Click on the Alumnae’s name for a further details.


Wilda G. (Burch) Hudson

Photo of Wilda G. (Burch) Hudson
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Service, Public Service


As a very active and public member of the League of Women Voters, then serving as its Anchorage president, Wilda Hudson was appointed in 1967 to the Anchorage City Council. She was the third woman to serve on the Council, and she went on to become the first woman presiding officer of any Anchorage governmental body. With the formation of the Alaska Public Offices Commission in 1974, Hudson became its assistant executive director moving into the director position in 1976 and serving there until 1977. In 1975 and working with the League of Women Voters and others, she worked to pass unification of the city and borough to create the Municipality of Anchorage. Between 1977 and 1981, she served as director of cultural and recreation services under Mayor George Sullivan. In 2000 she was selected by the Anchorage Assembly to fill a vacancy on their body and became the sixth woman on that body, the only time in history where women served in the majority.

Hudson has a long history of professional and community involvement. She was appointed in February 1967 to the Anchorage City Council to fill a vacancy, then elected October 1967 to a one-year term and elected again 1968 and 1971 to three-year terms. Hudson also served concurrently on the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Assembly, appointed by her fellow council members to represent the City of Anchorage. A former GAAB Public Works Director Butch West said of Hudson: “Unlike some of the other appointees to the Anchorage Assembly, Wilda always took positions that were in the best interest of all residents in the community, not just those who lived within the city limits.” Alaska political disclosure became law through a ballot initiative in 1974 and the Alaska Public Offices Commission was formed with Hudson serving as the assistant director for the first two years. She was then promoted to the director in 1976. With her vision for parks, libraries, streets, schools and utilities, she worked tirelessly with others to make the Anchorage community a better place in which to live. Mayor George Sullivan selected her as his director of Cultural and Recreation Services overseeing the municipality’s parks, museum, libraries and cemetery where she served from 1977 through 1981. In July 2000 she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Anchorage Assembly with the understanding that she would not run for election.

In 1991 Hudson was honored as a member of the second YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers.

Hudson is one of three people who started the Anchorage Library Foundation, which works to secure private and public support for Anchorage public libraries’ long-term financial needs. She is a member of the Alaska World Affairs Council, and served as its hospitality committee chair for several years. She is a member of Alaska Common Ground, which focuses on respectful discussion of public policy issues. A certified parliamentarian, Hudson has provided parliamentary advice to public, non-profit or private organizations and has conducted classes for local legislative bodies and various boards. Much of this service was done as a volunteer.
The League of Women Voters has received more than a half century of Hudson’s leadership. She has served as treasurer and president of both the Anchorage and Alaska groups numerous times. Through this involvement, she has taken many women under her wing, taught parliamentary procedure and provided advice on how to negotiate municipal, state and political roadblocks. She served as a role model and mentor to many women, both young and old, seeking to be engaged in the civil discourse of Anchorage. She always has been eager to make introductions and pave the way for new generations of women leaders.

Long-time friend and co-volunteer Wilda Marston says of Hudson: “She is a true, blue human being, and she pulls no punches with her opinions. She’s a good friend.”

Hudson served as the campaign treasurer for both of Arliss Sturgulewski’s gubernatorial campaigns in 1986 and 1990. She also served as the Alaska Republican Party’s accountant for a number of years.

Hudson and her former husband, Walt, came to Alaska – both worked for the Corp of Engineers after World War II – and lived in Delta Junction, Juneau, Sitka, Kodiak and, eventually, in 1956 they settled in Anchorage. They owned and operated Rapid Reproduction and Hudson ran the business end of the company. Soon, their only child, Doris, was born. She now has three grandchildren: Matthew, Peter and Amy, all living in California.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Mary K. Hughes

Photo of Mary K. Hughes
Categories: 2019 Alumnae, Community Service, Education, Law, Philanthropy, Public Service


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

Chair, 1994 

Ex Officio, 1995-2017

Investors Council 2017-present

Vision Anchorage Steering Committee

Member, 2001-2003

Alaska Repertory Theatre

Board of Directors, 1986-1988

Secretary, 1986-1987

President, 1987-1988

Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet

Charter Member, 1980-present

Vice President, 1981-1983

Corresponding Secretary, 1984-1985

President-elect, 1985-1986

President, 1986-1987

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

Chair, 2002-2004

Alaska Native Medical Center

Native Craft Shop Volunteer 2000-2003

Alaska Humanities Forum

Board of Directors, 2006-2012

Vice Chair, 2006-2008

Chair, 2008-2010

Leadership Anchorage Mentor 2010-2011

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Community Advisory Council, 2007-present

Alaska Business Hall of Fame Committee

                   Member 2009-present 

Export Council of Alaska (appointee of the US Secretary of Commerce)

Member 2008-2018

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

Member, 2016-present

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

Chair, 1979-1981

Administrative Law Section

Executive Committee, 1984-1987   

Board of Governors, 1981-1984

Treasurer, 1981-1982

President-elect, 1982-1983

President, 1983-1984

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

Commissioner, 1987-1994

Anchorage Association of Women Lawyers

Founding Member, 1975-present

President, 1976-1977

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

Chair, 2005-2008    

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.

Willamette University

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

Member, 2002-present

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

Dean’s List

Postgraduate Studies, Labor Economics,

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1971

B.B.A., Management, University of Alaska, 1971

Cum laude

Harvard Kennedy School of Government

 Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict and Courage”, 2007


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 

Excellence 2001

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

Celia Hunter

Photo of Celia Hunter
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Conservation, Environmental Activism


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 L. (Lueck) Hunt 

Photo of Karen L. (Lueck) Hunt 
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Education, Law


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

Katie Hurley

Photo of Katie Hurley
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Public Service


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.

Joan Hurst

Photo of Joan Hurst
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Advocacy for Childern, Youth Development


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

Sarah Agnes James

Photo of Sarah Agnes James
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Environmental Activism



Sarah James


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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Ruth Jefford

Photo of Ruth Jefford
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Aviation, Music


Ruth Jefford was the first woman commercial air taxi pilot in Alaska, flying planes in the state for 60 years. Jefford became the first woman licensed to instruct students at Merrill Field. A noted violinist, she was a founding member of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra as well as concertmaster for almost 30 years. A friend noted that the violin was sort of on an equal basis with the airplane. She loved to play and she loved to fly. Jefford was well known as a mentor to young women in aviation and music.

