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Nursing is like clothing, it comes in cycles, I was trained in working as part of a team and I do hope the team approach returns to nursing.”
Kay Lahdenpera is a legend in nursing in Alaska and has touched thousands of women’s lives throughout her 45-year career in public health. Born in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936 she is a third-generation Alaskan.
Lahdenpera earned her nursing degree with a specialization in public health and psychiatry from the University of Washington in 1961. After graduating she worked in New York at Bellevue Hospital and was the only nurse for 100 neglected children at St. Barnabas House. In 1965, Lahdenpera returned to Anchorage and was hired by the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Health Department as a public health nurse. In 1967 she became manager for the Region X, Title X Family Planning Clinic. Lahdenpera also pursued a Master’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, but ultimately completed her Master’s in Public Health from Loma Linda University’s Extended Degree Program in1985.
During her 35 years at the Borough, then the Municipal Health Department, Lahdenpera was instrumental in implementing sex education in the Anchorage School District; adding a Region X, Title X Women’s Health program; establishing the clinic as a training ground for state public health nurses, village health aides, and many students from UAA; obtaining training for the first women’s health nurse practitioners (NPs) in Alaska through OBGYN board-certified doctors who volunteered numerous hours to assist with certifying NPs so they could complete their course requirements. Under supervision of these doctors, NPs were, for the first time, able to perform colposcopies, which become an invaluable service for low-income women receiving care at the Health Department and laid the foundation for NPs to be hired by local doctors. As a result, NPs’ scope of practice expanded to include everything from assisting with training medical students in the University of Washington’s WAMI program to prescribing medication.
Lahdenpera’s leadership style ensured her staff was an integral part of a team and she contributes her success to her team. Because of this team approach, there was very little turnover within the clinic under her leadership. The data that Lahdenpera and her team collected as part of the colposcopy project was presented at numerous local, national and international conferences ultimately elevating NPs as a vital and core part of the U.S. and international health care systems. In the 1980s, Lahdenpera and her team presented a poster entitled “Nurse Practitioners (NP) Colposcopy Project” at both the Circumpolar Health Summit and the Alaska Public Health Summit. This presentation received special interest from Canadian medical doctors to use NPs in rural communities throughout Canada. Lahdenpera and her team also presented at numerous national conferences including two presentations at the National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., and at the American Public Health Association Conference in Boston. These presentations, titled, “Nurse Practitioner Colposcopy Project in Anchorage, Alaska” and “Family Planning Project for Troubled Teens in Anchorage, Alaska” introduced the Colposcopy and the Family Planning for Troubled Teens projects on a national level and resulted in a professional consultation request from Region IV’s State Family Planning Division in North Carolina to help institute a similar family planning project for troubled teens in North Carolina.
Lahdenpera’s success took her to an international level in 1993 when she was invited to join the Eisenhower Ambassador Program and traveled to China to present the “Family Planning Project for Troubled Teens” and “Reproductive Health and STD Issues” programs. The international success of the programs expanded in 1997 when the team was invited to make a poster presentation at XV FIGO World Congress of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Copenhagen, Denmark, titled “Quality Assurance, Nurse Practitioners and Colposcopy Project in Anchorage, Alaska.” This presentation was the only on done by a nurse practitioner and a public health nurse manager at the World Congress for Medical Doctors.
Other professional endeavors have included serving on numerous professional boards including: Planned Parenthood, Alaska Mental Health Association, Anchorage League of Women Voters, Alaska Theater of Youth (President), Alaska Nurses Association (President), Alaska Youth and Parent Foundation (President), Kids’ Corp Inc. and the Retired Public Employees Association.
Lahdenpera has also received a plethora of awards for her accomplishments, including being the first recipient of the Alaska Nurses Association Community Service Award (1991) and the Alaska March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award for “Legends of Nursing” (2009). Other awards have included: American Nurses Association Excellence in Nursing Award (1993); Title X Family Planning Program Excellence in Management Award (1994); Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Public Health Service, Region X “Appreciation for Your Work on Behalf of African American Women’s Health Care” Award (1996); National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Inc. “Outstanding Local Service” Award (in 1997); BP and YWCA Women of Achievement Award (1997); the Service plaque from Health Care Coalition of Alaska (1993); DHHS, PHS Region X Women’s Health & Family Planning Award for Leadership in Promoting Statewide Women’s Health Activities in the PHS, Region X (1999); MOA Assembly Award for “dedication and service to the people of Anchorage for 35 years to improve the public health of Anchorage” (1999); Alaska Public Health Association (ALPHA) Long-Term Service Award in recognition of contributions to ALPHA and the health of Alaska (2000); American Academy of Nurse Practitioners State Award for “Nurse Practitioner Advocate” (2004); and Alaska Nurses Association Hall of Fame” Award (2009).
