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Lael Morgan

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Categories: 2011 Alumnae, Education, Journalism


A former drama major at Emerson College in Boston, Lael swapped her stage dreams for a degree from Boston University in public relations and communications. Not content with such a mundane degree, she went on to study detective work at the Nick Harris Detective School in Los Angeles and still holds a private detective’s license with the State of California. Lael’s early career included a stint as reporter for the Malden Press in Massachusetts before she moved to Alaska in 1959. After moving into the far north, Lael worked as secretary for the founding vice president of Alaska Methodist University, became an account executive for Alaska Advertising Agency and then advertising and public relations manager for Caribou Department Stores in Anchorage. During this period, Lael also served on the board of the Anchorage YMCA, worked on CARE and United Way campaigns, helped write the Fur Rendezvous magazine, served as a judge for the Anchorage Little Theater group, and volunteered for Anchorage’s annual heart clinic for Native children. Lael also has worked for the Juneau Empire, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner and Jessen’s Weekly, while freelancing for the Tundra Times and other publications around the state. In 1968, Lael began a five-year career at the Los Angeles Times, then returned to Alaska for assignments with the Tundra Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Alaska Northwest Publishing. In 1988, Lael joined the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting, University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she taught writing, photography, and multimedia for thirteen years.

Over her career of more than five decades, Lael has spent time in Alaska’s Native villages. Working for Alaska Magazine during one three-year period, her assignment was to visit every Native village qualifying under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Of those 220 villages, she visited all but 13. To get her stories, she went on Eskimo hunting trips to the Siberian shore, served four times on Eskimo whaling crews on the moving ice of the Chuckchi Sea and Arctic Ocean, braved exposure to grizzlies and polar bears, bitter cold, tuberculosis, and all the other extremes that Alaska Natives faced. When Lael first came to Alaska, virtually no newspaper in the state would carry news of its indigenous people. She became focused on their problems and their future. Although she never thought she would see an equitable settlement in her lifetime, she began covering the Alaska Native Land Claims movement, eventually leaving a well paying job at the Los Angeles Times to work at minimum wage and less for the Eskimo/Indian/Aleut newspaper in Fairbanks. Her voice, mingled with those of other reporters who dared to risk their necks and their livelihoods by reporting what was initially a very unpopular cause, did, indeed, make a difference.

In 1971, Lael won the Best Photo Feature of the Year Award from the Los Angeles Times. The following year she won awards from Rockefeller and Alicia Patterson Foundation to fund study of Alaska Natives during a year of transition. She was winner of the Dean’s Award, College of Communication, Boston University in 1987, and a Faculty Merit Award at University of Alaska three years later. Lael has sixteen published non-fiction books, the majority of which are Alaska based. In addition, she is a partner in and acquisitions editor for Epicenter Press, Alaska’s foremost publishing company, which she founded with G. Kent Sturgis in 1988. In the 1980s, Lael was appointed to the Fish and Game Board – the first woman to ever serve on the Alaska Fish and Game Board and the first woman ever fired. Her book, “Good Time Girls of the Alaskan Yukon Gold Rush” won her the title of Historian of the Year for Alaska in 1998. “Art and Eskimo Power: The Life and Times of Alaskan Howard Rock,” a book she wrote in 1988, was recently included in a listing of the state’s best nonfiction books, and was republished by University of Alaska Press in 2010. Chicago Review Press has slated her history titled “Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder”, and the “Wild Women of Montana’s Frontier” for publication in June of 2011, and Epicenter Press is publishing her biography of a Candle-born Inupiat, “Eskimo Star: From Tundra to Tinseltown, The Ray Wise Mala Story”, in the spring. Although currently residing in Maine, Lael remains heavily invested in Alaska where she serves as acquisitions editor for Epicenter Press. In addition, she is coordinating the Ray Wise Mala Film festival in conjunction with the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Alaska Native Land Claim Settlement Act managed by the ANCSA@40 EVENTS Committee.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Lael Morgan Books


Emily Morgan  

Photo of Emily Morgan  
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Community Service, Health


Trained as a registered nurse and a public health nurse by the Red Cross in Wichita, Kan., Emily Morgan was responsible for administering the serum that was brought to Nome via the famous Iditarod Serum Run for the diphtheria epidemic of 1925. She was named the “Angel of the Yukon” for saving the Natives of Nome from the “black death” during that epidemic, according to Wichita newspapers. Her work stopped the spread of that deadly disease to other villages in the Arctic during one of the greatest health crises Alaska has ever seen.

During the First World War, Morgan had a commission in the Army Reserve Nurses Corps. She served for three years in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England and Australia. While working back home as the first public health nurse in Wichita, she asked for missionary work, which brought her to Alaska for 15 years: the Jesse Lee Orphanage in Unalaska, the Maynard-Columbia Hospital in Nome and the hospital in Barrow. Morgan performed her job in Nome under the harshest of conditions – an epidemic in a rural Alaska village, a race to bring serum by dogsled delayed by blizzards, rising numbers of diphtheria cases and a serum that then had to be safely unfrozen before it could be used with patients.

A volume of biographies of Kansas notables described Morgan’s role:

While waiting for the antitoxin to arrive, Miss Morgan ministered to the ill through the long days and nights, never faltering as she added new dignity to the name of nurse.  

Morgan was called back to Nome while on furlough in Kansas in 1928 to help fight the smallpox epidemic in northern Alaska. Before leaving Alaska, she was in charge of the Barrow Hospital when the bodies of Wiley Post and Will Rogers were brought in from their plane crash on August 15, 1935. Post, a famous American aviator, and Rogers, celebrated as “America’s favorite Hollywood actor” just the year before, were on a vacation to Alaska and crashed just after takeoff near Point Barrow.

Morgan was born in Butler County, Kan., on March 7, 1878, the daughter of pioneering farmers and one of seven siblings. She graduated from Leon High School in 1897 and taught school before entering nurse’s training. She never married and died in El Dorado, Kan., in May of 1960 at the age of 82. She also served as a missionary nurse in Panama before nursing in New Zealand when World War II broke out in 1939.  She had traveled to New Zealand on a furlough to visit and minister to an ill sister, but it was unsafe to travel, and she remained at her hospital post long after the war ended.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Additional Resources: 

Blizzard delays Nome relief dogs in the final dash. (Feb. 2, 1925). The New York Times (reporting news from Nome, AK, Feb. 1, Associated Press.)  

Emily Morgan – “Angel of the Yukon.” (1980). In The Kingdom of Butler – Her People. Lawrence P. Klintworth (Ed.) El Dorado, Kansas: Butler County Historical Society, pp. 150-151.

Emily Morgan of El Dorado Risked Life to Save Hundreds in Dread Diptheria Scurge. Wichita Eagle Magazine, May 19, 1957.

Hurries to Alaska. The Topeka Capital, December 23, 1928.

Heroine of Nome Epidemic in Public Service 50 Years. Wichita Morning Eagle, Aug. 2, 1947.

The official website of Will Rogers. (retrieved from February 3, 2013. )

Ruth E. Moulton 

Photo of Ruth E. Moulton 
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Community Activism


Ruth Moulton was born in l931 in Portland, Maine, and grew up on the family apple orchard in the small town of Standish, Maine. Her family wrote: “As a girl, she read Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild’ and was so inspired that she and her dog started right off for Alaska. She got only a short way down the road when Grandpa Moulton caught up with her and brought her home.”

Moulton graduated from the University of Maine in l952 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and in l957 from Columbia University with a Master of Arts in Public Law and Government. She taught at a Maine high school, then after visiting Alaska in l959 and “feeling at home” the minute she stepped off the plane, she moved here permanently in l960.

Moulton taught English, history and social studies for several years at East High School, later worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and, in between, had a number of other jobs, including researcher and taxi driver. In l973 she returned to Harvard University for a Certificate of Advanced Study in Learning Environments. For many years, she supported herself as an independent tax-preparer.

Moulton is remembered as a community activist and as an outdoorswoman. She was an active hiker and explorer all her life. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She hiked the Chilkoot Pass three times and bicycled all over Alaska. At 75 and just diagnosed with cancer, Moulton hiked seven miles to a cabin on Resurrection Pass carrying a 35 pound pack. “She loved to organize her friends lives,” recalls John Blaine. “She would set up hiking trips over Resurrection Pass. She would arrange solstice parties where we would burn red underwear and everyone who came had to write a poem. She made people feel more active, more alive, more involved.” 