Crystal Brilliant (Snow) Jenne

Photo of Crystal Brilliant (Snow) Jenne
Categories: 2016 Alumnae, Art, Business, Community Activism, Poetry, Political Activism


A persistent pioneer, Crystal Brilliant Snow Jenne was an extraordinary Alaskan. Her name helps to tell her story.
Crystal Snow Jenne was born on May 30, 1884, in Sonora, California. In 1887, when only three years old, she emigrated to the Alaska Territory with her parents, who worked as a troupe of actors entertaining Alaska’s gold miners. When her father joined the Klondike Gold Rush, the family moved to Circle City, where her father built an opera house. At one point, Jenne’s father discovered gold, so the family moved to Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately, her father lost his investments, and so the Snows returned to the Alaska Territory.
For a number of years, Jenne’s mother tutored her, but the child was ten years old before she was enrolled in school for the first time. She attended an Alaskan mission school, where she learned “singing, praying, and knitting.” When the family moved to Juneau, Jenne was sixteen. Despite her age, she was placed in a fifth grade class. Being behind in formal education did not stop Jenne from achieving. She graduated from Juneau High School in 1905 at the age of twenty-one, the only member of her class.
Following her high school graduation, Jenne enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in music. She also earned a teaching certificate. After her college graduation, Jenne taught in Paso Robles, California. Alaska’s history abounds in stories about lionhearted pioneers who were also chalkboard champions. From 1907 to 1908, Jenne taught school in Douglas, Alaska. A talented musician, Jenne performed concerts for gold miners in the Alaska and Yukon Territories when she was not in the classroom.
Always thirsty for knowledge, the venturesome teacher attended the Spencerian Commercial School in Cleveland, Ohio, where she studied business and shorthand. Following her graduation from business school, Jenne returned to Alaska, where she continued her career in education, teaching in Skagway, Sitka, and the Mendenhall Valley, and also at her alma mater, Juneau High School.
In 1916, she married Dr. Charles Percival Jenne, a Juneau dentist, and the couple had three children.  Even after she started her family, Crystal continued to teach and give concerts. In 1923, she performed her mother’s composition, Alaska and the U.S.A., for President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence Harding, during their visit to Juneau.
Charles Jenne passed away in 1938.
From 1938 to 1944 Jenne owned and operated the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop. She was a talented creative writer who penned poetry (publishing a volume of historical poetry) and music and kept journals. Meanwhile, she pursued community activities, participating in church choirs, and continuing with her teaching career.
Her ease with the public and her polished stage presence were valuable assets as she became prominent in Juneau history. In 1934 Crystal Brilliant Snow Jenne was the first woman to run for the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives in the Alaska Territory. Her campaign was unsuccessful; but in 1940 Jenne ran for the house again, and became the second woman elected to the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives.  Jenne was a Democrat, and served in the first Division of House of Representatives, which included Juneau (16 members). She served with such political contemporaries as Territorial Senators Anthony Diamond, and E.L. Bob Bartlett, and a young representative from Valdez named William Egan.  She was chairman of the Engrossment and Enrollment Committee,  and served on several other committees (Banking and Corporations; Education, Public Health, Quarantine and Morals; Printing and Purchasing; and Territorial Institutions Committees).   Jenne sponsored or cosponsored a number of bills during her first term. Sample Legislation Sponsored:   HB 39 – creating a home for destitute women – passed without the Governor’s signature; HB 78 – requiring registration of nurses in the territory, and creating a nurses examination board – passed;  HB 85 – (cosponsored) provision to build a territorial building – did not pass; HB 11O – appropriating $6,000 for an addition to the Skagway school building (where she once taught) – did not pass.
In 1942, she was the first woman re-elected to the Territorial Legislature. She was chairman of the Labor, Capital and Immigration Committee, and served several other committees ( Election Laws and Mileage, Rules Committees, and Committee on Committees).  Jenne sponsored or cosponsored a number of bills during her  second term. Sample Legislation Sponsored:  HB 22 – requiring a doctor’s certificate declaring freedom from infectious and venereal diseases, epilepsy, insanity and drug or alcohol addiction before a marriage license can be issued-passed the House, died in the Senate; HB 42 – requiring employers to provide short term disability compensation and medical assistance to injured workers (an early form of Workers Compensation) – did not pass; HB 62 – (Sponsored by request)  a bill that forbid the consumption of hard liquor on the premises where it was sold (bars) – did not pass.
In 1944 she became the first woman ever nominated for a seat in the Alaska Territorial Senate; withdrawing to become the Juneau Postmistress. She was appointed to the postmaster position by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jenne advanced public knowledge about postal service in the Juneau area during her tenure as Postmaster by participating in local radio programs which alerted Juneau residents to Post Office special mailing policies and procedures. House-to-house city delivery was initiated during her tenure.
In 1956, she resigned as Postmistress and ran for the Senate again, but was defeated.
In civic affairs, she was a member of the National Professional & Business Women’s Club, the Juneau Woman’s Club, the Alaska Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Democratic Women’s Club and various other committees and organizations.
Throughout her life, Jenne was interested in serving her community and promoting women as instruments of change. She spoke often to local and national clubs on the role of women in the political arena.  A quote contributed to Crystal:  “When you cease to grow you become like a potato…I will never be a potato.” And she certainly was not. Her active life spanned the ages of 3 to 72 years of age.  She was and continues to be an inspiration to women.

Crystal passed away at the Sitka Pioneer home in 1968 at the age 84.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Katie John

Photo of Katie John
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.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech


Alaska Subsistence: a NPS Management History (Chapt. 9),

Katie John- Her Life and Legacy, Native American Rights Fund, Current Cases & Projects, Katie John v. Norton,

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, 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

Margy K. Johnson

Photo of Margy K. Johnson
Categories: 2016 Alumnae, Community Service, Politics


As a young person growing up in St. Mary, Montana, Margy Johnson’s hometown was located on the western border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. She grew up with hard-working parents in a loving family that operated Johnson of St. Mary, a restaurant owned by her family for many years and operated today by her sister, Kristin.

During her childhood, Johnson loved listening to her Dad’s stories of Alaska and hearing her mother read his letters from Shemya, where he had been stationed during World War II. “Mother kept all the letters from Dad in a little bundle carefully wrapped with a satin ribbon. The letters carried a sense of mystery and they had little parts cut out by military censors. Listening to them, I knew I would someday go to Alaska.”

