Class of 2014

Group-2014 (1)

Class of 2014

Pictured L-R: V. Kay Lahdenpera, Janie Leask,  Eleanor Andrews, Verna E. Pratt, Jane Angvik, Francine Conat Lastufka Taylor, Jane Vallett Sutherland Niebergall, Beverly D. Dunham, Mary Jane Fate

Not pictured: Katie John, Kay Muriel (Townsend) Linton, Barbara Sweetland Smith, Gertrude M. Wolfe

Photo of Eleanor Andrews

Eleanor Andrews

1944 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Civic Entrepreneurship

Eleanor Andrews has been building the human infrastructure capacity of Alaska for nearly five decades.  She has flourished in both the private and the public sectors, but is most widely known as a “civic entrepreneur” –  that is a person who inspires  institutions, businesses and individuals to excel in their work and at the same time to invest in the community. She led others in the understanding that it is good business to develop quality schools, affordable housing, accessible economic opportunities, safe neighborhoods and a just and fair city and state. She has given her own time, money and talents for decades, but has also inspired and cajoled an army of others to participate in advancing our communities.

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1944 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Civic Entrepreneurship

Eleanor Andrews has been building the human infrastructure capacity of Alaska for nearly five decades.  She has flourished in both the private and the public sectors, but is most widely known as a “civic entrepreneur” –  that is a person who inspires  institutions, businesses and individuals to excel in their work and at the same time to invest in the community. She led others in the understanding that it is good business to develop quality schools, affordable housing, accessible economic opportunities, safe neighborhoods and a just and fair city and state. She has given her own time, money and talents for decades, but has also inspired and cajoled an army of others to participate in advancing our communities.

Professionally, Andrews has owned a successful management company for 20 years and has employed thousands of people in the fulfillment of federal contracts. She also guided human resource public policy for the state as the Commissioner of Administration and for Anchorage as the Director of Human Resources for the Municipality.

During both her private-sector and public-sector careers, Andrews has been giving back to Alaska in a multitude of ways. For example, she gave her time to review and deliberate the application of all judges applying to serve in the Alaska court system for a decade on the Judicial Council. She served on boards which initiated the Foraker Group, the ATHENA program of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Urban League.Andrews raised and contributed funds for organizations in order to build the Fairview School, to strengthen the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Clinic and to develop affordable housing programs in the state. She has also given her time and talents to the advisory boards for the University of Alaska Anchorage, Providence Alaska Foundation and Commonwealth North and she currently serves on the Anchorage Parks Foundation Board and the Providence Alaska Region Ministry Board. In honor of her service she has received many awards including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Alaska Anchorage and the ATHENA Award.

Andrews has lived in Alaska since 1965, arriving in Fairbanks as a young college student from Los Angeles. She learned  invaluable skills by working in the public sector first as a counselor at McLaughlin Youth detention facility and then as an employee representative for the Alaska Public Employees Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. All these experiences assisted her when she was appointed the Director of Human Resources for the Municipality of Anchorage.

In 1982 Andrews accepted an appointment to work for the State of Alaska as the deputy and then commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration. There she managed diverse activities, including the divisions of Labor, Finance and Motor Vehicles as well as the Pioneers Homes. Advocacy for fairness in access to employment, a living wage and safe working conditions have been principles that have guided Andrews throughout her career.

When Andrews completed her public service, she developed the Andrews Group, a successful Alaska management services company, which was engaged primarily in U.S. government service contracting across the United States. She assisted numerous women-owned and Native-owned businesses with guidance and partnerships to bid and fulfill federal government service contracts through what became the 8(a) procurement program of the government’s Small Business Administration.

Andrews has learned a great deal from these diverse and rewarding work experiences. She also has never forgotten the stories about the pain of discrimination her parents experienced growing up in the south in the 1930s. When she was a girl her father told her she could accomplish whatever she could imagine. In junior high, she attended a school composed of low-income children and she vividly recalls the poor condition of the building and supplies. Disgusted by the low quality of  food in the lunch room and knowing that better food was offered in other schools, she organized and led a student boycott of the cafeteria food until the quality of the food measured up to the other public schools in the district. The principal threatened to suspend her for being a “militant.”  The injustice of being reprimanded by an authority figure for standing up for her rights has remained a life lesson. She has consistently raised her voice in opposition to injustice her entire life.

Andrews has been an active Rotarian since women were “admitted” and has participated in numerous service projects in Alaska. That and her commitment to community prepared her for the latest chapter of her career. During the past five years Andrews has led a dedicated group of locals to form the National Urban League affiliate in Alaska, which became Urban Works. As she began to engage in fewer business activities, she devoted more time to Urban Works. For the past two years she has personally managed Urban Works, a program for 20 low-income young people of color who at age 18 have “aged out” of the foster care program and needed to learn how to work to support themselves. She created a work environment, taught them how to manage their time and their money and how to be responsible adults in our complex society. Her behavior has been consistent with her values. She creates opportunities for people to experience success, empowers them to manage challenges and then inspires them to treat others with respect and generosity.

Andrews brings people together to solve community problems and to equalize the playing field for all people, particularly those disadvantaged by poverty, racism or institutional bias.  She has done this with major institutions such as school districts and state agencies, with professional organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals.

She is known as a successful African American business woman, a gifted and fair public servant, an accomplished person of integrity, a tireless volunteer, a generous philanthropist, a strategic mentor, a hard-working board member, a loyal friend and a loving mother and grandmother. She relishes cooking for and sharing time with her adult children and grown grandchildren.

Andrews, however, believes her greatest legacy is to have inspired others to generously give back – to invest time, talents, money and energy ino making our communities as healthy and supportive of families and with as much social and economic justice as is possible.  She deeply values being regarded as a civic entrepreneur.



Photo of Jane Ruth Angvik

Jane Ruth Angvik

1948 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Activism, Community Organizing, Community Service, Uncategorized

Jane Angvik has been involved in Alaska public life since 1973. She has served as an elected member of the Anchorage Assembly and the Anchorage Charter Commission and has taught many women how to conduct campaigns for public office.

Angvik devoted much of her professional life to improving understanding between rural and urban Alaskans, particularly around issues of access to subsistence resources. She started work with the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1974 and in the 1990s she managed the planning for the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Today she is welcomed with joyous hugs at the AFN convention.

She has lived in Alaska for 40 years where she is a force who brings people together to create better, more open and inclusive communities. She connects people and resources, government entities and organizations to each other.

Angvik is a happy and welcoming person. When people inquire how she is, she responds with words such as “joyful, terrific and grateful.” She inspires people to counter the hatred and fear of the radio airways with hope, courage and commitment.

She has shown many people that you can debate, disagree, find common ground and follow it up by breaking bread and doing what is right.

She is joyfully married to Vic Fischer, who shares her enthusiasm for social and economic justice, public affairs and entertaining friends and family. They have raised a successful daughter, Ruth, who graduated from the University of Alaska and is married to a member of the armed services and together they are raising their children to be givers.

A strong advocate of women’s rights, Angvik’s lasting legacy is the energy she has dedicated to the development of girls and women and to the protection of women against abuse and discrimination. She has hired, trained, guided, mentored and encouraged women to seek and accomplish their own goals with skills that enable them to fully participate in decision-making. She has helped lay the foundation for the development of the next generation of strong and capable women.

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1948 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Activism, Community Organizing, Community Service, Uncategorized

Jane Angvik has lived in Alaska for 40 years where she has been a force who brings people together to create better, more open and inclusive communities. She has had great jobs that taught her the power of giving people a voice in decisions about their neighborhoods, their villages, their regions and their state.

