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Sandy grew up with an older brother and an entrepreneurial mother who owned a womenʼs clothing store and a father who was responsible for the storeʼs public relations. While growing up in this small town in the midwest (Centralia, IL), she eagerly participated in her schoolʼs plays and dramatic events. Her parent supported these interests, taking her to see major theatrical productions in the near-by city of St. Louis. Then, at the age of sixteen, she received a scholarship to a summer theatre camp and fell in love with theatre and the course of her life was set. Determined to be in the theatre world, Harper, at the urging of the life-long friend met at the camp, enrolled in Boston Universityʼs well-known theatre department. She then was invited to attend the highly regarded Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. Following the conventions of the day, Harper entered into a marriage at too young an age. The marriage did not last. Harper credits the social and political ferment and upheavals of the 1960ʼs-the anti-war protests, the black power, racial justice and womenʼs movements-as teaching her how to grow up. That exposure to the social and political movements inﬂuenced her approach to theatre and taught her to value plays with a social message. Her education in the theatre arts continued through summer stock opportunities and in Los Angeles where she and Jerry, the love of her life, trained together in an innovative new theatre form under Rachael Rosenthal known as “Instant Theatre” and “Instant Fairy Tales”. This new technique involved training in how to be totally present in the moment and how to engage in instant improvisation. Harper considers theatre to be a life-long education, since all experiences can be “grist for the mill”, providing stimulus for a lifetime of continuous curiosity and never-ending exploration and discovery. Harper followed up her interests in human consciousness, awareness and the creative imagination with formal academic study, obtaining a Masterʼs degree in Human Development at Paciﬁc Oaks College in 1985. Earlier in 1979 she had received an undergraduate degree from Immaculate Heart College. She further explored human consciousness through performing the research for a book entitled “The Aquarian Conspiracy” written by Marilyn Ferguson, which discusses consciousness research and social transformation and popularized the idea that society and individuals were experiencing a paradigm shift. Arriving in Anchorage in the late 1980ʻs when husband Jerry inherited the historic 1915 Loussac Building from his stepfather, they opened a cultural mini-mall in the building featuring a bookstore and movie theatre. When competition later crippled the proﬁtability of the bookstore, they decided to build a theatre in that space and thus created, in 1992, Cyranoʼs Off-Center Playhouse, the home of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company. Under Harperʼs leadership the company has provided an eclectic menu of professional quality performances of cutting-edge, classic, contemporary and original plays. It has established itself as a vibrant presence in the life of downtown Anchorage and is known
throughout Alaska. From the beginning, the theatre’s mission has been not only to provide stimulating and thought-provoking entertainment, but to offer the opportunity for Alaskan theatre artists to participate in live theatre and to practice their craft as playwrights, actors, directors and technicians. In recognition of the time and talent dedicated by artists, Cyrano’s has, from the beginning, offered participants a small stipend to underscore the professional nature of their work. Additionally, the company has always offered affordable ticket prices as part of their mission. As the Producing Artistic Director of Cyrano’s Theatre Company, Harper nurtured, encouraged and commissioned Alaskan playwrights, leading to Alaskan and national premieres of new works. Over the years, she sought to identify, foster and mentor new talent from throughout Alaska, with a strong focus on women and Native cultures. Harper believes that in the theatrical world you learn your craft by “doing it” so when talent was identiﬁed, she encouraged the writer, challenged the inexperienced to direct and recruited the shy one to act. She is particularly proud of the theatre’s history of providing opportunities to women artists, including directors and playwrights. Important aspects of her programming choices were the inclusion and reﬂection of Alaska’s diverse demographics as well as the playʼs social message. Under her spirited leadership and vision, Cyrano’s Theatre Company became an important incubator of Alaska’s theatrical talent and has been the original home of “Scared Scriptless”, “Arctic Entries”, and “Black Feather Poets”, among others. The company’s ability over the years to successfully mount a different play nearly every month of the year is solid proof of the multiple training opportunities this small theatre company with little money has provided to the immediate community and the state overall. Cyranoʼs has also taken several productions to underserved areas of the state, such as Homer, Seward, Yakutat and Kodiak. Cyrano’s Theatre Company is an active participant in the annual Valdez Last Frontier Conference, frequently presenting new works at this nationally famous, important theatre conference. Harperʼs insistence that all productions, wherever performed, meet a high professional standard has set the bar for quality productions throughout the state. In addition to the various formal positions Harper has held in Cyranoʼs Theatre Company, she is best known in the community as a cultural entrepreneur and collaborator. These traits, talents and skills were perhaps inherited, in part, from her parents, particularly her mother. Harper believes strongly in partnering and collaboration. By its very nature, theatre depends on collaboration and awarenessbetween the playwright and actor, between the actor and the audience, between the director and the actor. As a way to collaborate with the audience, Harper added contextual richness to the company’s productions by organizing lobby displays and special panels or talkback discussions. Collaboration with UAA’s theatre department over the years has provided graduates with their initial professional experience. In another example, she invited a number of prominent local citizens to partner with the company and play a role in the play when “Adam’s Rib” was produced in 2006. Believing that awareness of the arts must be part of public life, Harper made a point of joining and collaborating with various business, civic and nonproﬁt organizations. Her
direct civic involvement includes: former president, Anchorage Cultural Council; board member in Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Anchorage Downtown Association and Rasmuson Foundation; member, national board, Last Frontier Theatre Conference; creator and ten-year co-host, Alaska Radio Reader Rambler at public radio station KSKA. In addition to partnering with civic entities, Harper tried to coordinate theatre activities with municipal and state activities and celebrations. A prime example of her emphasis on the importance of civic engagement is the 2015 summer celebration of Anchorage’s centennial wherein “Anchorage:The First 100 Years—A Theatrical Tour” was presented. This involved a new play being written and produced each week to highlight each of Anchorage’s ﬁrst ten decades. In 2009, she commissioned ﬁve new works from Alaska writers to celebrate Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood while in 2011 she hosted a ﬁrst-time reading of nine new plays from Alaska Native writers organized by the Alaska Native Heritage Center. As a cultural entrepreneur, she initiated and organized cultural events, always striving for collaboration with other artistic organizations and civic activities. For example, Harper saw a need in the cityʼs cultural life, created a coalition of booksellers, educators and libraries as “Partners in Literacy”, which resulted in the founding of the Alaska Center for the Book and the Reading and Writing Rendezvous. It was often her practice to invite a nonproﬁt organization whose social mission is aligned with a play’s theme to participate in the opening night and to give the evening’s proceeds to that organization. For example, for “Pinkalicious!” the honored non-proﬁt organization was Best Beginnings, which promotes early childhood literacy and love of books. Her numerous awards and honors demonstrate the communityʼs regard for her theatrical contributions, civic involvements, and recognition of her effectiveness as an advocate for the arts. They include: Governor’s Award for the Arts to the Cyrano Theatre Company for outstanding arts organization, 1975; “Contribution to Literacy in Alaska” award to Sandy Harper as founder of Alaska Center for the Book, 2002; Harper Performing Arts Touring Fund, initiated by Rasmuson Foundation, in recognition “of the contributions made by both Jerry and Sandy Harper to Alaska’s quality of life, both as artists and long time Rasmuson Foundation Board members”, 2005; Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Arts Organization to Eccentric Theater Company (now Cyrano’s Theatre Company, 2005; YWCA Woman of Achievement award 2005; ATHENA Society inductee, 2009; Soroptimist Award for encouragement of women in the arts, 2010; Alaska State Legislative Citation honoring Cyrano’s Off-Center Payhouse, “a standing ovation” to Jerry and Sandy Harper “for their inﬂuence and consistent quality of state theatre that has made a lasting impression on the statewide progress of the performing arts culture”,2011; Lorene Harrison Award (Special Lifetime Achievement Award) Anchorage Cultural Council, 2011; UAA, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, “In recognition of a lifetime of fostering the arts in Alaska”, 2011; and, the 2016 Governorʼs Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities to Cyranoʼs Theatre Company. While husband Jerry was a gifted actor and director and performed many roles, Harper preferred to operate behind the scenes, creating the opportunities and environment for events to come together. As Producing Artistic Director over many years, she selected
the plays to be produced, appointed the directors, chose the actors and commissioned new works. Harper frequently described her role in this phrase: “I throw the party.” According to a long-time colleague of Harperʼs, her outstanding talent as a producer was her ability to create a team for each play, from the director to the set designer, which led to successful productions. Another admirer credits her success to Harperʼs having a “great vision” for theatre and a “steady hand” on its production. Harperʼs theatrical training, combined with her interests in human awareness, consciousness and creativity provided a very natural and successful foundation for her career in the theatre. When asked to judge her own accomplishments, Harper pointed to three: co-founding the bookstore and theatre; creating the Alaska Center for the Book and working with her life partner on something they both loved. And, on a different level of accomplishment, she is proud of having raised a daughter and being a grandmother to two grandchildren. Her advice to young women about achieving goals echos her own experience: have the courage to try, keep your focus and be persistent in facing and overcoming the inevitable obstacles that will spring up. Through her personal efforts, Harper has demonstrated what a strong, determined woman with a clear vision can build and accomplish. After twenty-three years of producing a different play almost every month of the year, in 2015, management of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company initiated a shift from a “founders” board to a “governing” board, effective in 2016. Harper relinquished her direct role in the workings of Cyranoʼs Theatre Company, but It is a certainty that she will continue to be engaged in the artistic and theatrical cultures of Anchorage and Alaska.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/o2NwxdNxTx0
Porco, Peter. Sandy Harper Northern Lights. American Theatre Magazine. March 2011, p. 40-44.
Stadem, Catherine and Strohmeyer, John. The History of Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska 1915-2005: From a Wilderness Tent to a Multi-Million Dollar Stage. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009. AK Alaska Public Media http://www.alaskapublic.org/sandy-harper/ Lit Site Alaska$ http://www.litside.org/index.cfm?section=Libraries-andBooksellers&page=Bookstore-Proﬁles&viewpoint Anchorage Press$ http://www.anchoragepress.com/search/node/Sandy%20Harper
Lorene Harrison came to Anchorage to teach music and home economics in 1928 and launched herself into Anchorages cultural activities. She organized the United Choir of all Faiths, which was the forerunner of the Anchorage Community Chorus, served as first president of the Anchorage Concert Association, was on the founding boards of the Anchorage Arts Council, Anchorage Civic Opera and Anchorage Little Theatre, and served as First Presbyterian Church Choir director for 29 years.
Throughout her life she appeared to have the philosophy “if Anchorage doesn’t have, create it yourself.” The main lobby in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is named after her.
Cornelia Templeton Jewett came to Alaska in 1909 and married gold prospector Robert Lee Hatcher (of Hatcher Pass fame). Cornelia campaigned for women’s rights and prepared a petition to be sent to Alaska’s first Territorial Legislature (formed in 1912 by the Organic Act of 1912) asking for voting rights for women. The Legislature enfranchised women in 1913. Cornelia was also a leader in the Temperance Movement. Her campaigns resulted in a dry Alaska from 1918 to 1934.
Hazel Heath will long be remembered as the founder of the Pratt Museum, the first woman president of the Alaska Municipal League, and, with her husband Ken, the first owners of Alaska Wild Berry Products, which began in Homer, Alaska. They also owned a café, and an art shop and gallery in Homer. She was committed to Alaska politics and served many years as the Mayor of Homer. She was a National Republican delegate many times, and was a member of numerous federal, state and local boards and commissions, including the University of Alaska, local and state chambers of commerce, local and state museum boards, and state and national senior citizens advisory boards. In 1977, she received the Homer Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award and in 1989 Meritorious Service Award from the University of Alaska.
Hazel’s pioneering role in local and state government paved the way for many other women to get involved in politics. She possessed an acute doggedness when undertaking something that would make life in Homer and Alaska better for herself and others.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/z94c3Udqt5k
Juanita Lou (Lauesen) Helms arrived in Alaska with her family in 1951, living most her life in Interior Alaska, including a cherished three years in the Denali National Park. Together with her devoted husband of 45-years, Orville “Sam” Helms, she raised four children in Fairbanks.
Helms started her professional career as an in-court clerk for Superior Court Judge Jay Rabinowitz, and then moved to administrative work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As Helms’ family grew, her focus shifted to the management of family rental properties, volunteer projects with the Girl Scouts and parent-teacher groups, and serving as an active advocate for neighborhood planning and land use issues. She volunteered on political campaigns to champion, promote, and support policies that impacted families.
In 1980, Helms began her political career as an elected, at-large member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. She ran successfully for a second term, serving five-years, including a year as Presiding Officer of the Assembly.
In 1985, distressed by the state of Fairbanks North Star Borough affairs, she ran for borough mayor. In what the media dubbed a “stunning upset” Helms unseated a two-term incumbent to gain the borough’s top spot.
After a successful re-election bid, winning over 60% of the vote, Helms served another three-year term as mayor. Helms stewarded the borough through difficult financial times, while accomplishing the construction of a community convention center, improving air quality, creating an Office of Economic Development, and establishing sister-city relationships with Japan and the Soviet Far East. She was known for her open-door policy, valuing and respecting all input from supporters and critics alike.
Helms was a long-time friend and strong supporter of interregional and international relations between Alaska and the Sakha Republic, and between the United States and Russia. Her diplomatic efforts led to the Treaty of Friendly Relations between the cities of Fairbanks and Yakutsk, signed 20 years ago, at a time when democratization was just starting to take hold in the USSR.
As the first woman to be elected as borough mayor, and through numerous organized efforts to mentor, educate, inspire, and bring women together through professional workshops and conferences, both internationally and locally, Helms served as a powerful leader and role model to generations of women in Fairbanks and beyond.
Upon her death in 2009, many community members reflected on her contributions, management, and leadership. A colleague, Melissa Chapin said, “She was so open-minded and so accepting, and just carried a practical, down to Earth, realistic, pragmatic approach to everything,” Dermot Cole wrote in a Column in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, “Two reasons for Juanita’s success in politics are that she knew how to be tough and how to get along with people. People enjoyed being around her, and Juanita liked to laugh.”
Last September, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly honored Helms for her 11 years of trusted leadership with a resolution to name the borough administrative center after her. The center, located in downtown Fairbanks along the Chena River, is now labeled the Juanita Helms Administration Center. Over the years, she received recognition and accolades from numerous entities, organizations and foreign officials, for her diplomatic efforts in developing and supporting sister-city relationships. To Helms’ tribute, after objectively serving in a non-partisan capacity for most of her career, the Alaska Democratic Party honored her posthumously with the Queen Bess Award for selflessly giving her time and energy to promote democratic principles.
