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Class of 2012

Pictured: (Back L-R) Irene Sparks Rowan, Carolyn Floyd, Audrey Aanes, Carolyn Jones, Sharon Richards (Front L-R) Wilda Hudson, Gretchen Bersch, Rosita Worl

Not pictured: Connie Boochever, Louise Kellogg, Ellen Evak Paneok, Lisa Howell Starr Rudd, Hannah Paul Solomon, Pauline Utter, Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch, Susan L. Ruddy

Photo of Audrey Aanes

Audrey Aanes

1944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy

As a Young Peace Corps volunteer, Audrey Aanes was inspired by the animation and gumption of Ethiopian children who were injured by land mines. Physical disabilities were not a barrier to their energy and enthusiasm to learn. When she came to Alaska she embarked on a career devoted to education, advocacy and action for and with youth and adults who experience substantial physical disabilities (e.g. spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.). 

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1944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy

As a Young Peace Corps volunteer, Audrey Aanes was inspired by the animation and gumption of Ethiopian children who were injured by land mines. Physical disabilities were not a barrier to their energy and enthusiasm to learn. When she came to Alaska she embarked on a career devoted to education, advocacy and action for and with youth and adults who experience substantial physical disabilities (e.g. spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.).

When she started teaching in Anchorage in the early seventies, kids with disabilities were segregated in a special school. She initially had 12 students with physical disabilities from 5 to 16 years old in her classroom. Through the years she saw many bright, mentally capable disabled students graduate with limited options after high school, often placed in a nursing home surrounded by seniors experiencing dementia and alzheimer’s disease.

Motivated to change the status quo, Audrey quit her tenured teaching job and set out to help those young people on the path of independent living. Her challenge was to promote awareness and acceptance of disabled persons in order to accomplish the goals of being respected, accepted, and integrated into the communities of their able-bodied neighbors. At the time there was no accessible housing, transportation, restrooms, restaurants, theaters, or parking. There were few vocational training opportunities or jobs for adults who experienced a substantial physically disability.

With inspiration from some national leaders, such as Ed Roberts, the “Father of Independent Living” from California, Audrey initiated Alaska’s first independent living program, which became Access Alaska. She wrote proposals, solicited funding and letters of support, talked with legislators and governors about changing laws, and learned to speak up at public hearings. Her Minnesota upbringing taught her to be respectfully soft spoken. However, the frustration of her experience asking politely for basic rights for people who experience disabilities taught her how to grow her own voice.

In 1980 they received their first state grant funds for an accessible van, a part-time driver and independent-living-skills training. They developed the first attendant-care program and worked with the Alaska State Housing Authority to set up accessible housing, which was achieved in 1982 when eight young adults moved out of nursing homes and into four accessible two-bedroom apartments in downtown Anchorage!

Services were expanded to a Fairbanks office and the program thrived. Audrey also recruited international volunteers and people with disabilities to participate in adaptive wilderness and sports activities throughout Alaska, including kayaking, skiing and camping. In 1993 Audrey proceeded to develop Arctic Access, the independent living program in northwest Alaska serving Nome and Kotzebue and the surrounding villages where she continues to work today.

By following her passion, hundreds of mentally competent adults who experience physical disabilities are living successful independent lives.  Today there are Centers for Independent Living throughout the state with outreach to many sites in rural Alaska. There are accessible housing modification programs, flexible transit programs, on-the-job training programs, home-based care services directed by the person with the disability, state laws that require access to public facilities, and political advocacy efforts managed by people with disabilities.

Audrey Aanes is often referred to as the Mother of the Independent Living movement in Alaska. She says there were many passionate people involved. She continues to be inspired by the elders and people with disabilities who strive to live independent lives today. Audrey grew her voice and all Alaskans are the beneficiary.



Photo of Gretchen T. Bersch, Ph.D.

Gretchen T. Bersch, Ph.D.

1944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Education

Gretchen Towne Bersch has dedicated her life to adult and continuing education. In addition to creating the master’s degree in Adult Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, she worked on the Adult Literacy Lab Project, coordinated the Credit for Prior Learning program, co-created the UAA/Magadan student exchange program with the International Pedagogical University in Magadan Russia, where she was awarded an honorary professorship and also established and funded an Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award that continues today. Bersch also worked tirelessly to assist the people of Magadan through an extremely harsh winter when their lives were at risk from cold and hunger.

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1944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Education

Gretchen Towne Bersch has dedicated her life to adult and continuing education. In addition to creating the master’s degree in Adult Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, she worked on the Adult Literacy Lab Project, coordinated the Credit for Prior Learning program, co-created the UAA/Magadan student exchange program with the International Pedagogical University in Magadan Russia, where she was awarded an honorary professorship and also established and funded an Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award that continues today.  Bersch also worked tirelessly to assist the people of Magadan through an extremely harsh winter when their lives were at risk from cold and hunger.

Bersch was nominated for the Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation and received the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence, a statewide honor through the University of Alaska Foundation (1996). She was a U.S. representative for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations’ conference on adult learning held in Germany in 1997. She co-chaired Operation Magadan, a humanitarian relief effort that resulted in 30,000 pounds of warm clothing, blankets, baby formula and 16,000 boxes of food being sent to the residents of Magadan during a particularly difficult winter in 1998. In 2006 the adult education collection in the Consortium Library at UAA was named for her, and in 2007 she was appointed to the Sister Cities Commission by the mayor of Anchorage. In 2008, in conjunction with a UNESCO meeting in Budapest, Hungary, Bersch was one of 11 international educators inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Born in Berkeley, California, Bersch is the oldest of six and comes from a lineage of heroic women. Her great-great-grandmother was one of three who started the Oregon Women’s Suffrage Association in 1870 and her grandmother served on the Seattle City Council for 20 years, still the longest-serving woman to have served on this council. Her mother, “a tomboy by nature, was a very strong woman who raised her children to be strong and independent,” Bersch said.

After graduating from Homer High School in 1962, Bersch attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, for two years, then transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in General  Science and Mathematics in 1967, married and started a family.

Bersch began her career in education teaching math and science to 7th and 8th graders. During this time, she had the opportunity to teach adults GED classes at night, which sparked her interest and career in adult education.  In 1971 she moved to the village of Kaltag on the Yukon River and became a faculty member at what was then Anchorage Community College. From Kaltag, she moved to Goodnews Bay then, in 1972, to Anchorage.

Bersch earned a master’s degree in Secondary Education from UAA in 1973 and developed a series of pedagogical and curriculum materials on adult education that she used in rural villages to train teachers in adult education. She served on the ACC Institutional Planning Committee and was co-chair of the ACC/UAA Academic Curriculum Policy Board, which was responsible for successfully merging the community college into UAA. Bersch also served on UAA’s Program Assessment Committee and the Academic Affairs Task Force.

At the age of 40, Bersch took a year-long sabbatical to begin a Ph.D. program in Adult Education from Florida State University. She returned to Anchorage to continue her work as a faculty member at UAA and received her Ph.D. in 1990. It was after earning her doctoral degree that Bersch developed the UAA/Magadan student exchange program and began pursuing other interests. Those interests included developing an educational retreat center and – what she considers to be her life contribution to the field of adult education – a series of filmed interviews with 80 of the world’s top scholars in the field of adult education.  These interviews are titled: Conversations on Lifelong Learning. To date, 40 of these interviews have been made into DVD programs.

