Regan Brooks is the founder of Story Works Alaska, an all-volunteer organization that provides storytelling workshops to several Anchorage-area high schools. Storytellers and coaches work with students on skills that transfer to reading, writing and public speaking. Story Works Alaska also encourages connections among students and their communities. A former high school science teacher, Brooks began the program in 2014 with support from Vik Patel of Arctic Entries and teachers Temperance Tinker and Rachel Kittoe of West Anchorage High School; more than 1,000 students have taken part since then.
Kathryn Ohle, PhD, is the recipient of CLIA’s Sue Sherif Literacy Award, named for a longtime Alaska librarian pivotal in supporting literacy efforts through the state library system. Ohle, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at UAA, spearheaded “Supporting the Preservation of Native Languages and Encouraging Early Literacy with Children’s Books.” The collaborative project works with United for Literacy, students and families to provide free children’s books in Alaska Native languages via a free digital library with translated texts.
Don Rearden was raised in southwest Alaska, which is the setting for much of his writing. He is the author of the award-winning novel “The Raven’s Gift,” chosen as book of the year for the Anchorage Reads program in 2015. He describes himself as “a screenwriter, a novelist, and when the mood hits, a poet and tundra philosopher.” He is also a well-regarded associate professor at UAA and was founding board president of 49 Writers. A former Native Youth Olympics coach, he continues to work with rural Alaska youngsters in video and other writing and suicide prevention programs. His debut work of non-fiction, Never Quit, will be published by St. Martins in March 2017.
David Cheezem is proprietor of Fireside Books in Palmer. A nominator described him as “a tireless promoter of Alaskan writers,” hosting readings and other events to highlight their work. Cheezem, himself a writer and poet, holds an MFA in creative writing, and has also served as a borough school board member, planning commissioner, and president of the Palmer Arts Council. He and his wife established Fireside Books in 2001 as a place “where good writing was honored and celebrated.”
Joseph Gorski is Director of Technology and Federal Programs for the Kashunamiut School District in Chevak. Dr. Bob Whicker is director of the Consortium for Digital Learning of the Association of Alaska School Boards. The two helped form a team which translated an interactive children’s book series into the Chevak region’s Cup’ik language. The result is a series of the very first interactive storybooks written and narrated entirely in Cup’ik, helping readers of any age learn to read and speak the western Alaska language. The project has sparked interest in school districts around the state.
Nancy Lord was Alaska’s Writer Laureate from 2008-2010. The author of works of fiction, memoir, and non-fiction, she has also taught at the college level and at school residencies throughout the state, and is part of the core faculty for Kachemak Bay Writers Conference. Her honors include fellowships, artist residencies, a Pushcart Prize and the Celia Hunter Award of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. She is active in conservation and community-building, including chairing Homer’s successful new library campaign.
The Alaska Native Language Archive, housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library, works to preserve and digitize Alaska Native language materials. With origins in materials gathered by linguist Dr. Michael E. Krauss at the Alaska Native Language Center, Dr. Gary Holton, Stacey Baldridge, Wendy Camber, and Professor Emeritus Krauss have expanded and preserved the collection, and make it accessible to researchers and Native language speakers. The archive holds more than 15,000 documents in the 20 Alaska Native languages, including some of the earliest recordings available.
Novelist Eowyn Ivey of Chickaloon, library advocate and award-winning author of “The Snow Child”; Polly Tocktoo of Brevig Mission, an ardent reading volunteer for Imagination Library and Best Beginnings; and Ron Inouye of Fairbanks, long-time Alaska historian, librarian and volunteer.
Sandy Solenberger was selected for her volunteer work with the Tuzzy Consortium Library, Best Beginnings, the Imagination Library and Friends of the Library in Barrow. Her focus on literacy for young children reaches outside Barrow to seven villages across the North Slope.
Greg Hill, director of the Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks, was nominated for his creation of “Guys Read,” aimed at increasing readership among fourth grade boys in Fairbanks. The humorous and innovative program has spread to other communities in the Interior, and to a “Gals Read” program as well.
Tom Sexton has celebrated Alaska and poetry for decades. The former UAA professor helped establish the school’s creative writing program, was poetry editor for the Alaska Quarterly Review, and served as Alaska’s poet laureate in 1995. He is the author of 11 collections of poetry; “Bridge Street at Dusk” is his most recent.
Rachel Epstein organizes events at the UAA Campus Bookstore, and enthusiastically promotes Alaskan writers and writing. She brings a steady line-up of Alaskan authors to the attention of the campus and Anchorage community, as well as events for students and amateur writers.