Moulton was a member of the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and a longtime resident of the Fairview community where she “lived the town-meeting philosophy” engrained in her New England upbringing as a tireless neighborhood advocate. Her efforts for the protection and safety of her Fairview neighborhood and for all neighborhoods; her appreciation of community councils as grass-roots democracy in action; her advancement of parks, trails, gardens, viewed in terms of civic responsibility, were her hallmarks. Moulton was strongly supportive of the not-yet-built extension of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to Potter Marsh and when she learned that an inland route was under consideration, she rounded up 5,000 signatures in support of the coastal route. She is credited with successfully involving hundreds of men and women in community projects she believed were important.

“Ruth never badgered anyone to help her,” Blaine says. “She was just always so sure. She would say ‘I am going to do this. Will you join me?’ She never hesitated to lead; she never complained about how difficult things were for her. She just set out to accomplish whatever it was that needed doing. She persevered through daunting opposition. She provided a strong role model for many men and women in Anchorage who learned from her example how individuals affected by governmental actions could play an effective part in governmental processes.” 

Moulton’s legacy is her persistent long-term championship for the creation and protection of Anchorage’s Town Square Park. The saga begins in l965 when Anchorage voters approved an Anchorage Garden Club-initiated petition for a city park where the Egan Convention Center now stands. The voters approved – but no action was taken. In l981 the Assembly approved building a convention center at that site. Moulton publically stated that such an action would be counter to the public vote. A lawsuit was brought to stop the convention center, but failed. Undaunted after losing the lawsuit, Moulton led a successful petition drive to reestablish the park. The Municipality responded with an alternative proposal to move the park one block south. The proposal passed, but nothing more happened.

In l984 Moulton led another petition drive to put a Charter Amendment on the ballot to set aside Block 51 (the present site of Town Square Park) for a park. The Ballot Measure passed with 75 percent of the vote. In l985 Block 51 was still being used as a parking lot. Moulton led another public crusade that resulted in legal action. This time it was successful and work began in earnest on the park.

In l987 the work on the park was halted because buildings remained on Block 51. Moulton’s group of park enthusiasts again threatened legal action and the necessary demolition was begun. She worked for two years with the Town Square Advisory Committee on the design and development of the Town Square Park that we have today; but organized another petition drive that stopped a road from going through the park.

At the time of her death, Moulton was working on an advisory committee to Mayor Mark Begich (now U.S. Senator Begich) regarding proposed changes to Town Square. Mayor Begich is reported as telling her, with a smile, that any changes would need her approval to go forward.

In an Anchorage Daily News article after her death, Mayor Begich was quoted as saying in reference to the Town Square Park: “Without Ruth Moulton, I don’t even think it would have existed.” 

Moulton was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement in l994 for her lead role in the establishment of the Town Square Park and her accomplishments in civic action.

In a 2005 article on “My Favorite Parks,” Moulton wrote:

Every town needs a central place, some sort of ‘town square.’ Such a place serves to create and solidify a community identity; it helps create a ‘there’ there, if you will. And while adding valuable open space and softness in the midst of hard surfaces and structures, it serves many other purposes, some of which are important, even basic, to a good community.

“Its openness makes it a place of refreshment in all seasons as it brings in light to the center of the city; there are gorgeous flowers in the summer and ice skating in the winter; there are autumn colors in our brief fall, and that optimistic, almost joyous, bright green in spring. It provides a bit of respite during a brief walk from corner to corner, and a calm retreat during a lunch-hour spent reading, half-dozing in the sun. 

“As important, it serves as a place for people to gather – to watch fireworks in celebration or to light candles in mourning; to listen to a military band or to petition their government; to celebrate a holiday season or a culture community; to meet in silent commemoration or listen to oratory. 

“For these and many other reasons, Town Square is my favorite park.”

The next year, in 2006, Ruth Moulton died. Over the next three years there were public and private resolutions recommending a public acknowledgement of Moulton’s role as a community activist and, more specifically, her leadership role in establishing the Town Square Park. In 2010 the Ruth Moulton Plaza was dedicated at Town Square Park.

Every April 1, on her birthday, her friends John Blaine and Dianne Holmes visit the Ruth Moulton Plaza in the Town Square Park. They bring a box with a sign that reads: “SOAP BOX,” a portable mike, homemade cookies and coffee. Anyone passing by is invited to share the cookies and coffee, get up on the Soap Box and give civil discourse on any subject they choose. “It’s very funky,” John says. “I think Ruth would enjoy it.”

Induction ceremony acceptance speech


A Resolution of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly Remembering the Life and Contributions of Ruth Moulton to the City of Anchorage and Requesting That Her Name Be Submitted to the Public Facilities Advisory Commission With a Recommendation To Designate Anchorage’s Town Square or a Significant Integral Feature Thereof in Her Memory (Approved 12/19/06)


Municipality of Anchorage Parks & Recreation Commission Resolution 2007-12 Naming Town Square Park to Commemorate Ruth Moulton. (Approved March 8, 2007)


Public Facilities Advisory Commission: Resolution 2007-03: A Resolution of the Public Facilities Advisory Commission Recommending Assembly Action to Name Town Square Park in honor of Ruth Moulton (March 28, 2007)


Anchorage Daily News: November 18, 2006: Ruth Moulton was a rock until the end. COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Cancer silences active Anchorage woman. By Rosemary Shinohara


Anchorage Daily News: November 22, 2006 Obituaries: Ruth Moulton

Marge Mullen

Photo of Marge Mullen
Categories: 2010 Alumnae, Community Activism


A city girl from Chicago, Marge walked 65 miles through the wilderness to stake a homestead on Soldotna Creek near the Kenai River. She is the first woman to live in Soldotna under the Homestead Act in 1947. As a young wife and mother making her home in a log cabin on Soldotna Creek in 1947, Marge learned many skills she never dreamed of as a child in Chicago. Living without a grocery store meant that she would have to learn to hunt, catch, grow and preserve the family food.

Inspired by the first Earth Day, Marge organized the first roadside litter pickup in 1970. She also served as a member and chair of the local planning commission. With her hiking “buddies” (most of who were male), Marge organized the Kenai Peninsula Conservation Society and served a term as its president in the 1980s.

Today, Marge is unofficial historian for Soldotna. She has archived over 1000 photos at Kenai Peninsula College. She chairs the local historical society and coordinates activities at the town’s Homestead Museum. She brings a digital slide show, a charming wit and her vast knowledge of the early days to the local speaker circuit.

Marge, now in her ninetieth year, still takes a brisk walk daily and is a continuing inspiration for generations of local women as she actively maintains her health and her connections with her family and community. Marge continues to reside in the community she helped to build and where she raised her four children.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Peggy Mullen

Photo of Peggy Mullen
Categories: 2020 Alumnae, Community Service


Not only is  Mullen creative and a visionary, she is also a passionate conservationist and steward of the environment. 

She still lives on the homestead property where she grew up. Last summer, she built the third incarnation of her bookstore, River City Books, on a corner of the homestead near the highway to Homer. It is elegantly designed with every “green and sustainable” element possible —from solar panels to edible plants surrounding it. 

The Mullens were the first homesteading family in Soldotna and the town grew up around them. (Soldotna has a population of nearly 5,000 now.) Surely, in earlier years, and even today, no hitchhiker on the highway near the Mullen homestead would ever go hungry. Mullen or her siblings or her mother Margie usually came and collected them and took them home for dinner. There was always a place under the kitchen table for an extra sleeping bag. 

Mullen is devoted to Soldotna and Alaska. If you applaud the creation of walkable places, seek out nature trails, buy a book, eat gourmet food, buy a charming or beautiful present for your kitchen or a friend, recycle your newspapers and pop cans, you have been the happy recipient of Mullen’s spirit of good works, her passion, humor, her intelligence, and her dedication. 

If you see someone collecting trash at the side of the highway or down on her hands and knees pulling out invasive weeds along the roadside, it is also likely to be Mullen. As she once said, invasive species are so hard to control, but it is so important to try. It is all for the protection of Alaska’s beautiful streams, rivers, and waterways. 

Mullen has made significant contributions to Soldotna and Alaska in very tangible forms. She started four elegant small business in a wilderness town. The first, in 1978, was “The Four Seasons,” a lovely little restaurant, the first of its kind in Soldotna (and, impressively for its time, an architecturally-designed building!) set back in the woods on the homestead property with a gourmet Alaska fare. The second was Northcountry Fair, a small design shop with household wares and gifts—a little of everything—like an upscale general store for folks far from a city. It really showcased Mullen’s delightful and whimsical humor and her touch of the artist by adding a little elegance in the woods. It surely nurtured another side of the community heart. The third business which she now still runs is River City Books. This small bookstore with an incredible selection is where folks come for books and talks or to gather and eat at another one of her former businesses, “now placed in very capable young hands,” she says. 