Bersch fully retired from the university in 2006 and continues her legacy in adult education by organizing adult education activities through her learning retreat center at her family’s homestead on Yukon Island.  She serves on the Opportunities for Lifelong Education (Olé!) board. She continues to work on completing the Conversations on Lifelong Learning project and is currently writing a book with colleagues around the country about women who were involved in the early development of adult education. Bersch has provided inspiration to the recipients of the Magadan Teacher of the Year Award to each write a chapter of a book about best practices in teaching and she has funded the publication. The book is written in Russian and is soon to be released. On a more personal note, she is writing vignettes for her grandchildren about her family lineage and will become a great-grandmother in June. Reflecting on her career in adult education, Bersch explained, “If there is one thing I would like to do, it is to break down the barriers and fear of learning.” 

References
Guide to the Gretchen T. Bersch papers (1973-2008)
International Adult and Continuing Education, Hall of Fame, Class of 2008-Europe



Photo of Connie Boochever

Connie Boochever

19191999 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Art

Known as a passionate supporter of the arts, Connie Boochever’s most lasting accomplishment may be the Percent for Art Program that requires public funding for art in public buildings. She was critical to getting the legislation passed that established this successful program. The Percent for Art Program has literally changed the landscape of Alaska with art a part of our everyday lives in schools, and all other public buildings.

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19191999 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Art

Boochever was the originator of the State Council on the Arts and served on the board for 12 years. The Council has had a significant impact in the lives of all Alaskans by providing support and funding for community arts groups statewide that bring all of us wonderful programs, music, theater and visual arts. Additionally, Boochever started Juneau Douglas Little Theater, served as its president and acted, produced and directed numerous plays.  She chaired the Save the Organ committee that salvaged a historical theater organ that now graces the Alaska State Office building, where concerts have been held over the years. A long-time resident of Juneau, Boochever moved there in 1946 and lived there for 44 years  until her husband’s appointment to the 9th Circuit Court took her to California.  She loved Juneau and continued to spend her summers there.  Boochever’s volunteerism for Juneau and the arts statewide was significant.  She was incredibly organized and believed in donating her many talents toward ensuring that the arts would thrive in Alaska.  She believed art would enhance the daily lives of all residents of our state.  As one resident in Juneau said, “It was easier to say ‘yes’’ to Connie than to not get involved in her many projects.”  She had a way of getting the whole community involved in making it a better, more lively and beautiful place to live.

The Juneau community recognized Boochever’s contributions in 1973 when she was named Juneau’s Woman of the Year. Other awards include the Governor’s Award for the Arts for outstanding achievement in the arts in 1982. Also that year, she was honored by both houses of the State Legislature for her outstanding contributions to the arts in Alaska.

Connie was born in 1919 and passed away in 1999. When she passed away, her family set up the Connie Boochever Endowment for the Arts program and, to date, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, the organization that manages the fund, has awarded 24 Connie Boochever individual artist fellowships in support of art in Alaska.



Photo of Carolyn Floyd

Carolyn Floyd

1933 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Education, Government

Carolyn Floyd is a leader and advocate in education and municipal government. She was instrumental in starting the Kodiak Community College, serving as its first president from l969 to l987 and growing the college from a few small classes in the Kodiak High School to a comprehensive community  college program located on its own 57-acre campus. In recognition of her legacy, the college library is named in her honor. Floyd also served as mayor of the City of Kodiak for l8 consecutive years. Throughout these years she served on and chaired both statewide and national boards, educating officials throughout the nation about Alaska and its distinctive issues.

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1933 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Education, Government

Carolyn Floyd is a leader and advocate in education and municipal government. She was instrumental in starting the Kodiak Community College, serving as its first president from 1969 to 1987 and growing the college from a few small classes in the Kodiak High School to a comprehensive community college program located on its own 57-acre campus. In recognition of her legacy, the college library is named in her honor. Floyd also served as mayor of the City of Kodiak for l8 consecutive years. Throughout these years she served on and chaired both statewide and national boards, educating officials throughout the nation about Alaska and its distinctive issues.

Floyd’s love of education and community has shaped her life and that of the City of Kodiak. Her love for Kodiak began in l955 when she arrived there as a young bride with her husband Joe, a teacher. The couple settled there for good in l963 to teach at Kodiak High School – Carolyn now with her own degree in business education. In l966 she completed her master’s in business education and became an “adjunct instructor” for the University of Alaska Off-Campus Programs in Kodiak. Classes were held in the high school. At first there were few students and instructors, but Floyd immediately saw the need and possibilities for a full time college in Kodiak. “I didn’t see this as an impossible challenge,” she recalls. “I just wanted to get a real college going here.” And she did. Students who wanted more opportunity came to the classes and invited their friends. She convinced the university that a community college could be successful in Kodiak, and in l969 Carolyn Floyd was appointed the first campus president of the new Kodiak Community College. She served as president for l8 years, convincing the Kodiak Borough to set aside land for the college, attracting new instructors and new students and arranging financing for new buildings. The Kodiak College Carolyn Floyd Library, located on campus, was dedicated in l989.

A successful college requires community support and Floyd worked to build that support. She was so well respected that in l993 she was asked to run for mayor of the City of Kodiak. She served as mayor for the next 18 consecutive years. In her first term as mayor she was instrumental in establishing the Kodiak Multicultural Forum which includes representatives from Kodiak’s many ethnic groups and continues to be active today.
During these years she also served as president and board member of the Alaska Municipal League, president and member of the Alaska Conference of Mayors, board member of the National League of Cities, and member of the National League of Cities Advisory Council, a position she still holds today.

Among her many honors, Floyd was listed in “Who’s Who in International Education” (1985); awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education, University of Alaska Anchorage (l989); awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alaska Municipal League (2003) and a Community Leaders of America Award by the same organization (l990); Certificate of Achievement in Leadership Excellence, National League of Cities (2008) and honored as one of six finalists for the Women in Municipal Government Award, National League of Cities (2010).
Pat Branson, mayor of Kodiak, who nominated Floyd for the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame on behalf of the City of Kodiak, says, “Carolyn has worked to improve programs and services for citizens for nearly 50 years. Her legacy will serve Alaskans for many years to come. Carolyn Floyd leads with honesty, strength, dignity and grace. She has served as a role model throughout her professional life.”

Carolyn and Joe Floyd will soon celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary. They have four children: Virginia, JoeMax, Scott and Patrick.



Photo of Wilda G. “Burch” Hudson

Wilda G. “Burch” Hudson

19242012 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Service, Public Service

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.

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19242012 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Service, Public Service

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.



Photo of Carolyn E. Jones

Carolyn E. Jones

1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Human Rights, Humanitarian, Rotary Leadership

Carolyn Jones is recognized for her distinguished 25-year leadership role in Rotary International, from president of her Anchorage club to the first woman in the world to be appointed as a trustee to the prestigious worldwide “The Rotary Foundation.” She has been recognized for her lasting humanitarian contribution as a Rotary volunteer with children in eastern Russian orphanages by both the Alaska State Legislature and the Tomsk Russian Duma. Jones’ career as an attorney in Alaska litigating laws to make more opportunities for all Americans, has been recognized for by the State of Alaska Commission for Human Rights. Jones continues to serve humanitarian needs in several capacities through Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.

