15 To Be Inducted Into Alaska Women’s Hall Of Fame

Thursday evening, 15 women will be inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Anchorage. The recognition of women’s contributions to the state started in 2008 during the 50th anniversary of statehood.

Former Anchorage Assembly chair and prior year inductee Jane Angvik is on the steering committee. She says women from several service organizations decided the statehood celebration was a good time to honor great Alaskan women.

“How do we make sure that we find the women who have made a difference in Alaska in any field, in any community activities or who made a difference statewide or impacted the nation, from Alaska,” Angvik said.

This is the fifth year of recognizing those contributions. There are 15 women being inducted Thursday evening bringing the total to 110. One of the inductees is Judge Karen Hunt. Judge Hunt was the first female superior court judge appointed in Anchorage in 1984. She was a teacher in Los Angeles schools but decided to go to law school in the 60s. She says things have changed dramatically from the time when the big issue was whether women could work in a private firm.

“Pretty much the federal government was hiring, the state government was hiring and so the entry for many women into the practice of law was in government agencies. But trying to get a job in a private firm, in which you would face the responsibility of meeting face to face with clients was a hurdle that women lawyers were having trouble getting over,” Hunt said.

Judge Hunt was appointed by Governor Bill Sheffield. After years of being a trial attorney, she says the first day she entered court as a judge and everyone stood up. She turned around to see who was behind her and then, embarrassed, realized she was the reason they were standing. She says being inducted into the hall of fame is humbling.

“I have a little trouble thinking that I belong in that group, but I have to tell you that I’m extraordinarily pleased to have been considered and included. It’s, it’s quite humbling,” Hunt said.

Marie Nash is another inductee this year. She is of Aleut and Japanese descent and was born in a Japanese internment camp during World War Two. After college, Nash first worked for Alaska Congressman Howard Pollack. She went on to spend 20 years working for Senator Ted Stevens.

Nash also served on the Bristol Bay Native Association board for more than a decade. From her early beginnings as an American whose rights were stripped because of her heritage to working for a powerful U.S. Senator, Marie Nash is happy to be inducted.

“Well I was surprised and like Judge Hunt, very humbled,” Nash said.

The Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Thursday evening at 6 p.m., at the Wilda Marston Theater, in the Loussac Library in Anchorage.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori