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HAALAND, DOROTHY J. AWES
Dorothy Awes Haaland was born in Minnesota, received her law degree in Iowa and moved to Alaska in 1945 where she was one of the fist women to be admitted to the bar. In 1955 she was elected as a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, where she chaired the Committee on the Preamble and Bill of Rights. In 1957 she was elected to the last territorial legislature and then went to work for the new State of Alaska as an assistant attorney general for 16 years. She remained in the legal field as an Anchorage district attorney and finally the magistrate of Cordova. Dorothy was a long time member if the League of Women Voters because she believed that women should always be involved in public policy.
Creating Alaska web site, University of Alaska
Obituary: OBITUARIES OF ALASKA’S PIONEERS,as extracted from “END OF THE TRAIL” a feature article of Alaska – The Magazine of Life on the Last Frontier, William Morris III, Publisher and Ken Marsh, Editor4220 B St., Suite 210, Anchorage, AK http://files.usgwarchives.net/ak/obituaries/pioneers/akpione_l.txt
Achievement in: Cultural entrepreneurship and collaboration
Sandy grew up with an older brother and an entrepreneurial mother who owned a womenʼs clothing store and a father who was responsible for the storeʼs public relations. While growing up in this small town in the midwest (Centralia, IL), she eagerly participated in her schoolʼs plays and dramatic events. Her parent supported these interests, taking her to see major theatrical productions in the near-by city of St. Louis. Then, at the age of sixteen, she received a scholarship to a summer theatre camp and fell in love with theatre and the course of her life was set. Determined to be in the theatre world, Harper, at the urging of the life-long friend met at the camp, enrolled in Boston Universityʼs well-known theatre department. She then was invited to attend the highly regarded Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. Following the conventions of the day, Harper entered into a marriage at too young an age. The marriage did not last. Harper credits the social and political ferment and upheavals of the 1960ʼs-the anti-war protests, the black power, racial justice and womenʼs movements-as teaching her how to grow up. That exposure to the social and political movements inﬂuenced her approach to theatre and taught her to value plays with a social message. Her education in the theatre arts continued through summer stock opportunities and in Los Angeles where she and Jerry, the love of her life, trained together in an innovative new theatre form under Rachael Rosenthal known as “Instant Theatre” and “Instant Fairy Tales”. This new technique involved training in how to be totally present in the moment and how to engage in instant improvisation. Harper considers theatre to be a life-long education, since all experiences can be “grist for the mill”, providing stimulus for a lifetime of continuous curiosity and never-ending exploration and discovery. Harper followed up her interests in human consciousness, awareness and the creative imagination with formal academic study, obtaining a Masterʼs degree in Human Development at Paciﬁc Oaks College in 1985. Earlier in 1979 she had received an undergraduate degree from Immaculate Heart College. She further explored human consciousness through performing the research for a book entitled “The Aquarian Conspiracy” written by Marilyn Ferguson, which discusses consciousness research and social transformation and popularized the idea that society and individuals were experiencing a paradigm shift. Arriving in Anchorage in the late 1980ʻs when husband Jerry inherited the historic 1915 Loussac Building from his stepfather, they opened a cultural mini-mall in the building featuring a bookstore and movie theatre. When competition later crippled the proﬁtability of the bookstore, they decided to build a theatre in that space and thus created, in 1992, Cyranoʼs Off-Center Playhouse, the home of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company. Under Harperʼs leadership the company has provided an eclectic menu of professional quality performances of cutting-edge, classic, contemporary and original plays. It has established itself as a vibrant presence in the life of downtown Anchorage and is known
throughout Alaska. From the beginning, the theatre’s mission has been not only to provide stimulating and thought-provoking entertainment, but to offer the opportunity for Alaskan theatre artists to participate in live theatre and to practice their craft as playwrights, actors, directors and technicians. In recognition of the time and talent dedicated by artists, Cyrano’s has, from the beginning, offered participants a small stipend to underscore the professional nature of their work. Additionally, the company has always offered affordable ticket prices as part of their mission. As the Producing Artistic Director of Cyrano’s Theatre Company, Harper nurtured, encouraged and commissioned Alaskan playwrights, leading to Alaskan and national premieres of new works. Over the years, she sought to identify, foster and mentor new talent from throughout Alaska, with a strong focus on women and Native cultures. Harper believes that in the theatrical world you learn your craft by “doing it” so when talent was identiﬁed, she encouraged the writer, challenged the inexperienced to direct and recruited the shy one to act. She is particularly proud of the theatre’s history of providing opportunities to women artists, including directors and playwrights. Important aspects of her programming choices were the inclusion and reﬂection of Alaska’s diverse demographics as well as the playʼs social message. Under her spirited leadership and vision, Cyrano’s Theatre Company became an important incubator of Alaska’s theatrical talent and has been the original home of “Scared Scriptless”, “Arctic Entries”, and “Black Feather Poets”, among others. The company’s ability over the years to successfully mount a different play nearly every month of the year is solid proof of the multiple training opportunities this small theatre company with little money has provided to