the Interior Builders’ Association, Junior Achievement of Fairbanks, and the United Way of the Tanana Valley. He also chaired the American Heart Association Heart Walk in 2016.
Dozens of local businesses have benefited from Steve’s expertise, business savvy and excellent business and social judgment. In the setting of volunteer board venues, Steve impresses others with his ability to access, organize, and prioritize effectively to bring consensus to the board action. He is able to lead business groups to the best business decision without sacrificing the goal, quality of outcome, or integrity of the individuals working in the group; he’s advocated issues important to his industry and to the community to our elected leaders locally, in Juneau, and in Washington, D.C.
Steve also has a long history of supporting the military. He’s a member of the Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board, and he currently serves as National Treasurer of the Air Force Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Steve is also the Alaska vice-chair and Northern Alaska region chair for the Alaska Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
Steve served for many years on the Fairbanks Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee, and the fruits of his efforts are apparent in the announcements regarding military expansion. He was active in promoting Eielson AFB during the threats of closure or realignment, as well as promoting the F-35s introduction to Eielson AFB. Steve understands the economic impacts on the community and the needs for housing, financing, and community services that adding several thousand new residents will entail. In the year 2000, Steve received the prestigious Jim Messer Award, given by the Fairbanks Chamber at the Military Appreciation Banquet to an individual who best promoted military/community relations over the years.
Steve is a remarkable advocate for education. He serves on the UAF Advocacy Committee and in this capacity, has provided testimony to the UA Board of Regents and other legislative bodies in support of the University’s mission. Steve provides support and mentorship for university students and local young professionals. Steve is proud that 16 of his 80 employees at Denali State Bank have degrees from UAF, many from the School of Management, and others are currently attending school at UAF.
It’s not all work and community service for Steve. He and Susan have three children. After finishing college outside, their daughter Ashley and her husband Mike Strum recently returned to work at Tanana Valley Clinic and are expecting their first child in April 2017; son Derek works in Fairbanks at the Boys and Girls Home; and youngest daughter Kira is a senior at Western Washington University. Steve is an avid racquetball player. He and Susan enjoy spending time in Hawaii, and the entire family, along with close friends the Carsons, enjoy an annual four-day float trip down the Gulkana River.
Join us in celebration! The Business Leader of the Year banquet and award ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at the Westmark Hotel.