Food, art, and books—these are all at the core of any happy community. But, in addition,Mullen has worked in very concrete ways to expand other places and activities that make a community a home—the kinds of things that connect people and bring a shared happiness, such as walking trails, bike trails, city parks, festivals, and medical services like Planned Parenthood. In essence, her gift is looking at how people spend time with other people in community (or time alone in nature) and helping to make those places blossom. 

On a statewide/national level, Mullen helped start the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood for Soldotna. She’s been intimately involved in the protection of watersheds and clean water for Soldotna Creek and Kenai River. She has worked to slow the spread of invasive species. She helped build the momentum for the creation of a river park. The list goes on. If it has anything to do with a civilizing touch, preservation of wild places, creating a healthy, livable town, or marching in the streets for good causes, you will probably find Mullen somewhere at the heart of it. 

Finally, something often overlooked in our busy worlds, but so important to those who helped to build a town, Mullen, as a three-term member of the Soldotna City Council, helped bring home—to the heart of town—a cemetery plot. As one old homesteader said, “A cemetery plot was proposed 50 years ago. Mullen buttoned it up, persuaded the council to put it right in town near the river, and she nailed it this time. It is now a place where town folk can easily go and visit their elders.” (In the past, a majority of Council members had apparently wanted to put it “a taxi-cab ride away from town” making it very difficult for many elderly to go visit their loved ones.) 

“In her humble way, Peggy has demonstrated for me over the last 40 years what it means to be a passionate, gentle, effective leader, making a difference in one’s community and state which will enhance the quality of life for generations to come,” said Carol Swartz, director of the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College/UAA in Homer, Alaska. 

Mullen has an undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and a graduate degree in education from the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

Citations: Many interviews and book “I’d Swap My Old Skidoo For You”: A Portrait of Characters on The Last Frontier by Nan Elliot, published 1989. Chapter: “First Homesteading Family in Soldotna.” 

Rie Munoz

Photo of Rie Munoz
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Art


Rie Munoz


Achievement In:       Art

Rie Munoz has been painting Alaska’s peoples, their communities and their activities since she feel in love with Juneau on a summer vacation in June of 1951. She has traveled widely throughout the far-flung reaches of Alaska and, through her very colorful paintings,  depicts the everyday work and play of Alaskans, particularly those in small communities. She also explores the legends of Alaska’s Native people in her work. In addition to working in watercolors and making prints, she has created tapestries and murals.

Her work is carried in many galleries throughout Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, other states and Canada. She has won many awards and honors. In 1999, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from the University of Alaska Southeast. She received the Alaska State Council on the Arts 2004 Governor’s Award for Individual Artist. In 2007, she was named the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist with this citation: “… in recognition of her signature ability to capture Alaska’s people and day-to-day activities, as well as her dedication to documenting village life”.

The large number of galleries carrying her work, her many successful solo watercolor exhibits and the eagerness with which each new work is greeted, speak to the popularity of her art. Through her creativity, she has introduced Alaska village life to the world.

Rie Munoz Alaskan Artist. Introduction by Judy Shuler. Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1984.

HYPERLINK “”,  “”,


Lisa Murkowski

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Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Politics


Lisa Murkowski grew up surrounded by politics. A third-generation Alaskan, she was born into a family familiar with public service, from school board to the courthouse to the governor’s cabinet. She heard Alaska’s growing pains discussed over the dinner table on a nightly basis. It was natural that, at 16, she volunteered to work on a gubernatorial campaign; within a few weeks, the capable teenager was running the candidate’s Fairbanks office.

Murkowski earned her law degree and went into commercial practice. She married Verne Martell and they raised two sons, Nic and Matt. But on the side, Murkowski followed family tradition by becoming active in community. In 1998 she won election to the state House of Representatives. After being re-elected twice, Murkowski accepted a controversial appointment. Her father, U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, ran for Governor of Alaska, and won. He appointed his daughter as his successor in the Senate, rousing great controversy. “I have never once asked Alaskans to like how I got this job,” the new senator said. “I asked them to judge me by how well I did the job.” Two years after the appointment, she decisively won election to the Senate on her own.

Murkowski had established a reputation in the state House as a legislator willing to work across party lines, and she continued that in the Senate, becoming a leader in Alaskan energy issues, speaking out against the Patriot Act, and working to adapt federal education requirements to fit Alaska‘s needs. In less than 8 years, she became vice-chair of the Senate Republican Conference, the Senate’s fourth-ranking Republican.

Murkowski’s efforts at compromise during a conservative boom in politics seemed to backfire in 2010, when she lost the primary election to a Tea Party Express-backed candidate. However, her years of bridge-building paid off when voters across the state asked her to stay in the race. In less than six weeks, she built a coalition of labor, Native, energy and other groups, and retained her Senate seat. She became the first person since 1954 to win a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate, and the only woman ever to do so.

As Alaska’s senior senator, Murkowski continues to focus on the state’s major issues: energy, veteran’s affairs, Native issues, health care, education and more. Although elected as a Republican in the write-in, she won her seat without the official backing of her party. In a state where some 54 percent of voters do not align themselves with a particular political party, Murkowski found she had new freedom to represent those voters. “We have enough to do that we don’t need to get weighted down in partisan politics, “ she said. In the words she used during her write-in announcement, channeling her late mentor, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens: “To hell with politics; let’s do what’s right for Alaska.”


Additional Resources:

Congressional Institute,

Marie (Matsuno) Nash 

Photo of Marie (Matsuno) Nash 
Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Advocacy, Human Rights


Marie Nash’s father was a Japanese-American, born in Hawaii, who came to Alaska to fish and met her mother in the Aleut village of Ugashik. When World War II broke out, her father was sent to an internment camp and her mother insisted that she belonged with him. That is where Nash was born. After the war, the now larger family returned to the small Bristol Bay village where the family resumed commercial set-net fishing. Because there was no school in Ugashik, Nash was taught by her parents using Calvert Correspondence School methods until she was eight. Then she was sent hundreds of miles away to the public school in Haines where she lived at a children’s home known as Haines House. The residence also housed orphans, wards of the state and other borders from small villages without schools. The cost of transportation and housing had to be borne by her family because the head of her household was not Native, therefore the Bureau of Indian Affairs would not pay.

In high school Nash lived with a doctor’s family in Haines serving as their babysitter to help offset the cost of her food and lodging. She returned home every summer to help with the catching and drying of fish, berry picking and with the vegetable garden.

Nash’s distinguished career in politics started at the University of Alaska where she was a member of Young Republicans and served as a campus tour guide for Howard Pollock during his campaign for Congress. After graduating, she traveled to Washington, D.C., where she worked in his office. Moving to Juneau she worked briefly for the very politically connected law firm of Banfield, Boochever & Dugan. She served as executive secretary to Gov. Jay Hammond, staff assistant to boards and commissions, and deputy commissioner of Community and Regional Affairs. She served as a staff assistant to Sen. Ted Stevens in his Washington office and was his state director in the Alaska Office. She retired after 29 years in October 2004.

Many organizations and committees benefitted from Nash’s commitment to public service. She is currently the secretary of the Japan Relief Fund of Alaska Foundation (JPRF) and vice president of the Japanese American Citizens League – Alaska Chapter. She was Chairman and President of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation. and board member for BBNC, director and secretary on the board of the First Alaskans Institute, a member of Ugashik Traditional Village Council Elders, treasurer of the Anchor Presbyterian Church and YWCA board member. She was a member of Anchorage’s Downtown Rotary Club, where she chaired the military committee and served on the scholarship committee. Nash also served as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Program.

In 1967 Nash was selected the University of Alaska Fairbanks Student of the Year, and in 2008 she received the UAF Alumni Achievement Award for Community Support from the UAF Alumni Association. The American Red Cross, Alaska Southcentral Chapter presented Nash with a plaque in appreciation of her fundraising efforts when the Red Cross purchased what is now known as the Ann Stevens Red Cross Building. Certificates of appreciation were presented to Nash from the U.S. Army Alaska for help with America’s Arctic Warriors; the Anchorage School District and the Gifted Mentorship Program for sharing time and talent with mentorship students (one Dimond High student still keeps in periodic touch with her from New York City where she lives and works) and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help with the severe winter storms and avalanches in Alaska.

Nash is known widely for her work as a public official (both in the state and federal governments) to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Denali Commission, reparations related to Alaska Japanese-Americans and Alaska Native Americans incarcerated in relocation camps during WWII.

Nash serves as a role model for many of the former interns, both men and women, by becoming their friends, their second mothers and grandmothers to their own children, never forgetting a birthday or holiday wish. She shares with them her love of picking wild berries and making jam. “I have learned from Marie the secret in life is keeping in touch with your friends and sharing special moments together when you can,” Joy LeDoux Mendoza, former high school and college intern with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens’ office.

Nash graduated in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Alaska. She is married and has one son. 

Induction ceremony acceptance speech


Alaska’s Japanese Pioneers: Faces, Voices, Stories; copyrighted 1994 by Alaska’s Japanese Pioneers Research Project. Written by Ron Inouye, Carol Hoshiko and Kazumi Heshiki sponsored by the Alaska Historical Society ISBN 60 Pages

Sadie Neakok

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Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Education, Law


Sadie Neakok was considered the “mother” of the Inupiaq village of Barrow. Sadie Neakok was an optimist who was willing to stand up for what she believed. She was known as an educator, foster parent, subsistence rights advocate, and traditional seamstress. As Alaska’s first Native woman magistrate, Sadie Neakok walked a challenging path. She worked constantly to reconcile demands that often clashed. Sadie said that the best way to solve most of our problems is to be honest with other people, to care about them and to show love. The advice that she gave to women no matter where they lived was to get involved with their community and work to make it a better place.

When asked about what was the best part of her work, Sadie responded, “Gaining the respect of my people.”

S. Anne Newell

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Categories: 2013 Alumnae, Human Rights, Public Safety


Anne Newell spent 23 years as an Anchorage police officer and detective. At 27 she was the first female police officer at the Anchorage Police Department with powers of arrest.

When she arrived in September 1973 she applied to APD with an associate degree in Science in Law Enforcement and with some police experience. Newell had no idea how difficult the job would be and how much time would pass before she would be as an employed APD officer. At the end of the first interview, she said: “The response was that ‘we do not employ women to be police officers.” Newell filed her lawsuit with the State Human Rights Commission against APD and the City of Anchorage.

She sued to provide women the opportunity to be police officers at APD so they could show they could do the job. The suit took more than two years to settle; in the interim Newell became a volunteer auxiliary police officer, working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. At the same time she was working full time at East High school, and with her husband raised six children.

Her suit was settled in November, 1975, so she was able to attend a Police Academy and become a sworn officer.  While on the police force she endured the rude, vulgar and shortsighted behavior from some of her male counterparts. Her success as a police officer made it easier for other women to become sworn officers.

In 1976 she started as a patrol officer and four years later was transferred to APD’s Public Relations Section, where she did the traffic report, “Air Watch,” with KIMO television and Wilber’s Aircraft. In 1983, she went to Detectives and Burglary Section and subsequently moved into the new statewide Exploitation/Crimes Against Children Unit, where she worked closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She devoted 12 years to the Crimes Against Children Unit until she retired after 20+ years of service. She received the Alaska Women in Police award of Achievement in 1996, for successfully arresting sex offenders who were prosecuted and imprisoned.

Newell was born in California, was raised in many states and lived with relatives, friends of her mother’s, and in foster homes – all of which provided her with empathy for children in abusive homes. A significant influence about family life was Newell’s Sicilian mother-in-law, Clementine Audino, who lived with Ann, her husband and her seven children for many summers while Newell and her husband worked. Many of their children were foster children and were the beneficiaries of Audino’s consistent care and affection.

Newell also served as a lobbyist for the Anchorage Peace Officers Association, and therefore, traveled to Juneau and Washington, D.C., discussing proposed legislation. After Newell retired, she was a candidate in 1996 for the Alaska House of Representatives, where she won her primary election, but lost in the general.
During her career she volunteered for political campaigns as well as for KAKM/KSKA, public television and radio stations. In 1992 she joined Zonta International, becoming a volunteer tutor/teacher at the Anchorage Literacy Project. She continues there to this day as a board member and an active volunteer tutor. She creates a fun environment for her literacy students, where laughter is often heard from her classroom.

Newell has worked at many jobs but being a police officer was the most rewarding. However, she was pleased to have a chapter she wrote be accepted for publication in the 4th volume of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. She has also been a storyteller with the Storytellers’ Guild of Anchorage.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech


  • 1994 Municipal Employee of the Year nomination, because of her efforts to arrest and prosecute sex offenders. Newell was nominated by citizens who went through Standing Together Against Rape counseling.
  • 1996 Alaska Women in Police award of Achievement for successfully arresting sex offenders who were prosecuted and imprisoned.
  • 2010 Golden Heart Volunteer Service Award, Outstanding Community Service
  • Volunteerism in Alaska
  • KAKM/ KSKA, 25years
  • Political Campaigns
  • Kindergarten Classroom w/ Kelly Carpenter nine years
  • HOBY Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation, 1984-1994
  • Z-Club (Zonta), 1992-1995
  • Basically Bach Board, three years
  • Anchorage Literacy Project 1993-2006, 2009-2013 tutor/teacher, board
  • Anchorage Conflict Resolution Board, three years
  • Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District Board and citizen member 2003-2005


  • Alaska Peace Officer Assn. Life member
  • Toastmistress International (International Training in Communications) Life member
  • Bartlett Democratic Club member many years
  • Alaska Women’s Political Caucus member many years
  • Zonta International Club of Anchorage 20 years
  • Anchorage Genealogical Society
  • Another first: First female officer to retire from APD with 20+ years of service.

Helen Nienhueser

Photo of Helen Nienhueser
Categories: 2010 Alumnae, Environmentalism


Helen was raised in Pennsylvania, received a BA degree from Brown University (Pembroke College) in 1957 and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1985. Helen first visited Alaska in the summer of 1957 for a summer job at the Fairbanks Girl Scout camp and moved permanently to Alaska in 1959, homesteading in the far reaches of Eagle River. She has been a significant player over the past fifty years in shaping Alaska. Helen’s contributions have been many and varied, as a community activist, professional planner, author and conservationist.

In 1970, she organized a successful state-wide grassroots movement to reform Alaska’s abortion law, making Alaska the third state in the country (and three years before Roe v. Wade) to permit a woman to choose abortion in consultation with her doctor. In 1971 Helen helped establish the Alaska Center for the Environment and served as volunteer staff and as a board member for nine years. As a professional planner at the Department of Natural Resources from 1976-1994, Helen developed procedures for state land selections and land use planning processes that attempt to balance development and conservation with genuine public input. At the Juneau women’s conference in 1996, Helen initiated the discussion that led to the formation of the Alaska Women’s Network. She has served as a trustee of the Alaska Conservation Foundation for thirteen years, including chair in 2007 and currently serves today. From 1996-2003, Helen chaired the Governor’s TRAAK Board which led to better land and trail management throughout the state. On the municipal level, she served for six years on the Parks and Recreation Commission and was involved in any number of conservation and recreational issues surrounding parks in Anchorage. In 1983, as a community activist and conservationist, Helen started advocating for a park in Midtown. It is due to her persistence and committed leadership over the next twenty-five years that the Cuddy Family Midtown Park became a reality and officially opened in August 2008. She currently serves on the boards of Common Ground and Alaska Geographic.

Helen is undoubtedly best known to tourists and Alaskans alike as the co-author of the pioneering hiking book 55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska. This “bible” has enabled generations of Alaskans and visitors to experience the wonders of the natural world in Alaska. Initially published in 1972 and now in its fifth edition, this work has set the standard for excellence and accuracy in Alaska hiking guides.

Helen has received numerous awards over the years in recognition of her many accomplishments. She has been honored by the Governor, Legislature, the Department of Natural Resources, Mayor, Municipality of Anchorage, as a YWCA Woman of Achievement and is an honorary lifetime member of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska.

Helen is a leader with ideas, who skillfully chairs meetings, works hard, and gets people working together. Her commitment to founding and then doing the hard work of our environmental, park and community organizations has made Alaska’s lands, trails and communities all better places.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Katherine Nordale

Photo of Katherine Nordale
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Politics


Katherine was a teacher and a bank teller before she served as one of the original Constitutional Convention Delegates. Katherine served as the first Regional Election Supervisor for the Southeast, the United States Collector of Customs from 1951-1953, and the Juneau Postmaster from 1964-1971.