Johnson graduated from high school in 1966, got married and at age eighteen and took a different route than her father in coming to Alaska. Along with her Air Force husband, she headed up the Alaska Highway. However, unlike her father, she never left. Her contribution to Alaska can be summed up in this manner: she is a driving force in Alaska’s growth and economic progress and her public service and community involvement have enriched the lives of many Alaskans.

Coming to Alaska was like coming home and the State gave her opportunities she wouldn’t have had anywhere else, Johnson says. “It is a great big, grand, beautiful place, Alaska, and I love being a part of it. People either live where they are born, or choose where to live, but in my case, Alaska chose me. It embraced me when I came here as a young woman and it still embraces me. I came here right after Statehood and was able to watch history being written right before my eyes!”

Arriving in Anchorage, Johnson worked an office job at an engineering firm. In 1972, her son, Wade Pitts, was born and she divorced her husband. “As a single mom, I did whatever was necessary to pay the rent and feed my son. I worked at a dress shop downtown and sold ivory trinkets on Fourth Avenue.”

When construction started on the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline in 1974, Johnson got a job at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) to monitor union recruitment and dispatching of Alaska natives to construction jobs on the Pipeline. While at AFN, she established close relationships with native elders and leaders and during her employment there, Johnson began a life-time interest in collecting Alaskan artifacts and art work. Today, she has a remarkable collection of unique Alaskana.

Gail Schubert, president and CEO, Bering Straits Native Corporation, remembers that Johnson got to know Alaska’s native people and their strengths and concerns at a critical juncture – right after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed in 1971. “Margy also developed a true respect and appreciation of our cultures. She has been a strong supporter of Alaska native artists and her collection of art is a testament to that,” Schubert says.

Today, Johnson has a remarkable collection of unique Alaskana. In fact, her knowledge and fondness for Alaska native arts and crafts led to a contract with the Smithsonian Institution to accompany a group of Alaska native artists and dancers to the 1976 Festival of American Folklife in Washington, DC.

One of her jobs at that time was buying fish eggs on the Yukon for. She needed a letter of credit from an American Bank so she went to National Bank of Alaska. She didn’t get the letter of credit, but there she met Dick Borer and in 1978 they were married and decided to move to Cordova.

They purchased and managed the Reluctant Fisherman Inn, a local gathering place for residents and visitors alike. She said “after all those years of growing up in one, there I was in Cordova, running another restaurant.” Anyone fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to stay at the Reluctant or spend time with Margy while there, soon understood her deep commitment to the people of Prince William Sound and to Alaska.

It was during her years in Cordova that Johnson began her life and career of many “firsts”: she was the first woman mayor of Cordova, elected to three terms; the first woman president of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce and the first woman president of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.

Life in Cordova revolved around salmon fishing and Johnson soon fell in love with the fresh Copper River salmon and noted that the fish did not get the attention they deserved. “For so many years we had stuck that magnificent fish into a can or shipped it frozen to Japan. Once we got it out of the can, we realized how good it was.”

While serving as president of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, Johnson began working with Alaska Airlines, various fishing groups and Trident Seafoods of Seattle to promote the region’s fresh salmon. “Margy would place a box of fish under her arm and go up and down the West Coast, trying to convince high-end restaurants and retailers of the fine taste of fresh salmon,” said John Garner, a vice president at Trident Seafoods.

Two companies were crucial for these promotions. “Trident provided fresh fish and Alaska Airlines flew me to any place I wanted to go,” Johnson said. “We held many salmon and wine parings in Lower 48 restaurants. Sometimes it was just me and a fish, and I often slept at airports.”

The hard work paid off. It increased the cachet and allure of Copper River sockeye salmon, elevating it to elite status in restaurants across the nation. “Not only did Johnson promote the fish, she also helped arrange the logistics of moving the fish from the off-road remote community of Cordova by seeking help from Alaska Airlines as well as Lynden Transport and Alaska Marine Lines,” Garner says.

Garner credits Johnson for transforming the market for Copper River fish by helping create domestic demand. “Before Margy came along, we froze our Copper River salmon for export to Japan. Today, 100 percent of our king salmon and 90 percent of the sockeye are sold fresh in the domestic market.”

The promotions of Copper River fish, such as the Copper River Nouveau which Johnson helped to establish, also helped increase domestic sales of other Alaska salmon, Garner says. Later, as the Director of the Office International Trade, Johnson travelled to foreign capitals, such as Tokyo and Seoul, working to expand foreign sales of Alaskan salmon.

Alaska Airlines flies a lot of salmon out of the State, including the first catch of Copper River salmon. In 2005, it paid homage to Alaska’s salmon by painting one on one of their 737-400 airplanes and named it “Salmon-30-Salmon”. “That great fish on the plane was just a dream in my heart. I presented the idea to John Kelly, who was the Alaska Airlines chairman at the time,” Johnson says.

In addition to her love of fish and the fishing industry, Johnson is also realistic about the need for developing and managing all of Alaska’s natural resources and is well aware that the oil industry is vital to the State. “We are essentially a resource state. But I like reasonably-paced development. Government should be the gentle breeze on the back of business and not a stiff wind of opposition. The State and our industries – oil, timber, mining and fish – all need to be partners.”

As a member of the newly organized Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council which was formed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Johnson was instrumental in trying to find the truth after the destruction in the Sound caused by the oil spill in 1989. Through the work with the PWSAC, she met a Valdez neighbor, Bill Walker, and they became life-long friends. Because of the differing opinions about the damage caused by the spill, and the lack of concrete information in Alaska, Johnson was part of a group that traveled to Sullom Voe in the Shetland Islands to look at the North Sea oil facilities and how they handled their industry. “They had oil production there but also a safe environment for many years and we wanted to see what safeguards they had that we lacked” she said.

Governor Bill Walker, former mayor of Valdez, was also on the trip to the Shetland. “During our discussions, Margy made sure the discussion stayed focused and everyone had a chance to voice their opinion,” he recalls.

Information gathered from the Shetlands and other places helped bring many changes to the oil industry’s operations in Prince William Sound. “Today we have escort vessels, double-hulled tankers and depots of equipment around the Sound to dispatch if it occurs again. You simply cannot beat citizen involvement,” Johnson says. Today, there are regional oil spill response organizations, escort vessels and equipment depots strategically placed around the coastlines of Alaska.

