Click on the Alumnae’s name for a further details.
Mary Lou King was born in Oregon in 1929 on a small farm near Crater Lake National Park. She grew up in the woods of Southern Oregon and was conscious early on about what can be done to beautify outdoor spaces. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education at Northwest Missouri State College and taught high school for one year in Iowa and six years in Oregon. At the end of the 7th year of teaching after deciding she might be an “old maid,” forever, she moved to Alaska for an adventure in 1958. In Juneau, she worked for the Territory of Alaska’s Department of Education serving rural students through a correspondence program. Thus started her passion for bringing locally relevant education to Alaskan students. She met Jim King through friends in Juneau, married in 1961 and lived in Fort Yukon, Fairbanks and Bethel before returning to Juneau in 1964. Jim worked as a waterfowl biologist all over the state for 30 years. King believes her finest accomplishments are her children: daughters Sara and Laura, born eleven months apart in 1962, who now live in Seattle and Portland and son James, born in 1967, who lives in Juneau.
Juneau is a healthier community because of King’s work and her “90 Trails” book. Hearthside Bookstore in Juneau reports that they sell more copies of this book each year than any other single book. Packets prepared by employers in town, including Juneau’s Bartlett Hospital and the University of Alaska Southeast include 90 Short Walks Around Juneau. King’s trail work and book have changed the habits of the people of Juneau, dog walkers, kid walkers, joggers, old people, and families. As she said herself in an interview with the Juneau Community Foundation, “If you get children outside, to recognize and learn about the environment and to appreciate it, that makes us all better caretakers of the world we live in.”
Her love of the outdoors led King through a long history of advocacy for nature and health. In the early 1970’s she helped instigate a movement to add separate bike paths to the roads in Juneau. Those legacy bike paths were established and have been expanded since then. She became active in the Juneau Audubon Society since it’s beginning in the 1970s and has been a member of the board almost continuously since then. In presenting her with the Great Egret Award in 2012, the National Audubon Society noted that, “Mary Lou King has served over the years as President, Newsletter Chair, Education Chair, Conservation Chair … and berry picker and Juneau Audubon jelly maker…” Also as an active member of the Taku Conservation Society, she was a leader in protecting public access to Juneau’s beaches as the town expanded as well as locating and identifying old mining routes and adding them and some new trails to the Juneau trails system. Her interests and advocacy are still very much present in the community.
In the early 1970s, parents in Juneau’s Auke Bay Grade School, valuing education about the local marine environment, maritime industry and history and culture, started a program called Sea Week. King jumped enthusiastically into this effort, and it was not long before she was leading it. Each winter she consulted tide books to determine when the lowest tides would occur during school hours, located beaches best for classes to be held, coordinated the transportation, and secured agency specialists who could lead the field trips. By 1980, Sea Week was mandated curriculum in Juneau School District’s elementary schools. Every class at every school went on two spring field trips, one to the beach at low tide and one to open to the public developed facilities such has the Glacier Visitor’s Center, Nation Marine Fisheries buildings, fish hatchery, museums and still do to this day.
Michael Kohan, Seafood Technical Director with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, testified to the lasting effects that Sea Week has on the life of Juneau students: “When talking about how I became a woman in seafood and science, I refer to the unique opportunity growing up in Southeast Alaska and being immersed in the hands-on education opportunities like Sea Week. The value of the Sea Week program is not just an education on the names of intertidal species, but it is an experience. An experience that links kids to asking questions, learning, exploring and eventually, like myself, following that intrigue to a path in science. …. When talking about the connection people in Alaska have to Alaska seafood, I reference Sea Week and the unique experience elementary school kids have when growing up in Southeast Alaska!” King continued to volunteer in schools after her own children graduated, including mentoring “many, many science fair projects.”
Mary Lou’s love of history and Native culture resulted not only in learning difficult techniques of basket making in cedar bark and spruce roots, but also in Chilkat weaving techniques. She learned the correct season, soil condition and weather to go out and ‘harvest’ the spruce roots and then prepare them. Over the years she taught classes in basketry and weaving. She used these skills to contribute in many ways. After the discovery of a 700-year-old Tlingit fish trap in Juneau in 2006, she constructed a model of a trap and donated it to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Today this exhibit is one of the most popular hands-on exhibits in the museum and teaches children and the public about all the ways a fish trap can be made and how it catches fish.
King was the editor and contributed articles for decades to the newsletters of the Juneau Audubon Society and the Ravenstail Weavers’ Guild. She also authored numerous pamphlets for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. According to Kay Parker, President, Ravenstail Weavers’ Guild, “Her support of the Northwest Coast Arts has founded a Northwest Coast University Art endowment at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), where King was a substitute teacher for basketry and material collection and preparation. Jane Lindsey, Director of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum praised King’s interest in history and local settlements: “Mary Lou King has supported the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s history and cultural interpretation for many years. As the author of the 90 Short Walks, Treadwell Mine Historic Trail Guide, and co-author of Last Chance Mining Museum & Historical Park, Mary Lou has worked diligently to encourage historic trail exploration and preservation. The Museum has carried these booklets in our gift shop for many years and they are still popular with visitors.”
Much of Mary Lou’s work locally and regionally has impacted the state as well. Sea Week in Juneau became the Alaska Sea and River Week program through the support of the Alaska Sea Grant College Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The university took her successful program to the state level and revised King’s local Sea Week guides to be the Alaska Seas and Rivers Week Guides. King’s use of informed parents leading classes on minus-tide walks, rainforest walks and birds walks with lectures and lessons from US Coast Guard safety personnel, Alaska Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists, Fish and Wildlife biologists and NOAA University oceanographers has remained the model. In 2004, King and her husband Jim were jointly awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Alaska Conservation Foundation for their contributions to the state of Alaska. The stated purpose of this award is “To celebrate the accomplishments of remarkable individuals who have made a difference by devoting significant parts of their lives to protecting and enhancing Alaska’s natural greatness, and thanks them for their tireless dedication and advocacy.” King was also recognized twice for her help in identifying and photographing two new species to the official Alaska state checklist of birds. The species were the green-backed heron (August 1983, #407) and the scissor-tailed flycatcher (July 2002, #469).
King joined the effort in the 1970’s to protect Admiralty Island by writing letters, campaigning for protection, and relying on a scientific study about the impact on the island’s wildlife. The campaign was successful and the area was protected through the establishment of Admiralty National Monument in 1978, then in statute in 1980 in the Alaska National Interest Lands Claims Act. The Forest Service now manages the island, which hosts a mine, but also provides the nation a special natural and cultural area for generations to come. In 1999 Mary Lou and Jim King made a legacy contribution to their community by leaving land from their homestead at the edge of the tide flats to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. Mary Lou and Jim King continue to live in Juneau and to advocate for the interests they’ve been involved in throughout their lives there. Their son James became the first Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc. a nonprofit corporation that works with the agencies to manage the Juneau trails system. He later served as the Alaska’s State Parks Director. He currently lives in Juneau with his wife Christine and their four kids where he works for the U.S. Forest Service as the regional Director of Recreation, Lands and Minerals.
Brenda Wright, a friend and colleague who nominated King for this award described why she tapped her for the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame award:
She is a charismatic person who can draw one into her projects with her enthusiasm. She drafts someone, then mentors and teaches them and then they go on to contribute and to leadership and then she works and helps the next volunteer. Whether the project is fundraising by manufacturing dozens of cedar bark animal ornaments, or producing local fruit jam five batches at a time, or working with City Planning Department staff, or lobbying the legislature, or advocating in Congress, she commits herself wholly to the project she is involved in and is a role model for all. She mentored a whole community to recognize the richness of our intertidal and natural gifts.
The Great Egret Award, The National Audubon Society, 2012. “In recognition of generous contributions in preserving the history of the Juneau-Douglas area.”
Lifetime Achievement Award, Gastineau Channel Historical Society, 2007.
Lifetime Achievement Award, The Alaska Conservation Foundation, 2004, with husband Jim.
Volunteer Service Recognition, Southeast Alaska Land Trust, 1999.
Conservation Award for Exceptional Service, State of Alaska, Alaska State Museum, Governor Tony Knowles, 1996.
Citizen Participation Award in Recognition of Service through Gold and Blue Ribbon Capital City Citizens Committee, Chevron, 1989.
Governor’s Volunteer Award of the Year, Juneau School District, 1986.
Special Commendation for Valuable Public Service, State of Alaska, Governor Bill Sheffield, 1986.
Juneau Community Education Volunteer Award of the Year, City and Borough of Juneau, Mayor Fran Ulmer, 1985.
Conservation Educator of the Year Award, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of Interior, Washington, DC, 1983.
Single handedly, Mary Lou raised Juneau consciousness to the magnificence and uniqueness of our home. By developing the underlying structure of the base curriculum, the rotating low tide beach use, the use of professional agencies to support classroom and field experiences, she brought environment to the forefront for every child.
— Susan Baxter, retired teacher and former Juneau Sea Week Coordinator
Mary Lou is such a kind and generous lady who is open to learning – perhaps one of the reasons she was part of the group of Sea Week organizers. Growing up with Sea Week as a part of our spring time learning was always exciting for me because it mirrored my experiences outside of school – we were always going to the beaches or along shorelines for various reasons – food gathering, playing, picnics, etc. As an elementary teacher this is a natural opportunity for me to integrate Tlingit ecological knowledge and language along with the science curriculum of Sea Week. We also try to go to the beach at different times of the year to see similarities and differences. I am thankful for the program, and humbled to know Mary Lou King.
— Hans Chester, Tlingit Language & Culture Teacher, Juneau School District
My first work in Alaska was learning from Mary Lou about how to teach Alaskan students about the natural and cultural world around them. I’ve applied what Mary Lou taught me then in every job I’ve had since. The philosophy of education she modeled in Sea Week in Juneau and the basic tenets of community members’ involvement in their students’ education have stayed with me and been promoted by me in every position I’ve held. And beyond my professional life, Mary Lou was simply a role model for living and the kind of person to be for me when I started life in Alaska. That will stay with me always.
— Peggy Cowan, past Superintendent of Juneau School District and North Slope Borough School District
Mary Lou has been a role model for me ever since I met her 30 years ago. We were both part of a small dedicated group of weavers that wove a Ravenstail Robe for the Alaska State Museum in Juneau when Ravenstail weaving was just beginning its resurgence. Her dedication to this art form and to basketry are obvious to all that know her . . . in her practice of these art forms, but also in the joy of teaching others and creating educational material that will help beginners. Mary Lou’s endless energy for weaving and the enjoyment she gets from sharing the simple pleasure of weaving and her knowledge of the sense of accomplishment, pride and value this weaving can bring to a person’s life are what inspire me to continue teaching Ravenstail weaving.
— Kay Parker, head of Ravenstail Weaver’s Guild
Show up at Mary Lou’s on weaving morning and you will be starting a basket and having the time of your life!”
King, J.G., King, M.L. Birds in Alaska’s south coastal environment: A workbook and Field Guide.
King, M.L. (2015). 90 short walks around Juneau. Discovery Southeast Taku Conservation Society Trail Mix, Inc.
King, M.L., Ekins, E. (2011). Nature detectives on our favorite trails.
Other materials developed by Mary Lou King:
“My Favorite Wild Southeast Alaska Berries and Greens”, “Illustrated Instructions for Twined Spruce Root or Cedar Bark Basket and a Model Spruce Fish Trap”, “Treadwell Mine Historic Trail, Juneau-Douglas Mining District, Walking Tour map & Historic Guide”, text Mary Lou King, “Perseverance Trail, Trail Guide”, coordinated by Mary Lou King and Paul Emerson, Eagle Beach State Recreation Area brochure (editor and contributor) Outer Point Trail
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/NU81p2AdOF8
Jim and Mary Lou King, Interview by the Juneau Community Foundation. Accessed at http://juneaucf.org/index.php/king/.
Mary Lou King. Hearthside Bookstore. Accessed at http://www.hearthsidebooks.com/localauthors/214320.
King, Jim & Mary Lou (Neville). Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Parks & Recreation, City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska. Accessed at: http://www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum/forms/GCM/readarticle.php?UID=923&newxtkey=.
Nursing is like clothing, it comes in cycles, I was trained in working as part of a team and I do hope the team approach returns to nursing.”
Kay Lahdenpera is a legend in nursing in Alaska and has touched thousands of women’s lives throughout her 45-year career in public health. Born in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936 she is a third-generation Alaskan.
Lahdenpera earned her nursing degree with a specialization in public health and psychiatry from the University of Washington in 1961. After graduating she worked in New York at Bellevue Hospital and was the only nurse for 100 neglected children at St. Barnabas House. In 1965, Lahdenpera returned to Anchorage and was hired by the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Health Department as a public health nurse. In 1967 she became manager for the Region X, Title X Family Planning Clinic. Lahdenpera also pursued a Master’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, but ultimately completed her Master’s in Public Health from Loma Linda University’s Extended Degree Program in1985.
During her 35 years at the Borough, then the Municipal Health Department, Lahdenpera was instrumental in implementing sex education in the Anchorage School District; adding a Region X, Title X Women’s Health program; establishing the clinic as a training ground for state public health nurses, village health aides, and many students from UAA; obtaining training for the first women’s health nurse practitioners (NPs) in Alaska through OBGYN board-certified doctors who volunteered numerous hours to assist with certifying NPs so they could complete their course requirements. Under supervision of these doctors, NPs were, for the first time, able to perform colposcopies, which become an invaluable service for low-income women receiving care at the Health Department and laid the foundation for NPs to be hired by local doctors. As a result, NPs’ scope of practice expanded to include everything from assisting with training medical students in the University of Washington’s WAMI program to prescribing medication.
Lahdenpera’s leadership style ensured her staff was an integral part of a team and she contributes her success to her team. Because of this team approach, there was very little turnover within the clinic under her leadership. The data that Lahdenpera and her team collected as part of the colposcopy project was presented at numerous local, national and international conferences ultimately elevating NPs as a vital and core part of the U.S. and international health care systems. In the 1980s, Lahdenpera and her team presented a poster entitled “Nurse Practitioners (NP) Colposcopy Project” at both the Circumpolar Health Summit and the Alaska Public Health Summit. This presentation received special interest from Canadian medical doctors to use NPs in rural communities throughout Canada. Lahdenpera and her team also presented at numerous national conferences including two presentations at the National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., and at the American Public Health Association Conference in Boston. These presentations, titled, “Nurse Practitioner Colposcopy Project in Anchorage, Alaska” and “Family Planning Project for Troubled Teens in Anchorage, Alaska” introduced the Colposcopy and the Family Planning for Troubled Teens projects on a national level and resulted in a professional consultation request from Region IV’s State Family Planning Division in North Carolina to help institute a similar family planning project for troubled teens in North Carolina.
Lahdenpera’s success took her to an international level in 1993 when she was invited to join the Eisenhower Ambassador Program and traveled to China to present the “Family Planning Project for Troubled Teens” and “Reproductive Health and STD Issues” programs. The international success of the programs expanded in 1997 when the team was invited to make a poster presentation at XV FIGO World Congress of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Copenhagen, Denmark, titled “Quality Assurance, Nurse Practitioners and Colposcopy Project in Anchorage, Alaska.” This presentation was the only on done by a nurse practitioner and a public health nurse manager at the World Congress for Medical Doctors.
Other professional endeavors have included serving on numerous professional boards including: Planned Parenthood, Alaska Mental Health Association, Anchorage League of Women Voters, Alaska Theater of Youth (President), Alaska Nurses Association (President), Alaska Youth and Parent Foundation (President), Kids’ Corp Inc. and the Retired Public Employees Association.
Lahdenpera has also received a plethora of awards for her accomplishments, including being the first recipient of the Alaska Nurses Association Community Service Award (1991) and the Alaska March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award for “Legends of Nursing” (2009). Other awards have included: American Nurses Association Excellence in Nursing Award (1993); Title X Family Planning Program Excellence in Management Award (1994); Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Public Health Service, Region X “Appreciation for Your Work on Behalf of African American Women’s Health Care” Award (1996); National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Inc. “Outstanding Local Service” Award (in 1997); BP and YWCA Women of Achievement Award (1997); the Service plaque from Health Care Coalition of Alaska (1993); DHHS, PHS Region X Women’s Health & Family Planning Award for Leadership in Promoting Statewide Women’s Health Activities in the PHS, Region X (1999); MOA Assembly Award for “dedication and service to the people of Anchorage for 35 years to improve the public health of Anchorage” (1999); Alaska Public Health Association (ALPHA) Long-Term Service Award in recognition of contributions to ALPHA and the health of Alaska (2000); American Academy of Nurse Practitioners State Award for “Nurse Practitioner Advocate” (2004); and Alaska Nurses Association Hall of Fame” Award (2009).
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/udoDi2NbdX0
In 1959 Langdon began her involvement in education with Turnagain Elementary School Parent-Teachers Association, where her efforts supported the teachers involved with her children. She continued these activities at the state level where she served as state PTA president and her even-handed, dedicated and visionary leadership contributions to that organization were recognized when Gov. Jay Hammond appointed her to the Alaska state Board of Education in 1975 where she later served as president. In that capacity, she traveled throughout Alaska to many rural communities and always had wonderful stories to tell about the exceptional people she met during those visits. These travels intensified her commitment to seeing that the resources were available and programs were developed that would meet the various needs of the different populations throughout the state.
Langdon later served on the board of Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education (1978-82), and on various committees of the Anchorage school district. Through her involvement in educational organizations, Langdon became aware of the many vulnerable children who had little and whose living circumstances were harsh. She realized that these conditions greatly limited the ability of such children to acquire the full benefits of education. This led her to join and participate in the Child Welfare League of America, a national organization dedicated to bring attention and resources to these issues.
At the state level she actively pursued these same objectives. She was instrumental in the creation of the Alaska Office of Child Advocacy in 1971 and served on its board of directors. That commitment is also evident in her founding role in the creation of Action for Alaska’s Children in 1990. In Anchorage she was instrumental in the creation of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a program designed to provide support for children. She became a strong advocate and supporter of that program.
Langdon served as a role model throughout her life. Her hallmark style was always to work together in a non-confrontational manner and to seek to bridge differences. She did, however, recognize that at certain junctures one had to stand up and fight for principles to accomplish what was right. She especially showed fierce determination to see that the Mental Health Trust Lands set aside by the state constitution should truly be devoted to acquiring the best possible returns from the lands and not simply be a pass-through for cheap land acquisitions by powerful business interests.
Fellow members of boards and non-profit organizations recognized this tough, resilient quality of dedicated persistence in the pursuit of principled actions by honoring her with numerous awards such as: 1993 Mental Health Association, Natalie Gottstein Memorial Award; 1989 Alaska Alliance of the Mentally Ill – Outstanding Dedication and Service to the Mental Health Community; 1988 Mental Health Advocate of the Year – Alaska Mental Health Association; 1987 Women Helping Women Award – Soroptimist International of Anchorage and Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet; 1973 state PTA Humanitarian Award; and in 1963 Honorary Member of Alaska State Medical Association.
Some but not all of the groups that Langdon gave her time to include:
NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: 1984-88 American Association of Retired Persons, State Legislative Committee; 1975-83 National Association of State Boards of Education; 1974-76, American Medical Association Auxiliary Board of Directors; 1971-75, National PTA Board of Managers.
STATE ORGANIZATIONS: 1970-73 Alaska Mental Health Association Board of Directors; 1958 Alaska PTA, honorary life member and 1971-75 state president; 1958-1985 Alaska State Medical Society Auxiliary and 1970-74 state president.
SERVICE TO THE STATE OF ALASKA: 1988-1993 Alaska Mental Health Board, 1990, chairman; 1978-82 Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and 1982 vice president; 1975-80, Alaska State Board of Education and 1978-80 president; 1971-74 Board of Directors, Alaska Office of Child Advocacy and 1973-74 secretary-treasurer; 1970 White House Conference on Children & Youth; chairman, Southcentral Region, delegate to Washington, DC.
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS: 1990 Action for Alaska’s Children, founding member; 1987-91 Anchorage Child Advocacy, network member; 1985-87 board of directors, Widowed Persons Service; 1985-86 AARP Sourdough Chapter, vice president: 1984-88, board of directors, Alzheimer’s Disease Family Support Group: 1980-82 steering committee for formation, board of directors, Hospice of Anchorage: 1974-76 board of directors, Anchorage Arts Council; 1973-79 board of directors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Anchorage – 1977 secretary and 1978 vice president; 1968-70 board of directors, Anchorage Mental Health Association; 1959-1976 Turnagain Elementary School PTA – 1965-66 president and 1964-65 secretary; 1958-74 Providence Hospital Auxiliary – 1974 Honorary Life Member, 1970 Volunteer of the Year, 1968 secretary, 1967 treasurer, 1963, president and gift shop bookkeeper for three years.
CIVIC ACTIVITIES: 1986-96 Zonta Club of Anchorage; 1984-90 Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission; 1982-96 Day Break Adult Day Care, Advisory Committee; May 1981 Child Welfare League of America, Regional Conference, Steering Committee and Local Arrangements Committee Chairman; 1971-75 Health Education Curriculum Committee, Anchorage School District; 1970-73 FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity) volunteer; 1968-70 secretary-treasurer, Rotary Anns, Anchorage.
Langdon was awarded her registered nursing degree in 1946 from Minnequa School of Nursing in Pueblo, Colo. She also received additional college credits from St. Louis University and University of Alaska Anchorage. She met J. Ray Langdon, her husband of 34 years, when he was a patient at the hospital where she was working in Pueblo. She found him obnoxious in his flirtations in the beginning, but succumbed to his charms and married him August 20, 1947. Together they lived in six different states between 1947 and 1958 before settling in Anchorage and building their home in Turnagain, where she was able to display her passion for flower gardening. There they raised two boys and three girls.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/JDTLjVimT6U
Anchorage Daily News, Obituary, August 24, 2012
As a family practice physician, medical epidemiologist, researcher, and administrator Anne Lanier has spent a lifetime promoting health and wellness among Alaska Native people. Her career in Alaska began in 1967 when she arrived at the Alaska Native Medical Center and she saw many young Alaska Native people dying of cancer. She asked why, and finding no answers she sought them herself.
By 1974, Lanier had created the Alaska Native Tumor Registry that collects information about Alaska Native people diagnosed with cancer. Her registry has become one of 18 registries used by the National Cancer Institute to determine cancer rates and patterns throughout the U.S. Lanier’s data-driven research had led to dramatic declines in incidence and mortality rates in colorectal, pediatric liver, and cervical cancer among Alaska Native people. She has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles so others can review her conclusions.