She found that when the values of people are solicited and heard, government decision making is enhanced and trust is possible. Additionally, she observed that when people are empowered to participate, they take on personal responsibility to create community; and, when communities become “we” instead of “them and us” our society is strengthened.

Angvik was raised by a conservative Norwegian, Republican father and a liberal Irish, Democratic mother who discussed current affairs at dinner. Her parents told her that she and her siblings could accomplish whatever they dreamt of with hard work and education.

“Giving back” to the community was a practice she observed regularly in her mother. Political discourse was learned at the family dinner table. She grew up hearing an issue respectfully debated from at least two points of view nightly.

Her father advised her to be verbally persuasive and not emotional when expressing a point of view which was a lesson she took to heart. She learned to express a thought, but also to become proficient at summarizing the comments of many people and synthesizing the points of agreement among them. This is one of the skills that make her a great facilitator.

Motivated by the civil rights movement of the late 1960s, Angvik went to work after college for the Minneapolis Model Cities program. There, “maximum feasible citizen participation” was not only the law but was practiced as a precept to enhance community development. She came to Alaska in 1973 and started working for the Greater Anchorage Area Borough on the development of the comprehensive plan. She brought her commitment to citizen participation to her new community and subsequently worked across Alaska over the decades to build opportunities for community dialogues and collaboration.

Angvik has worked for state and local government, Native organizations, nonprofit organizations and consulting firms. She has managed state agencies, coordinated a foundation, planned and built facilities and assisted communities across Alaska in planning their infrastructure and long-range economic strategies. She is a skilled communicator and strategist on a multitude of Alaska issues. She has managed nonprofit and government agencies, coordinated public involvement programs, conducted research projects and advocated for community empowerment in both urban and rural Alaska.

She also has served in elected public office in Anchorage on the local Municipal Assembly and the Charter Commission.

Highlights of her Professional work include: Becoming a community planner for the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1974 where she provided technical assistance to rural villages and organizations to plan for housing and water systems. Her respect for the Alaska Native people continued to grow in community gatherings across the state.

In 1976 Angvik moved to State government and combined her knowledge of urban and rural Alaska when she worked for the Alaska Public Forum created by Governor Hammond. She and her colleagues created town meetings across the state to discuss issues such as the creation of the Permanent Fund, education funding and access to fish and game resources for subsistence. The Public Forum also created the first statewide live television town meetings about the state’s capital budget. The Public Forum was an innovative experiment in public participation that concluded in 1980 due to a lack of funding.

In 1982 Angvik managed the statewide campaign to maintain the Alaska state subsistence law, which provided for a preference for rural residents for access to fish and wildlife to feed their families. It is the only time Alaskans have voted on the question of who should have priority in a time of shortage, and urban Alaskans voted to support rural residents.

From 1983-86 Angvik managed the Alaska Native Foundation (predecessor to First Alaskans Institute) and re-established the leadership training programs for young Alaska Native people. The Foundation also produced a television series about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which is still used in schools today as a part of Alaska studies classes.

In 1988 Angvik managed the Alaska pavilion in Expo 88 in Brisbane, Australia. There 50 business volunteers recruited through the State Chamber of Commerce greeted 15,000 visitors per day for six months. From Expo Angvik was recruited as the Deputy and then the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development. She pursued business leads developed in Australia and was responsible for oversight of the Division of Tourism and Small Business Development. The implementation of the ARDOR program provided connection to many rural communities.

In her next role, Angvik helped plan and develop the Alaska Native Heritage Center from 1990-95. With a statewide committee of Native culture bearers and a consultant, the team designed a facility where people could come together to celebrate Alaska Native cultures. She managed the planning for the project as well as the land-use and political process to site the center at its current location.

After a year of living in Moscow, Russia, with her husband and daughter, Angvik returned to Alaska and was appointed the Director of the Division of Land for the Department of Natural Resources in the Knowles administration. As the “Land Lady” of Alaska’s 103,000 acres, she worked with adjacent land owners to resolve disputes and planned the use of State lands with community involvement. Following DNR, Angvik established her own consulting firm that worked with communities and nonprofit organizations on research projects as well as facilitation of community meetings.

In 1975, at the age of 26, Angvik was elected one of 11 people to serve on the Anchorage Charter Commission which wrote the charter, or the constitution, that unified the city and borough into the unified Municipality of Anchorage. She learned a great deal about politics from her more experienced colleagues and in return, she shared techniques for inviting community participation. To improve communication between neighborhoods and elected officials, the charter sets out the community council structure that has been in place since unification.

In 1979 Angvik was elected to the Anchorage Municipal Assembly. She served the community in that capacity for six years and was the first woman elected Chair of the Assembly. Her experience, competence and expertise in community planning resulted in many forward-thinking policies needed by a growing city. Conversely, Angvik said she thinks the experience of serving was akin to receiving a Ph.D. in applied public administration because of the diversity of topics that came before them for consideration.

In 1986 Angvik was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Alaska’s Democratic primary. Although an Anchorage resident, she was well known politically in rural Alaska. In campaigns the ability to raise funds to advertise one’s candidacy with TV, radio and newspaper ads is a significant challenge for many female candidates. Angvik was able to raise the funds to support her campaign and, although she lost to the incumbent, hers was regarded as a very credible campaign.

She followed this campaign with increased involvement with the Alaska Women’s Political Caucus and has trained hundreds of women candidates in methods of fundraising and managing political campaigns to get more women elected to political office. She thinks the female half of the population needs to be represented in decision-making structures and that women strengthen collaborative ways of making decisions.

A strong advocate of women’s rights, Angvik has dedicated herself to the development of girls and women and their protection against abuse and discrimination. In the past decade she has become a leader of the Girl Scouts of Alaska, being convinced of the importance of starting early to build strong and independent women.

Her legacy associated with these efforts is that she has hired, trained, guided, mentored and encouraged women to seek and accomplish their own goals with skills that enable them to participate in decision making. Additionally the foundation has been laid for the development of the new facilities at Camp Singing Hill for a science, technology, engineering and math program for Girl Scouts.

Angvik a happy and welcoming person. When people inquire how she is, she responds with, words such as: “joyful, terrific and grateful.” She inspires people to counter the hatred and fear of the radio airways with hope, courage and commitment.

She is joyfully married to Vic Fischer, who shares her enthusiasm for social and economic justice, public affairs and entertaining friends and family. They have raised a successful daughter, Ruth, who graduated from the University of Alaska and is married to a member of the armed services and together, they are raising their children to be givers.

She has taught many people you can debate, disagree, find common ground and break bread together. Then, together you can go do what is right. She also believes that people can hear one another better if they share stories and a meal together.

Jane loves Alaska and is happy to share insights about the place with locals and visitors alike… She knows what it is made of and knows how everything got to be how it is. She can break it down and tie it together in a way that anyone can understand.



Photo of Beverly D. Dunham

Beverly D. Dunham

1932 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Activism, Journalism

Beverly, “Bev”, Dunham is a pioneer in Alaska journalism and a tireless community advocate. She is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.

Dunham founded the Seward Pheonix Log in 1966 and as editor/publisher expanded the role women play in publishing and opened doors for women in journalism. Her impressive public service record spans more than six decades and the list of accomplishments is long. She’s held elected office on the Seward School Board and Seward City Council even acting as mayor for a time. She’s been appointed and served with distinction on many committees, commissions, and volunteer efforts from planning to tourism to corrections to historical preservation. Her community advocacy has had significant influence in Seward for a very long time.