The oil spill changed her town. “Our town expanded to meet the demands of the disaster but it was taking a long time to get back together.” Johnson wanted Cordova to become a community again and get back to mundane things such as concern for streets, water and sewer, and schools – the nuts and bolts of a community. So – she ran for mayor in 1990 and helped pull the town together again.

“It was a hard-won contest and I won by one vote. When my opponent demanded a recount, I picked up another vote. So I won by two votes.” Johnson went on to win the next election and another after a three-year hiatus. “Cordova was a perfect place to raise Wade. We had fishing, skiing, school sports, the swim team and the encompassing sense of belonging to life in a small town,” said Margy.

When Frank Murkowski was elected Governor of Alaska, Johnson moved to Anchorage to work in his administration as Director of International Trade. In this position, she continued her quest of selling Alaska salmon all over the world. She was the perfect “pitch man” for Alaska in this position!

No story about Johnson is complete without mentioning her famous hats. The hats into being a few years ago when she had cancer. She buys hats in vintage shops and friends bring them back to her from their travels. Her hats number “around one hundred”. And – these hats all serve a purpose.

After losing a brother and sister to cancer, Johnson was not surprised to be diagnosed with breast cancer herself. Her cancer was caught early, and thanks to the support she received from friends and family, she soon put cancer in her rear view mirror. Cancer changed her though and she wanted to give others the same understanding and compassion that her friends had given her.

After her cancer was cured, Johnson began working with cancer patients at the Providence Cancer Center in Anchorage. Another of Johnson’s passions is mermaids and her home in Anchorage is named “The Enchanted Mermaid”. Johnson often invites cancer patients to her home and gives them a choice of hats to wear and provides them with a lovely high tea. Somehow, sharing tea, attired in a grand hat, puts a smile on the face and Johnson is able to explain various cancer treatments and provide friendship. She says that “cancer is a club you never want to get an invitation to join, but once you are in, it is good to have friends”.

These high teas have become a coveted invitation and many friends and acquaintances have been blessed to spend special time with Johnson at “The Enchanted Mermaid” where lively discussions revolve around such topics as local and state politics, best places to pick berries, direction for Alaska’s fiscal future and other pertinent topics of the da

Over the years, Johnson has been involved with many organizations and in activities throughout the State. She is a life-time member of the Pioneers of Alaska; has served on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Alaska for over fifteen years; serves on both the BP Alaska Citizen’s Advisory Board and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company Advisory Board; serves on the Board of the Ted Steven’s Foundation; is on the Advisory Board for Breast Cancer Focus Alaska; serves as a mentor for Leadership Anchorage and is the Honorary Chair of the Jewish Cultural Gala Committee.

Johnson is the 2013 recipient of the William A. Egan “Outstanding Alaskan of the Year” Award, by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce “Athena” Award in 2010 and the YWCA “Woman of Achievement” Award in 2002.

Johnson was recognized by His Holiness John Paul, for helping people suffering from alcoholism. She was also honored by her work in reaching out to those with breast cancer and always being there from Breast Cancer Focus.

Johnson is the Executive Vice President of the Alaska Dispatch News (a position she describes as “Chief of Stuff”) and continues to help move our State onward and upward. As Norman Vaughn used to say – “It is a marvelous adventure.”

In spite of all accolades, tributes and recognition, Johnson says her favorite title in life is that of “Mon and Grandmother”. She says she raised a truly remarkable son, who is now married to Nicole, a woman filled with kindness, and they have graced her with a perfect grandson by the name of Tristan.

Margy Johnson is a unique Alaskan. We pride ourselves on having a country full of characters and Johnson certainly fits this respected description! Her public service and community involvement have enriched the lives of many Alaskans.
Biographical information written and compiled by Gail Phillips, January 2016

Induction ceremony acceptance speech


1. Margy Johnson’s personal business resumes
2. Alaska Business Monthly – “Margy Johnson – A Driving Force in Alaska’s growth and success” by
Shehla Anjum, published November 7, 2013
3. Anchorage Chamber of Commerce – “William A. Egan Outstanding Alaskan of the Year” award
Information, 2010
4. Nomination form submitted by Gail Phillips, 2016 nominee
5. Personal interviews with Gail Phillips, December 2015
6. Personal emails with Gail Phillips, December 2015 and January 2015
7. Alaska Dispatch News – February 15, 2015
8. Alaska Dispatch News – “The 49th Estate: Land of Enchanted Mermaids” by Bryan Dunagan,
November 01, 2010
2394 words

Marlene Slath Jaa Klaa Lákooti Johnson

Photo of Marlene Slath Jaa Klaa Lákooti Johnson
Slath Jaa Klaa Lákooti (Tlingit name) 1935
Categories: 2010 Alumnae, Public Service


Marlene Johnson has worked at the community, regional, state and federal levels to advance Alaska Native social and economic progress and has provided public service to promote quality education and access to health and legal services across Alaska. She participated in the fight for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and was one of 5 original incorporators of Sealaska . She led that corporation as the Chairman of the Board for its first decade. Marlene also served on the Hoonah School Board for 25 years and on the Board of Trustees of Huna Heritage Foundation and the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

On a statewide basis, Marlene led the fight against rural poverty through her service on the RuralCAP Board of Directors – including 10 years as the president. She has also served on the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, the Board of Alaska Legal Services and numerous state boards and commissions. Nationally, Marlene has served as an Advisory Committee member to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and also participated in numerous pieces of federal legislation such as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Marlene has received the Alaska Democratic Party’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Alaska Federation of Natives Citizen of the Year Award and Outstanding Women of America Award. She and her husband, Clifford, have five children and thirteen grandchildren.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Alice Johnstone

Photo of Alice Johnstone
Categories: 2015 Alumnae, Conservation


Alice Johnstone’s many accplishments would best be characterized as enlightened activism: environmental, political, and societal. The list of accomplishments is long and involves activities ranging from co-founding the Sitka Conservation Society; to successfully working to pass federal legislation to create The West Chichagof/Yakobi Island Wilderness; to being the second woman to serve on the Sitka Assembly, serving for seven years and helping establish and then serving on the Sitka Women’s Commission.