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1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Human Rights, Humanitarian, Rotary Leadership

Carolyn Jones is recognized for her distinguished 25-year leadership role in Rotary International, from president of her Anchorage club to the first woman in the world to be appointed as a trustee to the prestigious worldwide “The Rotary Foundation.” She has been recognized for her lasting humanitarian contribution as a Rotary volunteer with children in eastern Russian orphanages by both the Alaska State Legislature and the Tomsk Russian Duma. Jones’ career as an attorney in Alaska litigating laws to make more opportunities for all Americans, has been recognized for by the State of Alaska Commission for Human Rights. Jones continues to serve humanitarian needs in several capacities through Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.

Jones was raised in a small town on the Hudson River in New York. Her mother was a domestic, cleaning houses. “Growing up, no one we knew had gone to college,” she says. “I didn’t know any attorneys. I knew about them from watching Perry Mason!” How did she change her life? “I just had so many good things happen to me.” From the start, Jones did well in school. “My third-grade teacher took me aside one day and told me people would tell me that I could not succeed because of my skin color and because we were poor. She told me not to believe it.” Jones graduated from Stanford, with distinction, on full scholarship (l963), was the first woman president of the Yale Law School Student Association and graduated from Yale Law School on full scholarship (1966).

Jones’ legal career in Alaska began in l975 when she was an attorney for the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. For her work there and with other agencies, she received the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Award for Distinguished and Dedicated Service (1984) and the Alaska Bar Association Distinguished Service Award (1990). She was an assistant attorney general for the State of Alaska for 23 years and a supervising attorney in the office during the last seven years before her retirement in 1998.
In l987 Jones, actively involved in Anchorage community volunteer work, was invited to join Rotary, the first year women were allowed as members. She declined because, “I didn’t want to be where I wasn’t wanted.” She was persuaded by the argument that Rotary had the resources for the kinds of humanitarian activism so important to her. It was the start of her “second life.” She joined the Rotary Club of Anchorage East and in a five-year period advanced from member, to board member to president (l992-93). By l997 she was governor of Rotary District 5010, which included all of Alaska, the Yukon Territory and eastern Russia – the largest Rotary District in the world.

Jones served five terms as a Rotary volunteer in Russia, three times working as a pre-school teacher to developmentally delayed children in Russian orphanages and twice as a visiting university professor. She received the Rotary International Service Above Self Award (2001) and The Rotary Foundation Distinguished Service Award (2009). She was also awarded the Alaska Bar Association’s “Distinguished Service Award.” In honor of her work with children, she was named “Volunteer of the Year” by the Russian Children’s Foundation, a non-profit group based in Moscow (2002). The Alaska State Legislature recognized her achievements and the Tomsk Russian Duma gave her the “Mercy & Charity” award (2006). Her story of her experience as a Rotary volunteer in Russia was included in the 2002 edition of “Chicken Soup for the Volunteer Soul.”

In 2005 Jones became the first woman in the world to be appointed as trustee to “The Rotary Foundation” (2005 -2009). In that position she worked with and spoke to Rotary clubs around the world. She also has served as president’s representative to districts in Italy, Canada and the U.S., and is currently vice chairperson of the Rotary Foundation Peace Centers Committee. This foundation gives master’s level scholarships for peace and conflict resolution centers in universities around the world and chairperson of the Rotary International Constitution and Bylaws Committee. Jones has served as an international training leader (2000 and 2005), regional foundation coordinator (2003-2005), chairperson, Zone 22 Rotary International Institute (2004) and on other worldwide committees.

“I joined Rotary because I thought I was going to give back to the community,” she said. “One way I changed was in seeing that we are truly all one world community.”

Jones has two daughters: Nina Simpson-Jones and Carrie Graham.



Photo of Louise Kellogg

Louise Kellogg

19032001 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Dairy Farming, Education, Philanthropy

Born to wealth Louise Kellogg spent her lifetime spreading her energy, enthusiasm and benevolence to many causes. Her spirit of adventure led her to Alaska, and her love of hard work made her Spring Creek Farm into one of Alaska’s most productive dairy farms. Today, that farm houses Alaska Pacific University’s campus and education farm. Kellogg was a die-hard Republican, one of the few female pilots of the day, an Alaska pioneer and above all else, an extremely generous woman.

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19032001 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Dairy Farming, Education, Philanthropy

Born to wealth Louise Kellogg spent her lifetime spreading her energy, enthusiasm and benevolence to many causes. Her spirit of adventure led her to Alaska, and her love of hard work made her Spring Creek Farm into one of Alaska’s most productive dairy farms. Today, that farm houses Alaska Pacific University’s campus and education farm. Kellogg was a die-hard Republican, one of the few female pilots of the day, an Alaska pioneer and above all else, an extremely generous woman.

In June 1973 Kellogg created the DeWolf-Kellogg Trust, setting aside 700 acres in the Matanuska Valley for the use of the newly established Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University). She wanted a place for students to come and be with nature. “Let there be no doubt about it. My aim is to protect the land for use by private educational institutions, for without the serenity of fields and woods, animals and  friendly birds in their natural setting, a private educational institution can offer only book learning, not real education.”

At age 94 Kellogg received the 1997 Alaskan of the Year Denali Award. She has also been awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from APU in 1984 and was the honored guest in the public celebration in Palmer on Memorial Day 2001 as Alaska’s oldest surviving veteran of World War II.

With a degree in English from Vassar in 1925 she left Chicago for California where her interests extended to the sky as she became a pilot and a member of the Powder Puffs. Some of her flights were across the country from California to Florida. Her time was divided between flying and volunteer work, serving as volunteer chair of the Outpatient Clinic of the Pasadena Hospital.

When World War II arrived, Kellogg enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1942 and was classified as a miscellaneous specialist. She first worked in classification and assignment of new personnel, but after just 18 months she went to officers’ school. Her main duty became the creation of a record of personal experiences of all the outfits of the WAC. Her time in the war was spaced over England, Germany and France. In 1945 she received an honorable discharge as a major.

Kellogg’s interest in farming came from her father, LeRoy DeWolf Kellogg, who had a farm on which the family would spend summers when she was growing up, and she brought that love of farming to Alaska in 1948. In Alaska no farmer would sell land to a single woman, especially one without farming experience, so Kellogg bought an unfinished farm of 240 acres, 10 cows, an incomplete barn and a cabin. As the farm grew, buildings were added, all of them she had personally designed. Soon she had the most extensive, state-of-the-art milking barn in Alaska. It included a loafing parlor to let the cattle in out of the snow. Local farmers who mocked her new facility were shocked as her farm quickly became successful and produced some of the best milk in the Mat-Su valleys. As other farms failed or farmers chose to leave Alaska, Kellogg bought up the land. At its height, Spring Creek Farm had more than 1,000 acres and milked more than 120 cows.

This woman’s interest stretched throughout Alaska. Kellogg was not someone to sit at home and knit. Her free time was filled with volunteer work or a variety of committee meetings. She wanted to have her hand in everything and was not a woman who could be “bossed around”.  In 1957 she began to serve on the Board of Trustees for AMU. She felt that a private education was much better than one gained from a state school.

Kellogg was a leader in the Mat-Su valleys’ dairy industry and was instrumental in shaping the young Matanuska-Susitna Borough. She served as the only woman on the first Assembly (1963-1966). She ran for a seat in the  state Legislature in the early 1970s, and was a trustee of Occidental College and the Palmer Public Library. Much of her energy was devoted to Joe Redington and his struggles in starting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She was also a member of the Mat-Su Valley Health Council, Mat-Su Taxpayers Association Board, Valley Hospital Association Board, Valley Hospital Foundation Board, Palmer Historical Society, Pioneers of Alaska Auxiliary No. 11 and the Arctic  Institute of North America.  She was involved in a committee that helped prevent billboards from being placed on highways in Alaska. Always interested in politics, Kellogg was very active in the Mat-Su Republican Women’s Club and the Republican Party in the valley.

Kellogg stopped dairy farming in 1980 but remained active in her many organizations and in life itself. Her family claims she drove like a “bat out of hell” until her license was taken away because she was 90 going 90. She was always an avid hostess and had many guests at her farm over the  years.



Photo of Ellen Evak Paneok 

Ellen Evak Paneok 

19592008 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Art, Aviation

Ellen Paneok was the first Alaska Native woman pilot. She worked as a commercial pilot in Alaska for 17 years and ferried everything  from dynamite to live wolverines, the U.S. mail, passengers and medical patients. Paneok accumulated more than 15, 000 miles of flight time during her life. The elders called her “Owl Eyes” because she could see and fly in any type of weather. To her knowledge, she was the only Native American (Eskimo) woman pilot.

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19592008 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Art, Aviation

Ellen Paneok was the first Alaska Native woman pilot. She worked as a commercial pilot in Alaska for 17 years and ferried everything from dynamite to live wolverines, the U.S. mail, passengers and medical patients. Paneok accumulated more than 15, 000 miles of flight time during her life. The elders called her “Owl Eyes” because she could see and fly in any type of weather. To her knowledge, she was the only Native American (Eskimo) woman pilot.

Paneok was born in Bedford, Va., in 1959. Her mother, Bernice Evak Burgandine, was an Inupiaq Eskimo from Kotzebue. Her father, Ron Burgandine, was in the United States Air Force stationed in Alaska. Her parents divorced when she was in the fifth grade and after the divorce, her mother moved Paneok and her two sisters to Anchorage. From the age of nine she took on the role of mother to her two sisters. A state social service agency broke the family up when she was 12 – her younger sister was adopted and she and her other sister were sent to separate foster homes. Paneok bounced around foster homes until she was put in “girls’ lock down” at the age of 14. Fortunately, her last foster home was a loving environment and helped her turn her life around.

When she was 15, Paneok found a flying magazine and after reading it decided she wanted to give it a try. At the age of 16 she received a $1,500 dividend from the Cook Inlet Regional Corporation and used it to take flying lessons. Eventually, the money ran out and Paneok started doing pen-and ink-drawings that she sold for $10 each. At the age of 17 she began ivory carving and scrimshaw, selling her work to tourists. She used the money to complete her training. Never liking school, Paneok would skip English and History to take flying lessons. At the age of 20, Paneok received her GED and her private pilot’s license.

By the time Paneok was 23, she had her commercial and flight-instructor certificates. In 1983 her first flying job was in Kiana, flying a Piper Cherokee Six. She chased polar bears from runways in the line of duty. “The most challenging part,” she said in the 1997 book “Women and Flight,” “is the off-airport work, like landing on the sandbars, landing on top of a mountain with big tires, maybe on a 20-degree grade, landing uphill and taking off downhill – to me, that’s the epitome of Bush flying.” Paneok said she was honored to be one of the few pilots authorized to fly the vintage aircraft owned by the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. After flying for air taxi operations throughout the Bush, Paneok worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for five years as an operations inspector, then for the Alaska Aviation Foundation as the Statewide  viation Safety Coordinator.

Paneok was published widely in such magazines as AOPA Pilot and Alaska Magazine and was featured in numerous books on women and aviation, including “Bush Pilots of Alaska” and “Women Pilots of Alaska”. She was also referenced in a number of other publications for her unique experience and knowledge of high-Arctic flying.   Her article “With Trusting Eyes Behind Me” was included in “The Last Frontier,” a  collection of the best of Alaska Magazine. Paneok was included in Ann Lewis Cooper’s Book “Stars of the Sky, Legends All”. She was one of only 37 pilots featured in the “Women in Flight” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. She is remembered as a “heroine in aviation”. That was the name of an exhibit sponsored by the Chicago Airport System which also chronicled Paneok’s extraordinary life.

Paneok created ivory scrimshaw that hailed from her Inupiaq tribal traditions as well as her interest in the changing world. She exhibited her work at many Alaska Federation of Natives conventions and arts-and-crafts shows. Her work can be found in art and antique galleries in Anchorage and Haines and in Minnesota and Maine as well as in many private collections.

Paneok was a long-time member and supporter of the Alaska 99’s, the International Organization of Pilots. She also volunteered her time and sat on the board of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, the Alaska Airmen’s Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Anchorage, the Alaska Historical Commission and Challenge Alaska. She spent countless hours inspiring the youth of Anchorage and village communities to look to the sky and to their own dreams. When Paneok spoke to groups of at-risk kids, she could relate from her own personal experience. She told them: “I was just like you. I got no encouragement. When you decide to do something, don’t let anyone or anything discourage you. It’s up to you.”

Shortly after her death in March of 2008, Paneok was honored by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Congressional Record.



Photo of Sharon Richards

Sharon Richards

1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Service, Education, Non-Profit Leadership

Volunteer, activist, educator, non-profit leader, elected official and small business owner are the broad titles Sharon Richards has carried during her life in Alaska. In all of her roles, Richards has reached out to people from minority communities and has been a tenacious advocate for women, children and families. Richards has led a life of non-profit leadership and volunteerism which has inspired many. She is a quiet leader who looks for people’s strengths. She believes in a public process which involves all people, not just the well connected. In 1988 Richards worked with a group of women to establish a YWCA in Anchorage, resigning as president of the organizing board to become is first executive director and growing the organization for the next 14 years from a staff of one to a staff of 14 operating out of their own building – Richards retired in 2002.

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1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Service, Education, Non-Profit Leadership

Volunteer, activist, educator, non-profit leader, elected official and small business owner are the broad titles Sharon Richards has carried during her life in Alaska. In all of her roles, Richards has reached out to people from minority communities and has been a tenacious advocate for women, children and families. Richards has led a life of non-profit leadership and volunteerism which has inspired many. She is a quiet leader who looks for people’s strengths. She believes in a public process which involves all people, not just the well connected. In 1988 Richards worked with a group of women to establish a YWCA in Anchorage, resigning as president of the organizing board to become is first executive director and growing the organization for the next 14 years from a staff of one to a staff of 14 operating out of their own building – Richards retired in 2002.

Prior to the YWCA, Richards was director of Community Relations at United Way and trained hundreds of non-profit boards of directors from across Alaska in legal and financial responsibilities. She also taught that studying issues made people informed voters and participants in society which turned them into leaders. She encouraged young women and minorities to take charge of their lives, to develop small businesses and to ecome college and/or career educated in order to become better leaders. Through this work, Richards has served as a role model for young women in the community who aspire to public service and political positions.

Before moving to Alaska, Richards had worked as a classroom language-arts teacher for junior-high-aged students. In 1967 she made the transition to Anchorage with her first husband and 18-month-old son – she also was four months pregnant with her daughter. This is when her life-long commitment to volunteerism and training others to become community and business leaders began. During this beginning she also had a third child, a son.

Early in her career, Richards worked as director of the Volunteer Center during Mayor Tony Knowles’ administration. In this capacity she established the annual city-wide volunteer recognition and Volunteer Service Awards. For six years she served on an Anchorage School District committee that dealt with minority concerns. After chairing it she was appointed and then elected to the Anchorage School Board where she served nearly eight years (1988-1995) twice elected president by her colleagues. She also served as secretary-treasurer for the state-wide Alaska Association of School Boards.

Some of her other community commitments have included: president of many organizations including the League of Women Voters, KAKM, Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club, Association of Non-Profit Corporations and the Anchorage Association of Volunteer Administrators plus chair of the Anchorage Daily News Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund. She was also on the boards of directors of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Community Foundation. Because of Richards leadership and hard work she received the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA award in 1999; the YWCA Women of Achievement Award in 1998; the Citizen of the Year Award from the Alaska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in 1994 and was recognized by LULAC, a Latino organization for outstanding commitment, involvement and contribution to the minority community in 1986.

 

References
2000 ATHENA Society Directory, Profiles in Leadership



Photo of Irene Sparks Rowan

Irene Sparks Rowan

1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Activist, Leadership, Native Issues

Irene Sparks Rowan, a Tlingit Indian from Klukwan, became a national figure during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) struggle, then returned to Alaska to form and lead her village corporation, Klukwan, Inc. In 1976, Rowan helped lead a world-wide campaign to encourage
Alaska Natives to enroll under ANCSA, then returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Activist, Leadership, Native Issues

Irene Sparks Rowan, a Tlingit Indian from Klukwan, became a national figure during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) struggle,  then returned to Alaska to form and lead her village corporation, Klukwan, Inc. In 1976, Rowan helped lead a world-wide campaign to encourage Alaska Natives to enroll under ANCSA, then returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Rowan’s mission began as a teenager when she taught a troop of Haines Boy Scouts how to Indian dance. The dancers, accompanied by a drum and bugle corps (Irene dancing and playing the bugle), became the well known Chilkat Dancers. Rowan credits this experience, at a time and in a place where Native values and traditional practices were not popular, as key to shaping her life: making her proud to be an Alaska Native and sharing those traditional values with non-Natives. Her early ability to innovate and lead shines through when the dancers, at the fiercely competitive international intertribal Indian Dance Ceremonial festival in New Mexico, were unexpectedly limited in their music. They then danced to the same chant, three times, but at different tempos, without the audience noticing. The Chilkat Dancers received the grand prize for their performance!

Rowan learned to walk in both worlds at an early age from her mother, Mildred Sparks, a Tlingit Indian from Klukwan. Sparks not only was a lifelong advocate for the Alaska Native people but was an English-speaker and acted as a bridge between cultures. As a teacher in Bethel in the 1960s, Rowan helped to elect the first Alaska Native to serve on the city council. She soon expanded her political interests to the national scene, helping to elect Mike Gravel to the Senate in 1968 and moving to Washington, D.C. Rowan then joined in the fight for the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971, one of the very few women so involved.

Upon returning to Alaska, Rowan was elected the president of Klukwan, Inc. in 1975 and immediately led a successful lobbying effort to amend  ANSCA twice: to recognize Klukwan, Inc. as a village corporation eligible for ANCSA benefits; and to allow selection of lands outside their original withdrawal area. As president and chief executive officer, it was then her task to lead the complicated and difficult efforts to establish the corporate structure and the process for land selection. In 1976 she joined forces with Susan Ruddy in a public information company which secured a contract to carry out a world-wide campaign to encourage Alaska Natives to enroll under ANCSA. In the late 1970s Rowan returned to Washington and worked as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior to help sort out and resolve the myriad of questions and issues arising from implementation of ANSCA. Returning to Alaska, she continued her implementation work, this time with the Alaska Federation of Natives. She continued to serve many years on the Klukwan, Inc. board. Rowan maintains that her experience being the “face” of Klukwan, Inc. during its formative years has led her to prefer to operate “behind-the-scenes”. However, it is clear from her activities since that time that when needs are identified, Rowan steps forward to lead and initiate action.

Rowan started the Southcentral Native Educators Association while serving as an adjunct instructor of Alaska Studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 2001 she organized a diverse group of volunteers and organizations into the Alaska Native Heritage Month Committee to create ways to commemorate Native cultures during Alaska Native Heritage Month in November. When it appeared the 40th anniversary of ANCSA in 2011 would pass unnoticed, Rowan initiated, organized and chaired the “ANCSA@40” committee.  This group created a year-long program of drums and lectures, including collecting documents and photographs, to celebrate and honor the efforts of those who fought for ANCSA and to educate those unfamiliar with the struggle. She then arranged for the video tapes and still photos from these events to be archived for the use of future generations.

Outside of her role in Alaska Native affairs, Rowan has broad interests in the larger community. As a businesswoman, Rowan has served on the board of Northrim BanCorp (formerly Northrim Bank) since 1991. As a member of Sisters in Crime, the mystery writer organization, she helped organize an “Authors in the Schools” program and a GCI video conferencing program of Alaska Native authors to encourage young rural students to record their stories. She currently serves on the board of Alaska Moving Images Preservation Association. Rowan cites her selection in 1991 by Freedom House to be an election observer in El Salvador as one of her most valuable experiences.  She traveled for a week in that war-torn ountry with a delegation of individuals from throughout the world known as Freedom Fighters. Rowan said her most enjoyable achievement in life has been to raise two daughters.

 



Photo of Lisa Howell Starr Rudd

Lisa Howell Starr Rudd

19331985 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy, Civil Rights, Equal Rights

In 1988 the original Alaska Commission on the Status of Women celebrated a decade of advocacy and education on behalf of women. Lisa Rudd, as a legislator in the Alaska State House, sponsored the legislation that created it. Throughout her personal, professional and political life Rudd  dedicated her efforts to improve laws, conditions and opportunities for Alaska women, children and people of all races. She was the prime force behind the state’s mini-cabinet on women’s issues, and elevated to priority status the issues of daycare, child support enforcement and the employment of Alaska Native women in state government. At this celebration the first Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame was dedicated to Rudd and her legacy of accomplishments providing a visible role model for tomorrow’s leaders.

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19331985 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy, Civil Rights, Equal Rights

In 1988 the original Alaska Commission on the Status of Women celebrated a decade of advocacy and education on behalf of women. Lisa Rudd, as a legislator in the Alaska State House, sponsored the legislation that created it. Throughout her personal, professional and political life Rudd dedicated her efforts to improve laws, conditions and opportunities for Alaska women, children and people of all races. She was the prime force behind the state’s mini-cabinet on women’s issues, and elevated to priority status the issues of daycare, child support enforcement and the employment of Alaska Native women in state government. At this celebration the first Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame was dedicated to Rudd and her legacy of accomplishments providing a visible role model for tomorrow’s leaders.

“It is not a cosmic coincidence that the Author’s Room at the Z.J. Loussac Library will be dedicated to the memory of Lisa Rudd the same weekend as the Alaska Women’s Run, but it is a nice grace note.

“Thousands of women laughing, sharing, striving, competing with the best while supporting each other – the run is the perfect metaphor for Lisa Rudd’s life,” said Susan Nightingale in her June 10, 1988, Anchorage Daily News article.

Other major legislation Rudd sponsored included the creation of a State of Alaska infant learning program, which provided early intervention for infants and toddlers with special needs, ensuring their healthy development. She also sponsored legislation requiring Alaska mariners, familiar with Alaska waters, to pilot oil tankers in and out of Valdez and a separate bill making organ donor registration available on drivers’ licenses. She was active in the women’s-rights movement, and helped to get women’s shelters established in a number ofAlaska communities, incuding Anchorage.

It is a testament to her character, integrity and abilities that three Alaska governors of both parties, Egan, Hammond and Sheffield, appointed her to state posts during their administration.  From 1983 to 1985, Rudd served as commissioner of Administration. In January 1976, Rudd was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of Alaska State House Representative Willard Bowman.  She was then elected to that seat where she chaired the Community and Regional Affairs Committee. In 1980 she ran unsuccessfully for State Senate. Rudd served on the Anchorage Charter Commission, the State Commission for Human Rights, and was a member of the Governor’s Equal Employment Committee (1974-1975).  In 1974 she was coordinator of education programs for the Alaska Native Foundation.  She was director of Equal Employment Opportunity for the Anchorage School District (1972-1973).

Rudd also served on a number of community boards of directors including the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Alaska Children’s Services, the Anchorage Employee Relations Board and the Alaska Zoo.  She was a founding member of the Women Executives in State Government.

Many awards, honors and recognitions were given to Rudd throughout her career, among them: the Soroptimist Club of Anchorage’s first annual “Women Helping Women Award”, Community Service Award from the Imperial Court of Alaska (Alaska’s oldest gay community organization) and the Alaska Women’s Commission’s first Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame was dedicated to her.

Rudd received her B.A. in American History and Government from Bennington College and her M.A. in Pubic Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In addition to her public life, Rudd and her husband, Joseph, raised two daughters, Alison and Sandra. To quote them, “She passed on  to us her love of choral singing, berry picking, sailing, playing tennis, fishing and exploring Alaska.  Our mom was an excellent cook and loved to entertain guests for dinner. She enjoyed time at our family cabin and traveling the world.  Prior to mom’s death, she was able to know and love her granddaughter Erin.

 

References
http://consortiumlibrary.org/archives/FindingAids/hmc-0212.html



Photo of Susan L. Ruddy

Susan L. Ruddy

1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Conservation

Motivated by her father’s love of Jack London stories of the north and by observing her mother as a leader working across party lines in the  Rhode Island state Legislature, Susan Ruddy chose to come to Alaska in 1964. With her, she brought the belief that a person can build compassionate communities and embrace and protect magnificent natural environments. Rudy has devoted the past four decades to conserving Alaska’s unique ecosystems and crafting community infrastructure across the state.

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1941 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Conservation

Motivated by her father’s love of Jack London stories of the north and by observing her mother as a leader working across party lines in the Rhode Island state Legislature, Susan Ruddy chose to come to Alaska in 1964. With her, she brought the belief that a person can build compassionate communities and embrace and protect magnificent natural environments. Rudy has devoted the past four decades to conserving Alaska’s unique ecosystems and crafting community infrastructure across the state.

Ruddy founded the Alaska Chapter of the Nature Conservancy in the 1980s to bring science to bear in the identification and protection of biologically unique areas. She also recognized the need to raise funds to accomplish goals, such as community development, so she went on to manage institutions to expand healthcare and education. Ruddy directed the Providence Alaska Foundation, where she championed the establishment of the Providence Cancer Center. The cancer center provides care to families, regardless of income, including the services of a “navigator” who assists them with the range of decisions about cancer treatments. Before Providence, Ruddy served as vice chancellor for University Advancement at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she led a team in acquiring philanthropic gifts to expand science, engineering, and fine arts programs at UAA.

Ruddy has moved seamlessly among the private, public, and non-profit sectors of the state to bring Alaskans together to work out differences and to expand our understanding of one another. On behalf of the Mediation Institute, Ruddy facilitated resolution of land disputes between Alaska Native corporations, public owners, and environmental organizations. In the field of communications, she owned and operated a business that in 1979 produced the first footage of the Iditarod Sled dog race ever available for national television audiences.   

Ruddy raised two curious and kind children, both professionals, who continue to give back to their communities. Sean Ruddy lives in Anchorage with his wife, Pauline, and Lydia Ruddy resides in Indonesia. Susan Ruddy’s personal devotion to the out-of-doors is reflected in her  development of an oyster farm near Halibut Cove with her son his wife. Ruddy kayaks, hikes, and is an avid bird watcher.

Ruddy has volunteered her time as a board member of numerous organizations, including two terms on the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution, several terms on the Commonwealth North Board and on the Providence Region Board. Today she continues to serve on the Board of the Nature Conservancy. As a cancer survivor, she is a strong supporter of the Alaska Women’s Run.

Throughout her career, Ruddy has nurtured the skills of and expanded the knowledge of the next generation of Alaska’s managers, thinkers, and policy makers. She has inspired and mentored many young leaders who are caring for the state’s institutions and communities today. She regards their successes as her lasting contribution to Alaska.



Photo of Hannah Paul Solomon

Hannah Paul Solomon

19082011 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Leadership, Mentorship, Native Issues

A respected elder and matriarch of the Athabascan people, Hannah Solomon began her work by helping to organize Fort Yukon into an  incorporated city and becoming its first female mayor. Using this as a stepping stone, Solomon moved on to help form the Fairbanks Native Association and to become active in the Alaska Federation of Natives, Doyon Ltd. and Tanana Chiefs Conference. Solomon’s beadwork, a skill she learned from her mother, has been nationally recognized and collected by public and private museums and collectors.

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19082011 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Leadership, Mentorship, Native Issues

A respected elder and matriarch of the Athabascan people, Hannah Solomon began her work by helping to organize Fort Yukon into an incorporated city and becoming its first female mayor. Using this as a stepping stone, Solomon moved on to help form the Fairbanks Native Association and to become active in the Alaska Federation of Natives, Doyon Ltd. and Tanana Chiefs Conference. Solomon’s beadwork, a skill she learned from her mother, has been nationally recognized and collected by public and private museums and collectors.

Born in Old Rampart of an Alaska Native woman and white father, Solomon was raised by adoptive parents. After her marriage, she lived a traditional subsistence lifestyle in Fort Yukon, where she and her husband raised their 14 children and her husband’s four children. While living there, she became active in community affairs, helping to organize Fort Yukon into an incorporated city and creating a school board.  She then became Fort Yukon’s first female mayor.

Solomon had only a few years of elementary school education, but was a strong advocate of education for her children and other young people, particularly Alaska Native youths moving into Fairbanks from rural villages.  Solomon spoke fluent Gwich’in and made sure her children learned to speak it as well. After moving to Fairbanks in 1965, which allowed her younger children to attend Lathrop High School, Solomon helped organize and then worked for the Fairbanks Native Association as a social worker. She developed programs for the elderly that are still operation. As an activist and leader in Native affairs, Solomon attended the initial meetings of AFN, Fairbanks Native Association, Doyon Ltd. and Tanana Chiefs Conference and continued to be an active participant throughout her lifetime. In 2011 her 102nd year, she attended and spoke at Doyan’s annual meeting.

Solomon’s beadwork is considered among the finest in the Athabascan tradition and is in the collections of museums, businesses and private collectors in Alaska and elsewhere, including the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North, Doyon’s headquarters in Fairbanks, in the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. She learned beadwork from her mother, was diligent and persistent (“she was always doing her beadwork” according to a daughter) and modest about her artistic skills. She said once: “I don’t call myself an artist at all because that’s the thing that God gave me to do and I’m doing it.” Solomon loved traditional Athabascan dancing, especially jigging. In 2000 she was awarded the Governor’s Native Arts Award, and throughout the years was invited to participate in many guest-artist and artist/apprentice programs. Solomon was selected by UAF to be an Elder in Residence and was cited for the “wisdom, understanding and friendship” she provided through the program. In recognition of her contributions to the elder program, the Fairbanks Native Association named their senior care building the “Hannah Solomon Building”. She was honored also by the North Star Borough as the Pioneer of the Month, as Doyon Shareholder of the Year as an “inspiration to shareholders” and by the church where she was a longtime parishioner.

Solomon’s long life spanned World War I through the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars. At her death, she was survived by five generations of family. Summarizing Solomon’s influence and importance in both the Alaska Native and non-Native worlds, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner stated in its editorial of Sept. 18, 2011: “At 102, Hannah Solomon has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and wisdom unmatched by but very few in Alaska.”

 

References
Doyon, Limited E-Newsletter, October 2011
Artist File, Hannah Solomon, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, articles on September 16, 2011, September 18, 2011 and Sept. 23, 2011, Editorial, September 18, 2011
Anchorage Daily News, article on March 26, 2000
Susan Fair. Alaska Native Art: Tradition, Innovation, Continuity. University of Alaska Press, 2007
Kate Duncan. Some Warmer Tone. University of Alaska Press, 1984
Richard Nelson. The Athabascans: People of the Boreal Forest. University of Alaska Museum, 1983
Journal of Alaska Native Arts, Jan.-Feb-March 1989



Photo of Pauline Utter

Pauline Utter

19422005 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy, Political Activism, Women's Rights

Best known for her work in support of women’s rights, Pauline Utter volunteered countless hours as an advocate and political activist in support of a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. She mobilized opposition in campaigns and in the Legislature when efforts were made to limit this right.  This led to her developing a statewide database which identified the strength of an individual’s support or opposition to contraception and abortion and the list made it possible to successfully educate voters during political campaigns. Utter was strategic in her efforts and used her knowledge and experience in research, data collection and organizing to upgrade the quality of campaigns in numerous electoral races. She was ahead of her time in educating voters in Alaska on important issues affecting women’s rights.

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19422005 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy, Political Activism, Women's Rights

Best known for her work in support of women’s rights, Pauline Utter volunteered countless hours as an advocate and political activist in support of a woman’s  right to safe, legal abortion. She mobilized opposition in campaigns and in the  Legislature when efforts were made to limit this right. This led to her developing a statewide database which identified the strength of an individual’s support or opposition to contraception and abortion and the list made it possible to successfully educate voters during political campaigns. Utter was strategic in her efforts and used her knowledge and experience in research, data collection and organizing to upgrade the quality of campaigns in numerous electoral races. She was ahead of her time in educating voters in Alaska on important issues affecting women’s rights.  Also in support of women’s rights, Utter served on the boards of Planned Parenthood and the Alaska Pro-Choice Alliance and founded the Abortion Rights Project in Alaska. These efforts were acknowledged in 2011 when was named an ACLU Hero of Liberty. Previously, she had been honored by her peers working in support of  women’s rights by naming the Pauline’s Abortion Loan Fund in her honor.   Professionally, Utter was co-owner of InformAlaska, Inc., working in the  editing and publishing business. She was a chairperson for Alaskans for Better Media, where her leadership resulted in greatly improved news coverage by statewide television stations and reduced discrimination of women and minorities in media. Her work also led to requiring all major Alaska broadcasters to revise their discriminatory employment practices and comply with their public notice requirements under FCC law.

Utter is a role model for all women in Alaska and she led by example. She championed important principles and values; she practiced them herself as well as speaking with and organizing others to do the same. She was a true advocate of families.  She befriended women, supporting them in their personal trials and then helping them to achieve their own goals. Although known for her public activities, her private assistance to untold numbers struggling with family problems, economic problems and emotional problems is not a matter of public record. It sounds  old-fashioned, but she was straightforward and direct with her opinion which meant that those who needed help had no doubt about her understanding of their situation, her own related experiences and her recommendations. She gave advice, but she also hung in there with you, and she did not give up on you.  She was a person who told the truth and told it quickly – a rare quality, especially among those who are dedicated to politics in the modern era, and one which inspires emulation.

Utter was born in 1942 and passed away in 2005. She left a legacy of fighting for justice and encouraging others to do so. She had a fearless passion for doing the right thing and a history of never giving up. Often described as “a force to be reckoned with,” Utter allowed no one to intimidate her from speaking what she believed while demonstrating that strong positions should be and can be freely debated.



Photo of Rosita Worl , PH.D.

Rosita Worl , PH.D.

Tlingit Names: Yeidiklats’okw and Kaa.hani 1938 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Alaska Native Cultural Leadership

Dr. Rosita Kaahani Worl, whose Tlingit names are Yeidiklats’okw and Kaa.hani, is of the Ch’áak’(Eagle moiety of the Shangukeidi (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdiyaayi Hít (House Lowered from the Sun) of Klukwan, and a Child of the Sockeye Clan. Worl is a self-proclaimed feminist  who has made many contributions to increase awareness about Alaska Native cultures and subsistence economies. She has authored numerous publications on Alaska Native issues and cultural practices including subsistence lifestyles, Alaska Native women’s issues, Indian law and policy and southeast Alaska Native culture and history.

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Tlingit Names: Yeidiklats’okw and Kaa.hani 1938 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Alaska Native Cultural Leadership

Dr. Rosita Kaahani Worl, whose Tlingit names are Yeidiklats’okw and Kaa.hani, is of the Ch’áak’(Eagle moiety of the Shangukeidi (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdiyaayi Hít (House Lowered from the Sun) of Klukwan, and a Child of the Sockeye Clan. Worl is a self-proclaimed feminist who has made many contributions to increase awareness about Alaska Native cultures and subsistence economies. She has authored numerous publications on Alaska Native issues and cultural practices including subsistence lifestyles, Alaska Native women’s issues, Indian law and policy and southeast Alaska Native culture and history.

Born in a cabin on a beach without the benefit of a physician, Worl was raised insoutheast Alaska by her grandmother, aunt and mother, and commercial fished with her uncle in Kake. “Females back then weren’t allowed to participate in fishing activities,” Wohl explained. At age six, Worl was taken to the Haines House to learn English and to be “civilized” and “Christianized.” She was there for three years before her mother was able to take her home to live with her 12 brothers and sisters. Looking back on the experience, “I learned how to interact with non-Natives,” Worl said, “but my mother always instilled in me that I had a responsibility to the people.”

At age 13 Worl was told she would be the bride in an arranged marriage but the family agreed she should first finish high school. After high school, Worl ran a program that recruited Alaska Natives for higher education and in essence, she said, “I recruited myself.” Worl started college by taking one class at a time.  “School wasn’t easy because there were so many (English) words I didn’t know.  I had to look them up andometimes I had to read things three times before I understood what I was reading. I had a sociology instructor who mentored me, but I really had to work hard.  I was already a mother of three and my kids and I studied together.”

