We need to educate our youth and allow them to grow”

A daughter of Unsoon and Allen Varner of Anchorage, Monica Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration management in 2011 from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and a master’s in business administration in 2020 from Alaska Pacific University (APU). She earned a graduate certificate in Alaska Native Leadership from APU in 2019.

Her paternal grandparents are Rachel and Doug Minton of Wainwright and her paternal great-grandparents are Stanley and Irene Kootoak of Point Hope and Barrow. Monica received Doyon Foundation scholarships each semester while attending UAA and APU. Her hometown is Anchorage.

Monica Lee began her professional career in human resources and management, most of that time within the medical field, including eight years with Anchorage-based Southcentral Foundation. She went on to provide consulting for tribal organizations with an interest in workforce development, an approach aimed at enhancing economic stability by considering overall needs of a region as well as barriers faced by prospective workers. 

Monica works today as a human resource business partner at Arctic IT, a Doyon, Limited-owned business specializing in information technology and software services. The role involves her in leadership team projects that include establishing a shareholder outreach program.

“Supporting Alaska Native youth within their professional development is how I see our community growing strong,” she said. “I’m very passionate about shareholder outreach and hire.” 

Her goals include helping more school-age shareholders learn about education and workforce training opportunities available through their Alaska Native corporations. 

“I didn’t grow up realizing what Doyon, Limited and Doyon Foundation had to offer,” Monica said. “Students have so many different opportunities and support within the community. I want to educate them about the benefits they have through Doyon and other Alaska Native corporations.” 

She encourages students to develop habits for success like seeking out mentors who can help young people navigate opportunities and offer help when challenges arise. As she considers her own professional development, she credits the Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program at Alaska Pacific University as a valuable step. 

“That was one of the most meaningful educational moments in my life,” Monica said. It combines insight into the history of Alaska Native leaders with an overview of how community is built among Alaska Native people. 

“We have been blessed to have strong leaders support us this far. Now we need to educate our youth and allow them to grow,” Monica said. Benefits offered through Arctic Slope Regional Corp., Southcentral Foundation and Doyon Foundation made it possible for her to complete the Alaska Native leadership program. “I’m so grateful,” she said.

Monica and her husband, Trent Lee, operate a small business that includes cafes in four professionally managed office buildings in Anchorage. In addition to studying, working full time at Arctic IT and helping run the small business, she enjoys seeing Alaska with her family. 

“Time management is a difficult challenge. I schedule blocks of time for work, school and family to make sure my work is completed by the weekend,” she said. “In the summer, we’ll be on the boat or at the river fishing. In the winter we’re out snowmachining and exploring the backwoods with our children.”

Long-term goals include earning a doctorate and continuing career development efforts so that young Alaska Native shareholders are prepared to lead. 

“I plan to share my knowledge and experience,” Monica said. “My main goal is to support my community.”

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