Leadership

Board of Directors

The Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is overseen by a nine-member voluntary board comprised of Goldbelt shareholders, tribal leaders, and community members.

Jacqueline Pata

President

Jacqueline Pata began serving on the GHF board in 2020 and was elected President of the Board in 2021. Jackie is President & CEO of the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and previously served as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, DC. Jackie is an original Goldbelt shareholder.

Leilani Wilson Walkush

Vice President

Leilani Wilson Walkush began serving on the GHF board in 2020 and was elected Vice President in 2021. Leilani is a Senior Consultant with Breakwater Investment Group and also serves on the Goldbelt, Inc. Board of Directors since being elected in 2017. Leilani holds a Bachelor of Science in Financial Counseling & Planning from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Administration in Business Management from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Nadja Kookesh

Secretary

Nadja Kookesh began serving on the GHF Board in 2020 and was elected Board Secretary in 2021. Nadja is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for Goldbelt, Inc. Previously she worked for global companies that include Microsoft Corporation and Amazon. Nadja holds a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Western Washington University and also completed leadership training at Carnegie Mellon University. Nadja is a Goldbelt shareholder.

Derek Duncan

Director

Derek Duncan began serving on the GHF board in 2019. Derek is a Realtor and Partner Agent at The Hannah Group in San Jose, California. Previously he was the Vice President of Alaska Operations for Goldbelt, Inc. and also served on their Board of Directors. Derek holds a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Francisco. Derek is an original Goldbelt shareholder.

Catherine Edwards

Director

Catherine Edwards began serving on the GHF board in 2020. Catherine Edwards is the Executive Director of the Suquamish Tribe in Washington State. Previously she was employed with the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation as a Guardian Ad Litem. Catherine also serves as 1st Vice President of Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Catherine is currently pursuing an associate degree in business at the University of Alaska Southeast. Catherine is a Goldbelt shareholder.

David Russell-Jensen

Director

David Russell-Jensen joined the GHF board in 2017. David is the Development Officer at Sealaska Heritage Institute. Prior to that he was the PITAAS Project Facilitator. at the University of Alaska Southeast where he also graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a major in Alaska Native Language & Studies and minor in Anthropology. David is a Goldbelt shareholder and former Goldbelt, Inc. intern.

Karen Taug

Director

Karen Taug began serving on the GHF board in 2021. Karen is professionally retired from a career in finance and accounting. Prior to retiring, she worked as the Controller and Finance Director of Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation and for Bartlett Regional Hospital. Karen currently is a member of the Sealaska Board of Directors and serves on the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Karen is an original Goldbelt shareholder and formerly served on the Goldbelt, Inc. Board Directors.

Steven Scott McClure

Director

Steven Scott McClure began serving on the GHF board in 2018 and also served as GHF’s Board President. Steven is the Radiation Control Manager for the Europa Clipper Mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Steven holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of California Los Angeles. Steven is a Goldbelt shareholder.

Mike Tagaban

Director

Mike Tagaban began serving on the GHF board in 2020. Mike is the Operations Manager for Goldbelt Security, LLC. He is retired from the Juneau Police Department and currently also serves on the Board of Directors for the Douglas Island Pink & Chum (DIPAC). Mike studied Business Administration at Sheldon Jackson College. Mike is an original Goldbelt shareholder.

Management

Desiree Jackson

Executive Director

Desiree Jackson was appointed Executive Director of the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation in 2021. Prior to joining GHF, she served as the Director of Tribal Services at the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and held management positions with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In addition, she is a Registered Dietitian (RD) who specializes in Alaska Native traditional and customary diet.

Desiree holds an Executive Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Strategic Planning as well as Alaska Native Executive Leadership Certifications from Alaska Pacific University. She is also a graduate of Kansas State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics.

​ ​