In 2005 Dunham was named the Person of the Year by the Seward Chamber of Commerce and was named one of First Lady Nancy Murkowski’s Persons of the Year.

Today Dunham continues to do a little writing; works on historic preservation projects; is involved in women’s and children’s issues; does some traveling; and, enjoys being with her family, grandkids and her 19 great-grandkids! Dunham, due to the love and support from her husband, family and her many friends in Seward as well as all across Alaska, has continued her long and deep commitment to Seward and to the State of Alaska.

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1932 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Activism, Journalism

Beverly Dunham is a pioneer in journalism. Dunham is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.

In 1966 Dunham founded the “Seward Phoenix Log” and became a small town newspaper editor and publisher. Unusual for the times, she wrote about all the news and also dealt with the financial side that goes into being the publisher of a small-town newspaper. At the time, women in newspapers in Alaska with larger circulations and also nationally, normally wrote about “women’s” topics such as community events, school boards, cooking, fashion trends, gardening and other local functions. Dunham took on all aspects of her newspaper and set a path for more women to report on the news and be involved with the business side of publishing. Her newspaper also gave high school students an opportunity to do school and sports reporting for publication. Dunham lent her professional expertise to national organizations related to her profession and received recognition for her work. The Seward Phoenix Log has won several state and national writing awards and Dunham’s efforts resulted in the Log receiving the School Bell Award for school reporting. The newspaper would go on to play an important role in keeping the local community involved in local, regional and statewide affairs under Dunham’s leadership during her editor/publisher tenure.

Dunham is known as a woman of strong spirit and vitality. She is a “doer” who is not “too rigid and stuck in the past.” There are many examples of this aspect of Dunham, but probably one of the more notable can be found in Ken Burns’ internationally acclaimed “America’s Best Secret – America’s National Parks” interview in Episode 6 on the Kenai Fjords and the contentious years of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Ken Burns narrates: “…..Bev Dunham, the founding publisher of Seward, Alaska’s, weekly newspaper, the Phoenix Log, was initially opposed to the creation of Kenai National Monument near her town. Like most of the residents of Seward, she feared that the establishment of the park would be harmful to the local economy. Her views, along with those of the town’s City Council, would later change when tourism at the national park boosted the town’s economy.” She went on to have business ventures related to tourism and represented Seward nationally on many occasions.

Her impressive public service record spans more than six decades and the list of accomplishments is long. She’s held elected office on the Seward School Board and Seward City Council, even acting as mayor for a time. She’s been appointed and served with distinction on many committees, commissions and volunteer efforts, from planning to tourism to corrections to historical preservation. Her community advocacy has had significant influence in Seward for a very long time.

Dunham was named the 2005 Person of the Year by the Seward Chamber of Commerce and was named one of First Lady Nancy Murkowski’s Persons of the Year.

Today Dunham continues to do a little writing; works on historic preservation projects; is involved in women’s and children’s issues; does some traveling; and enjoys being with her family, grandkids and her 19 great-grandkids! Dunham, due to the love and support from her husband, family and her many friends in Seward as well as all across Alaska, has continued her long and deep commitment to Seward and to the State of Alaska.



Photo of Mary Jane (Evans) Fate

Mary Jane (Evans) Fate

1933 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Native Leader

Mary Jane Fate, a Koyukon Athabascan born in Rampart, labored tirelessly to improve all aspects of Alaska Native people’s lives. As one of the original Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act lobbyists, she worked with others to convince the White House and Congress of the fairness and justice in conveying 40 million acres and $1 billion to Alaska Natives through the passage of the Native claims act in 1971.

After graduating from Mt. Edgecumbe boarding high school in 1952 she became one of the first Native women to attend college at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Because of her numerous accomplishments, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from UAF in 1992.

Fate was recognized for her leadership abilities by becoming the first woman co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She served on her Alaska Native village corporation board since its inception in 1972 until recently and was its president for many years. She is a founding member of the North American Indian Women’s Association and in 1975 was its third national president.

As co-chairs of the Alaska Natives Commission Fate and Perry Eaton led a two-year study which produced a report designed to serve as a blueprint for change regarding the way the federal and state governments are to deal with Alaska Native issues.

Appointed at the end of 2001 by President George H.W. Bush, Fate served as the only indigenous member on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission for a little more than four years with her last meeting held in June 2006, USARC’s 80th meeting, which was held in Barrow, Alaska.

In 2003 President George W. Bush appointed her as a member of the U.S. Census Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Populations.

In 2012 Fate was honored by her Native regional corporation, Doyon, with their most prestigious award, Citizen of the Year: “for her leadership, strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the educational and cultural survival of Alaska Natives.” 

Her achievements do not stop at serving only her people. Fate was among four prominent Americans chosen to receive Cancer Awareness awards in 1998. She served as director on the Alaska Airlines board for 25 years, the first 23 years as the only woman to do so, and in 1981 she was the first woman and Alaska Native appointed to the Alaska Judicial Council. She was a Regent for the University of Alaska from 1993 through 2001. Until recently she was a member of the board for the Breast Cancer Detection Center in Fairbanks which she helped found in the l970s with Nancy Murkowski.

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1933 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Native Leader

Born: Sept. 4, 1933, Mary Jane (Evans) Fate, a Koyukon Athabascan born in Rampart, labored tirelessly to improve all aspects of Alaska Native people’s lives. As one of the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act lobbyists, she worked with others to convince the White House and Congress of the fairness and justice in conveying 40 million acres and $1 billion to Alaska Native peoples through the passage of the Native claims act in 1971.

After graduating from Mt. Edgecumbe boarding high school in Sitka in 1952 she went on to become one of the first Native women to attend college at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks where she studied accounting. Because of her numerous accomplishments, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from UAF in 1992.

Fate was recognized for her leadership abilities by becoming the first woman co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1988-89. She served on her Alaska Native village corporation board, the Rampart Village Corporation (Baan O Yeel Kon), since its inception in 1972 until recently and was its president for many years. She is also a founding member and past president of the Fairbanks Native Association.

She helped found the North American Indian Women’s Association and in 1975 was its third national president. She directed a national research project which was presented to Congress and made an impact on the treatment and care of Indian children and women.

The Alaska Natives Commission was created by Congress in 1990 at the urging of many Alaska Native groups. The first meeting was held in 1992 and within months Fate and Perry Eaton were named co-chairs. They led the commission’s two-year study, including holding nine regional hearings across the state which produced a three-volume report designed to serve as a blueprint for change regarding the way the federal and state governments deal with Alaska Native issues. Co-Chair Fate stated: “Above all else, the Commission focused on the needs of people. If the world can make drastic changes overnight for rights for animals, bugs and even future fashion styles, we surely must and can make great changes for our Alaska Natives.”

Appointed at the end of 2001 by President George H.W. Bush, Fate served as the only indigenous member on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission for a little more than four years with her last meeting held in June 2006, USARC’s 80th meeting which was held in Barrow, Alaska. This Commission, formed in 1984, was to establish a national policy for scientific research in the Arctic including its natural resources and its Arctic residents, to obtain the broadest possible view of Arctic research needs and then to communicate its policy recommendations to the President and Congress.

In 2003 President George W. Bush appointed her as a member of the U.S. Census Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Populations to expand the committee’s awareness of Alaska issues, enabling it to better respond and advise the Census Bureau on this population.

Fate played an important role in numerous organizations helping found several, including the Tundra Times and the Institute of Alaska Native Arts.