At the end of her life, Juanita took the most comfort from the company of her grandchildren who she considered her life’s joy. Through them, she has helped prepare a new generation to carry on her life of service.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/fSSomQKLbbc
Abbe Hensley has been a positive and impactful force for improving children’s early literacy and learning in Alaska and nationally. Hensley was born in Anchorage in 1945. Her mother, Gayle Strutz, was a second generation Alaskan – born here after her parents arrived in Alaska in the early 1900’s. Hensley’s father, James Ryan, was a Californian and Hensley would grow up moving frequently between the two states. She made her first trip down the Alcan at the age of 1 1/2 and was told that their car was one of the first private vehicles to travel over the Alcan! Hensley’s father was from a large Connecticut family that had settled in Oroville, California in the late 30’s and when Hensley and her parents traveled down the Alcan they headed for Oroville. Her father would then travel back and forth between California and Alaska to work construction and in canneries for a number of years. Her Anchorage schooling included stints at Chugach, North Star and Denali. High School years were spent in Oroville and Sacramento. With a significant amount of moving around during her school years, friends were difficult to make. Hensley’s younger sister and her cousins in Alaska and California were important connections.
Hensley was scholarly and diligent in school and was named a semi-finalist in the Merit Scholarship Program. She enrolled in Mills College as a History Major. After graduation she returned to Alaska and felt like she had truly “Come Home!”. Her lifelong passion for advocating for children and families was about to begin.
From 1972 to 1974 Hensley worked for the Tanana Chiefs Conference and developed and implemented a needs assessment project for early childhood programs in interior Alaska. As the coordinator of the Early Childhood Project Hensley developed skills that would serve her for many years and create a career that spanned 50 years of both community and work related service to young children and families.
Hensley married and moved to Anchorage in the mid-70’s, started her family and immersed herself in childbirth education. She regularly taught childbirth education classes in Anchorage between 1976 and 1986 and also in Kotzebue from 1986 to 1989. She designed and implemented the first program for pregnant teenagers in Kotzebue and was a trainer for childbirth educators statewide …. designing, presenting and implementing workshops and continually upgrading the program which was eventually offered for credit through the University of Alaska. She also served on the Alaska State Medical Board during this time.
Hensley was an early leader in the Alaska PTA. She served as the elected President from 1989 to 1993. As PTA President she designed, implemented and evaluated an innovative model for two statewide parent involvement conferences which were supported by the Governor’s Office. She organized an Alaskan summit on parent involvement in children’s education that brought together leaders from statewide groups and organizations. Hensley also served as National PTA Vice President for Leadership and felt that PTA needed to make changes in order to attract parents working outside the home to serve in leadership positions. She led strategic efforts to promote more professional training, adopting leadership materials designed for businesses and re-working them for PTA training curricula. The goal was to provide PTA leaders (mostly women) with training and education that they could use both in their PTA work and on the job. Her expertise in and leadership of PTA’s in Alaska and nationally was recognized and she served on the Alaska State Board of Education and also served as the Board Chair.
Hensley’s work as Director of Education and Outreach with public station KAKM in the 1990’s created an unprecedented collaboration among the four Alaskan public television stations. In 1995, KAKM became one of the first Ready To Learn stations nationally and Hensley implemented the project in Anchorage, Mat-Su and on the Kenai Peninsula. In 2001 she moved into the national position of Director of Outreach Services/Ready To Learn for Public Broadcasting. In this national PBS position she administered the outreach component of a five year, $100 million US Department of Education funded project that worked towards improving the early literacy and school readiness of young children.
Hensley’s family had grown to 4 children over the years and she and her husband, Willie Hensley, returned to Alaska in 2006. Abbe as the founding Executive Director of Best Beginnings, a statewide nonprofit that mobilizes people and resources to ensure all Alaskan children begin school ready to succeed. In 2018, an amazing 112 Alaska communities – more than 18,000 children – participated in the Imagination Library (Dolly Parton’s monthly free book program for children age birth to 5 years of age) under the Best Beginnings umbrella. Nationally, the Alaska program is seen as a model for the Dollywood Foundation. The 2 millionth book was placed in a child’s hand in Alaska in 2018. As state support dropped off for the program, Hensley marshaled impressive private support and retooled the entire nonprofit so that they could continue to provide books to young Alaskans. She created an impressive yearly fundraiser, The First Ladie’s Tea for Best Beginnings. This Sunday afternoon event raises between $30,000 and $40,000 yearly and has motivated current and former Alaskan first ladies to support and promote early childhood education and reading opportunities.
The creation, growing and maintaining of Best Beginnings can be seen as Hensley’s crowning achievement in a professional life devoted to the education and support of young children and their families. Her life’s work has been as an advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves – the youngest among us. She has sought to empower parents and children alike throughout her long career and has been an exemplary role model as a wife, mother, grandmother, civic leader and executive. She and her husband Willie and their 5 children have benefited from her commitment – as has the rest of our population. She has been absolutely committed to growing the next generation of leaders, both nationally and in Alaska.
Among the many honors and awards that Hensley has received are:
The Shining Lights Award (with Willie Hensley) from Congregation Beth Shalom, 2016
Anchorage ATHENA Society inductee, 2014
Little Red Wagon Advocacy Award, Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children, 2012
Service Award, Arlington Community Action Program (Virginia), 2000
Honorary Life Member of the National PTA and 17 state PTA’s
Legislative Citation, Alaska State Legislature, 1993
Women of Achievement, Anchorage YWCA, 1990
Friend of Education, Northwest Arctic Education Association, 1987
Hensley has chosen to concentrate her life’s work in an area that completely alters people’s lives – improving the early years of our youngest citizens. Her work and her volunteer activities have all endeavored to increase learning, safety and resources for those who can’t take care of themselves and who need advocates the most. In doing so she has lifted up and made visible these concerns to all men and women of our state and has served as a role model for all of us to learn from!
Resume of Abigale (Ryan) Hensley
Interview with Abigale (Ryan) Hensley
Best Beginnings website bestbeginningsalaska.org
Nomination submitted by Jo Michalski
Nomination submitted by Barbara Brown
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/91E3oc2AGx0
Mildred R. Hermann
Mildred Hermann was a lawyer, an articulate spokesperson on statehood for Alaska, a forceful delegate of the Alaska Constitutional Convention, a wife and mother and a life long advocate for research and treatment of tuberculosis, which was so prevalent in Alaska. She was born in Indiana, taught school for 9 years and came to Juneau, Alaska in 1919, where she began her study of the law with James Wickersham. She was admitted to the AK bar in 1934 and was the first woman to practice law in Juneau. She was a defense attorney for poor clients. From 1949-59 she served as Secretary of the Alaska Statehood Commission, the official organization responsible for organizing statewide support for Alaska’s admittance into the Union. At the Constitutional Convention Mildred was elected the Temporary President on the first day of the convention and was chosen as the delegate to close of the convention, in honor of her long service on behalf of statehood. Mildred was an imposing woman and was most comfortable with a rolling pin in her hands, which she kept on her desk to accentuate her points. The convention lasted 75 days and with the wave of her rolling pin, Mildred reminded her colleagues daily of the volume of work to be accomplished to meet the schedule. After the convention she became a reporter for the Anchorage Times covering the state legislature and the new state government she had helped to launch.
She was an active member of the Alaskan Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Association of Press Women, the Soroptimist Club, Republican Women’s Association and served on the board of the Alaska Tuberculosis Society for 18 years.
Creating Alaska web site, University of Alaska
Kristin Boraas, “Mildred Robinson Hermann: Queen Mother of the Alaskan Statehood”
Women in the Legal Profession, for Professor Barbara Babcock, Fall 2000
As a founding professor of Political Science/International Studies at University of Alaska Anchorage, Diddy Hitchins brought the world into classrooms in Anchorage. She informed and challenged students to think outside of the U.S.A., about different social, economic and political influences on world affairs. She taught students how to analyze and understand the way different political systems worked and interacted so that students could perform political risk analysis. She compelled students to be critical thinkers and precise writers and to see the U.S. within a global framework, particularly encouraging their analysis of U.S. foreign policy. Hitchins has mentored and inspired generations of students to read, consider, debate and understand why the nation-states of the world have the political systems, international relations and foreign policies that they have. She has taught students not only to understand but also how to evaluate these situations in order to be able to advise policymakers in today’s world. She required them to adopt the interests and articulate the points of view of the countries they represented in the Model United Nations program and to think globally about the worldwide process of governance.