Lanier continued to be a pioneer through her public health career. She was the first female director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Arctic Investigations Program. She established the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center, and later created the Alaska Native Health Consortium’s Office of Alaska Native Health Research. Lanier conducted medical research for the State of Alaska, Alaska Native Medical Center, Centers for Disease Control, and the University of Alaska Anchorage.
She has been nationally recognized for her accomplishments. In 1982, Lanier became a Fellow of the American Board of Preventative Medicine. In 2011, she received the Inaugural Carol Frieden Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Comprehensive Cancer Control from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Indian Health Service, Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, and the Alaska Public Health Association have recognized her, as well.
Lanier has mentored several generations of health researchers. One, Melanie Cueva recounts, “I was hired to work on a six-month breast health project that turned into almost two decades of collaboration. Anne has become a mentor to my daughter who is working on doctorate degrees at Harvard in public health and nutrition.” To encourage Alaska Native young people in the health profession, Lanier personally funds a scholarship at the University of Alaska Anchorage for those pursuing master’s degrees in public health.
Dr. Lanier was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1962, Lanier got her M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and a Masters of Public Health degree at the University of Minnesota. She did an internship at Presbyterian Hospital in Denver, Colorado before taking her first job in Alaska. Lanier has three children and five grandchildren. She is a reader, skier, kayaker, and traveler. Of her travels, those to the Galapagos Islands have been especially fascinating.
Alaska journalist Lael Morgan met Lanier in the 1960s and followed her career: “She was way ahead of her time doing what she did for Alaska Native children. Dr. Lanier has never stopped asking why and has not stopped being an advocate for improved health for Alaska Native people.” During her more than 45-year career she has met her goals to define and reduce the health disparities of Alaska Native people and to greatly improved health care in the state.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/X339qVoNvgk
As a third-generation Alaskan banker, Betsy Cuddy may have followed in her father’s footsteps in her chosen occupation but her strong role model for women is in her DNA from her mother Betti Cuddy and her grandmother Lucy Hon Cuddy both Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame alumna. She learned at an early age that women can and should be business and community leaders in Alaska. Her actions have always shown she is committed to helping women enter these roles.
Graduating from Duke University, BA in economics in 1971, she learned the banking business in the trenches working her first job as a secretary for her father, who was then Board Chair and President of First National Bank of Anchorage, changed in 2001 to First National Bank Alaska, both positions she now holds.
Lawer may claim that business is her passion, but civic involvement must be included in that statement. She has been a trustee of the University of Alaska Foundation, served on the Smithsonian National Board, has contributed both time and counsel to hospital networks and high school athletics associations, served as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle branch, 1997-2003, and the President’s Community Panel of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, since 2001. For those efforts and lots more she has received the Anchorage ATHENA Society’s Leadership Award, 2001; was named to the Junior Achievement Alaska Business Hall of Fame, 2007, the Top 25 Most Powerful People in Alaska, 1999-2003, and US Banker 25 Women to Watch, 2003.
Lawer also enjoys spending time at the family’s beach house in Homer, Alaska and working in her California winery. “Some people play golf, I stomp grapes,” she is quoted as saying many times.
Betsy and David A. Lawer were married in 1972 and have one child, Sarah.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/GW0Hov_lOck
Janie Leask has devoted her personal and professional life to creating honest and respectful connections among diverse people. She is a bridge between communities. The characteristics that permeate her career include: leading complex organizations, creating opportunities for diverse communities to engage in meaningful conversation and mentoring young people.
Raised by a Haida/Tsimshian father and Irish/German mother in Metlakatla and Anchorage, Leask initiated her 15-year career with the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1974. During this time, she grew her understanding of public policy and the political system with the encouragement of a supportive mentor. She was selected and served as the President/CEO of AFN from 1982-1989.
These were tumultuous years for the Alaska Native community as they built organizations to implement the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, participated in drafting the federal land management policies of Alaska in ANILCA, and fought for state laws governing access to subsistence resources for rural residents.
Under Leask’s leadership, and in a largely male-dominated environment, AFN began to formally listen to young people and engage in dialogue with many diverse communities of interest, while continuing legislative efforts in Juneau and Washington, DC.
During the AFN years she often felt limited by her own her personal self-doubts based on her lack of a college degree and her mixed heritage. Over time, she conquered her concern about lack of a formal education as she saw the results of her drive to “get something done.” Her self-doubt about not being “Native enough” was resolved through her continued work with Alaska Native people and capped off when Leask and her son were formally adopted into the Eagle Clan of the Tsimshian Tribe – the clan of her father, the late Wally Leask. At this ceremony she was given her Tsimshian name of “Gyetm Wilgoosk” meaning “person of wisdom.”
After AFN Leask turned her professional attention to the private sector for 15 years and served as the Vice President of Community Development at the National Bank of Alaska as well as the Manager of Community Relations for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Her community involvement included serving on the boards of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Commonwealth North and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce; from which she received the Chairman’s Award for her work in organizing trips to rural villages to foster understanding between urban and rural peoples. Later, she and former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom co-chaired Commonwealth North’s “Urban Rural Unity Study”.
Janie’s work on urban-rural issues earned her several recognitions including the Alaska Governor’s Award, the Alaska Village Initiative’s Chief’s Knife Award, and Shareholder of the Year from Cook Inlet Region, Inc. In 2000 she was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement. In 2006 she was ATHENA Recipient and in 2001 she was identified as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Alaskans.
In 2006 Janie returned to work within the Native community as the President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute, where for four years she focused on intergenerational leadership development and public policy issues impacting Alaska Native peoples and communities.
In the past decade she has invested much energy nurturing friendships among women, where common experiences with balancing family, work and service to the community are shared and valued. She finds great strength in a community of capable women who trust each other. Universally, Leask believes every person has a gift to contribute. Her advice to young people is: find your gift; nurture it and use it. Network as much as possible and recognize and act upon your obligation to give back to the community.
Janie is proud to be the mother of David Moore, a son who has become a wonderful and sensitive man.
She is married to Don Reed and together they are making their new home in Homer. In her recreational time, Janie is a talented ice hockey player, who demonstrates finesse and fierceness on the ice. She is a great team player.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/vlpcW7Si3mo
Georgianna Lincoln was born in Rampart, Alaska, and moved to Fairbanks as a young woman. She worked to secure Alaska Native land claims in the ‘70s, developed health and education programs in her region in the ‘80s, and shaped Alaska public policy in the Alaska State Senate in the ‘90s. In 2010, she leads Doyon Corporation and its subsidiaries as the Chairman of the Board, a board on which she has served for 33 years.
Senator Lincoln is Athabaskan and served in the Alaska legislature for 14 years. She is the first, and as of this writing, the only Native woman who has been elected to the Alaska State Senate, where she championed issues of women and children as well as natural resource management. In 1996, she was the first Native woman to be a candidate for the US Congress from Alaska, and she has served as a mentor for women across the state within and outside of the Native community. Georgianna also worked as the Executive Director of the Fairbanks Native Association and as a Director at Tanana Chiefs Conference. She believes that her most significant achievement has been to raise two self-actualized children, who are nurturing her eight curious and joyful grandchildren in Alaska.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/mhk9IsEo2G0
Mrs. Jack (Kay) Linton, as she preferred to be identified, was a dynamo, a volunteer extraordinaire, consummate organizer and inveterate volunteer and, to quote former Mayor Tom Fink, “a real take-charge person.”
Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Doogan said, “She was an organizer, and if you were in the vicinity, you got organized.” Gov. Tony Knowles is quoted as saying: “To know Kay was to work for Kay.” Alaska’s furrier Perry Green called Linton “a volunteer’s volunteer – someone who would never ask you to do something she wouldn’t do herself.”
Born in Newcastle, Wyo., Feb. 26, 1933, Linton was the oldest of five children, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Wyoming homesteaders. Her organizational skills began early when it was up to her to amuse her siblings and visiting cousins with picnics and trips to shoot a few jackrabbits.
In 2001 after receiving the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts recognizing Alaskans who have “distinguished themselves in their careers and exemplify the values of Scouting in the professional, personal and civic activities,” Linton told them her obsession to do for others stems from pre-birth. After her mother gave birth to her early, she was wrapped in a towel and set on the oven door while the doctors worked to save her mother’s life. She has tried to pay it forward ever since.
She talked “passionately about her childhood days in her father’s oil field where she swung on a swing made of oil pipe … and hunted treasures like shark teeth, fossils and arrowheads and giant geodes,” she told S. Jane Szabo, reporter for the Anchorage Daily News in 1997.
She received her early education in a one-room schoolhouse, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Black Hill State University in 1955 and took classes toward her master’s degree at the University of Wyoming.
Linton married Jack M. Linton on Aug. 26, 1958, in Wyoming. Two years later she drove a red and white ’58 Thunderbird up the Alaska Highway with her infant daughter and her 15-year-old brother to join her husband. Jack Linton was working in the real estate loan department of First National Bank. Anchorage was somewhat of a small town, only 82,833 people. It was very remote from the rest of the country with long-distance telephone rates very high and television which arrived on videotape at least two weeks late. She was far away from her family and “felt stifled and unhappy, but her marriage was strong,” she told Linda Billington in an interview in 1991. She decided to “find a need and fill it” which became her motto. Thus her professional career as a volunteer organizing, chairing and championing causes and projects began.
Linton taught second and fifth grades at North Star Elementary School, focusing on emotionally disturbed children. During that time she and her husband heard about the opportunity to homestead 160 acres in the Matanuska Valley off Fishhook Road. She and her young daughter lived there during the proving-up period and her husband drove the rough roads to and from every other day. The bulk of the work of digging a well and building a livable dwelling was hers.
In 1977 the Lintons, with partners Jerry Groseclose and G. J. “Red” Huggins, started the Golden Lion Hotel, a place that staged many a party, anniversary and charity lunch and dinner.
Especially proud of two of her biggest projects, Linton knew how to celebrate the anniversaries of Alaska’s 25 years of statehood in 1984, and Anchorage’s 75 years in 1990. It only took two and a half hours to sell 950 Fred Machetanz prints called “Heritage of Alaska”, signed by Alaska’s first five governors which netted $194,000. Governors Egan, Hickel, Miller, Hammond and Sheffield made the event possible since Alaska was the only state to have all of their past governors still living.
For Anchorage Linton organized through the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce the re-enactment of the town as a tent city of 1915 along Ship Creek and of the land call-out auction which sold the lots of Anchorage from the federal government.
As president of the Anchorage Women’s Club she negotiated a lease with the Municipality of Anchorage to move, preserve and maintain Anchorage’s first schoolhouse which was built in 1915. It is now called the Pioneer Schoolhouse and is located at 437 East 3rd Avenue. It is used as a public meeting place now. Thousands of school children met the first Anchorage school principal (Kay Linton, dressed as Miss Orah Dee Clark) in their tour and were able to see what schools used to look like.
Linton was also known for her organization of time capsules. Some of the more memorable ones are buried near the Anchorage Log Cabin, the Pioneer Schoolhouse, the Eisenhower Memorial as well as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs home base in Washington, D.C.