In 2012 Fate was honored by her Native regional corporation, Doyon, with their most prestigious award, Citizen of the Year: “for her leadership, strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the educational and cultural survival of Alaska Natives.” At the award ceremony Georgianna Lincoln said: “Fate was one of the early Alaska Native women leaders, and her obvious outer beauty never affected the woman’s inner beauty.”

Her achievements do not stop at serving only her people. Fate was among four prominent Americans honored nationally for promotion of cancer awareness in 1998. She and Nancy Murkowski, wife of then-U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, along with Sam Donaldson, ABC News White House correspondent, and Sue Ann Thompson, wife of Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, were chosen to receive the awards. Fate’s was given because she was long an advocate for educating the public about the value of prevention and early detection in the fight against cancer. During the 1970s and at the height of the oil pipeline construction, mammograms were very difficult for women to obtain. She, along with Nancy Murkowski and other Fairbanks women, organized to solve the problem. Through their efforts, the Breast Cancer Detection Center, a non-profit organization, opened in 1976 to provide education and mammograms to interior Alaska women regardless of their ability to pay.

Fate served as director on the Alaska Airlines board for 25 years, the first 23 years as the only woman to do so. Appointed by Governor Hickel, she was the first woman and first Alaska Native to serve on the Alaska Judicial Council from 1981 to 1987. This body screens and nominates judicial applicants and evaluates the performance of judges making their evaluations available to the voters. Hickel also appointed her a Regent for the University of Alaska where she served from 1993 through 2001. She has also served on the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and the Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board.

Sheila Justice, president, Rampart Village Council says: “Mary Jane is a gracious, caring, kind person who has helped numerous individuals, from providing a home for those in need, to writing letters of recommendations for jobs and scholarships. She is admired for her contribution to the advancement of the Alaska Native community and the well being of women in particular and her kindness and grace toward people from all walks of life. She is a role model for Alaska Native women and for all women.”

Mary Jane Fate married Dr. Hugh “Bud” Fate and together they have raised three daughters and her cousin and the couple now has a dozen grandchildren.



Photo of Katie John

Katie John

19152013 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Advocacy, Land/Resource Rights, Native Issues, Native Leader

Katie John started life in 1915 near Slana, Alaska, and was raised in the Native village of Baltzulneta in the traditional way. Her long life, spanning 97 years, carried her from a traditional native village life to a modern western lifestyle, from travel by foot to travel by plane and from being taught traditional ways and learning traditional knowledge to being awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Subsistence is key to how John lived her life: as a child; as a parent raising 20 children with her husband; to her successful battle to have subsistence recognized as a legal right inherent in Native culture.

The “Katie John case,” litigated by the Native American Rights Fund, began in 1985 and continues to this day. By standing up for her belief that she had the legal right to live a subsistence lifestyle, John forced the federal government to protect and preserve subsistence rights on federal lands and waters and forced the State of Alaska to cede management authority to the federal government over subsistence uses of Alaska’s fish and wildlife on federal lands.

John led and taught other aspects of Ahtna Athabascan culture as well. She helped develop the first written alphabet for the Ahtna Athabascan language in the early 1970s and then recorded pronunciation guides to help teach and preserve that language. She was a tireless teacher of the language and culture to her many (more than 250) grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. As a strong, resolute and persistent woman, Katie John is recognized as a respected elder, culture bearer and matriarch.

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19152013 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Advocacy, Land/Resource Rights, Native Issues, Native Leader

Katie John started life in 1915 near Slana, grew up in the Native Village of Baltzulneta, location of a traditional fish camp, and was raised in the traditional way. Describing how she learned to live off the land from her mother and grandmother, she said: “We had no pencil, no paper. We don’t know how to read. We used our head. Everything my mother told me, my grandmother told me, it’s in my head.” She first learned to speak English at the age of 14 when she was employed in the Nabesna Mine. She married Mentasta traditional chief Fred John, Sr. at the age of 16 and together they raised 14 children and six foster children, living a subsistence lifestyle. In 1932 they moved to Mentasta which, in the late 1950s, finally opened a school, allowing their children to return from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ boarding school in Wrangell to get an education at home. John raised each child to know how to live off the land and in the traditional culture. She was a cultural leader in the Ahtna Athabascan language and, in addition to teaching her own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, in later life John taught the language in the Mentasta school. In the late 1970s she helped create the first written alphabet for the language and subsequently recorded pronunciation guides in her voice to help teach and preserve the language. While widely recognized for her leadership in teaching the Ahtna Athabascan cultural traditions and values, John is best known for demanding, and winning subsistence rights for Alaska’s Native peoples.

Her long life, spanning 97 years, carried her from a traditional Native village life to the modern western lifestyle, from travel by foot to travel by plane, from using dogs to carry loads to riding in cars and from being educated only in traditional ways and in traditional knowledge, to being awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in 2011. Throughout these amazing changes during her lifetime, subsistence remained her core value: as a child; as a parent raising 20 children with her husband; as a activist willing to initiate legal action to regain a right and as a teacher of the culture she wished to pass on to her descendants.

In 1984 John and Doris Charles requested the Alaska State Board of Fisheries, which 20 years earlier had closed subsistence fishing, to again permit the former residents of the now-abandoned Native village of Baltzulneta to subsistence fish. The Board’s rejection of that request set the stage for the long-running, complex and convoluted “Katie John case”, litigated by the Native American Rights Fund, beginning in 1985 and continuing to this day. John was willing to stand up for her belief that she had the right to live a subsistence lifestyle as previous generations had and to pass that right on to her descendants. Her willingness to speak “truth to power” forced the federal government to live up to its responsibilities, imposed by Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, to preserve and protect the subsistence rights of Alaska Natives on federal lands and waters. It has forced the State of Alaska to cede the management of subsistence uses of Alaska’s wildlife and fish on federal lands to the federal government. One pivotal event in this long-running legal battle occurred when Gov. Tony Knowles traveled to meet John in person at her fish camp at Baltzulneta before making a decision as to whether the State should appeal a decision considered adverse. The governor commented subsequently on why, based on that visit, he decided the state should not appeal: “I learned more that day than is written in all the boxes of legal briefs in this long-lasting court battle. I understand the strength, core and values that subsistence gives to Katie John’s family, and to the thousands of similar families…I know—we all know—that what Katie John does is not wrong. It is right—right for her, right for the village.”

Regarded by many as a matriarch, culture bearer and respected elder of the Ahtna Athabascan peoples, John was also to her many descendants (at least 250 at the time of death), a grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. In that personal role one granddaughter described her as being firm but loving and caring, with an awesome sense of humor, always ready to learn new things and someone who made every one of her descendants feel special and loved. Heather Kendall-Miller, the NARF attorney who represented her throughout the “Katie John case”, summarized John’s far-reaching impact: “It has been an honor and privilege for all of us at NARF to have worked with such a great and wonderful matriarch. She is an inspiration to all Native peoples and to all people who believe in right and justice.”

John was honored in 2011 by the University of Alaska Fairbanks when it awarded her an honorary doctorate in laws for her work with the Ahtna Athabascan language and her advocacy for Native subsistence rights. John was also honored by the Alaska Federation of Natives at its 2013 conference when the Hunter and Gathers Award was re-named the Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award.