the immediate community and the state overall. Cyranoʼs has also taken several productions to underserved areas of the state, such as Homer, Seward, Yakutat and Kodiak. Cyrano’s Theatre Company is an active participant in the annual Valdez Last Frontier Conference, frequently presenting new works at this nationally famous, important theatre conference. Harperʼs insistence that all productions, wherever performed, meet a high professional standard has set the bar for quality productions throughout the state. In addition to the various formal positions Harper has held in Cyranoʼs Theatre Company, she is best known in the community as a cultural entrepreneur and collaborator. These traits, talents and skills were perhaps inherited, in part, from her parents, particularly her mother. Harper believes strongly in partnering and collaboration. By its very nature, theatre depends on collaboration and awarenessbetween the playwright and actor, between the actor and the audience, between the director and the actor. As a way to collaborate with the audience, Harper added contextual richness to the company’s productions by organizing lobby displays and special panels or talkback discussions. Collaboration with UAA’s theatre department over the years has provided graduates with their initial professional experience. In another example, she invited a number of prominent local citizens to partner with the company and play a role in the play when “Adam’s Rib” was produced in 2006. Believing that awareness of the arts must be part of public life, Harper made a point of joining and collaborating with various business, civic and nonproﬁt organizations. Her
direct civic involvement includes: former president, Anchorage Cultural Council; board member in Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Anchorage Downtown Association and Rasmuson Foundation; member, national board, Last Frontier Theatre Conference; creator and ten-year co-host, Alaska Radio Reader Rambler at public radio station KSKA. In addition to partnering with civic entities, Harper tried to coordinate theatre activities with municipal and state activities and celebrations. A prime example of her emphasis on the importance of civic engagement is the 2015 summer celebration of Anchorage’s centennial wherein “Anchorage:The First 100 Years—A Theatrical Tour” was presented. This involved a new play being written and produced each week to highlight each of Anchorage’s ﬁrst ten decades. In 2009, she commissioned ﬁve new works from Alaska writers to celebrate Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood while in 2011 she hosted a ﬁrst-time reading of nine new plays from Alaska Native writers organized by the Alaska Native Heritage Center. As a cultural entrepreneur, she initiated and organized cultural events, always striving for collaboration with other artistic organizations and civic activities. For example, Harper saw a need in the cityʼs cultural life, created a coalition of booksellers, educators and libraries as “Partners in Literacy”, which resulted in the founding of the Alaska Center for the Book and the Reading and Writing Rendezvous. It was often her practice to invite a nonproﬁt organization whose social mission is aligned with a play’s theme to participate in the opening night and to give the evening’s proceeds to that organization. For example, for “Pinkalicious!” the honored non-proﬁt organization was Best Beginnings, which promotes early childhood literacy and love of books. Her numerous awards and honors demonstrate the communityʼs regard for her theatrical contributions, civic involvements, and recognition of her effectiveness as an advocate for the arts. They include: Governor’s Award for the Arts to the Cyrano Theatre Company for outstanding arts organization, 1975; “Contribution to Literacy in Alaska” award to Sandy Harper as founder of Alaska Center for the Book, 2002; Harper Performing Arts Touring Fund, initiated by Rasmuson Foundation, in recognition “of the contributions made by both Jerry and Sandy Harper to Alaska’s quality of life, both as artists and long time Rasmuson Foundation Board members”, 2005; Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Arts Organization to Eccentric Theater Company (now Cyrano’s Theatre Company, 2005; YWCA Woman of Achievement award 2005; ATHENA Society inductee, 2009; Soroptimist Award for encouragement of women in the arts, 2010; Alaska State Legislative Citation honoring Cyrano’s Off-Center Payhouse, “a standing ovation” to Jerry and Sandy Harper “for their inﬂuence and consistent quality of state theatre that has made a lasting impression on the statewide progress of the performing arts culture”,2011; Lorene Harrison Award (Special Lifetime Achievement Award) Anchorage Cultural Council, 2011; UAA, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, “In recognition of a lifetime of fostering the arts in Alaska”, 2011; and, the 2016 Governorʼs Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities to Cyranoʼs Theatre Company. While husband Jerry was a gifted actor and director and performed many roles, Harper preferred to operate behind the scenes, creating the opportunities and environment for events to come together. As Producing Artistic Director over many years, she selected
the plays to be produced, appointed the directors, chose the actors and commissioned new works. Harper frequently described her role in this phrase: “I throw the party.” According to a long-time colleague of Harperʼs, her outstanding talent as a producer was her ability to create a team for each play, from the director to the set designer, which led to successful productions. Another admirer credits her success to Harperʼs having a “great vision” for theatre and a “steady hand” on its production. Harperʼs theatrical training, combined with her interests in human awareness, consciousness and creativity provided a very natural and successful foundation for her career in the theatre. When asked to judge her own accomplishments, Harper pointed to three: co-founding the bookstore and theatre; creating the Alaska Center for the Book and working with her life partner on something they both loved. And, on a different level of accomplishment, she is proud of having raised a daughter and being a grandmother to two grandchildren. Her advice to young women about achieving goals echos her own experience: have the courage to try, keep your focus and be persistent in facing and overcoming the inevitable obstacles that will spring up. Through her personal efforts, Harper has demonstrated what a strong, determined woman with a clear vision can build and accomplish. After twenty-three years of producing a different play almost every month of the year, in 2015, management of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company initiated a shift from a “founders” board to a “governing” board, effective in 2016. Harper relinquished her direct role in the workings of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company, but It is a certainty that she will continue to be engaged in the artistic and theatrical cultures of Anchorage and Alaska. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Porco, Peter. Sandy Harper Northern Lights. American Theatre Magazine. March 2011, p. 40-44. Stadem, Catherine and Strohmeyer, John. The History of Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska 1915-2005: From a Wilderness Tent to a Multi-Million Dollar Stage. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009. AK Alaska Public Media http://www.alaskapublic.org/sandy-harper/ Lit Site Alaska$ http://www.litside.org/index.cfm?section=Libraries-andBooksellers&page=Bookstore-Proﬁles&viewpoint Anchorage Press$ http://www.anchoragepress.com/search/node/Sandy%20Harper
Lorene Harrison came to Anchorage to teach music and home economics in 1928 and launched herself into Anchorages cultural activities. She organized the United Choir of all Faiths, which was the forerunner of the Anchorage Community Chorus, served as first president of the Anchorage Concert Association, was on the founding boards of the Anchorage Arts Council, Anchorage Civic Opera and Anchorage Little Theatre, and served as First Presbyterian Church Choir director for 29 years.
Throughout her life she appeared to have the philosophy “if Anchorage doesn’t have, create it yourself.” The main lobby in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is named after her.
Cornelia Templeton Jewett came to Alaska in 1909 and married gold prospector Robert Lee Hatcher (of Hatcher Pass fame). Cornelia campaigned for women’s rights and prepared a petition to be sent to Alaska’s first Territorial Legislature (formed in 1912 by the Organic Act of 1912) asking for voting rights for women. The Legislature enfranchised women in 1913. Cornelia was also a leader in the Temperance Movement. Her campaigns resulted in a dry Alaska from 1918 to 1934.
Hazel Heath will long be remembered as the founder of the Pratt Museum, the first woman president of the Alaska Municipal League, and, with her husband Ken, the first owners of Alaska Wild Berry Products, which began in Homer, Alaska. They also owned a café, and an art shop and gallery in Homer. She was committed to Alaska politics and served many years as the Mayor of Homer. She was a National Republican delegate many times, and was a member of numerous federal, state and local boards and commissions, including the University of Alaska, local and state chambers of commerce, local and state museum boards, and state and national senior citizens advisory boards. In 1977, she received the Homer Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award and in 1989 Meritorious Service Award from the University of Alaska.
Hazel’s pioneering role in local and state government paved the way for many other women to get involved in politics. She possessed an acute doggedness when undertaking something that would make life in Homer and Alaska better for herself and others.
Achievement in: Leadership and Politics
Juanita Lou (Lauesen) Helms arrived in Alaska with her family in 1951, living most her life in Interior Alaska, including a cherished three years in the Denali National Park. Together with her devoted husband of 45-years, Orville “Sam” Helms, she raised four children in Fairbanks.
Helms started her professional career as an in-court clerk for Superior Court Judge Jay Rabinowitz, and then moved to administrative work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As Helms’ family grew, her focus shifted to the management of family rental properties, volunteer projects with the Girl Scouts and parent-teacher groups, and serving as an active advocate for neighborhood planning and land use issues. She volunteered on political campaigns to champion, promote, and support policies that impacted families.
In 1980, Helms began her political career as an elected, at-large member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. She ran successfully for a second term, serving five-years, including a year as Presiding Officer of the Assembly.
In 1985, distressed by the state of Fairbanks North Star Borough affairs, she ran for borough mayor. In what the media dubbed a “stunning upset” Helms unseated a two-term incumbent to gain the borough’s top spot.
After a successful re-election bid, winning over 60% of the vote, Helms served another three-year term as mayor. Helms stewarded the borough through difficult financial times, while accomplishing the construction of a community convention center, improving air quality, creating an Office of Economic Development, and establishing sister-city relationships with Japan and the Soviet Far East. She was known for her open-door policy, valuing and respecting all input from supporters and critics alike.
Helms was a long-time friend and strong supporter of interregional and international relations between Alaska and the Sakha Republic, and between the United States and Russia. Her diplomatic efforts led to the Treaty of Friendly Relations between the cities of Fairbanks and Yakutsk, signed 20 years ago, at a time when democratization was just starting to take hold in the USSR.
As the first woman to be elected as borough mayor, and through numerous organized efforts to mentor, educate, inspire, and bring women together through professional workshops and conferences, both internationally and locally, Helms served as a powerful leader and role model to generations of women in Fairbanks and beyond.
