Class of 2012
Achievement in: Advocacy for People Who Experience Physical Disabilities
As a Young Peace Corps volunteer, Audrey Aanes was inspired by the animation and gumption of Ethiopian children who were injured by land mines. Physical disabilities were not a barrier to their energy and enthusiasm to learn. When she came to Alaska she embarked on a career devoted to education, advocacy and action for and with youth and adults who experience substantial physical disabilities (e.g. spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.).
Achievement in: Adult/Continuing Education
Gretchen Towne Bersch has dedicated her life to adult and continuing education. In addition to creating the master’s degree in Adult Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, she worked on the Adult Literacy Lab Project, coordinated the Credit for Prior Learning program, co-created the UAA/Magadan student exchange program with the International Pedagogical University in Magadan Russia, where she was awarded an honorary professorship and also established and funded an Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award that continues today. Bersch also worked tirelessly to assist the people of Magadan through an extremely harsh winter when their lives were at risk from cold and hunger.
Achievement in: Supporting the Arts
Known as a passionate supporter of the arts, Connie Boochever’s most lasting accomplishment may be the Percent for Art Program that requires public funding for art in public buildings. She was critical to getting the legislation passed that established this successful program. The Percent for Art Program has literally changed the landscape of Alaska with art a part of our everyday lives in schools, and all other public buildings.
Achievement in: Education/Municipal Government
Carolyn Floyd is a leader and advocate in education and municipal government. She was instrumental in starting the Kodiak Community College, serving as its first president from l969 to l987 and growing the college from a few small classes in the Kodiak High School to a comprehensive community college program located on its own 57-acre campus. In recognition of her legacy, the college library is named in her honor. Floyd also served as mayor of the City of Kodiak for l8 consecutive years. Throughout these years she served on and chaired both statewide and national boards, educating officials throughout the nation about Alaska and its distinctive issues.
1924 – 2012
Achievement: Elected Public Service/Community Volunteer
As a very active and public member of the League of Women Voters, then serving as its Anchorage president, Wilda Hudson was appointed in 1967 to the Anchorage City Council. She was the third woman to serve on the Council, and she went on to become the first woman presiding officer of any Anchorage governmental body. With the formation of the Alaska Public Offices Commission in 1974, Hudson became its assistant executive director moving into the director position in 1976 and serving there until 1977. In 1975 and working with the League of Women Voters and others, she worked to pass unification of the city and borough to create the Municipality of Anchorage. Between 1977 and 1981, she served as director of cultural and recreation services under Mayor George Sullivan. In 2000 she was selected by the Anchorage Assembly to fill a vacancy on their body and became the sixth woman on that body, the only time in history where women served in the majority.
Achievement in: Rotary Leadership/Human Rights/Humanitarian Advocacy
Carolyn Jones is recognized for her distinguished 25-year leadership role in Rotary International, from president of her Anchorage club to the first woman in the world to be appointed as a trustee to the prestigious worldwide “The Rotary Foundation.” She has been recognized for her lasting humanitarian contribution as a Rotary volunteer with children in eastern Russian orphanages by both the Alaska State Legislature and the Tomsk Russian Duma. Jones’ career as an attorney in Alaska litigating laws to make more opportunities for all Americans, has been recognized for by the State of Alaska Commission for Human Rights. Jones continues to serve humanitarian needs in several capacities through Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.
1903 – 2001
Achievement in: Dairy Farming/Philanthropy/Education
Born to wealth Louise Kellogg spent her lifetime spreading her energy, enthusiasm and benevolence to many causes. Her spirit of adventure led her to Alaska, and her love of hard work made her Spring Creek Farm into one of Alaska’s most productive dairy farms. Today, that farm houses Alaska Pacific University’s campus and education farm. Kellogg was a die-hard Republican, one of the few female pilots of the day, an Alaska pioneer and above all else, an extremely generous woman.
1959 – 2008
Achievement in: Aviation/Art
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.