Hitchins designed the Political Science curriculum at UAA and was responsible for teaching Comparative Politics, International Relations, International Law and Organizations, and U.S. Foreign Policy. She also led the way in developing the multi-disciplinary and team-taught Canadian Studies Program and obtained financial support from the governments of Canada and Quebec to launch the effort in Alaska. The UAA program was a founding member of the Pacific NorthWest Canadian Studies Consortium, which developed and offered opportunities for faculty development in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon.
As the Cold War receded and opportunities for Alaskans to interact with Russians from the Far East opened up, Hitchins provided briefings on the Russian political system at the request of the governor and the Legislature for delegations going to visit the Russian Far East, and was a member of UAA’s first official delegation to the Russian Far East in 1989. Building on the success of the Canadian Studies Program, she then served as the founding director of UAA’s International North Pacific Studies Program, which covered the North Pacific Region from Hong Kong to Seattle and offered UAA students the opportunity to study China, the Koreas, Japan, the Russian Far East and Western Canada. To develop faculty capacity for this program, Hitchins obtained Fulbright Hays funding for faculty development and student travel in the Russian Far East. Following the development of these programs, much of Hitchins’ research and publications focused on developments in the Arctic with emphasis on the significant role of indigenous peoples in the Arctic and in Alaska.
One of her unique curriculum efforts was the establishment of the Model United Nations Program,which brings high-school students from around the state to participate alongside university students from UAA, University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Southeast in an annual authentic simulation of the United Nations. This program focuses each year on a topic of vital interest to Alaskans and Alaska youth. For two decades this program has initiated high-school students from across the state into the world of international studies
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/DhT7_HmsA_k
Beverly Hoffman of Bethel was born in 1951 into a large family of Yup’ik and European descent. Hoffman graduated in 1969 from Dimond High School in Anchorage. After attending a Florida college and living in San Francisco, she moved home in 1975.
Along the Kuskokwim River, there is a long history of death by drowning. Hoffman is a founder of the Y-K Delta Lifesavers, which began a campaign for a pool in the 1980s to teach people to swim and to provide healthy recreational and fitness outlets. The $24 million facility opened in 2014. Hoffman continues to raise funds for an endowment supporting access, so all people can use the pool, regardless of economics.
Hoffman was an early organizer of the Kuskokwim 300, the world’s premier mid-distance sled dog race. She managed the event for several years and raced for 40 years in K300 and village-sponsored dog races.
Hoffman fights tirelessly to protect the Kuskokwim River and its salmon for future generations. She served as chair of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group, the regional voice for salmon issues.
As an owner of Kuskokwim Wilderness Adventures, Huffman is the first woman on the Kuskokwim with her six passenger Coast Guard license. She welcomes and guides visitors to the region, sharing local history and traditional knowledge.
Hoffman received the Bill Bivens Award from Bethel’s Chamber of Commerce, the Yukegtaaq award from Tundra Women’s Coalition, and the luminary “Community Spirit” award from the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation. She is a past Bethel City Council member.
A community activist, Hoffman continues advocating for the region, protecting fish habit and the environment, volunteering for public radio and the K300, and pursuing a community gym.
She and her husband John McDonald have two grown children, son Colin McDonald and daughter Casey McDonald.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/91E3oc2AGx0
Shirley Holloway is best known for establishing the Quality Schools Initiative, calling for high expectations for all students in Alaska and proving that all students, no matter their social, economic or ethnic background, can be academically successful. Holloway has been recognized as a woman breaking the glass ceiling to become one of the first female superintendents (North Slope Borough School District), the first female National finalist for Superintendent of the Year, and the first female Commissioner of Education in Alaska.
Shirley holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University, has published and presented numerous papers, and served on many boards and commissions. In 2005, she founded the Avant-Garde Learning Foundation, a non-profit foundation that helps communities, families and schools prepare young people for bright, successful futures. She has actively reached out to girls and women to help them, through mentoring and support, to achieve their desired goals. Today, many educational leaders in Alaska and Outside attribute their success to her inspiration and effective influence. Her guiding philosophy is Children Come First.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/nBHsD_1UG7o
Lorrie Horning is best known as the founder of Alaska Junior Theater (1981), a private, non-profit organization presenting professional theater arts from around the word to young audiences and families in Anchorage and around the state. It was started at Horning’s kitchen table as a grassroots effort and three years later was recognized with an award by the Children’s Theater of America. It continues to thrive serving an audience of nearly a million parents and students over time.
The Horning family lived in Seattle for about ten years and during that time participated in the Seattle Junior Programs, one of them a theater program that the entire family could attend and enjoy. Horning served on the board for two years and is where the Alaska Junior Theater idea came from.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, the oldest of four children. She and her future husband attended St. Joseph elementary school. Then, she went on to attend Providence Academy in Vancouver, a Catholic girls high school where she was the Sodality President. She continued her leadership at Marylhurst University in Oregon serving first as the student body treasurer and then student body president. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1964 and some twenty years later received a Master’s of Arts in Education from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. She taught elementary education in Bellevue, Washington (1964-67) and again (1969-71) in Seattle, Washington.
Many people talk about marrying their high school sweetheart. Lorrie and Morris Horning’s story has a much longer time frame. They have known one another since they were 10-year-old neighbors, attended the same elementary school but did separate after the eight grade. Each attending their own boys and girls’ Catholic high schools. They went to separate colleges and married each other (June 26, 1965) a year after graduating. They have two children, Kevin, born in New York City, 1967, while Morris completed a medical internship at Montefiore Hospital and Shawn was born (1971) in San Francisco while his father served in the U.S. Army.
While living in Seattle, a medical school friend of Morris’s offered a practice position in Anchorage, saying there was plenty of opportunity and a great place to raise their children. They decided they would have another adventure and planned to stay for two years.
Before coming from Seattle to Alaska in1980 they went on a year’s sabbatical traveling and living in Europe. The adventure took them and their sons to 13 countries with a four-month residence in Wales. Several of the months included the parents of both Lorrie and Morris traveling with them, all eight in two camper vans. During this time the boys were home schooled with a brief time attending school in Wales.
After arriving in Anchorage, Horning missed the presentation of theater arts for children, so she and five friends who were also parents formed the Alaska Junior Theater. They wanted to provide an atmosphere for stimulating and nurturing children’s creativity and imagination and to provide entertainment, fun, laughter, empathy, wonder, the formation of new attitudes and the development of future adult audiences. During the first five years, continuing to operate from her kitchen, Horning served as executive director/president, and the board volunteered for everything from fund raising to contacting and scheduling teachers for school time shows to counting out the 10,000 flyers that Alyeska Pipeline printed for free into bundles and delivering them to schools to be sent home with the students and much more. She and her husband continue to serve as fund raisers, consultants, and at times help with the school time performances.
Horning has created other, non-theater related entities as well. While serving as Anchorage Medical Auxiliary President, she developed and organized an infant car seat loaner program, PECABU (Protect Every Child And Buckle Up) (1984). This program operated out of Providence Hospital and Alaska Humana Hospital, making infant seat restraints readily and inexpensively available for newborns to new parents, military parents, those new to Anchorage as well as new grandparents with visiting grandchildren. The program was awarded first place by The National Safety Council, Child Safety Division six months after it started. It also received commendations from Mayor Tony Knowles and US Senator Ted Stevens and the Alaska Highway Safety Planning Agency. Horning received an award from the US Health and Human Services, NW Division for her work in developing the program and for her leadership with the Child Passenger Safety Law Task Force. In Alaska Medicine magazine, Volume 26, 1984, page 77, published an article written by Horning entitled “Infant Seats Can Save Lives Buckle Up Save a Life.”