References

Alaska Subsistence: a NPS Management History (Chapt. 9), http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/norris1/chap9a.htm

Katie John- Her Life and Legacy, Native American Rights Fund, Current Cases & Projects, Katie John v. Norton, http://www.narf.org/cases/katiejohn.html

Athabascan elder Katie John receives honorary doctorate, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 14, 2011Alaska mourns passing of elder

Katie John, Juneau Empire Staff Report, June 2, 2013. Fishing Rights, Language and Culture Advocate, Katie John, Walks On, Indian

Country Today Media Network.com, 6/4/13. Alaska and AFN at loggerheads in a case pitting state sovereignty against subsistence,

Alaska Dispatch, Nov. 5, 2013. Statement of Senator Murkowski Remembering Katie John



Photo of V. Kay Lahdenpera

V. Kay Lahdenpera

1936 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Health, Health Care, 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 from the University of Washington in 1961. After graduating she worked in New York at Bellevue Hospital and was the 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 completed her Master’s in Public Health in1985.

During her 35 years at the Health Department, Lahdenpera was instrumental in implementing the Region X, Title X Women’s Health program and establishing the clinic as a training program for the first women’s health nurse practitioners (NPs) in Alaska. As a result of this training program, NPs were, for the first time, able to perform colposcopies and prescribe medication within their scope of practice. The clinic is a training ground for health care professionals, including medical students. Local physicians saw the value of NPs and began to hire them.

Lahdenpera has presented at numerous local, national and international conferences ultimately elevating NPs to become a vital and a core part of the U.S. and international health care systems. In the 1980s, Lahdenpera’s team presented a poster presentation 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 the National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association Conference and at the American Public Health Association Conference. These presentations introduced the Colposcopy and the Family Planning for Troubled Teens projects on a national level. Lahdenpera’s success elevated to an international level in 1993 when she joined the Eisenhower Ambassador Program that traveled to China. In 1997 Lahdenpera and her team made a Poster Presentation at the XV FIGO World Congress of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Copenhagen, Denmark. This presentation was the only presentation done by a nurse practitioner and a public health nurse manager at the World Congress for Medical Doctors.

Lahdenpera has volunteered on numerous professional boards throughout Alaska and has received a plethora of awards for her accomplishments including: being one of the first recipients of the Alaska March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award for “Legends of Nursing” (2009), the first American Nurses Association Excellence in Nursing Award (1993); Title X Family Planning Program Excellence in Management Award (1994); National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Inc. (Outstanding Local Service Award from (1997); BP and YWCA Women of Achievement Award (1997); and Alaska Nurses Association “Hall of Fame” Award (2009).

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1936 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Health, Health Care, Nursing

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).



Photo of Janie Leask

Janie Leask

Gyetm Wilgoosk, Tsimshian name 1948 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Community Service, Native Leader

Janie Leask has devoted her personal and professional life to creating honest and respectful connections among diverse peoples. 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 was capped off when Janie 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”.

Leask’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 Leask 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.

Leask 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, Leask is a talented ice hockey player who demonstrates finesse and fierceness on the ice. She is a great team player.

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Gyetm Wilgoosk, Tsimshian name 1948 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Community Service, Native Leader

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.



Photo of Kay Muriel (Townsend) Linton

Kay Muriel (Townsend) Linton

19332003 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Leadership, Volunteering

When Kay Linton’s name, or Mrs. Jack (Kay) Linton’s as she preferred, comes up, the words volunteer extraordinaire, consummate organizer and inveterate volunteer are usually close by. When other parts of speech are used, Linton is always described as a true professional volunteer in the superlative sense and as positive, kind, jovial, thoughtful and respectful of her team of volunteers who never were to be called workers in her presence.

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.”

Linton arrived in Anchorage in 1960. 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.

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 Machetanz “Heritage of Alaska” prints signed by Alaska’s first five governors which netted $194,000. For Anchorage Linton organized the re-enactment of the town as a tent city of 1915 along Ship Creek.

She was also known for her creation of time capsules. Some of the more memorable ones are buried near the Anchorage Pioneer Schoolhouse, the Anchorage Log Cabin, the Eisenhower Memorial as well as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs base in Washington, D.C.

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.

Community projects with her name on them are far too numerous to name but they ranged from inventing and naming “Will U Readmore,” the library system’s mascot owl, to arranging for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to give a free public lecture in Anchorage, to planning the Miss Alaska Pageants, to chairing the governors’ picnics and staging their inaugural balls regardless of their political party, to organizing the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan awards.

To name just a few of the major awards she received over her more than 40 years of volunteering: Alaskan of the Year, Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America (the first woman to be given this award), two Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pans and YWCA Woman of Achievement.

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. The deadline was met.

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19332003 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Leadership, Volunteering

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.



Photo of Verna E. Pratt

Verna E. Pratt

1930 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Literature, Parks

Growing up on a small farm in Massachusetts, Verna Pratt became fascinated by the flowers growing in her mother’s garden and by the wildflowers in the adjoining fields. This life-long interest has led her to become not only an internationally recognized expert in Alaska’s native plants, but to generously share her knowledge with the public through authoring easy-to-use field guides, teaching, lecturing and leading field trips.

As a self-taught, amateur botanist, wanting to learn about and identify Alaska’s native plants, Pratt found it exceedingly difficult to learn from the reference materials available. The few books were heavy, scientific books, with black-and-white drawings, and were ill-suited for field identification.  Frustrated by her inability to learn and embarrassed by misidentifications, Pratt and her husband, Frank, decided, without any prior experience, to write and publish a useable field guide for the curious generalist. They decided that the guidebook had to meet three stipulations: good color photographs, scientifically correct text and stitched bindings, so the book would not fall apart when used in the field. Pratt then made a creative, key decision that has led to the great success her guidebooks have achieved: to organize the plants by color; not scientific classification. This opened up a new way for the novice to learn and think about plants, their varieties, similarities and their sheer beauty.

Of her many achievements, including the authorship of six publications and multiple honors, Pratt is proudest of the fact that through her efforts she has helped people to learn about Alaska’s native plants, wildflowers and berries.

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1930 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Literature, Parks

Verna Pratt was raised in a big family on a small farm in Massachusetts. The flowers in her mother’s large garden fascinated her as did the wildflowers she found while wandering through the surrounding fields.  Part of her fascination was that the plants “stayed still” and could be closely observed This early interest led Pratt to become a self-educated, amateur botanist who not only has shared her extensive knowledge with generalists in Alaska, but is a recognized, internationally known expert in Alaska’s native plants, wildflowers and berries. Though as a child Pratt was painfully shy, as a teacher, she is friendly, modest and generous; eager to share her knowledge and enthusiastic about helping others to learn what she knows. Pratt, whose expertise has been achieved through self-study and dedication, knows firsthand how difficult it is to learn something new and considers that her greatest accomplishment is that she has helped someone to learn about Alaska’s native plants, wildflowers and berries.

With her husband, Frank, in the military, they lived in a variety of locations throughout the country and, in each location, Pratt studied the local plant life and created flower gardens.  Arriving in Alaska in 1966 she began to teach herself about the Alaska native plants but found little to guide her. With her “hobby” turning into an “obsession,”  Frank realized that if he wanted to spend any time with his wife, he needed to join her on her trips. He decided to photograph the wildflowers she was trying to observe and learn about. The only materials available were big, heavy scientific books with inadequate black-and-white drawings which were very difficult to use in the field for identification. Frustrated by how difficult it was to learn about Alaska’s plants from such books, Pratt and her husband, without any prior experience, decided to write and publish a guidebook for the Alaska generalist interested in learning about native plants. They decided the guidebook had to meet three stipulations: good color photographs, scientifically correct text and stitched binding to insure the book would not fall apart after heavy use in the field. Pratt then made a creative and key decision: to organize the plants by color; not scientific classification. This decision provided a new, easy way for a novice to learn about plants, their similarities, differences and, above all, to appreciate their beauty.

