The Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame has selected 10 women to be honored at the 2019 induction ceremony on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 including Beverly Hoffman and Mary Pete (posthumously) of Bethel.
Women from across the state will be honored for their accomplishments. The Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Alaska across all fields of endeavor from all parts of the state.
Come to hear the stories from an Eskimo Walrus Commissioner, an Alaska Corrections Commissioner, a philanthropist, a successful banker, a Dean of the College of Rural and Community Development, the leader of Best Beginnings, as well as a leader of the Alaska Whaling Commission. They come from Nome, Bethel, Anchorage, Juneau, Savoonga and Utqiagvik. Join us in honoring them.
Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame Induction will be held at the First Baptist Church, 1100 W. 10th Ave. in Anchorage. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Doors open at 5 pm and the program begins at 6 pm.
Here are the brief bios of the inductees:
Virginia Blanchard, Juneau. Blanchard was elected and served as the first woman on the Juneau City Council (1972), and then as the vice mayor for five years. She participated in the negotiations and the drafting of unification papers for the Juneau City and Borough. Gifted with an unusual understanding of math, plus extraordinary skills in communication, Blanchard was able to offer vital fiscal and management advice within her 20-year career for the State of Alaska as well as political savvy to the many volunteer community organizations she served. She passed in 1986.
Marie Carrol, Utqiagvik. Carrol led the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission where she represented whaling captains before the United States government and the International Whaling Commission in order to secure an allocation of bowhead whales for the indigenous people of Alaska. She was also the leading force for the development of a modern hospital facility in the North Slope.
Heather Flynn, Anchorage. Flynn is a public servant and fiscal expert about local government. She served on the Anchorage School Board and the Assembly for total of 16 years. Professionally she is an educator who directed both the Alaska Women’s Resource Center and the Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis Shelter (AWAIC). She currently leads philanthropic efforts to strengthen women and to promote social justice for all.
Abigale Hensley, Anchorage and Kotzebue. Hensley has been an advocate for early childhood education for decades. She founded Best Beginnings in 2006, which strives to ensure children begin school ready to succeed by sending over 2 million free books to toddlers from 0-5 years of age across Alaska. She has also successfully advocated for the public policy in Alaska to provide kindergarten in all schools.
Beverly Hoffman, Bethel. Hoffman is an advocate of athletics to improve the health and quality of life for her community. She spent the last three decades advocating for a pool and fitness facility in Bethel. She secured funding for construction and ongoing operation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Regional Aquatic Health and Safety Center. The pool provides the only indoor space in the Y-K region where families from a 50-village area can learn how to swim. This a critical skill for life on the banks of the Kuskokwim River.
Mary K Hughes, Anchorage. Hughes is the longest serving member of the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, where she is currently in her 18th year. She was appointed by three different governors for eight-year terms of office. Professionally, she has 20 years of experience as an attorney in private practice, six years as the Anchorage Municipal Attorney and four years as Alaska State Director for US Senator Lisa Murkowski. She served on the Association of American Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges for a decade.
Betsy Lawer, Anchorage. Lawer has been engaged in Alaska business development all her adult life. After college she returned to Alaska and started working for the First National Bank of Alaska. She rose through the ranks mastering skills in all departments and developing insight about the relationship between the well-being of the economy of Alaska and the well-being of bank. She was promoted and now is the Board Chair and the CEO of First National Bank of Alaska. She and her management team stress the engagement of FNBA with the 18 communities they serve in Alaska.
Vera Metcalf, Nome and Savoonga. Metcalf was raised in Savoonga and has spent her lifetime advocating for the villages on St. Lawrence Island. She led the effort to repatriating over 1,000 ancestral remains from the Smithsonian Institution to return to Savoonga and Gambell. She also collaborated with others and the Arctic Studies Center to write: “Akuzilleput Igaqullghet = Our words put to paper: Sourcebook in St. Lawrence Island Heritage and History.” She also directed the Kawerak Eskimo Walrus Commission for over fifteen years, which was an unusual role for a Siberian Yupik woman.
Mary Pete, Bethel. Pete was born in Stebbins, raised in Bethel and earned BA and MA degrees from University of Alaska Fairbanks. She served as the first woman to Direct the Alaska Division of Subsistence. She later served as the Director of the Kuskokwim Campus of UAF in Bethel. There, she was most proud of her efforts to certify a degree program in the Yupik language. She also found time to serve on local non-profit boards, such as the Tundra Women’s Coalition and the statewide Council on Domestic Violence. In addition, Pete was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. She passed in 2018.
Margaret Pugh, Juneau. Pugh served as one of the first women leaders in Alaska’s correctional system. She was the Commissioner of Alaska Department of Corrections, the Superintendent of Lemon Creek Correctional Center and founder of the first correctional facility for women. In these positions, Pugh was an innovator who called for increased treatment programs for prisoners to address mental health problems and alcohol abuse in order to reduce recidivism. While managing the statewide corrections programs she also found time to serve on the boards of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Juneau, the AWARE shelter for abused women and children also in Juneau. She chaired the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout chapter of the Girl Scouts of Alaska for a decade.
The Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3). The website is the virtual hall of fame. Biographies and photos of all women inducted since its inception in 2008 can be found on the website, www.alaskawomenshalloffame.org.