In 1997 Gov. Tony Knowles designated April 30 of that year as Kay Linton Day for her indefatigable efforts. His citation declared that there was one need that had not been filled, that of a “pat on the back for the consummate volunteer.” Although an incomplete list, her efforts earned awards: Alaskan of the Year, 1993; Anchorage 75th Anniversary Chair, 1990; Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan, 1990; Alaska Flag Day celebration, a fund-raiser for Alaska Children’s Services, founder of Celebrity Ice Cream Scoop and participant, 1990-1997; BP Book Wish List for Anchorage Municipal Libraries, founder and organizer, 1986-1997; First Lady’s Volunteer Awards, coordinator and chairwoman, 1980-1997; General Federation of Women’s Clubs: Alaska Federation of Women’s Clubs, president, 1978-80. Anchorage Women’s Club, president, 1992-94; Governor’s Picnic committee, member, 1964 to 1997, picnic chair 1995-97; Friends of the Library, president, 1987; Anchorage Pioneers for Historic Preservation, charter member, 1991-1997; American Diabetes Association Volunteer of the Year, 1994; Orah Dee Clark, created and acted in the role of Anchorage’s first principal, 1990-1997; Pioneers of Alaska, “Fond Memories” committee, 1995; Soroptimist International of Anchorage Woman of Distinction, 1995; Tent City Festival, coordinator, 1990; Ladies Oriental Shrine, Waheed Court 81; Sew Sews, member; Winter Cities Anchorage ’94, vice chair, 1993; U.S.S. Alaska Executive Board, 1986; Miss Alaska Scholarship Pageant, executive director, 1963-76; Alaska Election Commission, member, 1993; Anchorage inaugural activities: Chair of Tony Knowles’ mayoral (1987) and gubernatorial (1995) inaugurations; gubernatorial inauguration for Wally Hickel 1991, mayoral inauguration for Tom Fink 1991; Governor’s Award, 1991; O.M.A.R./Resource Development Council, one of 49 founders; Mrs. Senior Alaska, judge, 1997; Miss Alaska Queen’s Hostess Club for visiting Miss Americas and other pageant winners, founded in 1965; Alaskan of the Year Committee, coordinator, 1976-1997; Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, Swaziland, Nursing Fund; Friends of 4th Avenue Theatre, member, 1986; Anchor Park United Methodist Church, member since 1960. Other activities in which Linton participated include: Alaska-Siberia Medical Research Program, Gold Nuggets Booster Club, State spelling bee and Alaska Academic Decathlon judge, Alaska Methodist University Campus Ministry, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Afternoon at the Lion fundraiser for Shrine Children’s Hospital, Anchorage Widowed Persons Services.
Linton was very proud of the fact that her accomplishments never used government or taxpayers’ money. It was given by those who believed in the cause, many times with lots of encouragement from her.
The wing-shaped fountain or ice sculpture on the south lawn of the Loussac Library is named after Kay Linton through a formal request of Mayor Mark Begich and an Anchorage Assembly resolution unanimously passed in 2004 because of her tireless fund raising efforts for library programs and the fountain maintenance and repairs.
Linton got involved with the construction of the fountain in the mid-80s organizing fundraising efforts. The water was shut off in 1994 due to constant costly repairs and maintenance but she never lost hope. She began fundraising again in 1999 but time and her bad health would not to allow this project to be completed before her death. The efforts were taken over by her son-in-law Kris Warren, an executive with Anchorage Water and Waste Water, and through his and many others work Linton’s dream was completed.
Indefatigable to the end, in the last weeks before her death Linton had been writing a section of a book about Alaska pioneers and was worried she wouldn’t meet the deadline, said Michelle Cassano, a longtime friend. She met the deadline.
Linton and her husband raised two children, Dawn Linton-Warren and Richard Linton.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/Bl_7Ahl1t4I
Godmother of Special Ed in Alaska
Margaret Lowe dedicated her life to advocacy and program development for children widows and their families beginning in the early 1950s. Over five decades in Alaska, she helped build many of the programs and services in Alaska that continue today to help children, adults and families with special needs including those experiencing other mental or emotional differences. Lowe began her work at a time when children with disabilities were still being removed from their families and institutionalized, but she strongly believed that with proper education and support, these children could lead productive lives within the community. She worked hard toward these goals throughout her career and achieved much success. A comment reportedly made by Ed Graff, previous Superintendent of Anchorage School District: “I know Margaret…..she’s the godmother of special education in Alaska.“
In her earliest years in Alaska, Lowe was one of the first classroom teachers at the Alaska Native Medical Center Hospital on Third Avenue in Anchorage where she learned a great deal about Alaska and developed a deep appreciation for the Alaska Native people. She continued to travel throughout the State of Alaska through her work and advocacy so she could continue to better understand the realities of providing services to Alaskans in rural and remote areas. She lived in Fairbanks for nine years where she completed her master’s degree in special education at UAF. For her thesis project, she developed a full preschool curriculum and presented it as a daily television show known as “School For Fun.” At that time there was no school or any curriculum for kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities. This lack of programs led to Lowe’s concern and involvement in the development of a strong parent group known as The Arctic Association for Retarded Children, a term used at the beginning of that movement. This group later became a chapter of the National Association. With a great deal of parental support and fundraising, a preschool for those children with special needs was organized with the ability to hire a teacher, and Lowe’s special needs preschool curriculum was used for that school.
With her move to Anchorage in 1964, Lowe became very active in the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage – now known as the ARC of Anchorage. She began as a volunteer but was soon setting up another preschool and became involved with others working hard on legislation so these children would be statutorily allowed to be in public school programs. President Kennedy instigated the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation which was a breakthrough for the whole field of developmental disabilities and led to the development of Alaska’s Governor’s Council on Special Education and Developmental Disabilities which Lowe eventually chaired.
In 1969, Lowe went back as a special education classroom teacher with the Anchorage School District (ASD) where she continued to work with students, teachers and parents of those experiencing developmental disabilities and those experiencing autism. She completed her administrative credentials in public school administration and special education and became the principal at the Whaley Center serving diverse populations of students with disabilities from 1975 to 1985. On through to her retirement from the ASD in 1985, Lowe had initiated and administered most of their special educational programs including serving as supervisor for the Blind and Visually Impaired Program.
Lowe served as Director of the State Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and as Commissioner of Health and Social Services. During this time Alaska changed the term of Mental Retardation, which only measured IQ, to the federal definition of developmental disabilities, which was based on all sorts of behavioral traits acquired prior to birth or before the age of 22. Additionally, she served as consultant, adjunct professor, teacher and counselor trainer and program evaluator throughout the state. She also traveled to Russia eight times doing research, consulting and program development. There, she consulted with government agencies regarding how to develop basic programs for people who were in institutions and had very special needs. She worked with Russian orphanages to identify and the importance of intervention with the very young residents who were developmentally delayed, and she provided an introduction to autism to Russian public schools, explaining to them how autistic students were educated in the United States. She also spoke with psychiatric hospitals in rural areas of Russia about the importance of social interventions and therapy in addition to medical support.
Lowe had a serious interest in the Mental Health (MH) Trust since 1962 when still in Fairbanks. During her tenure as a state bureaucrat, the papers were signed establishing the statutory existence of the MH Trust. Lowe worked tirelessly to make sure the settlement of the Mental Health Land Trust included services for a more inclusive population of those who experienced mental illness and mental retardation as well as those with traumatic brain injuries, autism, epilepsy, severe emotional disturbance, cerebral palsy, severe physical disabilities and those experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Once the $200 million in funding was secured, then came the challenge of ensuring services were available to serve these diverse populations. During this time, the closing of Harborview in Valdez (an institution for developmentally disabled and mentally ill Alaskans) was planned and implemented. The Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) was also being planned.
As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority from 2005 to 2008 and Chair of their Rural Outreach Committee, Lowe was proactive in addressing very individualized and family-centered programs like Respite Care which was a significant program developed to provide families with funds to hire a competent relief worker for their child with special needs. With their goal to “Bring the Kids Home,” Alaskan programs were developed to provide local support for children who were seriously emotionally disturbed rather than placing them in programs out of state. Work force development issues were also being addressed to train more care providers to assist people in learning to work as well as providing their personal care. From 2002 to 2005, Lowe lived in Bethel in a construction trailer for weeks at a time to assist with further development of the local community services being provided to those experiencing developmental disabilities. Lowe thrived in rural Alaska and adapted quickly to the hardy way of life which she found to be both rewarding and life changing. She walked to work even when it was cold and windy and she enjoyed living in a community where people bonded together to help solve problems like frozen pipes. She embraced the strong sense of community that spanned generations to bring together aunts, uncles, grandparents and grandchildren
A Life on Purpose
Lowe’s parents were immigrants from Norway and came through Ellis Island in 1910 and 1914. They had very limited education themselves, but had a high regard for education and were very concerned that all of their five children would have good educations. Lowe was raised to believe that one person can make a difference and that the very best things that happen in our country are those that come from the ground up, and that every person really can be an agent for change.
Lowe found mentors for effective citizen participation at the local and state levels in her earliest years in Alaska. Vic Fischer, a politician, taught Lowe about good government and how to advocate and be an honest person. Gov. Wally Hickel provided a role model for how to live all phases of life with integrity. Lowe was also inspired by parents like Teresa Thurston, a ruthless advocate for her boys who experienced disabilities; and Lee Brandon, who made her special taco recipe for many fundraisers, had two sons at Morningside and was determined things were going to get better for all of these children. Mary Carey, a Public Health Nurse in Fairbanks, identified a community need and figured out how to fill it.
Lowe belonged to the League of Women Voters, which had a very strong chapter in Anchorage. She helped charter the American Association of University Women (AAUW) whose first cause was to advocate with the university’s administration to get physical education for women, which was accomplished.
An important focus of her life related to her belief that the political system only works if people are involved in it. Even now, she sometimes works on issues that affect senior citizens. However, the area that she continues to be most concerned about is the quality of education in our country because democracy requires a literate population. Her current reading interests still include ecology, the environment, politics and the language and history of Russia. She enjoys knitting and needle point, playing piano, e-mailing friends, and has a personal trainer three times per week. She also recently started a “Hot Topics” monthly group at her current housing complex so residents could discuss current events and be involved politically.
As a single parent since 1973, Lowe basically worked a job and a half and raised three children: Tim (1956), Daniel (1959) and Mary (1965). Tim is a Land Economist and Appraiser living in Culver City, CA; Daniel is a Software Development Engineer living in Salem, OR; and Mary is Chair of the Religion Department at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. Lowe has three granddaughters and two grandsons. “Margaret Lowe was one of the best role models I have had as a working mother. Whenever I am struggling to balance responsibilities, I think of Margaret and her strong work ethic and her many accomplishments despite her limited means, and it inspires me to keep doing my best and to renew my commitment to work, community and family.” – Elizabeth Manning
In summary, Margaret Lowe was an early visionary, a tireless pioneer and a persistent force of nature who, for over five decades, advocated for and provided services throughout the state to people who experience developmental disabilities and mental health issues. Through all of her work, both directly and indirectly, she was committed to serving the families of youth with disabilities through her service. Those family members were – then and now – very real and present to her, and she worked hard to assure families learned, grew and prospered as the disabled family member received a variety of services.
Lowe’s achievements, which have had significant impact
- Developed a model preschool curriculum for children with special needs (Fairbanks and Anchorage).