Pratt’s job was to write the text, choose the photographs she or Frank had taken and, using an artistic sensibility learned in her public school art classes, design and do the layout of each page and the book as a whole. Frank’s job was to research, learn and use an appropriate software program to make the book “camera ready” for overseas printing. After much hard work, the “Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways” was published in 1989. This was followed in 1991 by “Wildflowers Along the Alaska Highway, Wildflowers of Denali National Park” in 1993, “Alaska’s Wild Berries and Berry-Like Fruit” in 1995, and in 2003, “Travel Notes for the Wildflower Enthusiast,” for drawing and field notes. Upon discovering that there were no suitable books on the market which introduced children to the plants of the forest and meadow, Pratt and her husband wrote and published “Linnaea’s World,” a children’s book, in 1996.

Pratt has shared her expert knowledge in a variety of other ways and venues as well, from teaching classes to leading field trips to conducting formal lectures. Her leadership of field trips has earned her the title of “mountain goat” from her friends and students due to her agility in navigating difficult terrain in search of that one elusive wildflower. She has conducted classes through the Anchorage Community Schools program, been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the Alaska Wilderness Studies Program and continues to lead Alaska Geographic Society field trips at the Murie Science and Learning Center in Denali National Park and Preserve and at the Portage Visitor Center. She has taught at the Alaska Botanical Gardens and in the Anchorage public schools. As a recognized expert, she was invited to speak at the Long Island, New York, chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society in 1991 and in 2001 lectured on Alaska wildflowers to the International Rock Garden Plant Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Pratt has long been a leader in the Anchorage gardening community and beyond. In 1982 she and her husband founded the Alaska Native Plant Society and she served as its first president from 1982-88. In 1997 she founded the Alaska Chapter, North American Rock Garden Society and also served as its first president. She holds memberships in the Wildflower Garden Club and the Alaska Master Gardeners Association. Pratt participates directly in the local community in other ways as well – by helping to care for and maintain the gardens at the Alaska Botanical Garden, Campbell Creek Science Center and she volunteers as one of the Weed Warriors with the Alaska Native Plant Society.

Pratt has received local, statewide and national honors and recognition for her contributions to educating the public about Alaska’s native plants and wildflowers. In 1991, and again in 1993, she received the Helen S. Hull Literary Award from the National Council of State Garden Clubs for “literary production of horticultural interest” and in 1999 she received the Meritorious Service Award for “producing books to help people learn.” In 2000 she was honored locally as a Woman of Achievement by the Anchorage YWCA and in 2002 was elected to the (national)  board of directors, North American Rock Garden Society.  Pratt also is a recipient of the Edgar T. Wherry Award given by the North American Rock Garden Society (date unknown) for “outstanding contribution in the dissemination of botanical and/or horticultural information about native North American plants.”  In 2009 Pratt and her husband were the first persons awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anchorage Chapter of the Alaska Master Gardeners Association. On that occasion, it was humorously pointed out that they were being recognized: “For your ability to teach and teach and teach and run up mountains with people following you.” Anchorage garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels perhaps best summarizes Pratt’s reputation and contribution to knowledge about Alaska’s native plants and wildflowers in these words: “In the wildflower world around the country, everybody knows Verna Pratt,” and “if you want a book on wildflowers in Alaska, this (the first field guide) is the one you get, period.”

References

Photo courtesy Michael Dineen, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Alaska plant pioneers receive lifetime award, Anchorage Daily News, Oct. 22, 2009 Easy Rock Gardening, Homer Garden Club newsletter, March 2010

The hills are alive: talking wildflowers with expert Verna Pratt, KTUU.COM, Aug. 4, 2010

Organizing Beauty, Lorena Knapp, ALASKAMAGAZINE.COM, July/August 2013



Photo of Barbara Sweetland Smith

Barbara Sweetland Smith

19362013 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Conservation, Culture, History

A dedicated Russian scholar, Barbara Sweetland Smith earned international respect and awards for her research and publications on the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian America. Among the awards she received were the Order of Friendship of the Russian People from the government of the then-Soviet Union; the Order of St. Herman from the Russian Orthodox Church; the Best Book of the Year 1982  from the American Association of Archivists for “Russian Orthodoxy in Alaska: a history, inventory, and analysis of the church archives in Alaska”. Smith also twice received the President’s Award from the Alaska Historical Society in 1988 and in 1996. In honor of her many contributions and achievements, the Alaska Historical Society renamed its Pathfinder Award for the preparation of guides and other resource materials to assist researchers. It is now called the Barbara Sweetland Smith Award.

A graduate of California’s Mills College, Smith went on to do graduate work at Columbia University’s Russian Institute. It was here she developed her expertise in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church and its far-reaching influence in shaping the history of Alaska. She then accepted a position as administrative assistant at the prestigious Harvard Russian Institute for two years before moving to Anchorage in 1970. At the University of Alaska Anchorage, Smith taught Russian history and brought to light many early documents published by the Russian Orthodox Church, explorers, and adventurers.  Smith shared her extensive knowledge of Russian historical resources through publishing many books on the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the development of Russian America. She authored articles and books about the church activity after 1867 as Russian America became Alaska. Several of her books became widely acclaimed earning her international distinction as a scholar of Russian history in Alaska.

Her expertise and dedication helped make possible the restoration and preservation of rare icons and historic Russian Orthodox churches in the Aleutian and Pribilof islands damaged during World War II. Among other things, Smith was instrumental in securing major funding to conserve, catalog and restore icons of the Holy Ascension Church in Unalaska, perhaps the largest single collection of pre-20th century art in Alaska.

Smith also curated four major exhibitions for the Anchorage Museum of History and Art: “Russian America: the Forgotten Frontier,” “Heaven on Earth: Orthodox Treasures of Siberia and North America,” and “Science Under Sail: Russia’s Great Voyages to America 1728-1867.” These popular, world-class exhibits, some of which traveled the country, portrayed how the Russian presence has shaped Alaska’s history and cultures. She was also active in advocating for private, state and federal funding and support for archives, historical programs, and museums. She was a founder of the respected Alaska History Journal.

Also finding time for community work, Smith served as president of the Anchorage Fellowship in Serving Humanity (FISH) for 28 years – working with the Food Bank of Alaska to provide food pantries for those in need. She also served as a board member and President of Soroptimists International of Anchorage, a group dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls locally and around the world, and as a board member of the national archives of the Episcopal Church.

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19362013 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Conservation, Culture, History

Barbara Sweetland Smith was born in Portland, Ore., in March of 1936 to Monroe Mark Sweetland, a newspaper publisher, and Lil Megrath. A graduate of Milwaukie (Oregon) High School, Mills College, Columbia University and the University of Washington, Smith accepted a position as administrative assistant at the prestigious Harvard Russian Institute in Cambridge, Mass., for two years and studied with Don Treadgold at the University of Washington, one of the premier Russianists in the U.S. When she returned to the Northwest, she became an assistant news analyst at KING TV in Seattle. After the birth of her first child, Barbara returned to graduate school where she did an intensive study of late 19th century Russian philosophers and theologians. In 1970 Smith and husband Floyd moved to Anchorage and she began teaching Russian history as a faculty member of the University of Alaska Anchorage. In this position, Smith was asked to study the long-lost and recently re-discovered records of the Russian Orthodox Church. The book that resulted was named by the American Association of Archivists as the best book published on religious archives in 1982.

Steve Haycox, a Distinguished Professor and historian with UAA, said: “Barbara Smith was an extraordinary person, with discerning and disciplined intellect, keen insight, unfailing courage, and deep compassion. I feel privileged to have known her.”

