Sealaska Scholarship Recipient Shares Her Commitment to Education with Her Family, Community
Monday, August 2, 2021

Educator and Sealaska shareholder Karen Lauth Elliott has been celebrating a lot of graduations over the past few years, culminating on June 12  this year, when she and her youngest son, Emad Al-Shamasawi, both received diplomas on the same day. Elliott earned her master’s in education policy from the University of Washington (UW) that day while her son graduated from Ingraham High School in Seattle. Other graduations in her family in recent years include her bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies in 2020, as well as the high school graduations of her three older children in 2014, 2015 and 2019.

Elliott followed in her father’s footsteps as a UW graduate. Fred Lauth, Sr. received his bachelor’s degree in business from UW in 1985.

Elliott was born in Ketchikan and raised in Saxman. Her family moved to the Seattle area in the early ‘80s. She works at Edmonds School District and gives time to Xaat’aay ‘Waadluwaan Gaagaay (All Nations’ Children) dance group in the Seattle area.

Elliott is a 2020-2021 Sealaska scholarship recipient. She is Tlingit, Yéil (Raven), Táakw.aaneidí. Her Tlingit name is Saxoon. She is also Haida. We talked with her about her educational career and goals.

Q: Tell us about your professional career in education?

I work for Edmonds School District Title VI Indian Education Program. I work with students and parents to develop Native programming to meet academic needs. My focus is high school graduation rates, with a goal of 100% while I am working for Edmonds School District. 

I have worked for Daybreak Star Preschool family services. I have also volunteered my time with the Parent Advisory Board for Seattle Public Schools Title VII. I have served as secretary for Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). As Tlingit and Haida Washington Chapter Youth Chair, I developed summer culture programs for T&H youth, and I am on the education committee for our T&H Assembly. I have served as a Tlingit & Haida Washington chapter / Seattle community council delegate over the years since 1988.

Karen Lauth Elliott and her son, Emad Al-Shamasawi, graduated on the same day on June 12, 2021. Elliott earned her master’s degree from the University of Washington and her son, Al-Shamasawi, graduated from Ingraham High School in Seattle.

Q: You come from a family of learners. Tell us about how that value was transmitted in your family.   

My mother Marian (Peratrovich) Lauth from Klawock supported our education endeavors. She is the backbone of our family. My sister Carol received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage. My mentors growing up were Francis and Norma Jean Dunne, Jan Peele and Saddutes Peele.

Q: What inspired you to get into education, and specifically Native education?

I have always encouraged Native learners to seek higher education. I have been inspired by the Seattle Native Community. While working for Daybreak Star Preschool I found purpose to continue with my own educational goals. I have been an educator for years. I am ready to inspire others for education purposes. 

Q: Why is the field of education important to you?

Education policies are important to bring a voice to Native education needs. I can use my expertise and voice with federal, state, local, and now tribal government educational policies to help dismantle laws that harm people. It’s time to bring relevant education for our Native learners to succeed in life. 

Q: Where do you see yourself working, institutions or policy? What is your dream job? 

I would love to work for my tribe in making education policies. I also am passionate about education equality to ensure Native students can meet their academic goals.

Q: If you could fix one thing within education, what would that be? 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title VI funding does not support the demanding academic needs for Native children. We all can support the success of Native students by supporting our families, student academics or mentoring students.

Q: Who was your favorite teacher and why?

My favorite teacher was at Valley Park Elementary in Ketchikan. Esther Shea was a respected matriarch of the Teikweidi (Brown Bear) clan in Ketchikan. She gave her time in and outside the classroom. We called her gram, and I learned the Tlingit language and culture from her. 

About Sealaska’s Scholarship Program

Sealaska is dedicated to advancing the opportunities of our people through access to higher education and vocational training. The Sealaska scholarship program serves shareholders and descendants enrolled full or part time in vocational-technical programs and accredited colleges and universities. To date, Sealaska has awarded approximately 11,000 scholarships totaling $20 million. For full program information and eligibility requirements, please visit

Latest News

Sealaska Announces Spring Distribution of $19.2 Million

Posted 4/12/2024
As part of Sealaska’s continued investment in our communities and region, a spring 2024 distribution totaling $19.2 million will be issued to shareholders on Thursday, April 18. Sealaska’s board of directors approved the distribution at a meeting held in Juneau on Friday, April 12. The upcoming distribution includes dividends totaling $4.5 million from Sealaska’s ocean-health business platform, $3.1 million from the Marjorie V. Young (MVY) Shareholder Permanent Fund and an additional $11.6 milli...

Sealaska Spring 2024 Distribution Date Announced

Posted 3/19/2024
The Sealaska Board of Directors will meet on Friday, April 12, 2024, to approve the amount for Sealaska’s 2024 spring distribution. The distribution will take place on Thursday, April 18.  Shareholders can prepare for a seamless distribution by completing any enrollment or stock transfer paperwork, including gifting or inheritance, by Friday, April 12 at 4 p.m. The last day to make changes to addresses or direct deposit information is Monday, April 15, , before close of business, or online via M...

Sealaska announces Desiree Jackson to serve as Vice President of Administration and Outreach

Posted 3/6/2024
Jackson’s goals, experience are aligned with Sealaska’s vision for shareholders, communities and the region’s collective future. A focus on strategy, values and excellence has led Desiree Anax x’aséigu yé Jackson to her new role as Sealaska’s Vice President of Administration and Outreach. Jackson has served as the executive director of...

First Quarter Board Q&A provides shareholders an opportunity to connect with their board

Posted 3/4/2024
Members of Sealaska’s board of directors had an opportunity to connect with shareholders and answer questions during the Feb. 29 board Q&A session hosted on MySealaska. Directors Barbara Cadiente Nelson, Ka’illjuus Lisa Lang joined Executive Chair Joe Nelson and Board Youth Advisor Deikeenaak’w  Connor Ulmer in providing an update following January’s board meeting and shared upcoming opportunities and associated deadlines with participants. Sealaska’s language grant application period i...

Virtual Shareholder Orientation offers connection, information for original and new shareholders alike

Posted 2/26/2024
Sealaska’s Shareholder Relations team hosted a virtual shareholder orientation on Tuesday, Feb. 20 for an audience of nearly 170 shareholders from far and wide. This event offered both new and long-term shareholders a chance to learn more about the benefits and responsibilities of being a shareholder and answer questions about specific Shareholder Relations policies, procedures and protocol.   Shareholder Relations Manager Jodie Gatti, who joined the Sealaska team in November, was joined by...