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/udoDi2NbdX0
In 1959 Langdon began her involvement in education with Turnagain Elementary School Parent-Teachers Association, where her efforts supported the teachers involved with her children. She continued these activities at the state level where she served as state PTA president and her even-handed, dedicated and visionary leadership contributions to that organization were recognized when Gov. Jay Hammond appointed her to the Alaska state Board of Education in 1975 where she later served as president. In that capacity, she traveled throughout Alaska to many rural communities and always had wonderful stories to tell about the exceptional people she met during those visits. These travels intensified her commitment to seeing that the resources were available and programs were developed that would meet the various needs of the different populations throughout the state.
Langdon later served on the board of Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education (1978-82), and on various committees of the Anchorage school district. Through her involvement in educational organizations, Langdon became aware of the many vulnerable children who had little and whose living circumstances were harsh. She realized that these conditions greatly limited the ability of such children to acquire the full benefits of education. This led her to join and participate in the Child Welfare League of America, a national organization dedicated to bring attention and resources to these issues.
At the state level she actively pursued these same objectives. She was instrumental in the creation of the Alaska Office of Child Advocacy in 1971 and served on its board of directors. That commitment is also evident in her founding role in the creation of Action for Alaska’s Children in 1990. In Anchorage she was instrumental in the creation of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a program designed to provide support for children. She became a strong advocate and supporter of that program.
Langdon served as a role model throughout her life. Her hallmark style was always to work together in a non-confrontational manner and to seek to bridge differences. She did, however, recognize that at certain junctures one had to stand up and fight for principles to accomplish what was right. She especially showed fierce determination to see that the Mental Health Trust Lands set aside by the state constitution should truly be devoted to acquiring the best possible returns from the lands and not simply be a pass-through for cheap land acquisitions by powerful business interests.
Fellow members of boards and non-profit organizations recognized this tough, resilient quality of dedicated persistence in the pursuit of principled actions by honoring her with numerous awards such as: 1993 Mental Health Association, Natalie Gottstein Memorial Award; 1989 Alaska Alliance of the Mentally Ill – Outstanding Dedication and Service to the Mental Health Community; 1988 Mental Health Advocate of the Year – Alaska Mental Health Association; 1987 Women Helping Women Award – Soroptimist International of Anchorage and Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet; 1973 state PTA Humanitarian Award; and in 1963 Honorary Member of Alaska State Medical Association.
Some but not all of the groups that Langdon gave her time to include:
NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: 1984-88 American Association of Retired Persons, State Legislative Committee; 1975-83 National Association of State Boards of Education; 1974-76, American Medical Association Auxiliary Board of Directors; 1971-75, National PTA Board of Managers.
STATE ORGANIZATIONS: 1970-73 Alaska Mental Health Association Board of Directors; 1958 Alaska PTA, honorary life member and 1971-75 state president; 1958-1985 Alaska State Medical Society Auxiliary and 1970-74 state president.
SERVICE TO THE STATE OF ALASKA: 1988-1993 Alaska Mental Health Board, 1990, chairman; 1978-82 Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and 1982 vice president; 1975-80, Alaska State Board of Education and 1978-80 president; 1971-74 Board of Directors, Alaska Office of Child Advocacy and 1973-74 secretary-treasurer; 1970 White House Conference on Children & Youth; chairman, Southcentral Region, delegate to Washington, DC.
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS: 1990 Action for Alaska’s Children, founding member; 1987-91 Anchorage Child Advocacy, network member; 1985-87 board of directors, Widowed Persons Service; 1985-86 AARP Sourdough Chapter, vice president: 1984-88, board of directors, Alzheimer’s Disease Family Support Group: 1980-82 steering committee for formation, board of directors, Hospice of Anchorage: 1974-76 board of directors, Anchorage Arts Council; 1973-79 board of directors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Anchorage – 1977 secretary and 1978 vice president; 1968-70 board of directors, Anchorage Mental Health Association; 1959-1976 Turnagain Elementary School PTA – 1965-66 president and 1964-65 secretary; 1958-74 Providence Hospital Auxiliary – 1974 Honorary Life Member, 1970 Volunteer of the Year, 1968 secretary, 1967 treasurer, 1963, president and gift shop bookkeeper for three years.