Another program Horning developed was The Wish List 1989, a 40-page booklet containing the wishes and specific needs of over 70 Anchorage non-profit organizations. The Anchorage Daily News printed each organizations’ list. It continued to be published for 13 years. She received the Anchorage Association of Volunteer Administrators Volunteer Award for this project. The Wish List was recognized by the National American Medical Association Alliance.
During a time long before cell phones, Horning created a Student Emergency Wallet Card in 1993, listing emergency and call for help numbers. Working with the Anchorage School District the cards were distributed to 11 junior and senior high schools in Anchorage.
Horning has spread her community activities across many organizations including serving as treasurer of Lake Otis Elementary School; member of the boards of directors of Anchorage Community Schools and Catholic Social Services; member of the Municipality of Anchorage Arts Advisory Commission; treasurer for Saturday Night in the Stacks, Friends of the Library; President, Anchorage Medical Auxiliary and Alliance (five years); President, Alaska State Medical Auxiliary; member of the Clare House Advisory Board and newsletter editor. She and her husband have been volunteers and team leaders on 13 trips building and teaching English with Habitat for Humanity, Global Volunteers and Global Citizen’s Network to Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, Vietnam, Mexico, Cook Islands, Italy, Ireland, including another team in Mexico building homes with Jimmy Carter. They also enjoyed meeting the Carters in Plains, Georgia.
The awards she has received are many and include: Alaska First Lady Volunteer Awards, (1982-84 and1985); Distinguished Volunteer Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Pacific NW Division, (1984); Clare House Newsletter Editor Award of Excellence from Public Relations Society of America (1992); Alaska Women of Achievement (1990); Anchorage Association for Volunteer Administrators Community Service Award for The Wish List book (1992); and with her husband, Hospice, Heroes of Healthcare National/Global Community Service Award (2003).
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/SMpVtbgTHUM
Born in Juneau to parents who were teachers in the winter and fished commercially in the summer, Joerene Savikko Hout’s elementary and high school years were spent in Ketchikan. When her parents were away fishing, she lived with Anna Rosenblad in the Tsimshian Indian Village. Anna, a widowed mother with seven children was instrumental in Joerene’s choice of profession. As a young girl, she observed the difference in health care and social acceptance. Three of the Rosenblad children were congenitally deaf and four had no physical disability. Some were allowed to attend the Ketchikan public schools and others had to attend the Indian school.
Achieving her B.S. in Nursing from the University of Washington in 1957, Joerene had interned at Firland’s Sanitarium in Seattle, a hospital for Native tuberculosis and special needs patients. Joerene discovered young patients who had no idea where their parents were and found they were often placed in foster homes rather than returned to their villages because of lost records and lack of communication in the health system.
Becoming a public health nurse, Joerene was determined to be a catalyst for change in how Native people were treated in the public health system. When she discovered that many children were taken from their village homes and transported to Anchorage or Seattle for medical care by the public health service without consent forms or informing the parents of the children’s location and condition, she was determined to be the liaison to assure and secure travel rights for one parent to accompany the child. Joerene became an advocate to reconnect children with parents.
Returning to Juneau in 1957, Joerene became a school nurse for Juneau-Douglas School District. As a public health nurse at Fairbanks Health Center (1961-1963), she volunteered to teach evening pre-natal classes to couples expecting their first child, and taught home care for families with a disabled family member. As the first itinerant public health nurse in Bethel (1963-1976), she founded the Bethel Prematernal Home to dramatically reduce the death rate of mothers and children in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. In 1963, there were two maternal deaths each month. After the Prematernal Home was established, there were no deaths from childbirth in 10 years. In the Prematernal Home expectant mothers could stay prior to their children’s births – whether or not they had money – and receive medical care and learn to care for their babies.
Joerene brought creative educational programs to Alaska to assist employers in understanding needs, qualifications and modifying techniques to help men and women with disabilities do their jobs well. She chaired the Governor’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities under both Gov. Hammond and Gov. Sheffield. Between 1982 and 1984, she was secretary and chairman of the National Conference of Governors Committees on Employment of the Handicapped as well as serving on the President’s Committee in planning and the executive board.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/ShDKfnC4wHc
Frances Howard worked for the Department of Public Safety as Clerk-Dispatcher in 1967. She was then given a special commission to administer drivers tests because no commissioned trooper was available. Problem was, she was still being paid a clerk’s salary. In 1969, Alaska ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, and friends encouraged Frances to apply for a position as an Alaska State Trooper. She was accepted and became the first female Alaska State Trooper and the first unrestricted female state officer in the United States. The newspapers reported the event, adding that the largest challenge for the state was coming up with a proper uniform for her.
Equality was not entirely won with her appointment and consequent pay raise. When she married a fellow trooper, John Elmore, she was forced to resign because of stringent nepotism rules in the department.
As a very active and public member of the League of Women Voters, then serving as its Anchorage president, Wilda Hudson was appointed in 1967 to the Anchorage City Council. She was the third woman to serve on the Council, and she went on to become the first woman presiding officer of any Anchorage governmental body. With the formation of the Alaska Public Offices Commission in 1974, Hudson became its assistant executive director moving into the director position in 1976 and serving there until 1977. In 1975 and working with the League of Women Voters and others, she worked to pass unification of the city and borough to create the Municipality of Anchorage. Between 1977 and 1981, she served as director of cultural and recreation services under Mayor George Sullivan. In 2000 she was selected by the Anchorage Assembly to fill a vacancy on their body and became the sixth woman on that body, the only time in history where women served in the majority.
Hudson has a long history of professional and community involvement. She was appointed in February 1967 to the Anchorage City Council to fill a vacancy, then elected October 1967 to a one-year term and elected again 1968 and 1971 to three-year terms. Hudson also served concurrently on the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Assembly, appointed by her fellow council members to represent the City of Anchorage. A former GAAB Public Works Director Butch West said of Hudson: “Unlike some of the other appointees to the Anchorage Assembly, Wilda always took positions that were in the best interest of all residents in the community, not just those who lived within the city limits.” Alaska political disclosure became law through a ballot initiative in 1974 and the Alaska Public Offices Commission was formed with Hudson serving as the assistant director for the first two years. She was then promoted to the director in 1976. With her vision for parks, libraries, streets, schools and utilities, she worked tirelessly with others to make the Anchorage community a better place in which to live. Mayor George Sullivan selected her as his director of Cultural and Recreation Services overseeing the municipality’s parks, museum, libraries and cemetery where she served from 1977 through 1981. In July 2000 she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Anchorage Assembly with the understanding that she would not run for election.
In 1991 Hudson was honored as a member of the second YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers.
Hudson is one of three people who started the Anchorage Library Foundation, which works to secure private and public support for Anchorage public libraries’ long-term financial needs. She is a member of the Alaska World Affairs Council, and served as its hospitality committee chair for several years. She is a member of Alaska Common Ground, which focuses on respectful discussion of public policy issues. A certified parliamentarian, Hudson has provided parliamentary advice to public, non-profit or private organizations and has conducted classes for local legislative bodies and various boards. Much of this service was done as a volunteer.