Ruth Elin Hall Ost

Photo of Ruth Elin Hall Ost
Categories: 2011 Alumnae, Community Activism, Missionary, Religion


An American-born daughter of Swedish immigrants, Ruth Elin Hall grew up in the Midwest. She married the Reverend Ludvig Evald Ost July 18, 1910, in Ashland, Wis., and the newlyweds arrived in Nome August 1st to work as missionaries for the Swedish Covenant Church.

From Nome, the Osts traveled to Golovin to run the Swedish Covenant Mission and Children’s Home. Three years later, a major storm destroyed most of the mission station and they relocated and helped found the town of Elim. With her husband’s help, Ruth persisted in keeping Elim quarantined from the outside world to prevent the deadly influenza from infecting the people of Elim in 1918.

During her years in Northwest Alaska (Golovin, Unalakleet, White Mountain, Council and Nome), Ruth ably assisted her husband in running and managing missions and children’s homes. She was a gifted musician who taught music, instruments and voice to many of the children in the children’s homes and the villages. She was a Sunday school director, a storekeeper, and a postmistress while raising her own eight children and one adopted daughter. Ruth provided midwifery services and lost only one baby, a remarkable record considering the many times she was the only medical person available.

Ruth served as correspondent and bookkeeper for the mission, and conducted a correspondence school for the Sunday school and Bible school teachers in the entire Alaska district for the Covenant Church. Tay Thomas wrote in Cry in the Wilderness: “Mrs. Ost was a remarkable woman who was credited with much of the success of the Covenant Church Mission in Northwest Alaska.” From an early age, Ruth had crippling arthritis. Upon her death, the executive secretary of the Covenant World Missions wrote, “Her wheelchair was an altar where those who came found salvation, restoration, healing and comfort.”

She and her husband owned and operated several businesses, including a reindeer herd and gold mine. They had a store and river-freighting and transportation service on the Niukluk River.

Ruth helped establish sound educational facilities and good health-care practices in regions of Alaska that had none. Her efforts to get territorial schools opened in rural Alaska communities have had lasting benefits for generations of Alaskans.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Tennys Thornton (Bowers) Owens

Photo of Tennys Thornton (Bowers) Owens
Categories: 2017 Alumnae, Art, Business


“Tennys Owens is not an artist herself, but if you’ve been in Anchorage, Alaska for any length of time you’ve seen her work,” said John Tracy in a tribute to her on KTVA Reality Check when she closed her “love child,” the art gallery Artique Ltd. on December 15, 2016. “She always has loved art, but her real passion is the challenge of marketing it, making a living for her artists, her employees and herself, and learning to move quickly to ride Anchorage’s booms and busts,” according to Kim Fararo in an Anchorage Daily News article.

Owens was born in the small, coastal town of Washington, North Carolina. Since she had always been interested in fashion design, her first choice for college was a college in New York City. However her parents “would hear nothing of the sort,” so like many women of that era, she elected to stay closer to home. She attended St Mary’s College in Raleigh, N.C. and the University of North Carolina graduating with a BS degree in education.

During her third year in college she began dating a local boy who was in his senior year at the Air Force Academy by the name of Tom Owens Jr. On December 19, 1961 they were married in a formal evening wedding in their home town of Washington, N.C. with a memorable reception at the home of the Bowers grandparents. Tom went back to his tour of Duty at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio while Tennys stayed in North Carolina to finish college and then on to life as an Air Force wife. From Ohio they moved to Durham, N.C. for Tom to enter law school at Duke University (taking a temporary leave of absence from the Air Force) while Tennys took a job as a third grade teacher with the Durham County school system. Thomas Preston Owens, III was born on April 1, 1965 at Duke University hospital.

In 1966, the couple moved back to Wright Patterson AFB. In 1967, they were transferred to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska with Tom working in the JAG division of the Air Force. Tennys was inspired to put her three years of teaching experience to work again a couple of years later and helped develop and teach in a nursery school on the air force base with young “Tommy” as one of the attendees. In 1969 their second son, Christopher Tayloe Owens was born at Elmendorf.

In 1970, Owens and friend artist, Jean Shadrach, realized the huge void of art galleries in Anchorage. A few small businesses took some art on consignment such as Howard’s Gun Shop and a paint store named The Color Center. However, the absence of a traditional gallery, representing artists on a consignment basis and working for artists as a marketing agent, was woefully absent. Owens and Shadrach set about changing that equation by contacting art professors and artists attending the University of Alaska as well as other artists of note, while leaving the gallery door open for unknown talent. In 1971, Alaska was teeming with new people including new artists. Artique Ltd. Alaska’s first “real” art gallery quickly became the art business center in the oil boom era of the Alaska frontier.

The small 950 square foot gallery, located downtown in the Central Building on G Street, was a huge success. The gallery was warm and inviting and customers were encouraged to make art a part of their life in one way or another. The gallery made efforts to increase public awareness about the creation of different art forms, visited numerous organizations and sponsored artists to throw pots in the gallery windows as well as other art demonstrations to promote public interest. Owens’ motto was that “no one should be intimidated or over whelmed by an art gallery.” She and her partner were also determined to make it possible for artists to live and work in Alaska.

As oil boomed in Alaska, so did the art community and major artists such as the famous Fred Machetanz and Byron Birdsall requested representation that lasted for over 35 years. The gallery continually added very talented regional painters and hosted noted national artists in invitational exhibits including Jamie Wyeth, Dale Chihuly, Yasu Eguchi, Robert Bateman and others. The Owens new motto became “Onward and Upward” for the duration of the gallery.

In 1983, at the invitation of U.S. Senator Ted and Catherine Stevens, Owens and her Artique staff created a major Alaska art exhibit which was displayed in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The exhibit celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the U.S. Senate’s Passage of the Alaska Statehood Act. Numerous Alaska artists attended the exhibit.

Artique opened a second gallery in midtown. In 1984, Alaska celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Statehood and Artique Ltd became the sole fundraiser for the Anchorage celebration. Owens developed a marketing plan and solicited the assistance of major art print publisher, Mill Pond Press. Owner Bob Lewin had recently become the designated publisher of art work by Fred Machetanz. Owens and Lewin coordinated the sale of 950 prints entitled “Heritage of Alaska” by Machetanz for benefit of the Anchorage Silver Anniversary Celebration. Each print was hand signed by each of Alaska’s living governors and Fred Machetanz. Owens coordinated the print signing, marketing and distribution. Both galleries handled the “first of its kind” print sale the morning of January 2, 1984. The entire edition of 950 prints was sold out in two hours. Owens, Artique Mill Pond Press and Fred Machetanz declared “Mission Accomplished!”

Owens became sole owner of the gallery in 1985. Shadrach moved on to paint and Owens moved on with the art business.

When the Alaska economy went into a deep recession in1986, Owens saw the wisdom in consolidating the business into the original location downtown once again. 1987 found Anchorage still economically languishing due to the recession and Anchorage Mayor Tony Knowles tapped Owens to be one of the new founding members of an Anchorage economic development board. She agreed and began nourishing a business interest in economic development that would remain with her throughout her career. She served as the first woman chair of the board in 1993 and served on the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation board in excess of 30 years.

In 1990, Tennys received an offer to acquire the Alaska Souvenir and Gift Shop as part of the Duty Free Shoppers contract at the Anchorage International Airport. This presented another learning opportunity and challenge to add to her gallery experience. She readily accepted and worked in the business until 1996. As the economy recovered, so did the art business overall. A corporate and residential art design department was developed within the gallery to better serve local business art needs and that of residences. With a rebounding economy, the gallery moved “onward and upward.”

Owens decided that the time was right to expand her publishing business to give Alaska artists additional opportunities to compete in the new burgeoning print market. A network of wholesale dealers was developed inside and outside of Alaska to represent the artists on a print level. The publishing opportunity also gave Artique the ability to work with nonprofit organizations on fundraising projects. She went about the process of broadening the “business of art” into community service, demonstrating that art does matter.

With gallery publishing capabilities available, Owens implemented her concept of “Prints for a Purpose.” raising money for more than 100 nonprofits and community causes from the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts to the Loussac Library, Alaska’s 50th Anniversary and Anchorage 100th Anniversary. Other special projects surfaced as well, such as “Artful Violins,” working in conjunction with the Anchorage Symphony.

