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2020 Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards Winners to Be Honored January 7

Dec 16, 2020 | Government, Media & Arts, News, Nonprofits

The City and Borough of Juneau is one of the 2020 Governor’s Arts & Humanities Awards winners in recognition of how it has “provided consistent, impactful support for arts, culture, and heritage work in Alaska’s capital city.”

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Eight Alaskans will be recognized at the 51st Governor’s Arts & Humanities Awards—this year’s awardees include community leaders, an artist, an educator, a museum, a journalist, a government entity, and a local business.

These Alaskans have used their craft, passion, and enterprise to enrich Alaskans’ lives; to support, teach, and inspire others; to unite people within and across communities; and to lift up and bring others’ stories to life. The awards ceremony (pre-recorded this year) will be broadcast on KTOO’s 360 North TV and streamed online at ktoo.org on Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 8 p.m.

The first Governor’s Arts Award was in 1969, and in the decades since has grown into an annual partnership between the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA), the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, and the Office of the Governor.

Nominations are submitted by the public each year across distinct categories, the councils draft a slate of awardees, and the Governor then makes the final selection.

ASCA Chairman Benjamin Brown says, “It is uplifting and reassuring to be able to work with the Governor’s Office, the Humanities Forum, and the Arts & Culture Foundation at this precarious and challenging time to recognize individuals and entities that make our lives so much better in Alaska. This year’s awardees all deserve accolades and recognition for their tremendous contributions; each, in their own distinct way, celebrate the beauty of life in Alaska, and help us consider what we can do to help each other live meaningful lives in challenging times.

“I encourage all Alaskans to join Governor Dunleavy and our three arts and culture organizations in applauding this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Arts & Humanities Awards.”


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“The Alaska Humanities Forum celebrates and congratulates each of these remarkable Alaskans,” adds Alaska Humanities Forum Chair Moira K. Smith.

“When given the opportunity to broaden and deepen Alaskans’ understanding of who we are and what we value, these Alaskans leapt into the breach, working tirelessly and collaboratively to bring warmth, curiosity, and wisdom to our collective understanding of ourselves.  These community leaders used their talents to shine a light on what is most important to Alaskans, even in times of division—our common humanity.  For this, we are thankful, and we honor them.”

In lieu of purchasing tickets for this year’s event, the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Alaska State Council on the Arts are asking Alaskans to make a donation to sustain arts and humanities organizations, initiatives, and resources across Alaska.

This support from Alaskans ensures that the Forum and ASCA can continue to provide resources and services across Alaska by working in partnership with individuals and organizations to develop original work, programs, and initiatives that engage, inform, inspire, and connect people throughout the state. In recognition of this support, with a suggested minimum donation of $25, the organizations will send donors a raven lapel pin, a symbol of the awards. 

To learn more about the awards and this year’s program or to make a donation, please visit akgovawards.org.

2020 Awardees

Distinguished Service to the Humanities | Community: Kodiak History Museum, Kodiak

The Kodiak History Museum (KHM), known until 2019 as the Baranov Museum, serves as an essential and beloved community resource dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and sharing the full breadth of the history of the Kodiak archipelago. KHM is leading the way in decolonizing small museums and has proven to be a catalyst of change in Kodiak, strengthening community by forging connections between people across race, class, and cultural divides.

Distinguished Service to the Humanities | Leadership: Bill Legere, Juneau

In his forty-year career in Alaska, most of it at the helm of KTOO in Juneau, Bill Legere has devoted himself to improving the civic, intellectual, and cultural life of Alaska. His hard work and quiet leadership have touched almost every Alaskan. He transformed KTOO from a conventional public broadcasting station to a statewide leader in news and has nurtured the careers of dozens of talented reporters, producers, editors, and media makers.

Distinguished Service to the Humanities | Education: Rachel Epstein, Anchorage

During a tenure that spanned nearly twenty years, Rachel Epstein organized and hosted more than 900 events covering every imaginable and important topic in Alaska’s history and culture. In her tenure as the Special Events Coordinator of the UAA campus, Epstein turned the campus bookstore into a forum for inquiry, conversation, and expression.

Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities: Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, Juneau (posthumous award)

Juneau lost a beloved leader, volunteer, advocate, and community member when longtime resident Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy passed away on September 10, 2020. Ruddy served the Juneau community for more than forty years as an attorney and public servant, volunteer, and donor. “Ruddy was widely known and highly respected in the community for supporting and championing a diverse and large number of arts-related causes and non-profit arts organizations,” writes Linda Rosenthal, co-founder of Juneau Jazz & Classics. “She has become one of Juneau’s foremost advocates for the arts and, as such, has made a profound impact on the community’s cultural landscape.”

Government Leadership in the Arts: City and Borough of Juneau, Juneau

The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) has provided consistent, impactful support for arts, culture, and heritage work in Alaska’s capital city. The CBJ has improved the quality of life and made possible work that has inspired generations of Juneau school children to think of a life in the arts as a real possibility.

Individual Artist Award: Alaskan Dale DeArmond, Juneau (posthumous award)

Alaskan author, artist, and printmaker Dale DeArmond is renowned for her intricate wood block prints incorporating local legend and lore and showing a great reverence for the rich oral traditions and legends of Alaska’s First People.

Arts Business Leadership: Juneau Radio Center, Juneau

Juneau Radio Center has provided coverage and advertising for arts and cultural activities of all kinds for many years, annually donating over $1 million of free promotional airtime to local community groups, in addition to regular community-based programming, such as “Capital Chat,” “Action Line,” and KINY’s Problem Corner.

Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Native Arts and Languages: Markle Pete, Glenallen (posthumous award)

Elder Markle Pete was instrumental in the perpetuation of the Ahtna Athabascan language in Chickaloon Native Village and in his home community of Tazlina. He taught language lessons in the community and in the Ya Ne Dah Ah School from 1998 to 2013, traveling great distances to educate students and Tribal citizens. In addition, he led efforts to document the Ahtna Athabascan language through recordings of words and phrases.

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Alaska Business has been celebrating the corporations that have a significant impact on Alaska’s economy since 1993. At the time, the corporations weren’t ranked as the list didn’t have specific ranking criteria. Instead, the Alaska Business editorial team held long, detailed, and occasionally passionate discussions about which organizations around the state were providing jobs, owned or leased property, used local vendors, demonstrated a high level of community engagement, and in general enriched Alaska.

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