- Worked with parents to develop/support the Arctic Association for Retarded Children in Fairbanks, and then the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage, now known as ARC of Anchorage
- While at ASD, initiated and built up programs to serve those with special needs and to better integrate them into the community.
- Involved with the statutory requirement that mandated Alaskan public school programs for students with special needs.
- Provided consultation on special needs programs to school districts and other organizations statewide.
- As Commissioner of Health and Social Services, Margaret oversaw the organization of the Mental Health Trust and its support to those with special needs.
Education and Training
- BS, Early Childhood & Elementary Education, University of Minnesota, 1951.
- MA, Special Education, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1965
- Education Specialist, Public School Administration Credential, University of Alaska, Anchorage, 1974.
- Administrative Training Program, 1976. Teacher Training Program, 1975; Judevine Center for Autistic Children, St. Louis, Missouri.
Professional/Work History/Community Involvement:
- Prior to 1956: Classroom teacher for four years, first teacher at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
- 1960-62: Writer/Presenter, Schools for Fun, KTVA TV Fairbanks, daily television show for preschool/primary age children.
- 1966-1971: Alaska Governor’s Council on Mental Retardation, Governor’s Appointee and Chair. Presided over transition of the Governor’s Council into the Alaska Developmental Disabilities Council.
- 1969-1986: Teacher, principal, program administrator, Anchorage School District. Included initiating and administering many ASD special education programs.
- 1974-1986: Part-time adjunct faculty, UAA
- 1985-1986: Consultant to the State of Minnesota Department of Education
- 1972-1981: Consultant (intermittently) to school districts throughout Alaska and to the Resource Alaska Project
- 1986: Faculty, UAA, School of Education
- 1986-1990: President of the Arc of Anchorage
- 1991-1993: Director, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities
- 1993-1994: Commissioner, Health and Social Services
- 1994-1996: Owner, Humanitarian Services Consulting Company
- 1996-1999: Executive Director, Foundation of the Arc; Associate Director, Arc of Anchorage
- 1999-2001: Executive Director, Arc of Anchorage
- 2005-2008: Trustee on the board of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
- Association for Retarded Citizens, Fairbanks, Alaska, Service Award, 1964.
- Association for Retarded Citizens, Anchorage, Alaska, Outstanding Member of the Year Award, 1975.
- Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, President’s Award, 1982.
- National Speaker’s Bureau of the Handicapped Nominee, 1986
- PADD (Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled), 1986
- Alaska State Parents of Autistic Children Service Award, 1986
- White House Conference on Aging Delegate, 1995
Citations of written sources of information about the nominee: • UAF, Oral History Project, The AK Mental Health Trust History, Margaret Lowe, audio interview and transcript: https://jukebox.uaf.edu/site7/interviews360
- A History of the Arc of Anchorage, https://thearcofanchorage.org/wp-content/uploads/Arc_history_Margaret_Lowe.pdf
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/CCEJAMA4nBo
Best known as a former member of the Sealaska Board of Directors, Ethel was one of the original founders of this Native Corporation that is “committed to the advocacy.” She also had the stick-to-itiveness to help found the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and is actively involved as SEARHC president emeritus. She led a Native Health organization for a quarter of a century. Recognizing Ethel’s significant years of dedicated work in the area of health, she was appointed by President Carter to represent Alaska Natives on the President’s Commission on Mental Health where she spoke on “Alaska Health Needs” for the World Health Organization, International Symposium on Circumpolar Health in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Those who know her say not to let Ethel’s quiet demeanor fool you: she is very capable of asking the tough questions. It is this quiet power and her numerous achievements that lead other Alaska Native women to hold her in high esteem, as evidenced by the positions she has held with the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/8WILsOwt7s8
Even as a child, Edna MacLean learned to navigate the complexities of speaking and learning in two languages. Her father, who only spoke Iñupiaq, told her the world was changing and if she was to succeed, she would need to do so in English. His understanding that the future of his children would be considerably different from his own helped to ensure that they all found ways to survive and thrive.
MacLean cites her mother as having defended her when she was physically disciplined by her third grade teacher for speaking Iñupiag in the classroom. When she went home for lunch that day, she hid her bright red ear from the teacher’s harsh treatment under the hood of her coat, fearful her mother would be angry. She was, but not with Edna. The errant teacher did not enjoy the ensuing confrontation.
MacLean began her university education at UAF; then, with the encouragement of faculty there, she transferred to Colorado Women’s College in Denver where she was given a scholarship, a powerful incentive for someone without other resources. She returned to Utqiaġvik for the summers, and there she met her future husband. Upon graduation, she realized she would improve her prospects by getting a teaching credential, which she did at the University of California in Berkeley, where her husband was pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Biology based on research done at Barrow.
After the birth of their second son, the family moved to Fairbanks where her husband had been offered a position at UAF. Shortly after they arrived, she was contacted by Dr. Michael Krauss, then head of the Alaska Native Language Center. Dr. Krauss was among the first linguists to create an awareness of the global problem of endangered languages. He wanted her to help develop programs and teach Iñupiaq to UAF students.
MacLean’s first reaction was to laugh and decline, but he insisted, telling her “It is your duty!” She eventually relented and in 1976, ended up in a job she loved, and one that would expose her to new ways of thinking about language and education. It was during this time that she began learning to read and write her Native Iñupiaq language and to explore the best methods of teaching.
In 1987, MacLean had the opportunity to work in education policy as Special Assistant for Rural Education for the Alaska Commissioner of Education. It was in this role that she saw the poor performance of Alaska Native students since the State had taken responsibility for their education from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She was shocked, and she realized that she would need further education to be able to understand and influence the policies and practices that had created this problem.
MacLean talks about her father’s insistence that his children have a deep understanding of the environment in which they lived. It had been critical to his success and survival as a subsistence hunter and whaler. If he didn’t know the currents and the ice and weather conditions, it could have a huge affect on his ability to provide for his family and, at worst, it could prove fatal.
This way of thinking is clear in MacLean’s pursuit of further education. Only by gaining a deeper and more thorough understanding of how children learn, particularly in communities where the teachers and students have different life experiences and cultural backgrounds, could she help to devise programs and policies that would serve Alaska’s Native youth. And so she sought out institutions where the experts were teaching and researching what she needed to know. She ended up with an M.A. from the University of Washington in Bilingual Education and a Ph.D in Education from Stanford University.
Upon completion of her Ph.D, MacLean was approached by community leaders who were developing a plan for a tribal college in Barrow. Their mission was to create a community college that offered the education and skills people in their community needed for the jobs and opportunities in Barrow. Dr. MacLean assumed the role of President of the developing institution, and under her leadership, in 2003, Ilisagvik College achieved accreditation as Alaska’s only Tribal College, serving the broad educational needs of the people of the North Slope.
The arrival of her first granddaughter precipitated her retirement from Ilisagvik College and move to Anchorage. Here, she was able to concentrate her attention on a long-standing project, the production of a dictionary of her native language. In 2014 this finally came to fruition with publication of the dictionary by the University of Alaska and University of Chicago Presses. The dictionary has been called “a monument of linguistic scholarship” and “a magnificent work of Iñupiaq lexicography”.
Today, Dr. MacLean continues her teaching through a Master Apprentice Program in which she works to help adults wanting to learn Iñupiaq through individualized programs of instruction. She remains involved with a North Slope Borough task force on language, recognizing that it will take a sustained, comprehensive, and strategic approach involving parents, teachers and community members to ensure that the Iñupiaq language endures.
1976 – 1987 Instructor, Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Developed and taught language courses and B.A. degree program in Iupiaq.
1987 – 1990 Special Assistant for Rural Education for the Alaska Commissioner of Education in Juneau.
1995 – 2005 First President of Ilisagvik College in Utqiagvik, Alaska.
1973-83 Member/President; North Slope Borough Commission on History, Language and Culture
1978-83 Inuit Circumpolar Conference Committee on Education
1983-95 Steering Committee for International Cross-Cultural Education Seminar Series in the Circumpolar North
1987-91 Committee on Arctic Social Sciences, Polar Reserach Board, National Research Council
1989-92 Inuit Circmpolar Conference Executive Council, Vice President for Alaska
1996 Member, Rural Educator Preparation Partnership
1996 Volunteer Iñupiaq reader for the Early Education Program at Ipalook Elementary School, Utqiaġvik
1998-2005 National Science Foundation Polar Programs Office Advisory Committee
1999-2003 Founding member and Chairperson of the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education
2000-05 Alaska Growth Capital Board of Directors
2001-05 Member, Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium
2001-05 The Foraker Group Operations Board Committee
2001-05 Old Testament Bible Translation Review Committee, Utqiagvik
2002-05 Alaska Humanities Forum board member
2004-2007 Quality Education for Minorities Network, Washington D.C.
2008 Member, Expert working group on offshore hydrocarbon in the Arctic, as
part of project, Arctic TRANSFORM: Transatlantic Policy Options for
Supporting Adaptations in the Marine Arctic
Honors and Awards
1985 Elected a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America, recognizing significant contributions to the knowledge of polar and sub-polar regions
1987, 1995 President’s Award for Education, Alaska Federation of Natives
1996 Certificate of Recognition for dedicated service provided to the shareholders of UIC and the People of the North Slope, presented
by Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
1997 Certificate of Appreciation, presented by the North Slope Borough and Inuit Circumpolar Conference
1999 Educator of the Year: Bobby Andrew Award, presented by the Alaska Native Education Council at the Alaska Native Education Council
2003 Certificate of Achievement for Success in achieving the first fully accredited, Native-controlled college (Ilisagvik College) in the
State of Alaska for the Inupiat Communities of the North Slope, presented by the Inupiat Communities of the Arctic Slope
2004 Alumni Hall of Fame, Native American Cultural Center, Stanford University
2005 Shareholder of the Year, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
2006 Citizen of the Year Award, Alaska Federation of Natives
2006 Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award, Governor’s Awards for the Humanities
2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, Barrow, Alaska.
2015 Contributions to Literacy (CLIA) in Alaska Award. Alaska Center for the Book, Anchorage, Alaska.
Mt. Edgecumbe High School; Sitka, Alaska
University of Alaska; Fairbanks, Alaska; Studies in Mathematics and Economics
Colorado Women’s College; Denver, Colorado; B.A.; Major in History, Minors in Humanities and German
University of California; Berkeley, California; California Life Teaching Credential
Aarhus University; Aarhus, Denmark; Graduate study in Greenlandic Eskimo language
University of Washington; Seattle, Washington; M.A. in Education (Bilingual Education)
Stanford University; Palo Alto, California; Ph.D; Education
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/HfwZaAo5UAs
For almost twenty years, Wilda Marston was the single most unabashed advocate and influential library supporter in Anchorage, serving on the Anchorage Municipal Library Advisory Board from 1978-90. As the moving force behind the new Loussac Library, Wilda was honored by the community’s decision to name the library’s theatre the Wilda Marston Theater. Wilda also served on the federal Depository Library Council and the National Historic Preservation Committee.
Wilda has been a critical factor in the growth of libraries in Anchorage and indeed all of Alaska. She provides a wonderful example of the difference one person can make in the life of a community.
Janet McCabe has made significant contributions to Alaska in her profession as a community planner and in her civic involvement in justice system reform, preservation of Alaska’s history, and community engagement in public issues.
McCabe grew up in Massachusetts, where her father, Joseph Walker, started the first criminal lab in the state in 1934. As a chemist, he demonstrated that scientific evidence could eliminate the guess work of crime scenes and provide evidence about perpetrators, such as shooting distance, chemical residue of bullets, identification of blood type, and the use of finger prints to identify a criminal. He frequently took his young daughter, Janet, to court to listen to the use of scientific evidence in criminal cases. He told her its use made the criminal justice system fairer. That lesson has remained with her for her entire life.
She graduated from Smith College and did an internship her senior year with the Boston City Planning Department, where she developed her interest in planning. When she and her husband, David McCabe, came to Alaska in 1960, she worked for the Fairbanks City Planning Department reviewing zoning and subdivision regulations. That practical experience assisted her with her graduate studies in City Planning at Harvard.
Returning to Alaska with a Master’s Degree after the 1964 Earthquake, McCabe found opportunity as a community planner with the Alaska State Housing Authority, where she worked in small villages, such as Yakutat, Goodnews Bay and Kwethluk as well as larger communities, such as Palmer, Sitka and Ketchikan.
In 1973, McCabe had the opportunity to work on a statewide scale as Staff Planner for the Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission. The commission was established to study issues about federal, state and Native owned lands and to make recommendations to the U.S. Congress to be used in drafting the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which was adopted in 1981.
When the Commission ended its work, McCabe was selected by Secretary of Interior Udall as Regional Director for the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS), which strengthened her interest in the preservation of Alaska History. She later shifted to the National Park Service as Special Assistant to the NPS Regional Director. Her assignments there focused on intergovernmental projects such as the development of the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers, the acquisition of Kennicott Mine as part of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and liaison with the Alaska Visitors Association. Her emphasis throughout her planning career was to bring diverse voices into the discussion of public policy issues. She retired from the National Park Service in 2000.
McCabe received the YWCA Woman of Achievement award in 2005. Her nominator wrote, “Normally, retirement means taking time for oneself, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of free time. Janet made the opposite choice: retirement meant taking on new projects and devoting her free time to them. Retirement for Janet meant working harder and being paid nothing.”
Since 2000 Janet has been a full-time volunteer with community service organizations, primarily in fields of therapeutic justice, reduction of criminal recidivism, cultural and historic preservation for the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm region and civic engagement with Alaska Common Ground, which engages Alaskans in respectful conversations about public policy issues through community forums.
Partners for Progress – Therapeutic Justice
McCabe’s goal to make the court system fair to all led her to join with Alaska District Court Judge Jim Wanamaker and the Municipality of Anchorage to start Partners for Progress, which is a nonprofit with a goal to reduce unnecessary incarceration. She has Chaired the Board of Directors since 1999.
They initiated Alaska’s first therapeutic court for substance abusing offenders, the Anchorage Wellness Court. These courts are run using teamwork between the judges and lawyers, cooperation with the offender, and a supportive, treatment-based program. Public protection is enhanced because participants in the therapeutic courts overcome their addiction and become functioning members of the community. Through the efforts of Partners for Progress therapeutic courts are now operating in Anchorage, Fairbank, Bethel, Juneau and Ketchikan.
Partners worked to provide legislative information and education contributed to a series of laws that strengthened and expanded the therapeutic court program, culminating in 2006 with the passage of AS 28.35.028 that established a consistent sentencing system for therapeutic courts and included felony DUI and drug offenders for the first time. Legislation is now in place making the courts an integral part of the Alaska Court System. And through the efforts of Partners for Progress, Alaska is recognized as one of the states with exemplary therapeutic programs. A report published in 2005 by the National Drug Court Institute and the National Judicial College cited the Anchorage Wellness Court as an example to other courts considering establishing a therapeutic court. (“DWI / Drug Courts: Reducing Recidivism, Saving Lives” by C. West Huddleston, Director, The National Drug Court Institute and Robin Wosje, Program Attorney, The National Judicial College.)
A graduate of Anchorage Therapeutic court said,
“Before, when I was in trouble, it was the State of Alaska against me. In this court program, the judge, the case coordinator, the treatment provider, the prosecutor, the defender and myself – are all working together against my addiction.”
Recognizing that achieving a significant reduction in incarceration and criminal recidivism will require a more comprehensive approach, Janet and other members of the Board expanded their mission to encompass support for “therapeutic justice” programs that go beyond the therapeutic courts and include sentenced offenders under the Department of Corrections. To implement this change she and Partners’ board and staff: Initiated a grant-funded program and signed an agreement with the Department of Corrections to coordinate with probation officers to provide temporary housing assistance to probationers who are reentering the community and striving to become employed and self-sufficient.Collaborated with Alaska Common Ground, the Department of Corrections, the Mental Health Trust and others to sponsor a successful Cost-Effective Justice Forum including national experts on the subject. The program incorporated extra outreach measures to involve State Legislators. Collaborated with the Anchorage Chief of Police, the Municipal Prosecutor, members of the Alaska Court System and others to plan and open Alaska’s first 24/7 Sobriety Monitoring test site on July 23, 2011. The site helped maintain the sobriety of participants who would otherwise lose custody of their children, and provided a useful example of a method of protecting the public against DUI while reducing incarceration.
In 2013 Janet led a successful effort to obtain a funding for Partners Reentry Center and worked with others to greatly expand an existing collaborative effort to reduce recidivism through reentry assistance. National research showing that combining employment with other types of assistance is most effective in cutting recidivism. Thus, the program combines employment services with transitional housing, basic needs assistance, and case management, counseling and mentoring. Opened in August 2013, Partners Reentry Center was assisting 30 to 50 reentrants a day by January, 2014.
In 1999 McCabe initiated the formation of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association (KMTA CCA). The primary purpose was to establish a National Heritage Area (NHA) to give Congressional recognition to the outstanding and nationally significant scenic, historical and cultural values of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm region, and to provide funding for local efforts to preserve these resources. The federal law creating Alaska’s first NHA was enacted in 2009. As President of KMTA CCA, McCabe managed a federal grant to prepare the management plan for the new NHA and to assist with locally initiated projects. With the help of an excellent Program Manager and community leaders throughout the region, this work has resulted in completion of over 35 National Heritage Area projects, ranging from School District approved curricula and student field trips on NHA history and culture to historic preservation and museum development projects.
As a Board Member and Treasurer of the Association, she helped obtain and manage a grant that provided funding for historic preservation projects, museums, oral history collections and public pavilions in the seven communities of the mountainous region between Bird-Indian and Seward. A recent accomplishment is the publication of “Trails Across Time”, a book by Kaylene Johnson providing a vivid history of this scenic and historic region of Alaska.
Hope and Sunrise Historical Society – McCabe and other like-minded people initiated the Hope and Sunrise Historical Society to help preserve Alaska’s Gold Rush history. The organization has flourished, building a museum and working with others to restore an historic mining camp and schoolhouse on the museum campus in the village of Hope. In 2009 McCabe chaired a committee that obtained a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation and restored Hope’s original log cabin schoolhouse to its 1904 appearance, complete with Victorian wallpaper and the voice of the schoolteacher describing the school and reading his students a story from McGuffey’s Reader.
McCabe served as Chair of the “We Are Alaskans Committee” of Alaska Common Ground . Working with Esther Wunnicke and a group of people who wanted to combat racism in Alaska, Janet led an effort to use television media to celebrate the diversity of Alaskans. The “We Are Alaskans” Committee has coordinated with Al Bramstedt of Channel 2 to produce two award-winning television Public Service Announcements. The Committee’s plan is to expand this effort to create a series of PSAs celebrating cultural diversity in Alaska and highlighting the message that Alaskans of different races and ethnic backgrounds share a common human bond.
As a member of Commonwealth North, McCabe served on the Executive Committee for the Urban Rural Unity Study and helped write the report.
She also served on Board of Directors, Anchorage Festival of Music and represented the Festival on the Board of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts while the Festival was a Resident Company. In this capacity, she and Manju Bhargava organized the “World in Alaska” performances, a series of Sunday afternoon events that showcased the dance and music of a wide variety of cultural groups. These performances frequently included both children and adults and were designed to encourage more widespread use of the Performing Arts Center as well as to share the cultural arts of the community.
McCabe has also been involved in her neighborhood by serving as the President of the Downtown and South Addition Community Councils and the Harvard Club of Alaska. She also served on the Board of Directors of Alaska Common Ground for decades.
Ms. McCabe has been honored by many organizations for her contributions and accomplishments. Among the Honors she received are:
Recognized by the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners as an APA Charter Member
Award of Distinction, Anchorage Federal Executive Association, 1988, for leading the development of Alaska Public Lands Information Centers
Certificate of Appreciation, Commonwealth North, 2000, Urban Rural Unity Study
Outstanding Service Award, Alaska Bar Association, 2002
Woman of Achievement, YWCA, 2005
Jay Rabinowitz Public Service Award by the Alaska Bar Association, 2014
Janet McCabe has been married to her greatest supporter, David McCabe since 1960. Together they have raised their daughter, Sarah and two sons, Mitchell and David. The McCabes are happy to be the grandparents of three wonderful children.
As her life in Alaska has reflected, Janet McCabe believes that women should get involved in their communities and practice giving back.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/tdCIbbXn4cI
Marie Meade stated, “I am a modern Yup’ik woman living a contemporary life in Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska, while remaining connected to a long lifeline of Yup’ik women who were strong and determined in their ways.“
Meade is Yup’ik Eskimo from Southwest Alaska. She was born and raised in Nunapicuaq, a village of about 300 on the tundra between the Kuskokwim River and the Bering Sea. Her late father, Upayuilnguq, was from the Kuskokwim River bay area, and her late mother, Narullgiar, was from Nelson Island. Marie graduated from Bethel high school and attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. She received most of her knowledge of Yup’ik language and culture from her parents, family and community.
In 1970 Meade was chosen by her community to teach the first bilingual program in her village under the Bureau of Indian Affairs school. In preparation for teaching first graders in their language, which she spoke fluently, she learned how to read and write Yup’ik at the Alaska Native Language Institute in Fairbanks. After teaching for a year, she went back to Fairbanks and worked at the Yup’ik Language Workshop creating curriculum and teaching materials for Yup’ik language instruction. There she worked with colleagues such as Irene Reed. She found this experience exhilarating and exciting – to create a written language. She used traditional stories that she had learned from elders, who illustrated them with pictures using a “story knife” in the mud of the Kuskokwim River.
She recalled going to spring camp and to fish camp, to sitting in her mother’s lap sipping tea and listening to the stories of elderly women. They often called Meade “grandmother” because she was named for her grandmother, who had died before Meade’s birth. The ebb and the flow of seasonal activities on the tundra became the foundation of the materials she developed for her Yup’ik language classes.
The Fairbanks opportunity was also the time for this village woman to manage the freedom from very strict parents at home. While arranged marriages were still common in the early 1970s, Meade resisted the idea. She met and married the father of her two sons who was stationed in Fairbanks with the U.S. Army. Two years later they all moved to Bethel where Meade was employed by the Kuskokwim Community College to teach Yup’ik. She recalls teaching now world-famous Corey Flintoff, then a young public radio announcer, how to pronounce Yup’ik words on the radio.