The League of Women Voters has received more than a half century of Hudson’s leadership. She has served as treasurer and president of both the Anchorage and Alaska groups numerous times. Through this involvement, she has taken many women under her wing, taught parliamentary procedure and provided advice on how to negotiate municipal, state and political roadblocks. She served as a role model and mentor to many women, both young and old, seeking to be engaged in the civil discourse of Anchorage. She always has been eager to make introductions and pave the way for new generations of women leaders.
Long-time friend and co-volunteer Wilda Marston says of Hudson: “She is a true, blue human being, and she pulls no punches with her opinions. She’s a good friend.”
Hudson served as the campaign treasurer for both of Arliss Sturgulewski’s gubernatorial campaigns in 1986 and 1990. She also served as the Alaska Republican Party’s accountant for a number of years.
Hudson and her former husband, Walt, came to Alaska – both worked for the Corp of Engineers after World War II – and lived in Delta Junction, Juneau, Sitka, Kodiak and, eventually, in 1956 they settled in Anchorage. They owned and operated Rapid Reproduction and Hudson ran the business end of the company. Soon, their only child, Doris, was born. She now has three grandchildren: Matthew, Peter and Amy, all living in California.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/rbvPIgE4EdI
Of Alaska’s Emerald Isle……
Born on Kodiak Island in 1949, Mary Katherine Hughes, knew at an early age, she was to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an Alaskan lawyer. The first born of three girls, her youth was an Alaskan extravaganza. Her family moved to Anchorage, lived on the Park Strip (where they celebrated the Territory’s admission to the Union at the 50-ton Statehood Bonfire) and enjoyed the remoteness of a log cabin built on a five-acre tract by her parents in the early 1950’s. She loved the wilderness and all its bounty. Berry picking with her sisters, helping her father stack cords of chopped wood (to be taken to “town”) and experiencing the idiosyncrasies of assisting her mother bake bread and pies in a Navy ship’s surplused wood stove oven are memories cherished.
Love, faith, knowledge (particularly of the humanities) and music were the cornerstones of her childhood. All three Hughes girls began piano lessons at six years of age. Additionally, they learned to play wind instruments to participate in school bands and orchestras. She also accompanied her sister Patricia (who had a beautiful soprano voice) when she was asked to perform publicly. The Alaska’s Flag Song was most often requested, and The Elks Club was a frequent venue. The family’s civic and social life always included giving…particularly of time and effort.
Ms. Hughes attended public school in Anchorage and was graduated from West Anchorage High School (her late father, John C., a member of the Anchorage School Board, was a stage presenter when she received her diploma). She attended University of Alaska at College, Alaska. She was extremely active on campus and received the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award (honoring the outstanding graduating woman).
Prior to attending Willamette University College of Law in the fall of 1971, Ms. Hughes traveled to Scotland for postgraduate studies in Labor Economics. The experience instilled in her the appreciation for the accessibility of higher education to all in the United States. Her legal education, a precursor to a life as an Alaskan lawyer, truly established her commitment to others through Willamette University’s motto of “Non nobis solum nati sumus — Not unto ourselves alone are we born”.
Anchorage Economic Development Corporation
Board of Directors, 1989-2017
Ex Officio, 1995-2017
Investors Council 2017-present
Vision Anchorage Steering Committee
Alaska Repertory Theatre
Board of Directors, 1986-1988
Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet
Charter Member, 1980-present
Vice President, 1981-1983
Corresponding Secretary, 1984-1985
Covenant House Alaska
Legal Counsel 1988-1994
Providence Alaska Medical Center
Anchorage Advisory Council, 1993-1998
Providence Alaska Foundation
Board of Directors, 1998-2005
Vice Chair, 2000-2002
Alaska Native Medical Center
Native Craft Shop Volunteer 2000-2003
Alaska Humanities Forum
Board of Directors, 2006-2012
Vice Chair, 2006-2008
Leadership Anchorage Mentor 2010-2011
Alaska Community Advisory Council, 2007-present
Alaska Business Hall of Fame Committee
Export Council of Alaska (appointee of the US Secretary of Commerce)
Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE)
Alaska Community Advisory Board, 2010-2015
Success Inside & Out (an inmate program for women to reduce recidivism)
Founding Member of Steering Committee, 2006-2016
Defense Orientation Conference Association
Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Honorary Commander, 2016-present
University of Washington Medicine
Medical Outreach and Advocacy Committee Member 2018-present
The legal profession for Ms. Hughes was energizing, productive and intellectually stimulating. Her practice included a wide variety of commercial transactional and litigation matters. She had strengths in administrative law, public utility law (telecommunications), eminent domain and employment law. After twenty years in private practice, she was appointed Anchorage Municipal Attorney by former Mayor Rick Mystrom. During her years of practice, she strived to assist her profession.
Alaska Bar Association (Member, 1975-present)
Administrative Law Committee
Administrative Law Section
Executive Committee, 1984-1987
Board of Governors, 1981-1984
Alaska Bar Rule 7 Hearing Master for Alaska Bar admission cases 1985 and 2008
Alaska Bar Foundation
Trustee and President, 1984-1998
Trustee, 2001- 2007
The Fellows of The American Bar Foundation, 1990-present
Alaska Code Revision Commission
Anchorage Association of Women Lawyers
Founding Member, 1975-present
Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
District of Alaska Lawyer Representative, 1995-2000
District of Alaska Court Fund Committee, 2001- 2002
International Municipal Lawyers Association
State Chair, 1995-1997
Regional Vice President, 1997-2000
Conference Speaker, 1997, 1999, 2002
Conference Moderator, 1998
Strategic Planning Committee, 1999-2000
Additionally, Ms. Hughes was chosen to join the University of Alaska Foundation’s College of Fellows and its Board. In 2002, former Governor Tony Knowles appointed Ms. Hughes to the first of three terms that she would serve on the University of Alaska Board of Regents.
University of Alaska
Board of Regents, 2002-present
Vice Chair, 2004-2005
University of Alaska Foundation
College of Fellows, 1986-1990
Board of Directors, 1990-present
After years of service on the College of Law Board of Visitors, she was also invited to join the Willamette University Board of Trustees.
Board of Trustees, 1997-present
Vice Chair, College of Law Committee, 2004-2008
Chair, College of Law Committee, 2008-2011
Life Trustee Emeritus, 2015-present
Willamette University College of Law
Board of Visitors, 1978-2001
Her University board service was supplemented by election to the Association of Governing Boards for Universities and Colleges founded in 1921 (she was the first Alaskan to serve on the prestigious governing board).
Association of American Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Board of Directors, 2013-present
Chair, Resources Committee, 2015-16
Vice Chair, Strategies and Priorities Committee, 2016-2017
Chair, Strategies and Priorities Committee, 2017-present
Director, AGB Search LLC, 2016-present
In 2003, U. S. Senator Lisa Murkowski invited Ms. Hughes to join her re-election campaign as Chief Administrative Officer. She served in that capacity for nine years, culminating in 2012, during which she was Alaska State Co-Chair of the Senator’s historic 2010 write-in campaign. She also served on the Senator’s official staff as Alaska State Director. During the same decade, she hosted a weekly radio show, PROFILE ALASKA on AM 700 KBYR, for seven years.