CIVIC ACTIVITIES: 1986-96 Zonta Club of Anchorage; 1984-90 Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission; 1982-96 Day Break Adult Day Care, Advisory Committee; May 1981 Child Welfare League of America, Regional Conference, Steering Committee and Local Arrangements Committee Chairman; 1971-75 Health Education Curriculum Committee, Anchorage School District; 1970-73 FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity) volunteer; 1968-70 secretary-treasurer, Rotary Anns, Anchorage.
Langdon was awarded her registered nursing degree in 1946 from Minnequa School of Nursing in Pueblo, Colo. She also received additional college credits from St. Louis University and University of Alaska Anchorage. She met J. Ray Langdon, her husband of 34 years, when he was a patient at the hospital where she was working in Pueblo. She found him obnoxious in his flirtations in the beginning, but succumbed to his charms and married him August 20, 1947. Together they lived in six different states between 1947 and 1958 before settling in Anchorage and building their home in Turnagain, where she was able to display her passion for flower gardening. There they raised two boys and three girls.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/JDTLjVimT6U
Anchorage Daily News, Obituary, August 24, 2012
As a family practice physician, medical epidemiologist, researcher, and administrator Anne Lanier has spent a lifetime promoting health and wellness among Alaska Native people. Her career in Alaska began in 1967 when she arrived at the Alaska Native Medical Center and she saw many young Alaska Native people dying of cancer. She asked why, and finding no answers she sought them herself.
By 1974, Lanier had created the Alaska Native Tumor Registry that collects information about Alaska Native people diagnosed with cancer. Her registry has become one of 18 registries used by the National Cancer Institute to determine cancer rates and patterns throughout the U.S. Lanier’s data-driven research had led to dramatic declines in incidence and mortality rates in colorectal, pediatric liver, and cervical cancer among Alaska Native people. She has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles so others can review her conclusions.
Lanier continued to be a pioneer through her public health career. She was the first female director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Arctic Investigations Program. She established the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center, and later created the Alaska Native Health Consortium’s Office of Alaska Native Health Research. Lanier conducted medical research for the State of Alaska, Alaska Native Medical Center, Centers for Disease Control, and the University of Alaska Anchorage.
She has been nationally recognized for her accomplishments. In 1982, Lanier became a Fellow of the American Board of Preventative Medicine. In 2011, she received the Inaugural Carol Frieden Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Comprehensive Cancer Control from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Indian Health Service, Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, and the Alaska Public Health Association have recognized her, as well.
Lanier has mentored several generations of health researchers. One, Melanie Cueva recounts, “I was hired to work on a six-month breast health project that turned into almost two decades of collaboration. Anne has become a mentor to my daughter who is working on doctorate degrees at Harvard in public health and nutrition.” To encourage Alaska Native young people in the health profession, Lanier personally funds a scholarship at the University of Alaska Anchorage for those pursuing master’s degrees in public health.
Dr. Lanier was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1962, Lanier got her M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and a Masters of Public Health degree at the University of Minnesota. She did an internship at Presbyterian Hospital in Denver, Colorado before taking her first job in Alaska. Lanier has three children and five grandchildren. She is a reader, skier, kayaker, and traveler. Of her travels, those to the Galapagos Islands have been especially fascinating.
Alaska journalist Lael Morgan met Lanier in the 1960s and followed her career: “She was way ahead of her time doing what she did for Alaska Native children. Dr. Lanier has never stopped asking why and has not stopped being an advocate for improved health for Alaska Native people.” During her more than 45-year career she has met her goals to define and reduce the health disparities of Alaska Native people and to greatly improved health care in the state.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/X339qVoNvgk
Janie Leask has devoted her personal and professional life to creating honest and respectful connections among diverse people. She is a bridge between communities. The characteristics that permeate her career include: leading complex organizations, creating opportunities for diverse communities to engage in meaningful conversation and mentoring young people.
Raised by a Haida/Tsimshian father and Irish/German mother in Metlakatla and Anchorage, Leask initiated her 15-year career with the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1974. During this time, she grew her understanding of public policy and the political system with the encouragement of a supportive mentor. She was selected and served as the President/CEO of AFN from 1982-1989.
These were tumultuous years for the Alaska Native community as they built organizations to implement the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, participated in drafting the federal land management policies of Alaska in ANILCA, and fought for state laws governing access to subsistence resources for rural residents.
Under Leask’s leadership, and in a largely male-dominated environment, AFN began to formally listen to young people and engage in dialogue with many diverse communities of interest, while continuing legislative efforts in Juneau and Washington, DC.