Upon her death in 2009, many community members reflected on her contributions, management, and leadership. A colleague, Melissa Chapin said, “She was so open-minded and so accepting, and just carried a practical, down to Earth, realistic, pragmatic approach to everything,” Dermot Cole wrote in a Column in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, “Two reasons for Juanita’s success in politics are that she knew how to be tough and how to get along with people. People enjoyed being around her, and Juanita liked to laugh.”
Last September, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly honored Helms for her 11 years of trusted leadership with a resolution to name the borough administrative center after her. The center, located in downtown Fairbanks along the Chena River, is now labeled the Juanita Helms Administration Center. Over the years, she received recognition and accolades from numerous entities, organizations and foreign officials, for her diplomatic efforts in developing and supporting sister-city relationships. To Helms’ tribute, after objectively serving in a non-partisan capacity for most of her career, the Alaska Democratic Party honored her posthumously with the Queen Bess Award for selflessly giving her time and energy to promote democratic principles.
At the end of her life, Juanita took the most comfort from the company of her grandchildren who she considered her life’s joy. Through them, she has helped prepare a new generation to carry on her life of service.
Mildred R. Hermann
Mildred Hermann was a lawyer, an articulate spokesperson on statehood for Alaska, a forceful delegate of the Alaska Constitutional Convention, a wife and mother and a life long advocate for research and treatment of tuberculosis, which was so prevalent in Alaska. She was born in Indiana, taught school for 9 years and came to Juneau, Alaska in 1919, where she began her study of the law with James Wickersham. She was admitted to the AK bar in 1934 and was the first woman to practice law in Juneau. She was a defense attorney for poor clients. From 1949-59 she served as Secretary of the Alaska Statehood Commission, the official organization responsible for organizing statewide support for Alaska’s admittance into the Union. At the Constitutional Convention Mildred was elected the Temporary President on the first day of the convention and was chosen as the delegate to close of the convention, in honor of her long service on behalf of statehood. Mildred was an imposing woman and was most comfortable with a rolling pin in her hands, which she kept on her desk to accentuate her points. The convention lasted 75 days and with the wave of her rolling pin, Mildred reminded her colleagues daily of the volume of work to be accomplished to meet the schedule. After the convention she became a reporter for the Anchorage Times covering the state legislature and the new state government she had helped to launch.
She was an active member of the Alaskan Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Association of Press Women, the Soroptimist Club, Republican Women’s Association and served on the board of the Alaska Tuberculosis Society for 18 years.
Creating Alaska web site, University of Alaska
Kristin Boraas, “Mildred Robinson Hermann: Queen Mother of the Alaskan Statehood”
Women in the Legal Profession, for Professor Barbara Babcock, Fall 2000
As a founding professor of Political Science/International Studies at University of Alaska Anchorage, Diddy Hitchins brought the world into classrooms in Anchorage. She informed and challenged students to think outside of the U.S.A., about different social, economic and political influences on world affairs. She taught students how to analyze and understand the way different political systems worked and interacted so that students could perform political risk analysis. She compelled students to be critical thinkers and precise writers and to see the U.S. within a global framework, particularly encouraging their analysis of U.S. foreign policy. Hitchins has mentored and inspired generations of students to read, consider, debate and understand why the nation-states of the world have the political systems, international relations and foreign policies that they have. She has taught students not only to understand but also how to evaluate these situations in order to be able to advise policymakers in today’s world. She required them to adopt the interests and articulate the points of view of the countries they represented in the Model United Nations program and to think globally about the worldwide process of governance.
Hitchins designed the Political Science curriculum at UAA and was responsible for teaching Comparative Politics, International Relations, International Law and Organizations, and U.S. Foreign Policy. She also led the way in developing the multi-disciplinary and team-taught Canadian Studies Program and obtained financial support from the governments of Canada and Quebec to launch the effort in Alaska. The UAA program was a founding member of the Pacific NorthWest Canadian Studies Consortium, which developed and offered opportunities for faculty development in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon.
As the Cold War receded and opportunities for Alaskans to interact with Russians from the Far East opened up, Hitchins provided briefings on the Russian political system at the request of the governor and the Legislature for delegations going to visit the Russian Far East, and was a member of UAA’s first official delegation to the Russian Far East in 1989. Building on the success of the Canadian Studies Program, she then served as the founding director of UAA’s International North Pacific Studies Program, which covered the North Pacific Region from Hong Kong to Seattle and offered UAA students the opportunity to study China, the Koreas, Japan, the Russian Far East and Western Canada. To develop faculty capacity for this program, Hitchins obtained Fulbright Hays funding for faculty development and student travel in the Russian Far East. Following the development of these programs, much of Hitchins’ research and publications focused on developments in the Arctic with emphasis on the significant role of indigenous peoples in the Arctic and in Alaska.