After years of civic and public service, Ms. Hughes’ life was further enhanced in 2007 when her father created a family foundation, whose mission is investment in 501(c)(3) organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for Alaskans, for which she was selected the chief executive officer. Alaska and Alaskans benefited from her parents’ generosity during their lives and the Foundation extends their charity to endless future generations.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
—-attributed to Sir Winston Churchill
Juris Doctor, Willamette University College of Law, 1974
Member, Moot Court Board
Postgraduate Studies, Labor Economics,
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1971
B.B.A., Management, University of Alaska, 1971
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
RECOGNITION OF CIVIC AND PUBLIC SERVICE
Alaska Bar Association Service and Leadership Recognition 1984
Alaska Repertory Theatre Service and Leadership Recognition 1989
Covenant House Outstanding Commitment to Youth Award 1995
YWCA Woman of Distinction 1997
Alaska Bar Foundation Service and Leadership Recognition 1998
Providence Alaska Medical Center Service and Leadership Award 1998
Anchorage Police Department Recognition for Protecting and Serving the
Anchorage Community 2000
Anchorage Municipal Assembly Recognition for Municipal Attorney Service
University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumni Achievement Award for Professional
Willamette University College of Law Service and Leadership Recognition 2001
Athena Society Member, 2003-present
Providence Alaska Foundation Service and Leadership Award 2005
Willamette University Distinguished Service Award 2011
University of Alaska Board of Regents Resolution of Appreciation 2009, 2016
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/yOlAKCGmjsA
Celia M. Hunter
Achievement In: Conservation; environmental activism
Celia lived an adventuresome, varied and inspiring life. She arrived in Fairbanks, Jan.1, 1947, after spending 27 days ferrying a plane from Seattle. Needing a job,she worked as a flight attendant on the first tourism flights in Alaska. In 1952, she co-founded and ran, with longtime friend, Ginny Wood, and her husband, Morton, one of the first ecotourism lodges in the country, Camp Denali. She helped create the first statewide conservation organization, the Alaska Conservation Society (ACS), in 1960 in a (successful) effort to establish the Arctic National Wildlife Range. She, and others involved in ACS, lead the fight against major proposals like the Rampart Dam and Project Chariot as well as worked on community environmental issues such as preserving open space and developing trail systems in Fairbanks.
On the national stage, she was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior in 1972 to the joint Federal State Land Use Planning Commission. In 1977, she was appointed interim executive director of the Wilderness Society, making her the first woman to head a national environment movement. In 1980 she co-founded the Alaska Conservation Foundation and served on its board for many years. She wrote a weekly opinion column for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner through the years.
Celia, with her friend Ginny, are credited as the creators of the conservation movement in Alaska. She was an outstanding leader who through her high spirits, integrity, knowledge and love of Alaska inspired untold numbers to become environmental activists. Her influence is well summarized in a statement by former President Jimmy Carter: ”Although it would be difficult to name one specific contribution for which Celia will be best remembered, her leadership of Alaska’s environmental movement from infancy to its status today will surely be among her lasting legacies”.
Sierra Club: John Muir Award
Alaska Conservation Foundation: Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded for the first time to Celia and Ginny Wood)
Sherry Simpson, Defenders of the Land, Alaska Magazine, Sept. 2002, ps. 30-33.
Jessica Wiles, Celia M. Hunter Life and Leadership, ACF Intern Project.
Karen Hunt has been a pioneer in the Alaska legal world, in her own career as the first woman from Anchorage appointed to serve as a Superior Court Judge (1984-2000), as an educator and innovator in the practice of the law and as a leader of women in the law and in the community. She has been recognized and honored by the bar, the bench and the community for her leadership and achievements through awards such as: the Alaska Supreme Court Community Service Award (2000); the Alaska Bar Association Public Service Award (1994); Anchorage YWCA Woman of Achievement (1992); Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Society (2007); University Medal, Alaska Pacific University (2009); and, Alaska ACLU Liberty Award (2010).
Hunt received her B.A. from the University of Nebraska, Kearney (1961) and an M.A in English from California State College, Los Angeles (1968). Prior to practicing law, she taught high school English in Nebraska and California. In 1973 Hunt graduated in the top 10 percent of her class at the USC Law School (one of 11 women), served on the law review and was awarded the Order of the Coif. She arrived in Alaska in 1973, with her four stepchildren, to join her husband and was one of the first two women hired by Anchorage’s largest law firm. Missing the collegiality of her female law school classmates, she decided to invite all 25 women attorneys practicing in Anchorage to lunch. Despite concerns that male members of the bench and bar might take affront, this informal group continued to meet for a monthly luncheon. After several years, the group organized as the Anchorage Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL), with Hunt serving as president for two terms. To raise funding for the organization and to promote recognition of the city’s practicing women attorneys, she designed a course for credit at UAA entitled “Women and the Law,” which she and the other women attorneys taught (1978-82). All income was donated to the AAWL.
Recognized as a leader by her peers, Hunt was one of the first two women elected to the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association in 1977. Later, serving as president, she presided over the completion of the effort to revise the Alaska Bar Exam, which became a model bar exam in the country. In later years she was elected president of the Anchorage Bar Association and then of the Alaska Conference of Judges – the only person to have been elected as president of all four professional organizations. She has also served in national legal associations: the first Alaskan to be elected to the Board of Directors, National Association of Women Judges and vice chair of its foundation; American Bar Association Special Committee on Lawyers Liability; and Advisory Council for Masters of Judicial Studies, University of Nevada (Reno).
During her tenure as judge, Hunt initiated various institutional reforms in effect today: revising procedures, forms and administrative structures affecting the practice of both civil and criminal law. As an example, when presiding over a prison reform class action lawsuit, her rulings led to the establishment of a women’s prison in Alaska. Though she had shifted her professional career from high school English teacher to the legal world, she continued to be an educator throughout her years as attorney and judge and continuing into today’s retirement. Her specialty is judicial writing which she has taught to trial, appellate and administrative judges throughout this country and abroad. Over the years, Hunt has taught a variety of continuing-education legal courses. In 1989 she was one of the first few women invited to join the faculty of the National Judicial College, which is the national center for the training of state court judges. Her 1994 presentation on evidence is included in the 10 state continuing legal education “Masters of the Courtroom” videotape. In 2005-06, Hunt trained more than 200 administrative law judges appointed to the federal Medicare appeals agency where her model decision format was adopted as the template for all agency decisions. It has also been recommended for use by all judges of the federal Board of Patents and Interferences and the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Recently, Hunt provided conflict-resolution training to more than 1,700 state employees throughout Alaska. She also assisted in the training of union stewards and supervisors. She has taught contract law to judges in Russia and criminal law and procedure to judges from Bulgaria to Nigeria. Hunt clearly enjoys teaching and credits her success to her ability to help people “to connect the dots.”
Arriving during the years when oil money was first flowing, she found Anchorage to be full of opportunities for residents to engage in civic activities and create needed organizations. In particular, she was impressed by Alaska women’s energy, boldness and independence. Hunt actively participated in efforts to train and organize women, Democrats and Republican alike, to become more visible as a presence in political action and to run for public office. These efforts led to the election of the first women to the Anchorage Assembly, to both houses of the Alaska Legislature and to appointments to high level positions and, eventually, to the founding of the Anchorage Women’s Political Caucus.
As a member of Soroptimist International of Anchorage, she focused efforts on raising scholarship money for both young women and mature women wishing to return to higher education. She led the organization as president in 1979 and received its prized “Women Helping Women” award in 2001. From 2000-03, Hunt helped create the Gold Torch Society at her alma mater, University of Nebraska, Kearney, wherein 20 junior and senior undergraduate women interact with successful professional female alumnae from throughout the country for a weekend retreat. During her years in Anchorage, Hunt has served as a member of the board of directors and/or officer of a number of very diverse community organizations, from Commonwealth North (twice president), APU Board of Trustees, Municipality of Anchorage Arts Council, Anchorage Opera, Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc., KAKM radio and the Anchorage Concert Association. Hunt has also served on the advisory councils for Providence Health Care System, Cyrano’s Theatre and currently co-chairs the Anchorage Senior Activities Center Advisory Council. Additionally, starting in 1986 she has provided training throughout the state on individual board member’s rights and responsibilities. She has trained a large variety of non-profit boards such as hospitals, real estate groups, environmental groups, Native corporations and art organizations.