In 1958 Johnstone started work at the local Sears Roebuck Catalogue Sales office. She rapidly rose from freight clerk to credit manager to store manager, a position she held for 20 years. She, her husband, and two other couples co-founded the Old Harbor Book Store, opened in 1975, that still continues to serve as a gathering place for community conversations and for advocacy for literacy.

In 1967 her love for the outdoors and her dedication to conservation motivated Alice and her husband to co-found the Sitka Conservation Society with other community members. Their dedication has led to numerous successes over their 40-year plus history. The history is described on their website:

The Sitka Conservation Society was born in 1967, when several Sitkans recognized the need to protect the natural environment of Southeast Alaska for the well-being of current and future generations. Specifically, Sitkans were concerned about the extensive clear cutting proposed on nearby Chichagof and Yakobi Islands. The Society’s founders rallied around the goal of designating West Chichagof and Yakobi Islands, an area of 380,000 acres, as Alaska’s first wilderness area under the recently passed Wilderness Act.

That willingness to fight all the way to Congress has stayed with the SCS through the intervening decades, and paid off in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the formal creation of the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness.

While pursuing the creation of formal wilderness in the Tongass and although the prevailing attitude in the 1960s and 1970s was fiercely pro-industry, SCS expanded to work on protecting treasured spots from timber sales. In 1976, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Coalition (SEACC), a coalition of local Southeast conservation groups with similar goals and concerns, was formed with SCS as a member organization.

In addition to her environmental activism, she was politically active. She was the second woman to be elected to the Sitka Assembly in spite of being a known conservationist in a pulp mill town. She was elected three times and served a total of seven years between 1987-1992 and 1987-1989. She had to work hard to win that first time and she won her first election by only one vote. While on the Assembly she also helped establish the Sitka Women’s Commission and went on to serve on the commission.

She spent years working to prevent substance abuse in our communities and to educate policy makers about the issue. As a board member of the Sitka Alcohol and Drug Program (17 years) and also the Alaska Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (8 years), she recognized the heavy toll the use of drugs, especially alcohol, was taking on the citizens of Alaska. She worked to promote the treatment and prevention of the disease of addiction by participating in programs to educate the public and members of the legislature in the true nature of the disease.

Johnstone has served on numerous boards, including the Kettleson Memorial Library Commission, the Salvation Army, the University of Alaska/Community College Advisory Board, KCAW, the local public radio station, the local credit union and has served on the Vestry of St. Peters Episcopal Church. She also volunteers at the White Elephant Thrift Shop, (a non-profit which has donated over $1 million dollars to Sitka non-profit organizations), and she volunteered as instructor of AARP Senior Driving Program for many years.

After taking one night course at a time while raising four children, working and achieving her many other accomplishments she earned her AA degree at the age of 67.

In 2010 when the Sitka Conservation Society received the Bob Marshall Champions of Wilderness Award from the U.S. Forest Service, she and her husband were honored to be chosen to go to Washington D. C. to receive the award from Tom Tidwell, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Communities come alive and thrive because of people such as Johnstone, who, over the course of several decades, made her mark in many different ways. Johnstone is a woman to admire and she has given her time and talent to support the causes she cares about passionately: women’s empowerment, supporting reproductive choice for women, prevention of and recovery from substance abuse, literacy for all Alaskans, and protection of our environment.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Carolyn E. Jones

Photo of Carolyn E. Jones
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Human Rights, Humanitarian, Rotary Leadership


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Dorothy M. (Knee) Jones DSW

Photo of Dorothy M. (Knee) Jones DSW
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Aleut Communities, Anthropology, Women's Therapy


Dorothy Jones grew up in Chicago during the Great Depression and dreamed of being a writer. With little encouragement from family or teachers, she abandoned writing and turned her attention to the social sciences, earning a B.A. degree in psychology and a master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

After World War II, she married her sweetheart and, on his return from overseas service, they moved to Los Angeles. They had three children but a deteriorating marriage – and after 13 years, she divorced. Jones then returned to school for a second master’s degree, this one in Social Work.

Seven years later in 1963, when two of her children were nearly grown, Jones married Bob Jones. With her youngest child, they moved to Cold Bay, Alaska, a village of 150, on the western edge of the Alaska Peninsula, where her husband managed the Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Jones’ first visit to a nearby Aleut village excited her interest and she was determined to understand and write about the Aleut way of life. To equip herself for this task, she returned to the University of California, Berkeley, for a doctor’s degree in Social Work and was then hired by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska as a professor in 1968. For the better part of the next 11 years, Jones visited many Aleut villages. During this time, she published four books and 10 papers and articles on various aspects of Aleut life, including history, demography, economy, material culture, family relations, race relations within the villages and between the villagers and outside welfare agencies.

Much of her work and writings focused on the lives of Alaska Natives and their communities. She wrote articles on sociology, anthropology, and clinical social work which were published in Anthropologica,Social Service Review, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, and Clinical Social Work Journal. Several of her papers were also published by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska. Jones’ books include: Aleuts in Transition: A Comparison of Two Villages(1976), and A Century of Servitude: Pribilof Aleuts Under U.S. Rule (1980).

The second book portrays the U.S. government’s virtual enslavement of a group of Native Americans in the operation of a for-profit business on the remote Pribilof Islands. The government, as owners and managers of the Pribilof seal industry, paid their Aleut sealers in kind until 1962, required the Aleuts to obtain permission to leave the islands or have relatives from other villages visit, and dictated daily cultural routines such as bedtimes. This book contributed to the establishment of the Pribilof Trust to provide restitution to the citizens of the Pribilof Islands by the United State of America. The book is available online at her web site: www. .

When she and her family moved to Anchorage, she expanded her studies and writing to include urban Natives, the status of women in Alaska and women’s psychotherapy.  She left the University research institute in 1981 and turned her attention to women’s therapy. Jones helped organize a women’s therapy collective and, later, a private practice, as well as writing a number of clinical articles.

Jones was an outspoken champion of women’s rights in Alaska, serving as the chief author of a book documenting the leadership of women across the state , entitled: The Status of Women in Alaska, (Alaska State Commission on Human Rights, 1977). She also served on the Alaska Commission of Women, established by the state Legislature in 1978. She was also one of the founders of ALASKA WOMEN SPEAK, a periodical by and about women, and a founder of the counseling program at the Alaska Women’s Resource Center in Anchorage.