During the AFN years she often felt limited by her own her personal self-doubts based on her lack of a college degree and her mixed heritage. Over time, she conquered her concern about lack of a formal education as she saw the results of her drive to “get something done.” Her self-doubt about not being “Native enough” was resolved through her continued work with Alaska Native people and capped off when Leask and her son were formally adopted into the Eagle Clan of the Tsimshian Tribe – the clan of her father, the late Wally Leask. At this ceremony she was given her Tsimshian name of “Gyetm Wilgoosk” meaning “person of wisdom.”
After AFN Leask turned her professional attention to the private sector for 15 years and served as the Vice President of Community Development at the National Bank of Alaska as well as the Manager of Community Relations for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Her community involvement included serving on the boards of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Commonwealth North and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce; from which she received the Chairman’s Award for her work in organizing trips to rural villages to foster understanding between urban and rural peoples. Later, she and former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom co-chaired Commonwealth North’s “Urban Rural Unity Study”.
Janie’s work on urban-rural issues earned her several recognitions including the Alaska Governor’s Award, the Alaska Village Initiative’s Chief’s Knife Award, and Shareholder of the Year from Cook Inlet Region, Inc. In 2000 she was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement. In 2006 she was ATHENA Recipient and in 2001 she was identified as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Alaskans.
In 2006 Janie returned to work within the Native community as the President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute, where for four years she focused on intergenerational leadership development and public policy issues impacting Alaska Native peoples and communities.
In the past decade she has invested much energy nurturing friendships among women, where common experiences with balancing family, work and service to the community are shared and valued. She finds great strength in a community of capable women who trust each other. Universally, Leask believes every person has a gift to contribute. Her advice to young people is: find your gift; nurture it and use it. Network as much as possible and recognize and act upon your obligation to give back to the community.
Janie is proud to be the mother of David Moore, a son who has become a wonderful and sensitive man.
She is married to Don Reed and together they are making their new home in Homer. In her recreational time, Janie is a talented ice hockey player, who demonstrates finesse and fierceness on the ice. She is a great team player.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/vlpcW7Si3mo
Georgianna Lincoln was born in Rampart, Alaska, and moved to Fairbanks as a young woman. She worked to secure Alaska Native land claims in the ‘70s, developed health and education programs in her region in the ‘80s, and shaped Alaska public policy in the Alaska State Senate in the ‘90s. In 2010, she leads Doyon Corporation and its subsidiaries as the Chairman of the Board, a board on which she has served for 33 years.
Senator Lincoln is Athabaskan and served in the Alaska legislature for 14 years. She is the first, and as of this writing, the only Native woman who has been elected to the Alaska State Senate, where she championed issues of women and children as well as natural resource management. In 1996, she was the first Native woman to be a candidate for the US Congress from Alaska, and she has served as a mentor for women across the state within and outside of the Native community. Georgianna also worked as the Executive Director of the Fairbanks Native Association and as a Director at Tanana Chiefs Conference. She believes that her most significant achievement has been to raise two self-actualized children, who are nurturing her eight curious and joyful grandchildren in Alaska.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/mhk9IsEo2G0
Mrs. Jack (Kay) Linton, as she preferred to be identified, was a dynamo, a volunteer extraordinaire, consummate organizer and inveterate volunteer and, to quote former Mayor Tom Fink, “a real take-charge person.”
Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Doogan said, “She was an organizer, and if you were in the vicinity, you got organized.” Gov. Tony Knowles is quoted as saying: “To know Kay was to work for Kay.” Alaska’s furrier Perry Green called Linton “a volunteer’s volunteer – someone who would never ask you to do something she wouldn’t do herself.”
Born in Newcastle, Wyo., Feb. 26, 1933, Linton was the oldest of five children, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Wyoming homesteaders. Her organizational skills began early when it was up to her to amuse her siblings and visiting cousins with picnics and trips to shoot a few jackrabbits.
In 2001 after receiving the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts recognizing Alaskans who have “distinguished themselves in their careers and exemplify the values of Scouting in the professional, personal and civic activities,” Linton told them her obsession to do for others stems from pre-birth. After her mother gave birth to her early, she was wrapped in a towel and set on the oven door while the doctors worked to save her mother’s life. She has tried to pay it forward ever since.
She talked “passionately about her childhood days in her father’s oil field where she swung on a swing made of oil pipe … and hunted treasures like shark teeth, fossils and arrowheads and giant geodes,” she told S. Jane Szabo, reporter for the Anchorage Daily News in 1997.