One of her unique curriculum efforts was the establishment of the Model United Nations Program,which brings high-school students from around the state to participate alongside university students from UAA, University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Southeast in an annual authentic simulation of the United Nations. This program focuses each year on a topic of vital interest to Alaskans and Alaska youth. For two decades this program has initiated high-school students from across the state into the world of international studies
Shirley Holloway is best known for establishing the Quality Schools Initiative, calling for high expectations for all students in Alaska and proving that all students, no matter their social, economic or ethnic background, can be academically successful. Holloway has been recognized as a woman breaking the glass ceiling to become one of the first female superintendents (North Slope Borough School District), the first female National finalist for Superintendent of the Year, and the first female Commissioner of Education in Alaska.
Shirley holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University, has published and presented numerous papers, and served on many boards and commissions. In 2005, she founded the Avant-Garde Learning Foundation, a non-profit foundation that helps communities, families and schools prepare young people for bright, successful futures. She has actively reached out to girls and women to help them, through mentoring and support, to achieve their desired goals. Today, many educational leaders in Alaska and Outside attribute their success to her inspiration and effective influence. Her guiding philosophy is Children Come First.
Born in Juneau to parents who were teachers in the winter and fished commercially in the summer, Joerene Savikko Hout’s elementary and high school years were spent in Ketchikan. When her parents were away fishing, she lived with Anna Rosenblad in the Tsimshian Indian Village. Anna, a widowed mother with seven children was instrumental in Joerene’s choice of profession. As a young girl, she observed the difference in health care and social acceptance. Three of the Rosenblad children were congenitally deaf and four had no physical disability. Some were allowed to attend the Ketchikan public schools and others had to attend the Indian school.
Achieving her B.S. in Nursing from the University of Washington in 1957, Joerene had interned at Firland’s Sanitarium in Seattle, a hospital for Native tuberculosis and special needs patients. Joerene discovered young patients who had no idea where their parents were and found they were often placed in foster homes rather than returned to their villages because of lost records and lack of communication in the health system.
Becoming a public health nurse, Joerene was determined to be a catalyst for change in how Native people were treated in the public health system. When she discovered that many children were taken from their village homes and transported to Anchorage or Seattle for medical care by the public health service without consent forms or informing the parents of the children’s location and condition, she was determined to be the liaison to assure and secure travel rights for one parent to accompany the child. Joerene became an advocate to reconnect children with parents.
Returning to Juneau in 1957, Joerene became a school nurse for Juneau-Douglas School District. As a public health nurse at Fairbanks Health Center (1961-1963), she volunteered to teach evening pre-natal classes to couples expecting their first child, and taught home care for families with a disabled family member. As the first itinerant public health nurse in Bethel (1963-1976), she founded the Bethel Prematernal Home to dramatically reduce the death rate of mothers and children in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. In 1963, there were two maternal deaths each month. After the Prematernal Home was established, there were no deaths from childbirth in 10 years. In the Prematernal Home expectant mothers could stay prior to their children’s births – whether or not they had money – and receive medical care and learn to care for their babies.
Joerene brought creative educational programs to Alaska to assist employers in understanding needs, qualifications and modifying techniques to help men and women with disabilities do their jobs well. She chaired the Governor’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities under both Gov. Hammond and Gov. Sheffield. Between 1982 and 1984, she was secretary and chairman of the National Conference of Governors Committees on Employment of the Handicapped as well as serving on the President’s Committee in planning and the executive board.
Frances Howard worked for the Department of Public Safety as Clerk-Dispatcher in 1967. She was then given a special commission to administer drivers tests because no commissioned trooper was available. Problem was, she was still being paid a clerk’s salary. In 1969, Alaska ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, and friends encouraged Frances to apply for a position as an Alaska State Trooper. She was accepted and became the first female Alaska State Trooper and the first unrestricted female state officer in the United States. The newspapers reported the event, adding that the largest challenge for the state was coming up with a proper uniform for her.
Equality was not entirely won with her appointment and consequent pay raise. When she married a fellow trooper, John Elmore, she was forced to resign because of stringent nepotism rules in the department.
As a very active and public member of the League of Women Voters, then serving as its Anchorage president, Wilda Hudson was appointed in 1967 to the Anchorage City Council. She was the third woman to serve on the Council, and she went on to become the first woman presiding officer of any Anchorage governmental body. With the formation of the Alaska Public Offices Commission in 1974, Hudson became its assistant executive director moving into the director position in 1976 and serving there until 1977. In 1975 and working with the League of Women Voters and others, she worked to pass unification of the city and borough to create the Municipality of Anchorage. Between 1977 and 1981, she served as director of cultural and recreation services under Mayor George Sullivan. In 2000 she was selected by the Anchorage Assembly to fill a vacancy on their body and became the sixth woman on that body, the only time in history where women served in the majority.