As a scholar, Smith also focused on identifying and collecting records of the Alaska Native corporations in the early 1970s. One of her many achievements greatly benefited the indigenous Aleuts whose culture and homes were mostly destroyed during the WWII battles in the Aleutian Islands. She put her knowledge of the language and the times into practical use assisting the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association to gain recognition of the disastrous Aleut relocation during WWII and later provided the documentation to Congress that resulted in the restoration and rebuilding of the historic churches in the Aleutians.

To further Alaskans’ knowledge of their Russian heritage, Smith curated four major exhibitions at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art: “Russian America: the Forgotten Frontier,” “Heaven on Earth: Orthodox Treasures of Siberia and North America,” and “Science Under Sail: Russia’s Great Voyages to America 1728-1867.” These popular world-class exhibits, some of which traveled the country, portrayed how the Russian presence has shaped Alaska’s history and cultures.

Smith also followed in the footsteps of her father who had served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. She became an active advocate, testifying before the Alaska Legislature and Congress for private, state and federal funding and support for archives, historical programs and museums. She was a founder of the respected Alaska History Journal, working to get it started and continuing as an advisor — reviewing and commenting on manuscripts submitted about Russian America and the exploration of Alaska. As a member and consultant she served in many groundbreaking capacities for the Alaska Historical Society.

A friend, Jo Antonson, said of Smith: “I was new to Alaska and beginning my career. I went to work for the Alaska Historical Commission and met Barbara because she had successfully garnered a number of grants to acquire and preserve pieces of Alaska’s history. She was very helpful to me and we eventually became good friends as well as professional colleagues. Barbara was careful, thorough and exacting in all of her professional work.

“I really admired Barbara’s patience and ability to mentor many women, encouraging and training them through her projects,” Jo added.

Another friend, Dana Anderson, called Smith: “A very caring individual.”

Smith’s community involvement included a strong commitment as President for 28 years of the Anchorage Fellowship in Serving Humanity (FISH) which, in partnership with the Food Bank of Alaska, operates a food pantry supplying thousands of Anchorage poor, especially children, with delivered nutritious meals, all on a volunteer basis. Over the years, she helped distribute approximately 3 million meals to families in need.

A strong supporter of women in the professions, Smith served for many years on the board of and in leadership positions with Soroptimists International of Anchorage, the Anchorage branch of an international group devoted to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.  Smith also served as a board member of the national Archives of the Episcopal Church.

During her professional career as a Russian historian, Smith published a number of books and curated many exhibits. Several of her books became widely acclaimed earning her international distinction as a scholar of Russian history in Alaska For her work, Smith was one of five Americans awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian People from the Russian government (two of the fie were U.S. astronauts) and the Order of St. Herman from the Russian Orthodox Church.

References:

Obituary, The Oregonian, Mar. 17, 2013



Photo of Francine Conat Lastufka Taylor

Francine Conat Lastufka Taylor

1937 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Advocacy, Art, Culture, History

With the culturally diverse blood of Mexican, Spanish and French aristocrats, Blackfoot, Sioux, and French Canadians running in her veins, Francine Lastufka Taylor was a natural to lead Alaskans through their infancy in recognizing and celebrating their unique culture. For her efforts over the years, Francine was a finalist for the YWCA/BP Women of Achievement Award in 1996. In 1998 she was a finalist for the National Federation of Press Women’s Communicator of Achievement Award and earned the Alaska Press Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award the same year. One of her many successes was the creation of the Alaska Native Arts Festival 1966-1972, which she served as a founding director. Perhaps her greatest feat, however, is the founding of Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association, AMIPA, in 1991.

Collections of Alaska’s motion picture films, video and audio recordings were held by libraries, museums, archives, producer and the general public – none of which had the technical resources to preserve and provide access to them. Taylor led the charge to preserve these materials and to make them available to the public through the creation of AMIPA. Through public and private donations the collection and technical capacities of the organization quickly grew, and in 1997 AMIPA transitioned from an all volunteer organization to one having a paid curatorial, technical and administrative staff.

An accomplished pianist and singer, Taylor first used her talents to help disabled children at the Alaska Crippled Children’s Association through music. The program she developed became such a success the Anchorage School District asked her to volunteer her program to include all the city’s elementary schools. Taylor also performed with the Anchorage Community Chorus, the Anchorage Opera, the Alaska Festival of Music and the Alaska Chamber Singers. She served 15 years as a board member for the Visual Arts Center and is an award-winning documentary film maker.

A colleague and friend, Irene Rowan, a former president of Klukwan, Inc. and now a director of Northrim Bank, says Taylor, “became a fearsome activist at a time when most women lacked the inclination or courage to make waves.”

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1937 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Advocacy, Art, Culture, History

Born in California in 1937 to a French Canadian father, Francis Conat, and a French and Spanish Mexican mother, Maria Magdalena Bustos, Francine Lastufka Taylor moved to Alaska with Chuck Lastufka, her new husband in 1961. Although her mother was a traditional over-protective Hispanic parent, her father and her husband were adventurous master hunters and fishermen. Francine learned outdoor survival skills and independence from them. When left alone much of the time by a husband who traveled frequently with his job, she sought ways to meet people and share her talents with her new state. In 1961 she volunteered at the Alaska Crippled Children’s Association before the Anchorage School District mainstreamed disabled children into schools throughout the district. Aside from its medical and physical therapy services, it ran its own elementary school. From this experience she learned a great deal about disabilities that later helped her when two of her own children and two of her grandchildren were discovered to have dyslexia.

As a musician she recognized the Association needed a music program for the children and the hard-working staff. Every Friday at the end of a physically and emotionally exhausting week, she did a musical activity and sing-along program. This program was such a hit that the Anchorage School District — with no money for art resource teachers — asked her and other local artists to volunteer their artistic talents to elementary schools throughout the Anchorage district. Taylor said she believes people need to be “lifted up and that is what music does”. An accomplished pianist and singer, Taylor immersed herself in the Anchorage arts scene joining the Anchorage Opera, the Anchorage Community Chorus, Anchorage Chamber Singers, and the Alaska Festival of Music along with other musical groups.

In the late 1960s Mike Gravel threw his hat into the race as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alaska. Taylor joined his campaign team as a volunteer and traveled to remote villages across the state, seeing first-hand the Alaska Native cultures and learning that many village economies depended, to some extent, on income from crafts. “I saw that often the only cash going into a small village came from the sale of baskets, carvings and skin sewing,” she said. A campaign film about Gravel was created during his campaign, and Taylor became intrigued by the power of compelling sound and moving images, seeing how — in the hands of talented, astute political consultants and film makers — they could significantly influence voters. She believed that if this medium could teach and influence voters, it could also be a compelling, powerful instructional tool for educators. This medium, film, was to become one of the great loves of her life.

As a result, Francine enrolled in the University of Alaska Anchorage as a journalism student, at a time in which there was no journalism degree offered. She cobbled together an inter-disciplinary program and eventually became the first Communications graduate of the school. Her studies at the university led to an invitation by the legendary Kay Fanning of the Anchorage Daily News to write a television column for the paper, which she did, joining three other columnists – Steve Cowper, a future Alaska governor at that time, Satch Carlson, and Mr. Whitekeys. Taylor also took advantage of a visitor to Alaska, the highly respected Margaret Mehring, author and director of Filmic writing at the University of Southern California, School of Education. She talked Mehring into designing an instructional design, screen-writing, and production program for her and staff at UAA TV production services where she was working. Mehring compressed an eight-hour-a-day program on the production of features and documentaries. Some years later in Ohio where her second husband, Richard Taylor, was working on his doctorate, she took graduate courses on instructional design and evaluation systems at the University of Toledo (Ohio).