Owens did fundraising for Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. over 15 years, by developing and marketing a custom designed print collection published especially for the organization. “It is very important that businesses within the community work with the community as a team. When people work collectively, the results are more powerful and longer lasting,” Owens said.

In a 1993, an article of the Alaska Business Monthly, Owens was asked, “Is Alaska a good place for women entrepreneurs? What kind of advantages does Alaska have for women entrepreneurs? What advice would you give other women interested in starting their own businesses in Alaska?” Her reply spoke to who she was,

“Find your niche. The challenge for women entrepreneurs is to run the business in a manner which is respectable and honest. But I don’t tend to think in terms of men and women but in terms of good or not good business people. . . . learn something about business basics, maintain high standards, be adaptable to change, treat your employees with courtesy and kindness, and strive for a balance between your business and personal life.”

Tennys Owens was able to test and further develop her passion for working with community in 1998 when asked by Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom to develop and implement a plan for Anchorage to celebrate the arrival of the new Millennium. This was a daunting request and certainly something she had never done before. After days of somber contemplation, she decided to “strap it on.” She had a talented staff at the gallery to help her out and besides, it was a personal challenge she could hardly refuse.

The next two years were spent developing plans for “The Millennium at the Top” and Anchorage 2000 became a reality. Plans were drafted for a huge celebration on New Year’s Eve 2000 and a winter festival that would hold events until March. Additionally, a large July 4th multicultural celebration was planned for the grand finale. Anchorage 2000 came to be known as the “People’s Millennium Celebration, Working Together to Make a Difference.” Owens wore many hats during those two years, including serving as the event director and chair of a 35 member civic board of directors.

In an Anchorage Assembly Resolution, Owens was recognized and applauded along with event staff and volunteers for their countless hours coordinating the celebration. The Resolution said they had enabled the citizens of Anchorage to celebrate the Millennium through unity amongst people of all ethnic backgrounds and diverse cultures.

In 2005, she was recognized as one of the most esteemed leaders in the state by Alaska Business Monthly due to her with her record of business achievement, demonstrated business excellence, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership and community awareness. The magazine further stated “As a successful female business owner in Alaska, Owens has proven a woman can forge a niche in the business world and achieve.” In the same article, Owens was quoted as saying “By participating and offering a different perspective to a board, it opens the doors for other women to contribute and help make key decisions about Alaska’s future and I want to inspire leadership for women’s issues.”

According to an article written when Owens was selected to become an Alaska Business Hall of Fame Laureate, she felt participating in economic decisions for Alaska’s future served to create a sense of community. She continued to serve on multiple boards and committees. She has been honored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce with membership in the Anchorage ATHENA Society and has received the YWCA/BP Women of Achievement award.

Owens also served on the private sector boards of National Bank of Alaska and Wells Fargo for 27 years. See the complete list of her activities and awards at the end of this article.

In 2016 Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz surprised Owens with a proclamation dedicating November 4th as “Artique Day,” at the final closing reception dedicated to artists and the community. Artique Ltd. closed on December 15, 2016.

Using art for the good of the community ultimately became Tennys Owens’ legacy and demonstrated “Art Matters.”

Community Involvement: Mayor’s Advisory Council on the Anchorage Centennial Celebration January 2013-December 2015; Co-Planner and State Coordinator for Anchorage Statewide Celebration of Alaska’s 50 Years of Statehood 2008-2009; Anchorage Downtown Partnership President 2006-2008; Anchorage Civic and Convention Center YES, Executive Committee to Promote Convention Center, Co-Chairman January 2005-April 2005, Member 2004-April 2005; Mayor Mark Begich’s Economic Development Council Member 2004-2007; University of Alaska College of Business and Public Policy Business Policy Advisory Council Member 2003-2007; American Heart Association Fund Drive Co-Chairman 2003; Mystrom for Anchorage Mayoral Campaign Co-Chairman 2003; Anchorage Civic & Convention Center YES, Executive Committee to Promote Convention Center, Secretary 2001-2002;

Anchorage Economic Development Corporation Founding Board Member, Chair of the Board (first woman) 1992, Executive Committee 1987-1999, Ex-Officio 1999-Present; Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. Founder of “Lend a Hand” Program 1999-2015; Anchorage 2000 (millennium event celebrations & community projects) Millennium Celebration Plan author and event planner, Chairman, Board of Directors 1998-2000; Anchorage Fine Arts Commission Member 1997-2001; Anchorage Museum Foundation Board Member 1997-Present; Alaska Command Civilian Advisory Board, Elmendorf AFB Member October 1994-2013; National Security Forum, Montgomery, Alabama, The Alaska Representative, May 1994; Anchorage Rotary Downtown Member 1988-1996; Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 1988; Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors 1984-1991, Chairman, Annual Banquet Committee 1991, Chairman, Operations Personnel Committee 1988, Chairman, Community Membership Relations Committee 1987, Special Task Force Member 1986, Chairman, Elections Committee 1985-1986; Alaska Statehood 25th Anniversary Celebration Chairman, Fund Raising Project; Performing Arts for Peace Board of Directors 1985-1987; and Iditarod Fund Raiser Project Chairman 1985.

For Profit Boards: Wells Fargo Bank Statewide Advisory Board 2001-Present; National Bank of Alaska Board of Directors 1991-2001

Awards: Heart of Anchorage, George M. Sullivan leadership award, April 28,2017; Mayor’s Proclamation, Nov 4, 2016, Artique Ltd. Day; VISIT ANCHORAGE Special Community Award for Service 2016; ADN Best of Alaska-Best Art Gallery (Artique) every year since 2007; Anchorage Convention & Victors Bureau Seymour Award 2009; Community Organization Anchorage Statehood Celebration; Alaska Business Hall of Fame Laureate 2005; Mayor’s Public Service Award 2001; Municipality of Anchorage Mayor’s Distinguished Leadership Award 2000; Municipality of Anchorage Gold Pan Millennium Achievement Award 2000; Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA membership 2000; YWCA/BP Women of Achievement Award 1994; Anchorage Economic Development Corporation Outstanding Leadership Award as Chairman of the Board 1992; and several sponsorship awards for the Artique including: Alaska Run for Women 1994 & 1996; Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. 1998; KAKM Celebrity Art Auction 1982-1983.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Sources: KTVA, Dec. 15, 2016, Reality Check with John Tracy: Mayor’s Proclamation, Nov 4, 2016, Artique Ltd. Day; Alaska Dispatch News, November-December 2016, Letter to people of Anchorage, After 45 years, Artique Ltd. Is now closed, Tennys Owens and your Artique family; Alaska Life Publishing, 2016, Alaska Home, The Art of Buying Art, Sarah Gonzales; Tennys Owens made Anchorage her canvas; Alaska Dispatch News, 61 North Magazine, Sep 2014, Culture Affairs, Gallery Guide;; Anchorage Daily News, Tennys Owens, Jan 2, 2007, Downtown plan full of exciting changes; Alaska Journal of Commerce, Sep 17, 2005, Alaska art grows up and into a viable market; Alaska Business Monthly, Michelle Martin, Jan 2005, Tennys Owens: Alaska Business Hall of Fame Laureate, JA: Artique Ltd; Municipality of Anchorage, Assembly Resolution AR 2000-25 (S), Jan 25, 2000, A Resolution of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly recognizing and applauding the Anchorage 2000 organizers, board members and staff for their efforts and commitment in making the “Night of Light” New Year’s Eve millennium celebration a success; Anchorage Daily News, Jan 2, 2000, Bomb Scare Led to Magical Moment; Anchorage Daily News, November 8, 1999, Millennium drum is taking shape, New Year’s Eve Party to have big beat, Sheila Toomey; Alaska Business Monthly, Jeannie Woodring, Aug 1, 1993, Alaska: a mecca or myth for business women; Anchorage Daily News, Kim Farraro, Feb 22, 1993, Doing Business Mastering the Art of the Deal, and Vice Versa.

Dorothy (Guzzi) Page

Photo of Dorothy (Guzzi) Page
1921 1989
Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Activism, Historic Preservation, Political Activism, Writing


Dorothy Guzzi Page (“Mother of the Iditarod”) was born on January 23, 1921, in Bessemer, Michigan to parents Arcole C. Guzzi and Mary Mae Jago Guzzi. She moved with her family to Duluth and then to Minneapolis, where she spent most of her early life.

Following her high school graduation in 1939, Dorothy moved to Albuquerque then to Los Alamos, New Mexico.  She worked the front office, in medical records of the Los Alamos Hospital. She also worked as the chief telephone operator. She opened Dorothy’s Café in 1950, across from the famous Camel Rock Trading Post.

Page married Vondole Page, on June 17, 1959, in Taos, New Mexico. They operated the trading post and café until they took a vacation to Alaska in 1960. They never lived in New Mexico again and moved to Dillingham, Alaska.  Von worked as a Superintendent of schools and Page worked in the school office. In 1962 they moved to Wasilla, Alaska. Here she saw her first sled dog race, an event which would play a significant role in her many contributions to Alaska.

In 1965, Page was chairperson of Wasilla’s Alaska Centennial Committee. As a Centennial project, she initiated the idea of reopening the historic Iditarod Trail between Knik and Big Lake.Dog mushing had been the primary means of communication and transportation in the Bush and Interior by Alaska Natives for centuries and remained so for the Russian, American and French-Canadian fur trappers in the 19th century, reaching its peak during the gold rushes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During the 1960s snow machines started to replace the dog teams and they almost vanished.

In her own words, Page, the self-described “history buff” wanted, “a spectacular dog race to awaken Alaskans to what mushers and their dogs had done for Alaska”. Page began the work of organizing support for her idea however, she unable to get the support of a single dog musher until she met Joe Redington, Sr. at the Willow Winter Carnival. Redington, who would later become known as the “Father of the Iditarod” used dog teams to perform search and rescue for the U.S. Air Force and owned a large kennel. He also had been lobbying to make the Iditarod Trail a National Historic Trail since the 1950s. Redington agreed to lend his support to the event on the condition that a purse of $25,000 would be divided among the winners. With Page’s determination, the money was soon raised.

The historic Iditarod Trail, which passed through both Wasilla and Knik, was an ideal stage for the first of many dog races. In February 1967, fifty-eight dog mushers competed in two heats along a 25 mile stretch of the old Iditarod Trail between Wasilla and Knik.  The race was modeled after the first large dog sled race in the state, the 1908 to 1918 All-Alaskan Sweepstakes (AAS) of Nome. The official name of this 1967 event was the Iditarod Trail Seppala Memorial Race and honored the three-time Sweepstakes champion, Leonhard Seppala.  While Seppala was most famous for participating in the 1925 serum run which saved the city of Nome from a diphtheria epidemic, Page reported “Seppala was picked to represent all mushers”. The 1969 race over the same trail with a purse of $1,000, attracted only 12 mushers and was the last until 1973, when, largely due to Redington, the race to Nome was established. Page continued to support the Iditarod in many ways throughout her life and, although she never raced, in 1997 she was posthumously awarded as an honorary musher.

Page served on the Iditarod Trail Committee’s board of directors since its inception. Throughout the years, Page served on many committees for the Iditarod, including the executive committee. At the time of her death, she was serving as the treasurer.

While leading the Centennial Committee in 1966, her drive to preserve the early history of the Valley was the force for establishment of Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Historical Society. She served as President.  She was instrumental in founding Wasilla Museum, Knik Museum and served as curator for both museums.  She served as a member of Wasilla Library Board for 20 years. 1973-1989 – Wrote, edited and published the Iditarod’s annual race program and edited the race’s news magazine, The Iditarod Runner.  She wrote weekly columns for the Frontiersman, plus feature articles and articles of historic interest for both the Frontiersman and the Valley Sun.  She served 4 terms on Wasilla City Council.  She served as Mayor of Wasilla 1986 and 1987.  She served as Wasilla’s Republican Committee woman from 1968.  She was a long-time member of the Alaska Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women.

Described by her friend, Gail Phillips, “Dorothy had the unfailing, innate and wonderful ability to get the right people involved in activities she felt they should be involved in, especially if she herself was involved.  Once she had scoped out a “victim’s” strength and abilities, and determined where that person was needed most, she would move mountains to make sure they got involved.  A large part of Iditarod’s tremendous success over the years can be attributed to Dorothy’s ability to get the right people involved in the right job. In addition, once a person was in a position to help, Dorothy continued to help – she didn’t leave people hanging out on a limb. She could always be counted on for support and help.”

Although Dorothy Page is most famous for being the “Mother of the Iditarod”, many people remember her as a tireless advocate for building and preserving communities in Alaska. After her passing, many people wrote in to The Iditarod Runner to share their personal stories and thanks to one of Alaska’s most treasured women. Page’s friend, Representative Curt Maynard wrote, “Dorothy’s spirit is the legacy I would like to recognize and honor. It is her enthusiasm and diligence that has inspired others to pursue their goals and dreams. I know of many of my neighbors in the Valley watched her get the ball rolling on the Iditarod and they caught the “volunteer spark”. Anyone who’s life was touched by Dorothy was stirred to do a little more, try a little harder, give more time and energy to their neighborhood, church, or school. The Valley has a rich history that through Dorothy’s efforts is preserved for our children and grandchildren. The common bond that she created by her spirit insures a rich future also. Thank you Dorothy and we hope to see you on down the trail.”

List of Awards received by Page:

1984: Recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Award presented by Governor Bill Sheffield.

1986: Dorothy received the Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Society Gold Pan Award.  She won both state and national awards for her Iditarod Trail Annuals.

1989: After her death, the Wasilla Museum was renamed the Dorothy G. Page Museum.

1989:   She was the recipient of the Mayor of Wasilla’s proclamation honoring Dorothy’s life in.

1990: She was the recipient of the State of Alaska’s Legislative Citation by the 16th Alaska Legislature.

1997:  She was named the Honorary Musher for Iditarod 25.  She is commemorated by the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award, given to the first musher to reach the halfway point of the annual race, in Cripple in even-numbered years and in Iditarod in odd-numbered years.

She received State and National Press Awards for her publication of the “Iditarod Trail Annual”

She was recognized for her years of service to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough by resolution recognizing her “Distinguished Service to the Community”.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Sarah Palin

Photo of Sarah Palin
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Politics


Sarah Palin was the first woman and the youngest person elected Governor of Alaska in 2006 when she was 42. She was also the first Alaska woman to serve as a candidate on a national ticket when she was selected as the Republican U.S. Vice Presidential running mate to Senator John McCain in 2008.

Prior to her election as governor, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of Wasilla. Palin is also past chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Ellen Evak Paneok 

Photo of Ellen Evak Paneok 
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Art, Aviation


Ellen Paneok was the first Alaska Native woman pilot. She worked as a commercial pilot in Alaska for 17 years and ferried everything from dynamite to live wolverines, the U.S. mail, passengers and medical patients. Paneok accumulated more than 15, 000 miles of flight time during her life. The elders called her “Owl Eyes” because she could see and fly in any type of weather. To her knowledge, she was the only Native American (Eskimo) woman pilot.

Paneok was born in Bedford, Va., in 1959. Her mother, Bernice Evak Burgandine, was an Inupiaq Eskimo from Kotzebue. Her father, Ron Burgandine, was in the United States Air Force stationed in Alaska. Her parents divorced when she was in the fifth grade and after the divorce, her mother moved Paneok and her two sisters to Anchorage. From the age of nine she took on the role of mother to her two sisters. A state social service agency broke the family up when she was 12 – her younger sister was adopted and she and her other sister were sent to separate foster homes. Paneok bounced around foster homes until she was put in “girls’ lock down” at the age of 14. Fortunately, her last foster home was a loving environment and helped her turn her life around.

When she was 15, Paneok found a flying magazine and after reading it decided she wanted to give it a try. At the age of 16 she received a $1,500 dividend from the Cook Inlet Regional Corporation and used it to take flying lessons. Eventually, the money ran out and Paneok started doing pen-and ink-drawings that she sold for $10 each. At the age of 17 she began ivory carving and scrimshaw, selling her work to tourists. She used the money to complete her training. Never liking school, Paneok would skip English and History to take flying lessons. At the age of 20, Paneok received her GED and her private pilot’s license.

By the time Paneok was 23, she had her commercial and flight-instructor certificates. In 1983 her first flying job was in Kiana, flying a Piper Cherokee Six. She chased polar bears from runways in the line of duty. “The most challenging part,” she said in the 1997 book “Women and Flight,” “is the off-airport work, like landing on the sandbars, landing on top of a mountain with big tires, maybe on a 20-degree grade, landing uphill and taking off downhill – to me, that’s the epitome of Bush flying.” Paneok said she was honored to be one of the few pilots authorized to fly the vintage aircraft owned by the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. After flying for air taxi operations throughout the Bush, Paneok worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for five years as an operations inspector, then for the Alaska Aviation Foundation as the Statewide  viation Safety Coordinator.

Paneok was published widely in such magazines as AOPA Pilot and Alaska Magazine and was featured in numerous books on women and aviation, including “Bush Pilots of Alaska” and “Women Pilots of Alaska”. She was also referenced in a number of other publications for her unique experience and knowledge of high-Arctic flying.   Her article “With Trusting Eyes Behind Me” was included in “The Last Frontier,” a  collection of the best of Alaska Magazine. Paneok was included in Ann Lewis Cooper’s Book “Stars of the Sky, Legends All”. She was one of only 37 pilots featured in the “Women in Flight” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. She is remembered as a “heroine in aviation”. That was the name of an exhibit sponsored by the Chicago Airport System which also chronicled Paneok’s extraordinary life.

Paneok created ivory scrimshaw that hailed from her Inupiaq tribal traditions as well as her interest in the changing world. She exhibited her work at many Alaska Federation of Natives conventions and arts-and-crafts shows. Her work can be found in art and antique galleries in Anchorage and Haines and in Minnesota and Maine as well as in many private collections.

Paneok was a long-time member and supporter of the Alaska 99’s, the International Organization of Pilots. She also volunteered her time and sat on the board of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, the Alaska Airmen’s Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Anchorage, the Alaska Historical Commission and Challenge Alaska. She spent countless hours inspiring the youth of Anchorage and village communities to look to the sky and to their own dreams. When Paneok spoke to groups of at-risk kids, she could relate from her own personal experience. She told them: “I was just like you. I got no encouragement. When you decide to do something, don’t let anyone or anything discourage you. It’s up to you.”

Shortly after her death in March of 2008, Paneok was honored by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Congressional Record.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Elizabeth “Betty” Parent

Photo of Elizabeth “Betty” Parent
Categories: 2017 Alumnae, Advocacy, Advocacy for Native Peoples, Education, Leadership, Mentorship


Elizabeth (Betty) Parent began her life in the small Alaskan village of Crooked Creek on the Kuskokwim River. In an area known for the blending of Athabascan and Yupik cultures, her family lived a traditional subsistence lifestyle steeped the culture of Deg Xinag (or Deg Hit’an) Athabascan people.

Early life was challenging for her. She and her two sisters suffered the loss of their parents through death and tragedy before school age. Betty subsequently lost her two sisters to childhood disease. She moved from family to family but always excelled in school and grew to love learning. She was guided in her life by her aunt Alice Harris who taught her to maintain a positive attitude and to work hard. Along the way, Betty acquired a great sense of humor which allows her to laugh at the ups and downs of life.

Parent spoke the Yup’ik language exclusively until she was five years old. Yet when she began primary school in the single room schoolhouse, the school only taught in English so she lost her bilingualism.

At the age of 18, she moved to Fairbanks to attend the University of Alaska. Right away she became involved in college and community life in the Interior. The 1960’s were historic times of change for Alaska Native people and Parent was in on the ground floor of many important movements. She helped organize cultural and social supports for Alaska Native students on campus through the Alaska Native Club; she worked in a leadership position in Head Start, moving seamlessly between parent advocacy and administrative roles. She organized Head Start parents to fight for culturally relevant education for young children in the Fairbanks School District.

Parent became involved in the early advocacy for the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act. Important to that work was the publishing of the Tundra Times, a weekly newspaper that gave a political and cultural voice to Alaska Native people. Parent served on Tundra Times Board, supporting editor Howard Rock during many years as the paper operated on a shoestring but produced important political advocacy.

While at the University of Alaska she met a brilliant UAF professor Gene Wescott. They married in 1961 and had three children Brian, Siobhan and Liam.

In 1964 Parent earned a B.A. in Anthropology, with minors in English and Education, as well as the dubious distinction of being only the thirty-second Native to graduate from the university.

Given the lack of support for Native students in the UA system at the time, she did not feel encouraged to continue graduate study in her home state. In later years, the University of Alaska Fairbanks honored her for her contributions.

After graduation she took advantage of Native student support opportunities at Harvard University, where she earned an M.A. in Education Administration, was awarded a Certificate of Advanced Studies, and was the first Native American to serve on the Editorial Board of the Harvard Educational Review – all while balancing the responsibilities of being a single mother of three small children.

She was awarded another fellowship to pursue her doctorate at Stanford University. Her dissertation, “The Educational Experiences of the Residents of Bethel, Alaska: A Historical Case Study,” focused on educational challenges faced by Alaska Natives students enrolled in Christian missionary schools, the predecessor to Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Dr. Parent then held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, during which time she also hosted a bi-monthly radio show on Pasadena Community College’s KPCC and became known as the ‘Treaty Lady’ because of her attention to issues of Native American treaty rights.

Parent worked hard to bring the Native American perspective to the forefront in academic life. During her time as a doctoral candidate at Stanford she was a lecturer in Native American Studies at Berkeley—traveling several hours around the Bay area by bus each week to fulfill her teaching and research responsibilities.

When she obtained her doctorate, she accepting a tenure-track appointment as an assistant professor of American Indian Studies in the nation’s only College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. She took on the responsibilities of chairing the program, guiding American Indian Studies to department status, developing the minor emphasis, and became the department’s first full professor. After establishing a precedent of excellence in teaching, research, and community service that many American Indians academics and programs seek to emulate, Dr. Parent retired and earned Professor Emerita status in 2000.

She worked hard to integrate Native American Studies into the general education requirements so that students could choose these courses to satisfy their core requirements. This innovation made Indian studies accessible to a broad audience in the student body of SFSU.

Her academic career was marked by so many firsts—first Alaska Native woman to earn a PhD, one of a very few Alaska Native students to successfully gain degrees from both Harvard and Stanford University and the first Alaska Native woman to obtain tenure as a full professor. Upon her retirement, San Francisco State established the Elizabeth Parent Achievement Award in her honor. The award is bestowed annually to deserving students who exhibit academic success and leadership in American Indian communities.

Beyond the formal recognitions, most meaningful are the hundreds of young people who were mentored by Parent in their academic, social and cultural development. She was known on the Stanford campus for hosting student gatherings in her tiny on-campus apartment—always with a good home cooked meal.

When she learned of a new student who might need support, she would call them up- sometimes several times- until she made contact to let them know she was there if they needed help. She attended student presentation for moral support, she cooked thousands of meals for student potlucks and she was a strong supporter of Native American cultural centers wherever she lived. Sometimes the smallest gesture meant a huge amount to students who were struggling far from home.

Dorothy Pender, an Alaska Native student who completed her PhD, wrote, “Betty took me under her wing when I was an electrical engineering grad student at Stanford University. She proudly supported me as I defended my doctoral thesis, and both Stanford professors and students assumed she was my mother!

Likewise Karen Perdue, a young Stanford undergraduate from Fairbanks came to rely on the Parent household as a second family –for parental advice, food and the ability to decompress including hosting sleepovers in the Stanford dorm for Betty’s daughter Siobhan.

Pender also remembers how Parent encouraged her to become involved in assisting others. Parent is a Sequoyah member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), which is a lifelong membership- “Betty encouraged me to become an AISES Sequoyah member, and a board member.”

In her 75th year, Parent remains an active participant in Native American education and journalism circles, as well as broader Bay Area Native community organizations and events, such as her role on the Board of Directors for the Native American Cultural Center in San Francisco. She continues to be honored and recognized by her peers for her contributions.

Over her lifetime, Dr Betty Parent has progressed from a one room school house in a remote Alaskan village to the academic halls of America’s most prestigious Universities. She has never forgotten her roots. All through her career she has focused on the needs of young people by teaching and mentoring on a daily basis. She has committed herself to social and educational justice for Native American people.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech

Elizabeth Peratrovich

Photo of Elizabeth Peratrovich
Categories: 2009 Alumnae, Civil Rights


An important role model for all women and men who want to do something about injustice, Tlingit leader Elizabeth Peratrovich worked tirelessly to bring equality to Alaska. She raised awareness, rallied support, and lobbied the legislature to pass Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act in 1945, the first such law in the nation. As Grand Camp President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Elizabeth provided the crucial testimony that brought about passage of the Anti-Discrimination bill.

When asked by the Senate, “Will the equal rights bill eliminate discrimination in Alaska?” Elizabeth answered: “Have you eliminated larceny or murder by passing a law against it? No law will eliminate crimes, but at least you as legislators, can assert to the world that you recognize the evil of the present situation and speak your intent to help us overcome discrimination.” Her speech split the opposition and allowed the bill to pass.