She received her early education in a one-room schoolhouse, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Black Hill State University in 1955 and took classes toward her master’s degree at the University of Wyoming.
Linton married Jack M. Linton on Aug. 26, 1958, in Wyoming. Two years later she drove a red and white ’58 Thunderbird up the Alaska Highway with her infant daughter and her 15-year-old brother to join her husband. Jack Linton was working in the real estate loan department of First National Bank. Anchorage was somewhat of a small town, only 82,833 people. It was very remote from the rest of the country with long-distance telephone rates very high and television which arrived on videotape at least two weeks late. She was far away from her family and “felt stifled and unhappy, but her marriage was strong,” she told Linda Billington in an interview in 1991. She decided to “find a need and fill it” which became her motto. Thus her professional career as a volunteer organizing, chairing and championing causes and projects began.
Linton taught second and fifth grades at North Star Elementary School, focusing on emotionally disturbed children. During that time she and her husband heard about the opportunity to homestead 160 acres in the Matanuska Valley off Fishhook Road. She and her young daughter lived there during the proving-up period and her husband drove the rough roads to and from every other day. The bulk of the work of digging a well and building a livable dwelling was hers.
In 1977 the Lintons, with partners Jerry Groseclose and G. J. “Red” Huggins, started the Golden Lion Hotel, a place that staged many a party, anniversary and charity lunch and dinner.
Especially proud of two of her biggest projects, Linton knew how to celebrate the anniversaries of Alaska’s 25 years of statehood in 1984, and Anchorage’s 75 years in 1990. It only took two and a half hours to sell 950 Fred Machetanz prints called “Heritage of Alaska”, signed by Alaska’s first five governors which netted $194,000. Governors Egan, Hickel, Miller, Hammond and Sheffield made the event possible since Alaska was the only state to have all of their past governors still living.
For Anchorage Linton organized through the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce the re-enactment of the town as a tent city of 1915 along Ship Creek and of the land call-out auction which sold the lots of Anchorage from the federal government.
As president of the Anchorage Women’s Club she negotiated a lease with the Municipality of Anchorage to move, preserve and maintain Anchorage’s first schoolhouse which was built in 1915. It is now called the Pioneer Schoolhouse and is located at 437 East 3rd Avenue. It is used as a public meeting place now. Thousands of school children met the first Anchorage school principal (Kay Linton, dressed as Miss Orah Dee Clark) in their tour and were able to see what schools used to look like.
Linton was also known for her organization of time capsules. Some of the more memorable ones are buried near the Anchorage Log Cabin, the Pioneer Schoolhouse, the Eisenhower Memorial as well as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs home base in Washington, D.C.
In 1997 Gov. Tony Knowles designated April 30 of that year as Kay Linton Day for her indefatigable efforts. His citation declared that there was one need that had not been filled, that of a “pat on the back for the consummate volunteer.” Although an incomplete list, her efforts earned awards: Alaskan of the Year, 1993; Anchorage 75th Anniversary Chair, 1990; Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan, 1990; Alaska Flag Day celebration, a fund-raiser for Alaska Children’s Services, founder of Celebrity Ice Cream Scoop and participant, 1990-1997; BP Book Wish List for Anchorage Municipal Libraries, founder and organizer, 1986-1997; First Lady’s Volunteer Awards, coordinator and chairwoman, 1980-1997; General Federation of Women’s Clubs: Alaska Federation of Women’s Clubs, president, 1978-80. Anchorage Women’s Club, president, 1992-94; Governor’s Picnic committee, member, 1964 to 1997, picnic chair 1995-97; Friends of the Library, president, 1987; Anchorage Pioneers for Historic Preservation, charter member, 1991-1997; American Diabetes Association Volunteer of the Year, 1994; Orah Dee Clark, created and acted in the role of Anchorage’s first principal, 1990-1997; Pioneers of Alaska, “Fond Memories” committee, 1995; Soroptimist International of Anchorage Woman of Distinction, 1995; Tent City Festival, coordinator, 1990; Ladies Oriental Shrine, Waheed Court 81; Sew Sews, member; Winter Cities Anchorage ’94, vice chair, 1993; U.S.S. Alaska Executive Board, 1986; Miss Alaska Scholarship Pageant, executive director, 1963-76; Alaska Election Commission, member, 1993; Anchorage inaugural activities: Chair of Tony Knowles’ mayoral (1987) and gubernatorial (1995) inaugurations; gubernatorial inauguration for Wally Hickel 1991, mayoral inauguration for Tom Fink 1991; Governor’s Award, 1991; O.M.A.R./Resource Development Council, one of 49 founders; Mrs. Senior Alaska, judge, 1997; Miss Alaska Queen’s Hostess Club for visiting Miss Americas and other pageant winners, founded in 1965; Alaskan of the Year Committee, coordinator, 1976-1997; Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, Swaziland, Nursing Fund; Friends of 4th Avenue Theatre, member, 1986; Anchor Park United Methodist Church, member since 1960. Other activities in which Linton participated include: Alaska-Siberia Medical Research Program, Gold Nuggets Booster Club, State spelling bee and Alaska Academic Decathlon judge, Alaska Methodist University Campus Ministry, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Afternoon at the Lion fundraiser for Shrine Children’s Hospital, Anchorage Widowed Persons Services.