A close friend over the years and another early television personality in Alaska, Beverly Michaels Dubie, said Taylor has great foresight and, once she has set her sights on a goal, pursues that goal with great personal investment. “When she approaches her projects, it’s in a very human way,” Dubie said. “It’s easier to gather the information and put it out, but Fran really probes to find the human story behind any topic. That makes the difference between a piece that is technically good and one that moves you.”

Taylor’s love of video and other media led her to the realization in the late 1980s that Alaska’s historic moving images and audio recordings would soon be irretrievably lost to future generations unless someone stepped up to help preserve them. Bringing what Dubie calls “her infectious enthusiasm and optimism” to that leadership role, Taylor created the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association in 1991. “AMIPA was very forward-thinking, even on a national level,” AMIPA’s archivist Kevin Tripp said. “And Francine was pivotal in the organization’s formation. She is a real presence, a force of nature. She has convinced me things could be done that I’d thought were impossible.”

Through Taylor’s connections and energy, funding for AMIPA grew until the organization became a reality. Today, AMIPA has gone from an all volunteer staff to one with paid curatorial, technical and administrative staff. In September 2004, AMIPA entered into a preservation partnership with the UAA/APU Consortium Library and during the spring of 2005 installed its then 17,000-item collection, dating from the 1920s, into modern film and magnetic media vaults adjacent to the office space. The vaults have temperature and humidity-control, air filtration, and a high level of security. Today, important events in Alaska’s history, such as statehood, the 1964 earthquake, pipeline construction, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and a wide range of others are preserved and available to the public.

With all she’s done in the realm of film over the years, Taylor also found time to help preserve and elevate the visibility and importance of Alaska’s Native arts and crafts. Taylor was the first director of the Alaska Native Arts Festival which ran as part of the Festival of Music for six years. Taylor said she had no knowledge of the destructive programs of the federal government and missionaries in taking away Alaska Native cultural practices. “For the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and government,” she said, “it was to make them better American citizens. For the religious, it was about converting them to Christianity.”

When the Alaska Festival of Music began, Taylor challenged festival staff about the exclusion of Alaska’s indigenous peoples with their rich cultural traditions of song, dance, storytelling, arts and crafts. The staff turned the challenge back to Francine asking her to bring in the Native culture she championed. “I had a difficult time finding artists, dancers and storytellers because we were down to our last Attu basket maker, Anfesia Shepsinikov, and had only a couple of baleen basket makers in Barrow,” Taylor said. Fortunately, however, a group of King Island dancers had settled in Anchorage and they became the central performers for their culture at the festival.

Taylor said the King Islanders were lucky that the Jesuit priests, particularly Father Hubbard, the “Glacier Priest”, celebrated the Native culture and collected much of the art work that was being produced. Preserving this collection, along with a collection of work at UAA became Taylor’s first task in establishing AMIPA.

When Taylor’s second husband was production manager at UAA’s production facility, one of his goals, and Taylor’s as well, became preserving what had been the dying culture of Alaska’s Native people on sound and moving images. They produced the first statewide broadcasts of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, the Alaska Native Arts Festival and individual storytellers, artists, historical and cultural traditions and subsistence lifestyles of Alaska Natives. “It was the first time Alaska’s Native people saw themselves on statewide television broadcasts,” Taylor added.

In 1972 and working with Visual Arts Center Founder George Federoff, she became one of the founding directors of the Visual Arts Center, serving for 15 years of its 20 years of existence. “Francine helped provide a means for Alaska Native artists and craftspeople to showcase and sell their work,” Irene Rowan, a former president of Klukwan, Inc. and now a director of Northrim Bank, said. As well as working to promote these arts and crafts, Taylor also came to understand the value of cinematography in cultural preservation. “It was this realization that steeled her determination to help make sure that Alaska’s history and our culture would live forever on film,” Rowan added.

For all that Taylor has contributed to Alaska, she has been recognized as a finalist for the National Federation of Press Women, Communicator of Achievement Award in 1998. She won the Alaska Press Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 and was a finalist for the YWCA/BP Women of Achievement Award in 1996. Today, Taylor owns Taylor Productions and produces documentaries for and about Alaska. She also provides voice for television and radio advertising.

She is mother to her natural daughter Marta Lastufka Bucy, and mother-in-law to Michael Bucy, adopted son Carlos Lastufka, stepmother to Anna and Andrew Taylor, and grandmother to Anna’s children Corvin Zaochney and David Drost.



Photo of Gertrude M. Wolfe

Gertrude M. Wolfe

19332007 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Education, Health Care

A life-long Alaskan, born in Sitka and member of the Tlingit Coho Clan, Getrude “Trudy” Wolfe helped the people of Hoonah as well as all Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples of southeast Alaska get better educational opportunities and medical care. A health aide in the early 1950s before there was a certified program, Wolfe’s 34-year career included helping to organize the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in 1975, a nonprofit tribal organization that promotes healthy lifestyles, has a traditional foods program and provides health services. Wolfe served many years on the Hoonah School Board and was active with the Alaska Native Sisterhood, serving as its grand president. A wife, mother of six of her own children and a foster mother to a number of others through the years, health care provider and community activist for education, Wolfe was recognized with a proclamation by the Alaska Legislature in 2007 and inducted into the Sheldon Jackson Hall of Fame the same year.

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19332007 Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Education, Health Care

A life-long Alaskan, Gertrude Wolfe worked tirelessly for the betterment of the people of Hoonah and for all Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. She was a certified village health aide, member of the Hoonah School Board, active with her local chapter and the statewide Alaska Native Sisterhood, and a member of the boards of local and regional Native health corporations. With each activity, Wolfe held top leadership positions. With the Alaska Native Sisterhood, she served as grand president. Wolfe was instrumental in starting the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in 1975, a vital, nonprofit tribal health organization of 18 communities serving Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The organization promotes healthy lifestyles, has a traditional foods program, and provides health services today.

Hoonah, 40 air miles west of Juneau, is only accessible by boat or plane. Most of the 750 residents engage in commercial fishing and some logging, but must rely heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing for their livelihoods. More than half of the community’s population is Tlingit. The “village by the cliff” was founded in 1880. The first cannery opened in the town in 1912. In 1944 a fire destroyed much of the town. Wolfe came to the rebuilt community with her husband Wilfred “Bill” Wolfe Sr.  She started working as a health aide in 1954, before there was an organized program, and when a program was initiated Wolfe was one of the first in the state certified. Wolfe was a leader as Federal Indian policies changed and the Southeast Native people fought for their land, improved education and medical care.

Wolfe was born in Sitka and was a member of the Coho Clan. When she retired after 34 years as a Certified Health Aide Provider in Hoonah in 1988, a wing of the Hoonah medical center was dedicated as the Trudy Wolfe Clinic. After her formal retirement Wolfe continued her many civic activities in Hoonah, Sitka and Juneau. The Alaska Legislature passed a proclamation honoring her in 2007 and that same year she was inducted into the Sheldon Jackson Hall of Fame. A wife, mother of six of her own children and foster mother to a number of others through the years, health care provider, midwife and community activist, Wolfe is a role model for many women. Marlene Johnson, colleague and long-time friend, describes Wolfe as a hardworking, common-sense person, concluding: “Trudy had a commitment to young people, education and health. I don’t know how you can get much better than that.” Johnson noted that on more than one occasion when there was a community potluck Wolfe would bring eight dishes — hers, her husband’s and one for each of her six children.