Hudson has a long history of professional and community involvement. She was appointed in February 1967 to the Anchorage City Council to fill a vacancy, then elected October 1967 to a one-year term and elected again 1968 and 1971 to three-year terms. Hudson also served concurrently on the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Assembly, appointed by her fellow council members to represent the City of Anchorage. A former GAAB Public Works Director Butch West said of Hudson: “Unlike some of the other appointees to the Anchorage Assembly, Wilda always took positions that were in the best interest of all residents in the community, not just those who lived within the city limits.” Alaska political disclosure became law through a ballot initiative in 1974 and the Alaska Public Offices Commission was formed with Hudson serving as the assistant director for the first two years. She was then promoted to the director in 1976. With her vision for parks, libraries, streets, schools and utilities, she worked tirelessly with others to make the Anchorage community a better place in which to live. Mayor George Sullivan selected her as his director of Cultural and Recreation Services overseeing the municipality’s parks, museum, libraries and cemetery where she served from 1977 through 1981. In July 2000 she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Anchorage Assembly with the understanding that she would not run for election.
In 1991 Hudson was honored as a member of the second YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers.
Hudson is one of three people who started the Anchorage Library Foundation, which works to secure private and public support for Anchorage public libraries’ long-term financial needs. She is a member of the Alaska World Affairs Council, and served as its hospitality committee chair for several years. She is a member of Alaska Common Ground, which focuses on respectful discussion of public policy issues. A certified parliamentarian, Hudson has provided parliamentary advice to public, non-profit or private organizations and has conducted classes for local legislative bodies and various boards. Much of this service was done as a volunteer.
The League of Women Voters has received more than a half century of Hudson’s leadership. She has served as treasurer and president of both the Anchorage and Alaska groups numerous times. Through this involvement, she has taken many women under her wing, taught parliamentary procedure and provided advice on how to negotiate municipal, state and political roadblocks. She served as a role model and mentor to many women, both young and old, seeking to be engaged in the civil discourse of Anchorage. She always has been eager to make introductions and pave the way for new generations of women leaders.
Long-time friend and co-volunteer Wilda Marston says of Hudson: “She is a true, blue human being, and she pulls no punches with her opinions. She’s a good friend.”
Hudson served as the campaign treasurer for both of Arliss Sturgulewski’s gubernatorial campaigns in 1986 and 1990. She also served as the Alaska Republican Party’s accountant for a number of years.
Hudson and her former husband, Walt, came to Alaska – both worked for the Corp of Engineers after World War II – and lived in Delta Junction, Juneau, Sitka, Kodiak and, eventually, in 1956 they settled in Anchorage. They owned and operated Rapid Reproduction and Hudson ran the business end of the company. Soon, their only child, Doris, was born. She now has three grandchildren: Matthew, Peter and Amy, all living in California.
Celia M. Hunter
Achievement In: Conservation; environmental activism
Celia lived an adventuresome, varied and inspiring life. She arrived in Fairbanks, Jan.1, 1947, after spending 27 days ferrying a plane from Seattle. Needing a job,she worked as a flight attendant on the first tourism flights in Alaska. In 1952, she co-founded and ran, with longtime friend, Ginny Wood, and her husband, Morton, one of the first ecotourism lodges in the country, Camp Denali. She helped create the first statewide conservation organization, the Alaska Conservation Society (ACS), in 1960 in a (successful) effort to establish the Arctic National Wildlife Range. She, and others involved in ACS, lead the fight against major proposals like the Rampart Dam and Project Chariot as well as worked on community environmental issues such as preserving open space and developing trail systems in Fairbanks.
On the national stage, she was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior in 1972 to the joint Federal State Land Use Planning Commission. In 1977, she was appointed interim executive director of the Wilderness Society, making her the first woman to head a national environment movement. In 1980 she co-founded the Alaska Conservation Foundation and served on its board for many years. She wrote a weekly opinion column for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner through the years.
Celia, with her friend Ginny, are credited as the creators of the conservation movement in Alaska. She was an outstanding leader who through her high spirits, integrity, knowledge and love of Alaska inspired untold numbers to become environmental activists. Her influence is well summarized in a statement by former President Jimmy Carter: ”Although it would be difficult to name one specific contribution for which Celia will be best remembered, her leadership of Alaska’s environmental movement from infancy to its status today will surely be among her lasting legacies”.
Sierra Club: John Muir Award
Alaska Conservation Foundation: Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded for the first time to Celia and Ginny Wood)
Sherry Simpson, Defenders of the Land, Alaska Magazine, Sept. 2002, ps. 30-33.
Jessica Wiles, Celia M. Hunter Life and Leadership, ACF Intern Project.
Karen Hunt has been a pioneer in the Alaska legal world, in her own career as the first woman from Anchorage appointed to serve as a Superior Court Judge (1984-2000), as an educator and innovator in the practice of the law and as a leader of women in the law and in the community. She has been recognized and honored by the bar, the bench and the community for her leadership and achievements through awards such as: the Alaska Supreme Court Community Service Award (2000); the Alaska Bar Association Public Service Award (1994); Anchorage YWCA Woman of Achievement (1992); Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Society (2007); University Medal, Alaska Pacific University (2009); and, Alaska ACLU Liberty Award (2010).