Linton was very proud of the fact that her accomplishments never used government or taxpayers’ money. It was given by those who believed in the cause, many times with lots of encouragement from her.
The wing-shaped fountain or ice sculpture on the south lawn of the Loussac Library is named after Kay Linton through a formal request of Mayor Mark Begich and an Anchorage Assembly resolution unanimously passed in 2004 because of her tireless fund raising efforts for library programs and the fountain maintenance and repairs.
Linton got involved with the construction of the fountain in the mid-80s organizing fundraising efforts. The water was shut off in 1994 due to constant costly repairs and maintenance but she never lost hope. She began fundraising again in 1999 but time and her bad health would not to allow this project to be completed before her death. The efforts were taken over by her son-in-law Kris Warren, an executive with Anchorage Water and Waste Water, and through his and many others work Linton’s dream was completed.
Indefatigable to the end, in the last weeks before her death Linton had been writing a section of a book about Alaska pioneers and was worried she wouldn’t meet the deadline, said Michelle Cassano, a longtime friend. She met the deadline.
Linton and her husband raised two children, Dawn Linton-Warren and Richard Linton.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/Bl_7Ahl1t4I
Godmother of Special Ed in Alaska
Margaret Lowe dedicated her life to advocacy and program development for children widows and their families beginning in the early 1950s. Over five decades in Alaska, she helped build many of the programs and services in Alaska that continue today to help children, adults and families with special needs including those experiencing other mental or emotional differences. Lowe began her work at a time when children with disabilities were still being removed from their families and institutionalized, but she strongly believed that with proper education and support, these children could lead productive lives within the community. She worked hard toward these goals throughout her career and achieved much success. A comment reportedly made by Ed Graff, previous Superintendent of Anchorage School District: “I know Margaret…..she’s the godmother of special education in Alaska.“
In her earliest years in Alaska, Lowe was one of the first classroom teachers at the Alaska Native Medical Center Hospital on Third Avenue in Anchorage where she learned a great deal about Alaska and developed a deep appreciation for the Alaska Native people. She continued to travel throughout the State of Alaska through her work and advocacy so she could continue to better understand the realities of providing services to Alaskans in rural and remote areas. She lived in Fairbanks for nine years where she completed her master’s degree in special education at UAF. For her thesis project, she developed a full preschool curriculum and presented it as a daily television show known as “School For Fun.” At that time there was no school or any curriculum for kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities. This lack of programs led to Lowe’s concern and involvement in the development of a strong parent group known as The Arctic Association for Retarded Children, a term used at the beginning of that movement. This group later became a chapter of the National Association. With a great deal of parental support and fundraising, a preschool for those children with special needs was organized with the ability to hire a teacher, and Lowe’s special needs preschool curriculum was used for that school.
With her move to Anchorage in 1964, Lowe became very active in the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage – now known as the ARC of Anchorage. She began as a volunteer but was soon setting up another preschool and became involved with others working hard on legislation so these children would be statutorily allowed to be in public school programs. President Kennedy instigated the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation which was a breakthrough for the whole field of developmental disabilities and led to the development of Alaska’s Governor’s Council on Special Education and Developmental Disabilities which Lowe eventually chaired.
In 1969, Lowe went back as a special education classroom teacher with the Anchorage School District (ASD) where she continued to work with students, teachers and parents of those experiencing developmental disabilities and those experiencing autism. She completed her administrative credentials in public school administration and special education and became the principal at the Whaley Center serving diverse populations of students with disabilities from 1975 to 1985. On through to her retirement from the ASD in 1985, Lowe had initiated and administered most of their special educational programs including serving as supervisor for the Blind and Visually Impaired Program.