Jones also helped start the Feminist Scholarship fund at UAA, which has been named the Dorothy Jones fund, and is designated for scholarships to students who are working for women’s rights.

After the death of her husband, Jones left Alaska and settled in Washington state. There she began engaging in her childhood passion of creative writing. She wrote her first novel, Tatiana, which was inspired by her close relationship with an old Aleut woman known as chief of all the Aleutians. It is a compelling story of the struggles of Tatiana, her family and her village to survive a cultural onslaught. Tatiana is available at local book stores and through the publisher, University of Alaska Press.

Her second novel, When Shadows Fell, was inspired by her earlier experience as a grass-roots communist in Los Angeles. This book brings the reader into intimate contact with the inner life of the Communist Party and with the frightening parallel between the repression of the McCarthy era in the U.S.A. and the intimidation and erosion of civil rights in those troubled times. When Shadows Fell is available at most local bookstores and from the publisher, PublishAmerica, Box 151, Frederick, MD 21701. Currently, Jones is writing a novel set in 13th century England about the lives and relationships of three women – a noblewoman, a serf, and a Jewish money lender.

As an instructor, therapist and author, Jones inspired generations of women to engage in the fields of social work, anthropological research and community activism. She contributed to knowledge and theory about women’s counseling and therapy in Alaska and has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.

Publications by Dorothy M. Jones are listed below and can be found at the University of Alaska Anchorage archives in the UAA Library.

Box 1

Series 1. Published Writings by Dorothy M. Jones; 1964, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1972-1974, 1976, 1977, 1980-1982, 1990, 1991.
1. Dorothy M. Jones, M.S.W. “Binds and Unbinds.” Family Process 3(2): 323-331, September 1964.
2. Robert D. Jones, Jr. and Dorothy M. Jones. “The process of family disintegration in Black Brant.” In Wildflowl Trust 17th Annual Report (pp.75-78); 1966.
3. Dorothy M. Jones. “Child Welfare Problems in an Alaskan Native Village.” Social Services Review 43(3): 297-309, September 1969.
4. Dorothy Jones. “Agency-Community Conflict.” In Science in Alaska 1969, Proceedings, Twentieth Alaska Science Conference, College, Alaska, August 24 to August 27, 1969, edited by Eleanor C. Viereck. Alaska Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science, July 1970 (pp. 145-158).
5. Dorothy C. Jones. Changes in Population Structure In the Aleutian Islands. Fairbanks: Insitute of Social, Economic and Government Research, University of Alaska, December 1970 (ISEGR Research Note, No. A-2, 9 pp.).
6. Dorothy M. Jones. “Adaptation of Whites in an Alaska Native Village.” Anthropologica 14(2): 199-218, 1972.
7. Dorothy M. Jones. “Contemporary Aleut Material Culture.” In Modern Alaskan Material Culture, edited by Wendell Oswalt. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Museum, April 1972 (pp. 7-19).
8. Dorothy M. Jones, with the research assistance of John R. Wood. Patterns of Village Growth and Decline in the Aleutians. Fairbanks: Institute of Social, Economic and Government Research, University of Alaska, October 1973 (ISEGR Occasional Paper, No. 11).
9. Doroth M. Jones. “Race Relations in an Alaska Native Village.” Anthropologica 15(2): 167-190, 1973.
10. Dorothy M. Jones. The Urban Native Encounters the Social Service System. Fairbanks: Institute of Social, Economic and Governmental Research, University of Alaska, 1974 (69 pp., 3 copies).
11. Dorothy Jones and David G. Katzeek. Management & Program Evaluation, Social Services and Employment Assistance Programs, Cook Inlet Native Association, Inc. Juneau: Katzeek & Associates, ca. 1976 (60 pp.).
12. Dorothy M. Jones. Urban Native Men and Women–Differences in Their Work Adaptations. Fairbanks: Institute of Social, Ecomic and Goverment Research, University of Alaska, April 1976 (ISEGR Occasional Paper, No. 12, 45 pp.).
13. Dorothy M. Jones. Aleuts in Transition: A Comparison of Two Villages. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976 (125 pp.).
14. Dorothy M. Jones. “Strategy Straddling: A Community Organization Dilemma in an Alaskan Native Village.” Human Organization 36 (1): 22-33, Spring 1977.
15. Dorothy M. Jones, Marsha Bennett, Mariana W. Foliart, Mary Ann VandeCastle, and Joan M. Katz. The Status of Women in Alaska, 1977. Juneau: Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, Jan. 1977 (156 pp.).
16. Dorothy Knee Jones. A Century of Servitude: Pribilof Aleuts Under U.S. Rule. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1980 (photo illus., 190 pp.).
17. Dorothy M. Jones, Principal Investigator, Anne Shinwin, and Mary Pete. Alcohol as a Community Problem and Response in Alaska: Final Report Summary. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, March 1981 (50 pp.).


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18. Dorothy M. Jones, Principal Investigator, Anne Shinwin, and Mary Pete. Alcohol as a Community Problem and Response in Alaska: Comprehensive Final Report. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, March 1981 (185 pp.).
19. Dorothy M. Jones. “Bulimia: A Food Binger’s Time Bomb.” Alaska Woman, pp. 28 & 30, June 1982.
20. Dorothy M. Jones, D.S.W. “Social Analysis in the Clinical Setting.” Clinical Social Work Journal 18(4): 393-406, Winter 1990.
21. Dorothy M. Jones. “Enmeshment in the American Family.” Affilia 6(2): 28-44, Summer 1991.
22. Dorothy M. Jones, DSW. “Alexithymia: Inner Speech and Linkage Impairment.” Clinical Social Work Journal 19(3): Fall 1991.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Eliza (Peter) Jones

Photo of Eliza (Peter) Jones
Categories: 2016 Alumnae, Advocacy, Preserving the Koyukon Athabascan Language


Eliza Jones, born either at Toyenaalyeez Denh (Cut-Off) or at a nearby camp, and raised in Huslia, Alaska, devotes her life to teaching Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) language and writing about its culture and traditions. Eliza taught for many years at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a Koyukon Athabascan linguist. Upon her retirement in 1990, she was bestowed with an honorary doctorate of letters.