Looking over her varied career, a common thread appears to underlie Hunt’s career as teacher, lawyer, judge and community leader: a concern with equity in our society. For example, as a young high school English teacher in California, she requested a transfer after the 1965 riots in Watts to an African-American high school in Watts to work as a teacher and counselor. Taken under the wing of a group of veteran teachers, she was tutored on black teen culture so that she could relate to the students and their parents and be able to create innovative counseling and enhancement programs of value to them. This same concern pervades her community interests from her involvement in women’s issues and political power to serving on a committee of the First Alaskan’s Institute seeking to foster community dialogues on issues of racial equity in Alaska.
Hunt was raised by a strong mother who allowed her children to explore the world on their own, to be responsible for fixing any problems they created and always to be mindful of the effect of their actions on others. Her mother frequently admonished her children: “Well, you just don’t treat people that way.” Clearly, this guidance has informed and guided Hunt’s life, career and community involvement.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/wMWvofsi5A4
Born in Juneau, Katie Hurley has devoted her life to public service in Alaska. She started her career as the assistant to Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening for 12 years, and then served as the Chief Clerk to the Constitutional Convention, and then as the secretary of the Territorial Senate and the State Senate after statehood. Later she was elected to the State House of Representatives from Wasilla, where she has resided since 1960.
Hurley was the first woman to win a statewide partisan election when she was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1978. She has also served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women, the Chair of the Alaska Commission on Human Rights, President of the State Board of Education for seven years, a member of the Alaska Judicial Council, and on the Matanuska Telephone Board for nine years. She shares her time and encyclopedic knowledge of public affairs in Alaska with students across the state.
When she was a teenager Joan Hurst loved to go to summer camp, so when she was offered the opportunity to plan a camp in California in 1957 for Camp Fire, she jumped at it. In 1963 she accepted a job as the first executive director for Camp Fire in Alaska. She had only been in Anchorage a year when the office burned down, followed two months later by the 1964 earthquake. After such physical devastation, parents were mostly devoted to restoring their houses and communities, so Hurst initiated the “Gypsy Camper,” a mobile carnival of arts and crafts and summer fun for girls from Homer to Palmer.
In Seward, Hurst and some volunteers established a day camp that provided activities for any girl who wished to come. Ninety-five girls attended, in a week of pouring rain, to engage in Camp Fire’s programs of cooking, hiking, creative arts and an overnight camping trip. The children’s parents, relieved of the responsibilities of child care, were able to devote their full energy to cleanup and reconstruction.
For Hurst, this experience was the beginning of the Council’s Rural Alaska Program. Profoundly saddened and alarmed by the number of children who were drowning in Alaska, particularly in the rural areas, she led Camp Fire to establish a water-safety program in villages. The program promoted healthy life skills and choices such as boating-safety instruction, arts and crafts, cooperative games, hikes, camp-outs, teen activities, service projects and community events. Thousands of kids have learned how to swim and countless lives have been saved because of this program. The program continues today serving more than 1,000 youth in 26 villages across Alaska in 2012.
As society’s values changed, Hurst realized there were many benefits to making the organization even more inclusive. The organization became officially coeducational in 1975 and was renamed Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
As Alaska entered the 1970s and ’80s, and more parents began working full-time outside the home, the problem of unsupervised children in our communities became a critical issue. Along with the population boom created by pipeline construction, there was a rapid growth in the numbers of “latchkey” children. Children were often left unsupervised after school hours with their house keys were hanging around their necks on strings. Hurst and others had a critical role in making the case to the Alaska State Legislature advocating for the state to assist with providing quality child care in Alaska. In 1974 they adopted the Child Care Assistance Program to assist working families with childcare expenses. Today Camp Fire operates 28 municipally licensed before- and after-school programs in Anchorage elementary schools. There are also four community center-based programs in economically challenged neighborhoods. Combined, these programs currently provide 1,400 youth with a safe place to be before and after school each day for working families.
In the early 1960s, under Hurst’s leadership, Camp Fire acquired a land-use agreement from the Department of Natural Resources for the rights to use their property along Kenai Lake to deliver a residential camp experience. She brought together a passionate group of volunteers to build the camp. Hurst designed the cabins so the windows would face the lake so it would be the first thing campers saw when they woke. Hurst loved camp and personally taught canoeing and other water skills to campers. The camp was given the name Camp Kushtaka (now Camp K), and it quickly became that special place young girls wanted to attend each and every summer. It became co-ed in 1975 and is Alaska’s longest-running, co-ed residential camp accredited by the American Camp Association. Today, more than 800 campers have opportunities each summer to explore the natural world around them while gaining self-confidence and learning new skills.
Hurst was also an advocate for women. She strongly believed that women needed opportunities to be empowered to advance in society and she actively provided professional development opportunities for young women. A Camp Fire staff member, Joanne Phillips, spent countless hours working alongside Hurst, and shares this: “Joan took her role as a leader in the community very seriously. Whether you were six or 60, she graciously pushed you to put your very best foot forward; to try new things, constantly reminding you that it was important to finish what you started; to get involved with your community; and she talked endlessly about the importance of educating yourself about all things, big and small.”
Hurst was involved in a variety of community organizations, including the League of Women Voters (who were early advocates for public funding of child care), the Alaska Women’s Political Caucus, the Human Services Coalition and the Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club.
Hurst was recognized as a 1990 YWCA Woman of Achievement – honored for her vision and passion for youth development and supporting working families by providing before- and after-school care for elementary school-age children. She also received the Luther Gulick Award from the National Camp Fire organization and board of trustees recognizing her outstanding leadership in the youth development field – this award is the most prestigious award within the national Camp Fire organization.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/YllG4AAQF8M
Achievement In: Environmental Activism
Sarah James, as board chair and a spokesperson for the Gwich’in Steering Committee, has educated Alaskans, other Americans, Congress and peoples from around the world about the Gwich’in Nation, the Porcupine Caribou Herd and the importance of protecting “the Sacred Place where Life Begins” from oil exploration and drilling. The goal of the Gwich’in is to permanently protect the coastal plain calving and nursing grounds of the caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. Raised in Alaska’s far north in a traditional lifestyle, she did not begin speaking English until she was 13 years old. Living in the small community of Arctic Village, she has traveled widely, from Washington, D.C. to foreign countries, speaking out for the rights of indigenous peoples through grassroots activism.
In recognition of her leadership, she has received many awards. In 1993 Sarah received the Alston Bannerman Fellowship award. In 2001, she received a Ford Foundation “Leadership for a Changing World” grant given to “outstanding but little known leaders”. She, along with the late Jonathon Solomon Sr. and Norma Kassi, received the Goldman Environmental Prize for “grassroots environmentalists” in 2002. Sarah also received the 2002 National Conservation Land Trust award. In 2004, she was the recipient of the “Ecotrust Award for Indigenous Leadership” and she received the 2006 Alaska Conservation Foundation “Celia Hunter Award”. Sarah is very thankful for the support of the Gwich’in Nation, her community, her son and her family. She credits the the hard work of the Gwich’in and other people throughout the United States and the world as having greatly contributed to her successful efforts.
She was taught by her mother that there has to be a mutual respect between men and women for a healthy life. The impetus for her activism and the strength of her convictions may be best summarized in her own words, spoken in 2006: “This is my way of life. We are born with this way of life and we will die with it. It never occurred to me that something had to wake me up to do this. Nothing magic happened to me. Our life depends on it. It’s about survival; it’s something that we have to protect in order to survive. It’s our responsibility. It’s the environment we live in. We believe everything is related”.
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