Uluao ‘Junior’ Aumavae brings community and personal experience to Anchorage’s top equity job

When Uluao “Junior” Aumavae was appointed as Anchorage’s chief equity officer in October, he became the first Polynesian Alaskan to serve at the executive level in the city’s government. Aumavae grew up in Anchorage and credits his success to his community, as well as equity officials who mentored him in college.

Aumavae is now seven months into his job as Anchorage’s chief equity officer. The position is fairly new. He’s just the second person with the title, and the Assembly confirmed the first last year. 

But in college, he said, he struggled with adjusting to the intense training schedule and with his grades, and at one point was put on academic probation. It was then that Aumavae found a mentor in Western Washington Univeristy’s equity advisor, Dr. Kunle Ojikutu. Ojikutu started by asking Aumavae what his qualities were. 

“I was like, ‘These are the qualities in my culture. This is what we bring to the table. Respect is going to be number one. Having our family, always protecting our family name.’ And then I told him I was team captain for the football team,” Aumavae said. “All these things that are not academic, you know. And he was like, ‘Promise me you’ll take these experiences and utilize them to get you through college.’”

After working with Ojikutu, Aumavae was able to get his academic probation lifted, so he could continue to play football. Aumavae would go on to transfer to Minnesota State, where he graduated, and then began a career in the NFL, signing with the Dallas Cowboys and playing for the New York Jets. 

Friday, May 13, 2022 - 1:18pm