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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