Donlin Strengthens Community Program

Good Neighbor Initiative Expands to Eight Communities

Storyknife, May/June 2024 edition

Donlin Strengthens Community Program

Being a good neighbor can mean a lot of things.

Often it means sharing food during a crisis, loaning equipment and taking good care of the land around you.

In 2023, Donlin Gold expanded its community liaison program, a good-neighbor initiative it began in the Calista Region several years ago.

The role of a community liaison is mainly to keep the company aware of what’s happening in communities and identify needs that would be appropriate for Donlin Gold to support, explains Calista Shareholder and Donlin Gold Community Liaison Coordinator Samantha Angaiak-Miller.

The liaisons also answer questions from community members about the project, and what it’s like to work there.

Recent examples of needs identified by the liaisons and addressed by Donlin Gold included helping out with supplies and refreshments during a search and rescue mission and supporting a school fundraiser.

“We work together as a team, and we’re like a family. We talk to each other, we laugh, we cry. You know, we help each other.”

Yago Jacob, Calista Shareholder/Donlin Gold Community Liaison

In 2023, Donlin Gold spent approximately $1.5 million on community investments in the Region. One of its largest investments was the annual backhaul project, undertaken with many Y-K partners to remove harmful electronic and household waste. In 2023, several community liaisons assisted with backhaul project collections in Y-K communities.

The number of liaisons grew to eight in 2023, and they are located in Tuluksak, Nunapitchuk, Kwigillingok, Marshall, Pilot Station, Napaskiak and Nikolai.


For Calista Shareholder Yago Jacob of Napaskiak, working as a community liaison is an extension of his duties at the Donlin field camp, where he began working first as a core cutter and then as a Shareholder liaison.

At Donlin, Jacob mentors employees and helps to mediate any concerns or issues they are experiencing. “We work together as a team, and we’re like a family. We talk to each other, we laugh, we cry. You know, we help each other.”

“And then, when I come home after two weeks, I do the same thing here in my community. I talk and I help out, especially at the school,” Jacob says.

As an Elder, Jacob has a personal mission to talk to young people about the difference between right and wrong and why they should avoid drugs and alcohol.

“I am a recovering alcoholic, sober since 2001, and the camp is alcohol and drug-free. So, I truly like Donlin,” Jacob says, adding that he makes sure young people who ask him about working at Donlin are aware of the zero-tolerance policy.

Extending the Season

Calista Shareholder Cheryl Peteroff of Marshall joined Donlin as a camp administrator in 2022 and started working as a community liaison at the end of her first season.

“I just inform people about what’s going on, and future job openings, and things like that,” she says.

She enjoys the flow of working at the Donlin camp—two weeks on, two weeks off—and the opportunity to work as a liaison during the off-season, as well.

“I get to spend time with the family and do subsistence. That’s one of the good things about working there.”

Angaiak-Miller says the liaisons are helping Donlin to understand how it can improve life in the Region in meaningful ways.

“These are people who help us understand the landscape of who our stakeholders are, and what’s important to our communities,” she says.