Eliza’s parents were Josie and Little Peter. They lived in camps along the Koyukuk River. Her dad died when she was seven. There was a measles epidemic in 1942 or ’43. Her mother Josie remarried to Francis Olin, who also raised Marie Yaska and Catherine Attla. Her late grandpa Olin told them stories every night. Late Catherine Attla published several books in which she retold these stories in Denaakk’e and Eliza translated them.
Eliza’s siblings, from oldest to youngest were: Elsie, Ellen, Cecelia, Joe, Eliza, Attla and Josslin. Eliza’s clan, which follow the matrilineal side, is Toneedze Ghelseełne ‘middle of the stream’ clan. This clan is a similar to a liason between the Bedzeyh Te Hʉt’aane (caribou) and Noltseene (bear) clan. The former is related to things of the sky and the latter to things of the earth.
When Eliza was a child they lived off of the land in two different camps. They trapped small game like rabbits and ptarmigan for food and trapped weasels, mink, lynx, and fox for the furs. When they were growing up they were close to other camps, especially Lydia Simon’s camp. Being around all these great storytellers and culture bearers provided Eliza with a strong foundation in which traditional values and beliefs were instilled.
Eliza’s Denaakk’e name is Neełtenoyeneełno, which means ‘she has versatile talent’. Her grandmother, Mrs. Cecelia Happy, who helped raise her, gave her this name. The name is apt, because she often has more than one project going on at a time.
In 1958 Eliza and Benedict Jones married and she moved to his hometown of Koyukuk. Benedict’s Denaakk’e name K’øghøt’o’oodenoo¬’o means ‘he works with a lot of people’. It was his grandfather, Louis Pilot of Kokrines’ name. He was born at “ 9 Mile“, which is the family fish camp below Koyukuk. His parents were Jessie “Deggeyenee” Edwin and Harry Jones and step-father Andrew Edwin. His maternal grandmother, Julia “Ts’ooghoołeen’ ” Nelson, was one of the village’s matriarchs.
Ben and Eliza’s had ten children: JoAnn Malamute, Josie Dayton, Cora Jones, Charlene Jones (dec.), Cindy Pilot, Vernon Jones (dec.), Susan Paskvan, Benedict Jones, Jr. (dec.), Cecelia Grant, and Julie Jones (dec.). They raised their children in Koyukuk and Fairbanks. In the summer they moved to fish camps where they taught them a strong work ethic through hauling water, chopping wood, cleaning, cutting and hanging fish. The elder’s say it is bad luck to count your grandchildren, but to count your blessings. Of that there are many.
Alaska’s Native languages have tied generations of Native people together, giving each generation a sense of identity. Western education, assimilation and the passing of traditional Native language speakers have threatened many language dialects with extinction. Eliza devotes her life to teaching the Koyukon language and writing about its culture and traditions. She taught in villages, schools and urban community gatherings. Eliza’s willingness to share the Koyukon language has reenergized language revitalization efforts in Interior communities.
Through her career at Alaska Native Language Center she interviewed elders throughout the Doyon region. She meticulously documented stories, songs, genealogical information, place names, and “high words” in Denaakk’e. She continues to work for Yukon-Koyukuk School District as a Language Specialist. She continues to travel to villages to help transcribe songs that were composed in the early 1900s to present. In addition, in working with local elders, they give the youth of today Denaakk’e names, which belonged to the children’s ancestors.
Eliza has written and translated stories, developed and taught curriculum and conducted research on the language of the middle Yukon and Koyukuk rivers. Recently, she has translated documents for Tanana Chiefs Conference for their “tobacco free” campaign; phrases for Doyon, Limited; election ballots for the State of Alaska; Arctic Council announcements; closer to home, helped many people write traditional memorial songs for potlatches.   In 2013, she went on a boat trip from Koyukuk to Hughes with scientists and youth to research place names.
In addition to her formal work with the language, she served on the Gana-a’ Yoo board of directors (serving several Yukon River villages), the Ella B. Vernetti Community School Committee in Koyukuk; the Catholic church pastoral councils and Yukon River Fisheries advisory board. She has presented at conferences around the state, the nation and in Japan.
Eliza and her husband of 58 years, Benedict Jones Sr., make their home in Koyukuk. In their retirement, Both Ben and Eliza enjoy putting away tl’eeyegge baabe (Native food) such as salmon, berries, moose, beaver, and waterfowl. They are active in teaching these skills plus others such as sewing, story telling, and positive Athabascan values. Ben puts in a net as soon as the ice goes out and keeps it out until freeze up. As soon as the ice is thick enough he sets an under-water net. Eliza can be found making traditional kkaakkene (boots), mittens, and beadwork for her grandchildren.
In her 77 years, Eliza has humbly dedicated herself others. Her life’s work of teaching the Koyukon language continues to inspire new generations of language learners and culture bearers. Eliza quietly speaks her language and teaches the old ways demonstrating that one person can make a difference.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Jewel Jones 

Photo of Jewel Jones 
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Community Activism, Public Health


Jewel Jones has been a predominate force in Anchorage municipal government for 32 years. Serving at the will of six mayors, her responsibilities have included executive management of City of Anchorage Social Services Department and the Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services. During her time in public service, Jones recruited and mentored hundreds of minority men and women to work in public services and was instrumental in shaping the municipal health system, establishing the Anchorage Senior Center, and advocating for services for low-income families.

After leaving government service, Jones established her own consulting firm and spent several years providing business management consultation. She then took a “temporary” job as the interim executive director of the Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT) in 2007. ACLT is a community development organization that invests in grass-roots, community-based projects, specifically focusing on revitalizing Mountain View, a very low-income neighborhood in Anchorage. This temporary job has lasted six years and accomplished rehabilitation of a former abandoned furniture warehouse into a modern office building complex, facilitated bringing the first financial institution to Mountain View in more than 20 years, created affordable spaces for individual artist, and supports many community-based groups including William Tyson Elementary School.

Born in Oklahoma and an only child, Jones spent most of her primary years living with her paternal grandparents in Harlem, N.Y. One of the most memorable moments of her childhood was “having my grandmother walk to school with me every day and wait for me until school was out to walk back home.” Jones grew up with strong family influences. Her maternal grandmother owned oil-producing land in Oklahoma City. Being a woman of wealth in a segregated society, stores brought their goods to her home because she wasn’t allowed to shop openly in the department stores. Jones’ grandfather owned a soft-drink bottling company – ‘Jay Cola’ – during a time when a black person could not own a franchise, so their territory almost exclusively catered to the black community. Jones explains how her grandparents and parents “instilled a ‘can do’ and a ‘take-whatever-opportunity-is-before-you’ attitude and taught me to give it my best shot with full effort.” 