Achievement In: Community/Education/Non-Profit Leadership
Volunteer, activist, educator, non-profit leader, elected official and small business owner are the broad titles Sharon Richards has carried during her life in Alaska. In all of her roles, Richards has reached out to people from minority communities and has been a tenacious advocate for women, children and families. Richards has led a life of non-profit leadership and volunteerism which has inspired many. She is a quiet leader who looks for people’s strengths. She believes in a public process which involves all people, not just the well connected. In 1988 Richards worked with a group of women to establish a YWCA in Anchorage, resigning as president of the organizing board to become is first executive director and growing the organization for the next 14 years from a staff of one to a staff of 14 operating out of their own building – Richards retired in 2002.
Achievement in: Leadership and Activism in Alaska Native Affairs
Irene Sparks Rowan, a Tlingit Indian from Klukwan, became a national figure during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) struggle, then returned to Alaska to form and lead her village corporation, Klukwan, Inc. In 1976, Rowan helped lead a world-wide campaign to encourage
Alaska Natives to enroll under ANCSA, then returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
1933 – 1985
Achievement in: Equal and Civil Rights Advocacy
In 1988 the original Alaska Commission on the Status of Women celebrated a decade of advocacy and education on behalf of women. Lisa Rudd, as a legislator in the Alaska State House, sponsored the legislation that created it. Throughout her personal, professional and political life Rudd dedicated her efforts to improve laws, conditions and opportunities for Alaska women, children and people of all races. She was the prime force behind the state’s mini-cabinet on women’s issues, and elevated to priority status the issues of daycare, child support enforcement and the employment of Alaska Native women in state government. At this celebration the first Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame was dedicated to Rudd and her legacy of accomplishments providing a visible role model for tomorrow’s leaders.
Achievement in: Conservation/Community Development
Motivated by her father’s love of Jack London stories of the north and by observing her mother as a leader working across party lines in the Rhode Island state Legislature, Susan Ruddy chose to come to Alaska in 1964. With her, she brought the belief that a person can build compassionate communities and embrace and protect magnificent natural environments. Rudy has devoted the past four decades to conserving Alaska’s unique ecosystems and crafting community infrastructure across the state.
Achievement in: Leadership and Mentorship in Alaska Native Affairs
A respected elder and matriarch of the Athabascan people, Hannah Solomon began her work by helping to organize Fort Yukon into an incorporated city and becoming its first female mayor. Using this as a stepping stone, Solomon moved on to help form the Fairbanks Native Association and to become active in the Alaska Federation of Natives, Doyon Ltd. and Tanana Chiefs Conference. Solomon’s beadwork, a skill she learned from her mother, has been nationally recognized and collected by public and private museums and collectors.
1942 – 2005
Achievement In: Women’s Rights Advocacy/Political Activism
Best known for her work in support of women’s rights, Pauline Utter volunteered countless hours as an advocate and political activist in support of a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. She mobilized opposition in campaigns and in the Legislature when efforts were made to limit this right. This led to her developing a statewide database which identified the strength of an individual’s support or opposition to contraception and abortion and the list made it possible to successfully educate voters during political campaigns. Utter was strategic in her efforts and used her knowledge and experience in research, data collection and organizing to upgrade the quality of campaigns in numerous electoral races. She was ahead of her time in educating voters in Alaska on important issues affecting women’s rights.
Achievement in: Health Care (Dentistry)
Dr. Leonie von Meusebach Zesch spent the majority of her life caring for children, the disadvantaged and U.S. service men and women through her profession of dentistry. In 1902 von Zesch, the daughter of a German countess, earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco at the age of 19. During the course of her lifetime, von Zesh carried her dental expertise from the Hopi Indians in Arizona to the frozen reaches of Little Diomede Island and other points north, often by dogsled, to care for Alaska’s indigenous people.
Achievement in: Alaska Native Cultural Leadership
Dr. Rosita Kaahani Worl, whose Tlingit names are Yeidiklats’okw and Kaa.hani, is of the Ch’áak’(Eagle moiety of the Shangukeidi (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdiyaayi Hít (House Lowered from the Sun) of Klukwan, and a Child of the Sockeye Clan. Worl is a self-proclaimed feminist who has made many contributions to increase awareness about Alaska Native cultures and subsistence economies. She has authored numerous publications on Alaska Native issues and cultural practices including subsistence lifestyles, Alaska Native women’s issues, Indian law and policy and southeast Alaska Native culture and history.