Hunt received her B.A. from the University of Nebraska, Kearney (1961) and an M.A in English from California State College, Los Angeles (1968). Prior to practicing law, she taught high school English in Nebraska and California. In 1973 Hunt graduated in the top 10 percent of her class at the USC Law School (one of 11 women), served on the law review and was awarded the Order of the Coif. She arrived in Alaska in 1973, with her four stepchildren, to join her husband and was one of the first two women hired by Anchorage’s largest law firm. Missing the collegiality of her female law school classmates, she decided to invite all 25 women attorneys practicing in Anchorage to lunch. Despite concerns that male members of the bench and bar might take affront, this informal group continued to meet for a monthly luncheon. After several years, the group organized as the Anchorage Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL), with Hunt serving as president for two terms. To raise funding for the organization and to promote recognition of the city’s practicing women attorneys, she designed a course for credit at UAA entitled “Women and the Law,” which she and the other women attorneys taught (1978-82). All income was donated to the AAWL.
Recognized as a leader by her peers, Hunt was one of the first two women elected to the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association in 1977. Later, serving as president, she presided over the completion of the effort to revise the Alaska Bar Exam, which became a model bar exam in the country. In later years she was elected president of the Anchorage Bar Association and then of the Alaska Conference of Judges – the only person to have been elected as president of all four professional organizations. She has also served in national legal associations: the first Alaskan to be elected to the Board of Directors, National Association of Women Judges and vice chair of its foundation; American Bar Association Special Committee on Lawyers Liability; and Advisory Council for Masters of Judicial Studies, University of Nevada (Reno).
During her tenure as judge, Hunt initiated various institutional reforms in effect today: revising procedures, forms and administrative structures affecting the practice of both civil and criminal law. As an example, when presiding over a prison reform class action lawsuit, her rulings led to the establishment of a women’s prison in Alaska. Though she had shifted her professional career from high school English teacher to the legal world, she continued to be an educator throughout her years as attorney and judge and continuing into today’s retirement. Her specialty is judicial writing which she has taught to trial, appellate and administrative judges throughout this country and abroad. Over the years, Hunt has taught a variety of continuing-education legal courses. In 1989 she was one of the first few women invited to join the faculty of the National Judicial College, which is the national center for the training of state court judges. Her 1994 presentation on evidence is included in the 10 state continuing legal education “Masters of the Courtroom” videotape. In 2005-06, Hunt trained more than 200 administrative law judges appointed to the federal Medicare appeals agency where her model decision format was adopted as the template for all agency decisions. It has also been recommended for use by all judges of the federal Board of Patents and Interferences and the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Recently, Hunt provided conflict-resolution training to more than 1,700 state employees throughout Alaska. She also assisted in the training of union stewards and supervisors. She has taught contract law to judges in Russia and criminal law and procedure to judges from Bulgaria to Nigeria. Hunt clearly enjoys teaching and credits her success to her ability to help people “to connect the dots.”
Arriving during the years when oil money was first flowing, she found Anchorage to be full of opportunities for residents to engage in civic activities and create needed organizations. In particular, she was impressed by Alaska women’s energy, boldness and independence. Hunt actively participated in efforts to train and organize women, Democrats and Republican alike, to become more visible as a presence in political action and to run for public office. These efforts led to the election of the first women to the Anchorage Assembly, to both houses of the Alaska Legislature and to appointments to high level positions and, eventually, to the founding of the Anchorage Women’s Political Caucus.
As a member of Soroptimist International of Anchorage, she focused efforts on raising scholarship money for both young women and mature women wishing to return to higher education. She led the organization as president in 1979 and received its prized “Women Helping Women” award in 2001. From 2000-03, Hunt helped create the Gold Torch Society at her alma mater, University of Nebraska, Kearney, wherein 20 junior and senior undergraduate women interact with successful professional female alumnae from throughout the country for a weekend retreat. During her years in Anchorage, Hunt has served as a member of the board of directors and/or officer of a number of very diverse community organizations, from Commonwealth North (twice president), APU Board of Trustees, Municipality of Anchorage Arts Council, Anchorage Opera, Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc., KAKM radio and the Anchorage Concert Association. Hunt has also served on the advisory councils for Providence Health Care System, Cyrano’s Theatre and currently co-chairs the Anchorage Senior Activities Center Advisory Council. Additionally, starting in 1986 she has provided training throughout the state on individual board member’s rights and responsibilities. She has trained a large variety of non-profit boards such as hospitals, real estate groups, environmental groups, Native corporations and art organizations.
Looking over her varied career, a common thread appears to underlie Hunt’s career as teacher, lawyer, judge and community leader: a concern with equity in our society. For example, as a young high school English teacher in California, she requested a transfer after the 1965 riots in Watts to an African-American high school in Watts to work as a teacher and counselor. Taken under the wing of a group of veteran teachers, she was tutored on black teen culture so that she could relate to the students and their parents and be able to create innovative counseling and enhancement programs of value to them. This same concern pervades her community interests from her involvement in women’s issues and political power to serving on a committee of the First Alaskan’s Institute seeking to foster community dialogues on issues of racial equity in Alaska.