In addition to her public and private service career, Jones has been active on many boards and community groups, including the board of Commonwealth North, United Way of Anchorage and the board of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. She also spent eight years as the chair of the board of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, where she helped to ensure that senior housing projects were built across the state. Jones has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for women and minorities in Alaska and she has been active in the Alaska Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With her close friend and colleague Eleanor Andrews, she was instrumental in the formation of the Anchorage Urban League which focuses on empowering young people, such as those who have aged out of foster care, but need assistance on their road to becoming contributing adults. She currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of Alaska Regional Hospital. She also has been the recipient of many honors and awards including the 2011 BP/YWCA Women of Achievement Award, the 2003 Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award, as well as “Citizen of the Year” from the National Association of Social Workers Alaska Chapter in 2001.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Mary Joyce 

Photo of Mary Joyce 
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Adventure, Business


Mary Joyce was a pioneer southeast Alaska entrepreneur and adventurer. During the 1930s, she owned and operated a remote wilderness lodge, became the first woman radio operator in the Territory of Alaska, made a thousand-mile sled dog trip from Juneau to Fairbanks, and was a hunting guide, pilot, flight attendant, nurse, and candidate for Alaska Territorial Representative. She inspired news and magazine articles, poems, plays, books, movies, art and songs.

In 1928 Mrs. Eric L. Smith, of the Charles Hackley lumber fortune, hired Joyce as a private nurse for her son, Leigh Hackley “Hack” Smith, a decorated French Foreign Legion veteran of World War I. The Smiths, with Joyce, traveled Alaska’s Inside Passage in 1929. They visited Twin Glacier Camp, established in 1923 by Dr. Harry C. DeVighne, a Juneau physician. Hack, struck by the area, purchased the camp, located 40 miles northeast of Juneau and accessible only by boat or floatplane. Hack and Joyce ran the lodge, added buildings, guided hunters and raised Taku husky sled dogs until 1934 when Hack died on a hunting trip. His mother bought the camp, including 15 sled dogs, and deeded it to Joyce who renamed it Taku Lodge. That winter Joyce operated a radio station at the lodge for Pacific Alaska Airways’ twice-weekly Juneau-to-Fairbanks flight. Joyce became the first female radio operator in Alaska.

In December 1935 Joyce embarked with five dogs on an overland trek to represent Juneau at the Fairbanks Winter Carnival. She hired Native guides or traveled alone on her three-month, 1,000 mile trip. National media covered her adventure, noting the great distance, bitter -60º F temperatures, primitive trails, and lack of communication, causing the American public to fear for her safety. Joyce flew the last leg to Fairbanks on March 26, 1936, where the mayor of Fairbanks awarded her a Silver Cup and the rare “Honorary Member” title from the Pioneers of Alaska. She completed her dog-mushing trip after the festival. “I wanted to see the country and experience some of the things the old-timers did,” she told reporters. “I just wanted to see if I could do it.” 

Because of her knowledge of the remote country, Joyce hauled radio equipment by dog team for the Navy as it built defenses during World War II, was a consultant for construction of the Alaska-Canada Highway, taught survival skills to troops, and helped develop a new air route from New York to Fairbanks. An Associated Press article, “Alaska Woman Could Give Soldiers Lessons in Defense,” she is quoted: “It’s nothing . . . Most Alaska women can take care of themselves.” Explorer Norman Dawn chose Joyce to co-star as Taku Mary in a film, Orphans of the North (1940), shot in the Taku River region. Another film, The Flying Saucer (1950), is loosely based on the lives of Joyce and Hack Smith.

One of the first female pilots in Juneau, Joyce ended her piloting days with wounded pride after she collided with fishing gear on Gastineau Channel. A certified nurse, she spent two years as a flight attendant for Pacific Alaska Airways, a subsidiary of Pan American Airways, traveling the Alaska-Seattle-Montana routes. In the 1940s, Joyce sold her lodge and moved to Juneau where she was a nurse at St. Ann’s Hospital and where she later purchased the Top Hat and Lucky Lady saloons. She led the statehood parade in Juneau and cut the ribbon for the first Iditarod trail race in 1973.

Joyce was born in Baraboo, Wis. Motherless at 18 months, she and her brother were raised by an aunt and uncle. Graduating from Mercy Nursing School in Chicago, she moved to Hollywood in 1928 and Alaska in 1929. Except for a short stay in Wisconsin in the 1940s, Joyce lived in the Juneau area until her death in 1976. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery there. Today, Taku Glacier Lodge draws thousands of tourists each year and visitors can see the dogsled Joyce used on her 1,000-mile journey. In 2012 the Juneau Jazz & Classics group premiered a composition about Joyce written by her grandniece, titled “Nothing to Lose.”


Additional resources:
Alaska State Library, Historical Collections, Mary Joyce Collection.
Baldwin, Bert. “Mary Joyce’s Thousand Miles on Snow,” poem in Northern Highlights and Mary Joyce. Bert Baldwin, 1976. 
Bell, Karen and Janet Shelfer. Taku: Four Amazing Individuals—Four Incredible Life Stories and the Alaskan Wilderness Lodge That Brought Them Together. Birmingham, Alabama: Will Publishing, 2006.
Greiner, Mary Anne. Mary Joyce: Taku to Fairbanks, 1,000 Miles by Dogteam. Bloomington, Indian: Author House, 2007.
Kolkhorst Ruddy, Kathy, personal communication,
Twin Glacier Camp, National Register of Historic Places documentation. 1988.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Della Keats

Photo of Della Keats
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Healer


“Worriness is a bad sickness, makes all people get sick.”

“All my life I wanted to let them know. We need a calm day, a happy day all the time.”

From urban hospitals to rural clinics, Alaskans knew Della Keats, an Inupiat healer, as one who possessed a special “power” for healing the sick. At an early age, Della Keats became interested in human anatomy and folk medicine. She healed many Alaskans through traditional knowledge, personal observations, and reflection. She loved to teach people her “inupaiq ways of wellness.”

Louise Kellogg

Photo of Louise Kellogg
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Dairy Farming, Education, Philanthropy


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Induction ceremony acceptance speech