Lowe served as Director of the State Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and as Commissioner of Health and Social Services. During this time Alaska changed the term of Mental Retardation, which only measured IQ, to the federal definition of developmental disabilities, which was based on all sorts of behavioral traits acquired prior to birth or before the age of 22. Additionally, she served as consultant, adjunct professor, teacher and counselor trainer and program evaluator throughout the state. She also traveled to Russia eight times doing research, consulting and program development. There, she consulted with government agencies regarding how to develop basic programs for people who were in institutions and had very special needs. She worked with Russian orphanages to identify and the importance of intervention with the very young residents who were developmentally delayed, and she provided an introduction to autism to Russian public schools, explaining to them how autistic students were educated in the United States. She also spoke with psychiatric hospitals in rural areas of Russia about the importance of social interventions and therapy in addition to medical support.
Lowe had a serious interest in the Mental Health (MH) Trust since 1962 when still in Fairbanks. During her tenure as a state bureaucrat, the papers were signed establishing the statutory existence of the MH Trust. Lowe worked tirelessly to make sure the settlement of the Mental Health Land Trust included services for a more inclusive population of those who experienced mental illness and mental retardation as well as those with traumatic brain injuries, autism, epilepsy, severe emotional disturbance, cerebral palsy, severe physical disabilities and those experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Once the $200 million in funding was secured, then came the challenge of ensuring services were available to serve these diverse populations. During this time, the closing of Harborview in Valdez (an institution for developmentally disabled and mentally ill Alaskans) was planned and implemented. The Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) was also being planned.
As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority from 2005 to 2008 and Chair of their Rural Outreach Committee, Lowe was proactive in addressing very individualized and family-centered programs like Respite Care which was a significant program developed to provide families with funds to hire a competent relief worker for their child with special needs. With their goal to “Bring the Kids Home,” Alaskan programs were developed to provide local support for children who were seriously emotionally disturbed rather than placing them in programs out of state. Work force development issues were also being addressed to train more care providers to assist people in learning to work as well as providing their personal care. From 2002 to 2005, Lowe lived in Bethel in a construction trailer for weeks at a time to assist with further development of the local community services being provided to those experiencing developmental disabilities. Lowe thrived in rural Alaska and adapted quickly to the hardy way of life which she found to be both rewarding and life changing. She walked to work even when it was cold and windy and she enjoyed living in a community where people bonded together to help solve problems like frozen pipes. She embraced the strong sense of community that spanned generations to bring together aunts, uncles, grandparents and grandchildren
A Life on Purpose
Lowe’s parents were immigrants from Norway and came through Ellis Island in 1910 and 1914. They had very limited education themselves, but had a high regard for education and were very concerned that all of their five children would have good educations. Lowe was raised to believe that one person can make a difference and that the very best things that happen in our country are those that come from the ground up, and that every person really can be an agent for change.
Lowe found mentors for effective citizen participation at the local and state levels in her earliest years in Alaska. Vic Fischer, a politician, taught Lowe about good government and how to advocate and be an honest person. Gov. Wally Hickel provided a role model for how to live all phases of life with integrity. Lowe was also inspired by parents like Teresa Thurston, a ruthless advocate for her boys who experienced disabilities; and Lee Brandon, who made her special taco recipe for many fundraisers, had two sons at Morningside and was determined things were going to get better for all of these children. Mary Carey, a Public Health Nurse in Fairbanks, identified a community need and figured out how to fill it.
Lowe belonged to the League of Women Voters, which had a very strong chapter in Anchorage. She helped charter the American Association of University Women (AAUW) whose first cause was to advocate with the university’s administration to get physical education for women, which was accomplished.
An important focus of her life related to her belief that the political system only works if people are involved in it. Even now, she sometimes works on issues that affect senior citizens. However, the area that she continues to be most concerned about is the quality of education in our country because democracy requires a literate population. Her current reading interests still include ecology, the environment, politics and the language and history of Russia. She enjoys knitting and needle point, playing piano, e-mailing friends, and has a personal trainer three times per week. She also recently started a “Hot Topics” monthly group at her current housing complex so residents could discuss current events and be involved politically.
As a single parent since 1973, Lowe basically worked a job and a half and raised three children: Tim (1956), Daniel (1959) and Mary (1965). Tim is a Land Economist and Appraiser living in Culver City, CA; Daniel is a Software Development Engineer living in Salem, OR; and Mary is Chair of the Religion Department at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. Lowe has three granddaughters and two grandsons. “Margaret Lowe was one of the best role models I have had as a working mother. Whenever I am struggling to balance responsibilities, I think of Margaret and her strong work ethic and her many accomplishments despite her limited means, and it inspires me to keep doing my best and to renew my commitment to work, community and family.” – Elizabeth Manning
In summary, Margaret Lowe was an early visionary, a tireless pioneer and a persistent force of nature who, for over five decades, advocated for and provided services throughout the state to people who experience developmental disabilities and mental health issues. Through all of her work, both directly and indirectly, she was committed to serving the families of youth with disabilities through her service. Those family members were – then and now – very real and present to her, and she worked hard to assure families learned, grew and prospered as the disabled family member received a variety of services.
Lowe’s achievements, which have had significant impact
- Developed a model preschool curriculum for children with special needs (Fairbanks and Anchorage).
- Worked with parents to develop/support the Arctic Association for Retarded Children in Fairbanks, and then the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage, now known as ARC of Anchorage
- While at ASD, initiated and built up programs to serve those with special needs and to better integrate them into the community.
- Involved with the statutory requirement that mandated Alaskan public school programs for students with special needs.
- Provided consultation on special needs programs to school districts and other organizations statewide.
- As Commissioner of Health and Social Services, Margaret oversaw the organization of the Mental Health Trust and its support to those with special needs.
Education and Training
- BS, Early Childhood & Elementary Education, University of Minnesota, 1951.
- MA, Special Education, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1965
- Education Specialist, Public School Administration Credential, University of Alaska, Anchorage, 1974.
- Administrative Training Program, 1976. Teacher Training Program, 1975; Judevine Center for Autistic Children, St. Louis, Missouri.
Professional/Work History/Community Involvement:
- Prior to 1956: Classroom teacher for four years, first teacher at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
- 1960-62: Writer/Presenter, Schools for Fun, KTVA TV Fairbanks, daily television show for preschool/primary age children.
- 1966-1971: Alaska Governor’s Council on Mental Retardation, Governor’s Appointee and Chair. Presided over transition of the Governor’s Council into the Alaska Developmental Disabilities Council.
- 1969-1986: Teacher, principal, program administrator, Anchorage School District. Included initiating and administering many ASD special education programs.
- 1974-1986: Part-time adjunct faculty, UAA
- 1985-1986: Consultant to the State of Minnesota Department of Education
- 1972-1981: Consultant (intermittently) to school districts throughout Alaska and to the Resource Alaska Project
- 1986: Faculty, UAA, School of Education
- 1986-1990: President of the Arc of Anchorage
- 1991-1993: Director, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities
- 1993-1994: Commissioner, Health and Social Services
- 1994-1996: Owner, Humanitarian Services Consulting Company
- 1996-1999: Executive Director, Foundation of the Arc; Associate Director, Arc of Anchorage
- 1999-2001: Executive Director, Arc of Anchorage
- 2005-2008: Trustee on the board of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
- Association for Retarded Citizens, Fairbanks, Alaska, Service Award, 1964.
- Association for Retarded Citizens, Anchorage, Alaska, Outstanding Member of the Year Award, 1975.
- Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, President’s Award, 1982.
- National Speaker’s Bureau of the Handicapped Nominee, 1986
- PADD (Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled), 1986
- Alaska State Parents of Autistic Children Service Award, 1986
- White House Conference on Aging Delegate, 1995
Citations of written sources of information about the nominee: • UAF, Oral History Project, The AK Mental Health Trust History, Margaret Lowe, audio interview and transcript: https://jukebox.uaf.edu/site7/interviews360
- A History of the Arc of Anchorage, https://thearcofanchorage.org/wp-content/uploads/Arc_history_Margaret_Lowe.pdf
Best known as a former member of the Sealaska Board of Directors, Ethel was one of the original founders of this Native Corporation that is “committed to the advocacy.” She also had the stick-to-itiveness to help found the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and is actively involved as SEARHC president emeritus. She led a Native Health organization for a quarter of a century. Recognizing Ethel’s significant years of dedicated work in the area of health, she was appointed by President Carter to represent Alaska Natives on the President’s Commission on Mental Health where she spoke on “Alaska Health Needs” for the World Health Organization, International Symposium on Circumpolar Health in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Those who know her say not to let Ethel’s quiet demeanor fool you: she is very capable of asking the tough questions. It is this quiet power and her numerous achievements that lead other Alaska Native women to hold her in high esteem, as evidenced by the positions she has held with the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/8WILsOwt7s8