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Lisa Howell Starr Rudd

Photo of Lisa Howell Starr Rudd
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Advocacy, Civil Rights, Equal Rights


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Induction ceremony acceptance speech