SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE 101
The mission of Southeast Conference is to undertake and support activities that promote strong economies, healthy communities, and a quality environment in Southeast Alaska.
Southeast Conference was incorporated in 1958 to lobby for a regional transportation system that eventually became the Alaska Marine Highway System. After that success, we stayed together to continue to advocate for issues that are key to the southeast region as a whole. Our goal is to help develop strong economies, healthy communities, and a quality environment in Southeast Alaska. We look for consensus and areas that we can work together for the betterment of the region. Our key issues include Transportation, Energy, Marine Industry, Timber, Mining, and Food Security. Southeast Conference has 3 permanent, full-time employees - Executive Director, Chief Finance Officer, and an Energy Coordinator. In addition to our paid employees, we have a volunteer Board of Directors and more than 185 member organizations & individuals that populate our many committees. We have members from nearly every community, chamber of commerce, and economic development organization in the region. Our membership also represents many regional transportation organizations, Alaska Native organizations, local & regional utilities, and other businesses. We help support, but are not synonymous with, the Southeast Conference of Mayors, the Southeast Conference of Chambers, the Southeast Legislative Caucus, and the Marine Transportation Advisory Board. Southeast Conference is the federally-designated Regional Economic Development District and the State-designated Alaska Regional Development Organization.
Southeast Alaska is a land of forested islands and shoreline stretching from Ketchikan to Yakutat. Major cities are Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan. Other towns are Petersburg, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Haines, Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Craig, Klawock, Yakutat, Skagway, and Gustavus. There are also many tiny (under 100 people) towns and villages, such as Baranof Warm Springs, Edna Bay, Elfin Cove, Excursion Inlet, Hyder, Meyers Chuck, Pelican, Port Alexander, Port Frederick, Port Protection, and Tenakee Springs. Municipalities, federally-recognized tribes, businesses, government agencies, organizations, and individuals located or doing business in Southeast Alaska who support the mission of Southeast Conference may become members of the Conference. Municipalities, businesses, government agencies, organizations and individuals that are not located or doing business in Southeast Alaska may become Associate Members of the Conference. Associate Membership includes all of the benefits of full membership except for the right to vote or introduce resolutions at the Annual or Special Meetings. Individuals from any location may also join as Associate Members.
Transfer of membership is prohibited.
Southeast Conference is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board manages the affairs of the organization between annual membership meetings. They meet at the call of the Chair. They provide direction to SEC staff on implementation of the work plan, and approve any interim resolutions or other official communications for the Conference. They also review and take action on recommendations from the various committees. The Board is comprised of 13 members, of which five (5) members must be municipal representatives elected or employed by their communities, or federally-recognized tribal representatives elected or employed by their organization, a minimum of five (5) members must represent the private sector and three (3) members are members-at-large, representing any member entity. The Nominating Committee (comprised of the Past-President and no less than 3 Southeast Conference members-in-good-standing) meets to make certain that a slate of candidates is presented to the membership which will comply with our corporate Articles and Bylaws. In addition, they strive to insure geographic, cultural, and gender diversity in the slate of candidates. This means making sure that all areas of the region are represented, that Native communities and people are represented, and that there is an appropriate mix of male and female members. At each Annual Meeting, a 2nd Vice President is elected from the current Board members, which involves a commitment to serve the following years as First Vice President, then President, and then Past-President. This results in a four-year commitment, and the term of the elected 2nd Vice President is adjusted accordingly. The Directors are elected by the membership at the Annual Business Meeting.
The Board President calls meetings, and sets the agenda, with assistance from staff. Committee work is routinely reviewed and acted upon as part of the meeting. Some issues are raised at the Board level without committee referral, at the call of the Chair, generally because of urgency in timing or prior process already initiated. The Board considers Board resolutions throughout the year, if they are consistent with direction from membership provided at the Annual Meeting. Board minutes are taken, and approved at subsequent meetings. They include records of all votes and issues discussed. Most meetings are via teleconference. Each meeting also includes a current review of the financial status, and an Energy program review, plus Committee information. Some action items are dealt with between meetings electronically.
The Annual Membership Meeting, as required by State law and the Bylaws, is traditionally held during September, in one of the member communities other than Juneau. Members vote on the location at the Annual Meeting. All members are encouraged to attend, and a comprehensive list of presenters is put together, to address all of the current issues before the Conference. Non-members are also encouraged to attend the Annual Meeting. During the Annual Meeting, all of the committees have an opportunity to meet, hear presenters, and deliberate as a committee on proposed resolutions. The recommendations of the committees, related to specific resolutions, are then put before the membership at the annual business meeting on the last day of the conference. A summary of the prior year's activity is provided to members.
Annual Business Meeting
At the Annual Business Meeting, the new board members are announced, the 2nd VP is elected, resolutions are voted on, and membership advises the Board on direction for the following year.
During the Legislative Session, a membership meeting is convened in Juneau to assess progress on the work plan(s) and to evaluate specific legislative issues. We attempt to gather all of our Southeast Legislators in a roundtable discussion, so members can have direct contact with them. Committees also meet face-to-face at this time and a Board meeting is also held.
Resolutions of the Southeast Conference are of two types: Membership resolutions, and Board resolutions. Membership resolutions are submitted by various members prior to the Annual Meeting. If they are submitted in time for assignment to a committee, and are approved by the Board for consideration, they are placed in the packet of proposed resolutions distributed at the beginning of the Annual Meeting. If they are submitted after the cutoff date (August 15th), they must be endorsed by 5 members and submitted the first day of the meeting. The Board then meets to consider whether they should be referred to committee and processed, or whether they can simply be added to the list of resolutions to consider at the annual business meeting. The Conference has specific requirements for resolution submission that are posted on the website. The membership votes on resolutions at the Annual Meeting, and adopted resolutions are distributed and posted on the website. Board resolutions are generated during the rest of the year, when timely reaction to events or issues is indicated. They typically come as a recommendation from a committee, but can also come from Board members. These are posted on our website and distributed as appropriate.
Economic Development District
Southeast Conference received this designation from the U.S. Dept of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, in 2002. It benefits our membership with reduced match requirement on federal grants, and access to other programs within that department. It requires us to have a five-year regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that is updated annually.
Southeast Alaska Conference of Mayors
Southeast Conference assisted an ad hoc group of mayors from member communities to gather and provide a unified voice on issues of common interest in 1995. Since then, Southeast Conference staff has assisted mayors with convening periodic meetings in various member communities. The mayors choose a chairperson, who sets their agenda and suggests letters of interest or support to be considered by the group. Southeast Conference frequently includes a Mayors' Meeting at both major meetings and provides administrative support as requested.
Marine Transportation Advisory Board
In 2002, Governor Murkowski adopted a Southeast Conference suggestion to form a citizens’ board to advise the Alaska Marine Highway System, by Administrative Order. Southeast Conference is usually heavily represented on the Marine Transportation Advisory Board, whose primary function is to provide the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner with advice on long-term strategy for building more cost-effective and efficient systems, while attempting to improve service to our served communities. Along with our very active Transportation Committee, this affiliation positions us well to influence the decisions that affect the long-term viability of the System.