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2020 Award Winners
Humanities Awards

The Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities are presented by the Alaska Humanities Forum to recognize those Alaska individuals and/or organizations whose efforts have contributed to telling the stories of our past, present, and future, and whose work has helped build a more culturally diverse, economically vibrant, and equitable Alaska where people are engaged, informed, and connected. These awards honor the well-established -- as well as the lesser known -- who have stepped up and made an impact in our communities and our state.

  • Distinguished Service in Education: Rachel Epstein (Anchorage)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities by contributing to a better understanding of the world, one another, and the human experience. 

    During a tenure that spanned nearly 20 years, Rachel Epstein organized and hosted over 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. 

  • Distinguished Service in Leadership: Bill Legere (Juneau)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities through their commitment to improve Alaska's social, economic, and civic life.    

    In his 40 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 in Community: Kodiak History Museum (Kodiak)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities by forging connections between people across, race, class, and cultural divides. 

    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. 

  • Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities: Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, posthumous award (Juneau)
    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 over 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.”

Arts Awards

  • Individual Artist: Dale DeArmond, posthumous award (Juneau)

Awarded based on artistic leadership, distinction and merit; Recognition of artistic contribution to the state or community through previous honors and awards, reviews or articles; Longevity of impact to state or community.

​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 Award: Juneau Radio Center (Juneau)
    Awarded to a business whose fiscal generosity and participation has made a substantial impact on the arts in Alaska; a business that has used the arts to propel its success; programs that engage employees with creativity and other community activities that support arts and business partnerships; a business dedicated to promoting the arts through administrative and professional efforts.

    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, posthumous award (Chickaloon)
    The Margaret Nick Cooke Award honors and recognizes individuals and organizations whose work furthers traditional Alaska Native  language and culture. 

    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.

  • Government Leadership in the Arts Award: City and Borough of 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.

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