Hunt was raised by a strong mother who allowed her children to explore the world on their own, to be responsible for fixing any problems they created and always to be mindful of the effect of their actions on others. Her mother frequently admonished her children: “Well, you just don’t treat people that way.” Clearly, this guidance has informed and guided Hunt’s life, career and community involvement.
Born in Juneau, Katie Hurley has devoted her life to public service in Alaska. She started her career as the assistant to Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening for 12 years, and then served as the Chief Clerk to the Constitutional Convention, and then as the secretary of the Territorial Senate and the State Senate after statehood. Later she was elected to the State House of Representatives from Wasilla, where she has resided since 1960.
Hurley was the first woman to win a statewide partisan election when she was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1978. She has also served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women, the Chair of the Alaska Commission on Human Rights, President of the State Board of Education for seven years, a member of the Alaska Judicial Council, and on the Matanuska Telephone Board for nine years. She shares her time and encyclopedic knowledge of public affairs in Alaska with students across the state.
When she was a teenager Joan Hurst loved to go to summer camp, so when she was offered the opportunity to plan a camp in California in 1957 for Camp Fire, she jumped at it. In 1963 she accepted a job as the first executive director for Camp Fire in Alaska. She had only been in Anchorage a year when the office burned down, followed two months later by the 1964 earthquake. After such physical devastation, parents were mostly devoted to restoring their houses and communities, so Hurst initiated the “Gypsy Camper,” a mobile carnival of arts and crafts and summer fun for girls from Homer to Palmer.
In Seward, Hurst and some volunteers established a day camp that provided activities for any girl who wished to come. Ninety-five girls attended, in a week of pouring rain, to engage in Camp Fire’s programs of cooking, hiking, creative arts and an overnight camping trip. The children’s parents, relieved of the responsibilities of child care, were able to devote their full energy to cleanup and reconstruction.
For Hurst, this experience was the beginning of the Council’s Rural Alaska Program. Profoundly saddened and alarmed by the number of children who were drowning in Alaska, particularly in the rural areas, she led Camp Fire to establish a water-safety program in villages. The program promoted healthy life skills and choices such as boating-safety instruction, arts and crafts, cooperative games, hikes, camp-outs, teen activities, service projects and community events. Thousands of kids have learned how to swim and countless lives have been saved because of this program. The program continues today serving more than 1,000 youth in 26 villages across Alaska in 2012.
As society’s values changed, Hurst realized there were many benefits to making the organization even more inclusive. The organization became officially coeducational in 1975 and was renamed Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
As Alaska entered the 1970s and ’80s, and more parents began working full-time outside the home, the problem of unsupervised children in our communities became a critical issue. Along with the population boom created by pipeline construction, there was a rapid growth in the numbers of “latchkey” children. Children were often left unsupervised after school hours with their house keys were hanging around their necks on strings. Hurst and others had a critical role in making the case to the Alaska State Legislature advocating for the state to assist with providing quality child care in Alaska. In 1974 they adopted the Child Care Assistance Program to assist working families with childcare expenses. Today Camp Fire operates 28 municipally licensed before- and after-school programs in Anchorage elementary schools. There are also four community center-based programs in economically challenged neighborhoods. Combined, these programs currently provide 1,400 youth with a safe place to be before and after school each day for working families.
In the early 1960s, under Hurst’s leadership, Camp Fire acquired a land-use agreement from the Department of Natural Resources for the rights to use their property along Kenai Lake to deliver a residential camp experience. She brought together a passionate group of volunteers to build the camp. Hurst designed the cabins so the windows would face the lake so it would be the first thing campers saw when they woke. Hurst loved camp and personally taught canoeing and other water skills to campers. The camp was given the name Camp Kushtaka (now Camp K), and it quickly became that special place young girls wanted to attend each and every summer. It became co-ed in 1975 and is Alaska’s longest-running, co-ed residential camp accredited by the American Camp Association. Today, more than 800 campers have opportunities each summer to explore the natural world around them while gaining self-confidence and learning new skills.
Hurst was also an advocate for women. She strongly believed that women needed opportunities to be empowered to advance in society and she actively provided professional development opportunities for young women. A Camp Fire staff member, Joanne Phillips, spent countless hours working alongside Hurst, and shares this: “Joan took her role as a leader in the community very seriously. Whether you were six or 60, she graciously pushed you to put your very best foot forward; to try new things, constantly reminding you that it was important to finish what you started; to get involved with your community; and she talked endlessly about the importance of educating yourself about all things, big and small.”
Hurst was involved in a variety of community organizations, including the League of Women Voters (who were early advocates for public funding of child care), the Alaska Women’s Political Caucus, the Human Services Coalition and the Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club.
Hurst was recognized as a 1990 YWCA Woman of Achievement – honored for her vision and passion for youth development and supporting working families by providing before- and after-school care for elementary school-age children. She also received the Luther Gulick Award from the National Camp Fire organization and board of trustees recognizing her outstanding leadership in the youth development field – this award is the most prestigious award within the national Camp Fire organization.