While her children were growing, Meade discovered the positive energy of Yup’ik dance – much of which had been stamped out by missionaries in the 1960s. She learned the graceful motions that accompanied the drums and found dancing to be life-giving.
In 1990 Meade went to an international conference in Fairbanks and was asked to take the place of another Alaska presenter, who was supposed to address Native “literacy.” With some hesitation, Meade volunteered a presentation about Yup’ik women’s fancy parkas with a slide show and the use of many Yup’ik terms to describe different parts of the clothing and its history. Ann Fienup-Riordan, an Alaska anthropologist, was present at this presentation. Their meeting initiated two decades of partnership in the documentation of Yup’ik culture, language and practices. Their first joint project was the Yup’ik mask exhibit in 1996 -1997.
Meade, Riordan and other museum professionals assembled the traveling mask exhibit called “Agayuliyararput; Our Way of Making Prayer” that opened in Toksook Bay in 1997 and traveled to Anchorage, New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle. They prepared a book to accompany the exhibit titled, Kegginaqut, Kangiit-llu/Yup’ik Masks and the Stories They Tell, which was published with Meade’s translation of the elders’ interpretations of the masks.
Their next project included traveling to Berlin, Germany with a delegation of Yup’ik elders and educators from Bethel who were joined by cultural anthropologists and museum professionals at the Berlin Ethnologisches Museum to examine and interpret an unprecedented 2,000-item collection of Yup’ik material culture gathered in Alaska in 1883. The team produced a book describing and interpreting the contents of the collection, entitled, Ciuliamta Akluit / Things of Our Ancestors: Yup’ik Elders Explore the Jacobsen Collection at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin. Meade translated the findings of the elders for the publication. It records the elders’ perspectives on the moral underpinnings of Yup’ik social relations.
In addition to these projects, Meade has been an instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she teaches Central Yup’ik language, Yup’ik orthography and Alaska Native dance classes. She dances with the world-traveled Nunamta Yup’ik dance group.
In 2002, Meade received the Alaska Governor’s Award for Distinguished Humanities Educator and in 2014 received the Meritorious Service Award from University of Alaska Anchorage.
Meade has taught thousands of people about the culture and language of the Yup’ik people of southwest Alaska. Her teaching materials and publications are distributed internationally. She shares her knowledge, wisdom and insight with other indigenous elders from across the globe. She has traveled with Alaska elder and healer Rita Blumenstein to meetings of “The 13 Indigenous Grandmothers,” a group of wise indigenous women from across the globe who encourage teaching indigenous languages and seek a peaceful condition for the earth and her inhabitants.
Her work has been shaped by her experiences with family and community. Meade’s Yup’ik name, Arnaq, means “woman.” Her childhood was always in the company of elder women who showed her the way of being Yupik. This included the care and preparation of food, fish camp, spring camp, gathering berries and greens and being the heartbeat of a family.
Meade is the mother of three grown sons and many grandchildren. She dances with healing grace, trusts her intuition and has a grateful and open heart. When asked about advice to young women, she said: “Come to know yourself. Learn to own yourself. Trust yourself the way you are and follow your feelings.”
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/WO1VVHcXtAA
Born at Fort Walla Walla, Washington on St. Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1880, Mears was the second of three children, the second eldest daughter of a family with a strong military tradition. Her father, Major Robert Page Wainwright (1852-1902), was a U.S. Army officer and West Point graduate, class of 1875. He fought Indians on the western frontier and commanded a cavalry squadron in the Battle of Santiago in the Spanish-American War. He died in 1902 while on active duty in the Philippine Insurrection. Her brother, Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, the commanding general of Filipino and U.S. Army forces in the Philippines (1941-1942), led delaying tactics on Bataan and Corregidor during World War II against superior Japanese forces. The military base at Fairbanks, Alaska was named in his honor.
Little is known about Mears’ early life. She studied music and voice at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and planned an operatic career.
Mears met her future husband, Frederick Mears, while he was stationed as an Army Lieutenant at the Army Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1907, she married Mears at Fort Clark, Texas. She accompanied her husband to Panama, where he spent the next eight years building the Panama Railroad and coping with a multitude of problems involving the building of the Panama Canal. They lived in Cristobal, Panama, near Colon. In Panama, their daughters were born, Josephine “Jo,” in 1908 and Elizabeth “Betty” in 1910. In April 1914, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Frederick Mears to the Alaskan Engineering Commission.
Mears arrived in Ship Creek in May 1915 with her two daughters, Jo and Betty. While they awaited completion of a cottage, the family occupied a plank-floor tent of their own, cooked over a wood stove, and burned kerosene for light. Their home, AEC Cottage No. 6, was built on Government Hill atop a bluff to the north of the terminal yards. In January 1917, the Mears family moved to AEC Cottage No. 29, a two-story residence overlooking Cook Inlet, across the flats of Ship Creek and up C Street toward West Second Avenue.
Mears took wholeheartedly to the Alaskan lifestyle. She accompanied her husband, who was at ease in the out-of-doors, on wilderness outings and held her own in marksmanship. Her family enjoyed sharing the wilderness with visitors and official dignitaries, often taking them hunting, fishing, and camping. For those who had never been to Alaska, it was the experience of a lifetime.
Through her husband, Mears helped convince the federal government a school should be built with federal funds. Since Anchorage was a federal government boomtown, the AEC had to accept the responsibility for public education. In 1915, the AEC designed and built the school, now known as the Pioneer School House. Federal funds were allocated under the Alaska Railroad Act for construction of a two-story building, located at Fifth Avenue between F and G Streets, on the School Reserve, a full square block platted by the AEC. After the second school was completed (1917), the school was moved across the street (southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and E Street).
Mears was the principal organizer of the Anchorage Woman’s Club (AWC), and served twice as president. The public subscription money raised by the Anchorage Woman’s Club, with a small grant from the territorial government, was a temporary solution to the dilemma in providing for public education in Anchorage, which was not solved until the following year. The members of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce volunteered to fund construction of a school building. Classes in the first public school opened on November 15, 1915, with one hundred students and four teachers, with Orah Dee Clark as principal. The four-room structure was built in less than a month by the AEC, in the late summer of 1915. The school lacked paint, running water, restrooms, a satisfactory heating system, and a solid foundation.
The AWC had an interest in education, home economics, art, and literature, and represented those directions taken in club work. They also formed the first Parent Teacher Association. By the summer of 1917, Anchorage’s population had grown to over five thousand and school enrollment stood at over two hundred. By the fall of 1917, the AEC built a new, larger school (Anchorage Public School), a $45,000, two-story frame building located on Fifth Avenue between F and G Streets. This second school was used for elementary and secondary classes until it was torn down and replaced by Central Grade School, which later became the Old City Hall Annex. As a result, public bonding was not required to finance school construction until 1928.
Educated in the fine arts and music, Mears devoted herself to the Anchorage community. She inspired community participation in musical and theatrical performances and often held rehearsals for local musicians and theatrical groups in her living room, accompanying them on her Steinway piano. These amateur performances were the beginnings of cultural activity in Anchorage.
During World War I, Frederick Mears resigned from the AEC and left the Alaska Railroad project to enter active duty in France. The people of Anchorage held a gala farewell banquet and reception for Frederick and Jane Mears on January 3, 1918 in the Anchorage Labor Temple. After the Armistice, Frederick Mears resumed his work on the Alaska Railroad, taking over as chairman of the AEC and chief engineer to complete the railroad. In July 1923, Mears, with his family, left Alaska for Seattle to start work for the Great Northern Railroad. He became chief engineer in 1925, remaining in this capacity until his death in 1939 at the age of sixty.
Jane Wainwright Mears died on December 17, 1953, in Los Angeles, California.
The first school, known today as the Pioneer School House, was later used as the Pioneer Hall by the Pioneers of Alaska. The AWC, on its fiftieth anniversary in 1965, spearheaded a drive to save the original building and to relocate it to its present site in Ben Crawford Memorial Park at Third Avenue and Eagle Street. Owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, the building is managed by the AWC. The building is a community gathering place and is used for meetings of various groups, school tours, and for special occasions. The Pioneer School House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Mears Junior High School (now Mears Middle School) in Anchorage was named in honor of Mears in 1965 in recognition of her work to establish public education in Anchorage and in the development of the Anchorage public schools.
Anchorage Woman’s Club Records. Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage; https://archives.consortiumlibrary.org/collections/specialcollections/hmc-1200/.
Crittenden, Katherine Carson. Get Mears!: Frederick Mears: Builder of the Alaska Railroad. Portland, OR: Binford & Mort, Publishing, in cooperation with the Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage, Alaska, 2002.
File: Mears, Jane Wainwright. Cook Inlet Historical Society. Legends and Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, Project Research Files, Box 8 (2017.004). Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum.
Frederick Mears Family Papers. Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage; https://archives.consortiumlibrary.org/collections/specialcollections/hmc-1063/.
Parham, R. Bruce. “Mears, Jane Wainwright.” Cook Inlet Historical Society. Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940; https://www.alaskahistory.org.
Pioneer School House,” (AHRS ANC-244), Anchorage, AK. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service; https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm.
Vera K Metcalf is an educator, researcher, and effective advocate for rural, northern Alaska Native people. She steadfastly works to protect the subsistence lifestyles of Alaska Native people and preservation of their traditions and languages, as well as for the resources that are fundamentally important for the rural, primarily Native communities across the Arctic. Since 2002 Metcalf has been the executive director of the Eskimo Walrus Commission, and since 2011 an executive committee member of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. For both groups, she works with northern Native people to document traditional ecological knowledge and promote research for responsible decision-making. She represents the two commissions at national and international forums, including the Indigenous People’s Council on Marine Mammals, the Arctic Marine Mammal Coalition, and the Arctic Waterways Safety Committee. She also is a commissioner on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, on an advisory panel of the North Pacific Research Board, a member of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, and an advisor on Native affairs for the Marine Mammal Commission.
Metcalf was born in 1952 and raised in Savoonga (Sivungaq) on St. Lawrence Island in northwestern Alaska. A good student, she was hired to be the kindergarten teacher’s aide at the then BIA-run school there. For the early grades at the school, the teacher prepared the lessons, and the aides taught them in the Yu’pik language because that was what the children knew. Metcalf met her husband Bob when she attended an education conference, and several years later moved to Nome and married him. They have a son, Matthew, who lives with his family in Anchorage. Bob moved to Nome from Pennsylvania in 1977 and worked as a pilot. “It wasn’t long though before I met an amazing person who became my wife, Vera,” he said. “Beyond our life together, the greatest privilege that I have had is being included as part of her incredible family on St. Lawrence Island.”
When she moved to Nome, Metcalf worked in bilingual education and starting in 1994 for the Bering Straits Foundation in Nome. She also attended college and earned her bachelor’s degree in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1999. In 2002, Metcalf became director of the Eskimo Walrus Commission with Kawerak, Inc. and is in that position today. She facilitates meetings of the 19 commission members. Metcalf is widely respected among her people, and by state, national and international colleagues and decision-makers for her knowledge of Arctic wildlife resources and national and international wildlife laws and regulations. Her position papers, letters, and presentations on proposed regulations, legislation, and polices exhibit a depth of knowledge and understanding of issues, and clearly present positions and recommendations. Currently, the Eskimo Walrus Commission recognizes that poaching of elephants for their tusks has endangered the animal’s survival, but Metcalf is working to ensure Alaska Native people can continue to harvest walrus, carve the ivory, and legally sell the carvings. The Bering Sea walrus population currently is healthy, but Metcalf works closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to monitor it as there is less sea ice annually.