Worl received her bachelor’s degree from Alaska Methodist University and her master’s and doctorate’s degrees in Anthropology from Harvard University.  In academia, she has served as the social scientific researcher at the University of Alaska Arctic Environmental  Information and Data Center and is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at the University  of Alaska Southeast. Worl has done extensive research throughout Alaska and the circumpolar Arctic. She conducted the first social scientific study projecting socio-cultural impacts of offshore oil development on the Inupiat and she has studied traditional aboriginal whaling, which gave her the privilege of being one of the first women allowed to go whaling. Worl also served as a scientific advisor to the U.S. Whaling Commission and has conducted research on seal hunting in Canada for the Royal Commission on Sealing. She served on the National Scientific Advisory Committee and the National Science Foundation Polar Programs Committee. Worl also served as special advisor to the Honorable Thomas Berger of the Alaska Native Review Commission and studied the impacts of ANCSA.

Currently, Worl is the president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, which is dedicated to preserving and maintaining the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures and languages; and a board member of Sealaska Corporation. Worl also serves on the Alaska Native Brotherhood Subsistence Committee and the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians Economic Development Commission.

On a state and national level, Worl serves on the board of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives and chairs the Subsistence Cultural Survival Committees, the National Museum of American Indians and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act National Committee. She was special staff assistant for Native Affairs to Alaska Gov. Steve Cowper and served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Northwest Sustainability Commission. Worl was appointed to the National Census Board focusing on American Indian issues and is a founding member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. She also served as a member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Arctic Committee.

In addition to her plethora of academic and professional accomplishments, Worl is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Ford Foundation Fellowship (1972-1977), International Women’s Year Conference (1977), the Gloria Steinem Award for Empowerment (1989), Women of Hope (1997), Outstanding Contribution, Alaska Native Heritage Center (2000), Human Rights Award, Cultural Survival (2002), Women of Courage Award (NWPC (2003), Native People Award Enhancing the Native Alaskan Community, Wells Fargo (2004), National Museum of the Indian Smithsonian Institution Honor (2006), University of Alaska Southeast Commencement Speaker (2006), Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award (2008) Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities, Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology, American Anthropological Association (2008), Lifetime Achievement Award, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (2011) and the Alaska Federation of Natives Citizen of the Year Award (2011). Worl is also one of 11 American Indian women activists represented in a national poster campaign called “Women of Hope,” which highlights their contributions to their people and society. Worl said, “I continue every morning to implore my ancestors to bestow on me the qualities of an Elder – to be kind, compassionate and to do the right thing.”

 

References
Harriman Expedition Retraced, site Index, Rosita Worl, Anthropologist.http://www.pbs.org/harriman/current/2001_part/worl.html
Dr. Rosita Worl’s Curricula Vita provided by Sea Alaska Heritage Institute with permission from Dr. Worl. (2012)
Dr. Rosita Worl’s bio provided by Sea Alaska Heritage Institute with permission from Dr. Worl. (2012)



Photo of Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch D.D.S.

Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch D.D.S.

18831944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Dentistry, Health Care

Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch spent the majority of her life caring for children, the disadvantaged and U.S. service men and women through her profession of dentistry. In 1902 von Zesch, the daughter of a German countess, earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco at the age of 19. During the course of her lifetime, von Zesh carried her dental expertise from the Hopi Indians in Arizona to the frozen reaches of Little Diomede Island and other points north, often by dogsled, to care for Alaska’s indigenous people.

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18831944 Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Dentistry, Health Care

Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch spent the majority of her life caring for children, the disadvantaged and U.S. service men and women through her profession of dentistry. In 1902 von Zesch, the daughter of a German countess, earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco at the age of 19. During the course of her lifetime, von Zesh carried her dental expertise from the Hopi Indians in Arizona to the frozen reaches of Little Diomede Island and other points north, often by dogsled, to care for Alaska’s indigenous people.

Von Zesch was born in Texas in 1883, and at age 5 moved with her mother and sister to California. Four years after earning her dentistry degree, von Zesch’s home and office burned to the ground in the San Francisco earthquake and fires of 1906 and she moved on to Texas, then to Arizona where she provided dental services to Army and Navy officers and servicemen.  She also attended to Hopi elders and residents in northern Arizona Mormon communities. On Christmas Day 1915, von Zesch arrived in Cordova, Alaska, where her sister and brother-in-law lived, and she temporarily took over a practice for a local dentist. After obtaining a special license to practice, Gov. Thomas Riggs Jr., appointed her to the Territorial Board of Dental Examiners. In the spring, she made a long trip to Fairbanks, Dawson and Skagway and decided to open her own dental practice in Cordova. She returned to Cordova in 1917. Waiting for her professional certification from the territory, von Zesch set up an interim practice at Katalla and did some postgraduate study at Northwestern University. She then assumed the practice of a Cordova dentist who died in the influenza epidemic.

After the collapse of copper prices, von Zesch moved to the new railroad town of Anchorage in 1920. There she met and worked with Jane Mears, president of the Parent Teacher Association, to develop a dental care program for schoolchildren. She promoted a healthy diet and healthy teeth. In 1923 von Zesch took a break to study writing at Columbia University and to travel in Europe. She returned to Alaska in 1925, this time living in Nome. She opened a dental office, but two months later the building burned to the ground.  Needing money but also seeing a need for dental services for Alaska Native people in their isolated villages, von Zesch signed a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Education (which provided medical services as well as operating schools in Alaska). For the next five years, she traveled, usually just with her assistant – another woman – by dog team from Nome around the Seward Peninsula, north to Barrow and to Little Diomede, Saint Lawrence, and King islands. As she traveled, she provided dental services to others as well, often setting up her dental chair, as needed, at roadhouses.

Travel, summer and winter, around Alaska is challenging. Returning to Nome from a trip to White Mountain and Pilgrim Hot Springs, von Zesch suffered from snow blindness. On a trip at the end of one winter, she and her assistant were stranded on a flooding riverbank and rescued with only minutes to spare by famed dog musher Leonhard Seppala. In July 1929 heading for Point Barrow, the plane she was aboard crashed north of the Arctic Circle. She “walked out” 52 miles to Kotzebue. Picked up by a Coast Guard cutter, she proceeded on her trip to Barrow and East Cape, Chamisso Island, before returning to Nome.

After 15 years in the North, von Zesch left in 1930 to care for her mother in California. During the Great Depression, she provided dental services with the UXA (Unemployment Exchange Association) in Oakland and then for Civilian Conservation Corps workers in California’s gold rush country.  Over two years she drove 150,000 miles from camp to camp providing dental care.  In 1937 she was appointed the resident dentist at the California Institution for Women, the state’s prison for women in Tehachapi, and worked there until 1943.  She died the following year at age 61.

In the 1920s America did not have many women professionals. Dr. von Zesch was one. She was the first woman dentist licensed in the Territory of Alaska. Most of her career was spent working in isolated and remote areas in the southwestern United States and Alaska. Throughout her career she exhibited a commitment to promoting and providing dental care to children and to those who were disadvantaged.

References
Von Zesch, Leonie, Leonie – A Woman Ahead of Her Time. Studio City, California: Lime
Orchard Publications, 2011