Of special importance to Metcalf is what she has done for the people of St. Lawrence Island. Metcalf coordinated the repatriation of over 1,000 ancestral remains to the people from the Smithsonian Institution. In the course of that work, she collaborated with Igor Krupnik of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History to author Akuzilleput Igaqullghet = Our words put to paper, a sourcebook on St. Lawrence Island heritage and history published in 2002. For this work, she was recognized with a Before Columbus Foundation award in 2003. She again worked with Krupnik to compile and edit Neqamikegkaput / faces we remember: Leuman Waugh’s photography from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, 1929-1930, published in 2011.
Metcalf has received awards from the Bering Straits Foundation in 1997, and a WINGS Women of Discovery Sea Award in 2008. But to her, the highest honor is having the respect of the people of St. Lawrence Island and their acknowledgement of her dedication and work for them.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/97TXOiC5Vqk
Jo Michalski is recognized as one of the most successful business women in Alaska and is a highly-respected philanthropist and fundraiser. She is also very well known for her years of community involvement and leadership capabilities.
Michalski was born in Wisconsin and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. From a very young age, it was apparent to those around her that she had the leadership tendencies needed to be a success at whatever she tackled. Elected the first girl to be president of her high school’s student council, it wasn’t long before these leadership qualities set the pattern for her life and contributed to her and her sister, Jane Hayenga, being inducted into the Alaska Business Hall of Fame.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Science, she taught ninth grade Social Studies for the Minneapolis School District. It was during this time that she met her husband, Peter, on a blind date, and as they say “the rest is history”. Peter was attending the University Of Minnesota’s law school and they were married in 1969.
Unknown to them at this time, Alaska was on the verge of becoming a major player in the energy world with the advent of Prudhoe Bay and the Trans Alaska Pipeline. John Havelock, then Attorney General for the State of Alaska, didn’t have enough attorneys on staff to handle all the additional work this new industry imposed upon the State, and he sent his team to the law schools in the rest of the country to find good people to recruit to come to Alaska to work on Alaskan issues.
The Michalskis were intrigued with the offer to come to Alaska and so something so different – it would be a grand adventure for them. In 1971 Peter signed a two-year contract to work for the Department of Law in Juneau and that was all it took – by the end of their contract, they were “hooked” and committed to building a good life for themselves in Alaska.
While in Juneau, Michalski learned about a vacancy in the Alaska Department of Education to help develop a statewide curriculum for environmental education in Alaska through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Since she had worked on curriculum development issues while teaching in Minneapolis, this opportunity fit both her and the State very well. For three years, she traveled all over Alaska, conducting environmental education workshops for the schools.
At the end of their two-year contract, they decided to move to Fairbanks where Peter continued his work in the Fairbanks District Attorney’s office. Michalski took her Department of Education job with her to Fairbanks, frequently traveling between Fairbanks and Juneau while at the same time working on her Masters’ Degree in Secondary School Administration at the University of Alaska (she received her degree in 1976). Her plan at that time was to prepare herself for a job as a High School Principal.
While working for the Department of Education, Michalski was responsible for organizing the first Governor’s Conference on Environmental Education in Alaska under Governor Egan. Several years later she helped organize the second conference under Governor Hammond.
Their first son was born in Fairbanks and shortly after that, the family moved to Anchorage and Peter continued working with the Department of Law. Their second son was born in Anchorage. Michalski’s plan was still to pursue a career in Anchorage with the school district as a principal, but that goal never came to fruition. Instead, she found that she really enjoyed being a businesswoman and this set the course for the next thirty-two years of her life.
Michalski’s younger sister, Jana Hayenga, moved to Anchorage from Minnesota in 1979. Their maternal grandmother had recently died and left them each some unfinished quilt tops. They were unable to find the supplies they needed to finish the quilts in Anchorage, so – on a whim – they decided to open their own quilting store. At that time, quilting supplies had to be ordered from the Lower 48 and they thought there was room in the market for their business. They opened the first quilt shop in Alaska.
They knew that many folks in Anchorage enjoyed quilting and it seemed like this would be a good business idea. After numerous attempts to get bank loans – all unsuccessful – they determined to go forward with their plan anyway and with help from their family, their first business venture got underway and they launched Country Classics. And – it was a success!
Starting a business was a big change from the craft fairs the two sisters had been doing, plus teaching school and raising a family. However, it was a start and they provided a comfortable local spot where quilters and others could come for supplies and advice. It was a hit and it filled a need and this has been the guiding principle for all the retails stores they opened and operated since.
It was during the start-up of this first business that Michalski discovered not only did she like being a retailer, but more importantly, she liked making money! She firmly believed that a business could only be successful if it was making money and making a profit – and she was right.
Making a profit enabled Michalski to stock excellent goods in her retail stores, to pay her employees a fair and decent wage and to give back to the community. Michalski says “if you are in business to make money, to make a profit, then you are going to line everything else up correctly. You are going to buy the right inventory, you will hire the right employees and train them correctly. You are a better retailer because this is your guiding principle”.
In addition to Country Classics, Michalski and her sister owned four other stores together: Alaska Book Fair Company from 1988 to 1996; Classic Toys from 1985 to 1998; Flypaper from 1996 to 1999 and Once Upon A Time from 1988 to 1996. Michalski also separately owned two fashionable boutiques – Classic Woman clothing, which she opened in 1990 and Portfolio clothing, which she opened in 2000. She sold both of these stores in 2012.
In balancing her life between family and career, Michalski said the secret was in running a successful business so that she could hire good staff who would free up her time to spend as needed with her family. Both of her sons helped and worked in her businesses as they were growing up, and even though they followed their father’s footsteps in becoming lawyers, both have expressed an interest in opening a retail business.
Asked about her relationship with her sister during all these ventures, Michalski said it was simple:
“My sister and I got along very well because we totally trusted each other to handle the various responsibilities we had”. She said she could not imagine having anyone else as a business partner. When they first started their joint businesses, they would meet every day to go over their daily schedules and jobs. She also credits the Calais Company with part of their success – she said they were incredible landlords who helped them immensely.
Michalski said she loved being in business and being around people and the challenges this provided. She never was hesitant about wanting to go into work and said she loved challenging herself to do better and be better at what she was doing. In the retail industry, “it is easy to challenge oneself and to measure your success – all you have to do is look at your bottom line to make sure you are exceeding your last financial statement!” She also said that if it wasn’t fun, she wouldn’t do it.
In her businesses, Michalski credited great staff with her success. In her thirty-two years of retails business she never once advertised for employees. They would come to her. She provided a fair and equitable wage and was one of the forerunners in the Alaska retail world to offer her staff with flexible hours for working. She claims that retired teachers and nurses made very good staff because they had the innate ability to multi-task – something that is crucial in a retail environment.
Although she never felt as if she was challenged with a “glass ceiling”, she did recall her early attempts at getting bank loans as one of the real challenges she had in starting her retail career. It was probably these naysayers that can be credited with challenging her to pursue her dreams in spite of their inability to understand what she was attempting to do.
Asked to discuss a highlight of her career, Michalski said “Being inducted into the Alaska Business Hall of Fame. Very few women and fewer retailers ever get this acknowledgement and my sister and I were honored to receive this recognition.”
Michalski’s mother was a prominent political figure in Minnesota; she was the first woman to run for statewide office and she worked for the Minnesota House of Representatives for more than twenty years. She ran Senator Hubert Humphry’s congressional office and worked on both his senatorial and presidential campaigns. With this family background in politics and politics being such a personal thing in Alaska, I asked Michalski if she ever toyed with the idea of running for public office, she replied that “although she had been asked to run for public office, it was never the right place or the right time”. She further said she got too busy being in business to run for public office.
Volunteerism and fundraising for organizations to which she belongs has always been part of Michalski’s life. She said from her very early years she was tagged as a leader and these activities have always been a part of whom she is.
Michalski has held leadership positions with various non-profit organizations including the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Public Media, Camp Fire Alaska, the Anchorage YWCA, the Bunnell Arts Center in Homer, Alaska Junior Theater, the League of Women Voters and the Alaska Community Foundation. She recently finished ten years as a trustee on the University of Alaska Foundation Board and served two years as board chair. She says that “volunteer work in Alaska is sort of a curious animal. Once you become involved and active, you are asked to do other things. If people find out you are willing to sit on a board, they want you to sit on their board also. Once you get started, it just takes on a life of its own.”
Since retiring, she is spending more of her time with development and fundraising activities for the various organizations she is a part of. “I find development fundraising to be the most interesting. It is the most significant job that board members are asked to do – to raise money for the organization and to watch over how the money is spent. I’ve always enjoyed the fundraising element of volunteer work and that is something not everyone is comfortable with. A lot of people go onto boards and dread that part of it” she says.
Michalski has a real gift for fundraising for the organizations in which she is involved. She shared her philosophy – “I don’t mind asking people for donations. I don’t mind when others ask me for a donation. I’m old enough that I can say ‘yes’ and determine at what level I am willing to give, or I can say ‘no’, but good luck in your fundraising. Other people that I might ask for donations from have the same ability to make a yes or no choice. The key to fundraising is to never take it personally. There are hundreds of wonderful, deserving organizations in our state. All of them need to raise money for their case, but everyone cannot support everything.”
Michalski is a very generous person. She financially and personally supports many organizations throughout Alaska. “We give back to the community,” Michalski says. “If you are a business person and you live in this community and it is where you make your money, it is imperative that you give back to the community.”
Since both Michalski and her husband are now retired, they are looking forward to traveling and seeing places around the world they had only seen before in pictures. “I want to go and see places that I never thought I would ever be able to see”, she says.
1997 Athena Award presented by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
1998 Outstanding Small Business in Philanthropy Award – given by the Association of
Fundraising Professionals (awarded to Jo and her sister Jana Hayenga)
1998 Woman Entrepreneur Award given by YWCA of the United States
1999 Gold Pan Award for Outstanding Community Service presented by the Anchorage
Chamber of Commerce
2001 Women in History Month Citation, Alaska State Legislature as an “Outstanding Businesswoman
2002 YWCA Women of Achievement Award
2006 Philanthropists of the Year Award presented by the Association of Fundraising
Professionals (award to Jo and Peter Michalski)
2011 Alumni Achievement Award for Business and Professional Excellence presented by the
University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumni Association
2015 Inducted into the Alaska Business Hall of Fame presented by Junior Achievement of Alaska,
Biographical information written and compiled by Gail Philips, January 2016
1. 2016 Nomination form submitted by nominator Sharon Richards
2. Telephone conversation and review with Sharon Richards, January 2016
3. Alaska Business Monthly – “Longtime Alaskans Inducted to the Business Hall of Fame”,
4. Alaska Business Monthly – “Jana Hayenga and Jo Michalski”, January 2015
5. UAF Alumni Association – 2011 Alumni Achievement Awards, Fall Quarter, 2011
6. The Statewide Voice – “Q and A Conversation with Jo Michalski: Ravenclaw”, November 2012
7. Betty Hayenga Obituary – Janssen Funeral Home – Anchorage, Alaska March 2008
8. Personal Interview with Gail Phillips, January 2016
9. Personal emails with Gail Phillips, January 2016