Emilie Swenning of Nanwalek, for her efforts in establishing an Imagination Library in her Kenai Peninsula community, with library space, materials and financial support; and to 49 Wrters, an on-line blog that has grown into a statewide resource for writers, through writing workshops, retreats, courses, authors’ reflections, event listings and other tools.
Ed Bovy and Alyssa Crandall, of Greatland Graphics, for their work organizing and founding the annual ReadAlaska Book Fair in Anchorage; Best Beginnings, a statewide partnership of organizations and individuals dedicated to providing young children with the best possible start for learning; poet and publisher Anne Coray of Port Alsworth, for her establishment of North Shore Press and encouragement of Alaska poets and their work; and Carol Schwartz of the University of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay campus, for her work founding and organizing the annual Kachemak Bay Writers Conference.
No awards given in 2008.
Alaska Sisters in Crime, for its highly successful mystery writers convention, Bouchercon 2007, and support of literacy efforts statewide; and Sue Sherif, school library/youth services coordinator for the Alaska State Library, for long term work in literacy efforts in Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Lila Vogt of Anchorage, treasure for Alaska Center for the Book, member of The Poetry League, and supporter of literary events and activities; Corey Hall, youth services librarian at Kenai Community Library and supporter of numerous Alaska literacy groups including the Kenai Peninsula Reading Council; Judy Ferri of Fairbanks, for her work with the Golden Heart Reading Council, First Book Fairbanks, and the Alaska State Literacy Association; and ICE-FLOE, a circumpolar poetry journal, and its editor/publishers Sarah Kirk and Shannon Gramse.
Valerie Oliver, school librarian at Anchorage s Trailside Elementary School, for writing grants to provide reading tutors for struggling students and for her leadership of First Book Anchorage; Koht aen Kenaege Project and Dimi Macheras for reviving and teaching Ahtna Athabascan through the Chickaloon Village Council; Sharon Russell, a Palmer elementary educator, for promoting literacy in her community for over 40 years; and Barb Dalkey, for her financial and personal contributions to improving her Mentasta village students reading and writing skills.
Julie Drake and Steve Lloyd, owners of Title Wave Books, for promoting literacy in Anchorage by donating books to public schools, medical facilities, senior centers and shelters; Audrey Leighton, Wasilla author, who with her writer s group started Book Bonanza in 1998; Dana Stabenow, author of many books, editor of story collections, columnist and radio host, for her work as a founding member of Alaska Sisters in Crime; and Mike Doogan, author, columnist, and teacher, for delighting Alaskans with his unique sense of humor.
Eliza Jones, an Athabascan from Fairbanks and Huslia, who spent years completing the Koyukon Athabascan Dictionary; The Anchorage Literacy Project, whose volunteer tutors have provided literacy instruction to more than 10,000 adult learners; Anne Newell, a volunter with the Anchorage Literacy Project; and LitSite Alaska, an award-winning web magazine devoted to sharing and developing the literary arts and literacy throughout Alaska.
Sandy Harper, founder of the Alaska Center for the Book and co-owner of Cyrano s Books, Cafe and Off-Center Theatre; Ann McDowell for developing the annual Valdez Theater Conference; Bob Kneifel, Anchorage public transportation director, for the Books on Buses project; and Munirah Mawusi for initiating book discussion groups for prisoners.
Anchorage Women’s Club, for supporting literacy in Alaska since its founding in 1915; Alaska Poetry League, bringing poetry and the power of the written word to new audiences in Anchorage and Alaska; Cook Inlet Region, Inc., providing funds to bring authors to more than 60 Alaska communities; and Kathleen Putnam, for her work in building literacy in Alaska as coordinator of the Authors to the Bush program.
Alaska Northwest Books, publishers of Alaska books for more than 40 years; Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, for its Reach Out and Read program; Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet (Anchorage) for funding literacy programs and establishing libraries; and Ann Dixon, Willow author and librarian, for her work as a community volunteer in literacy.
Gustavus Public Library Reading Buddy Summer Program, for its innovative reading program; Hunik Zoo of Fairbanks, a newspaper of children s writing from Interior Alaska; Jacqueline Hutchins of Anchorage, a tutor in a Recreational Reading Program sponsored by the Rabbit Creek PTA; and Joan Borash, long-time leader and volunteer with Anchorage s Friends of the Library.
Posie Boggs, an Anchorage parent volunteer in a reading tutorial program; Mary Matthews of Fairbanks, for her work with the Literacy Council of Alaska; Claire Rudolf Murphy of Fairbanks, author of several Alaska children s books, including Gold Rush Women, A Child s Alaska, Caribou Girl and more; and The Alaska Geographic Society, for years of publishing books about Alaska.
Marilyn Remele of Wasilla, for her nine years of work with the Anchorage Literacy Project; Babies & Books, a program of Sitka’s Kettleson Memorial Library which gives books to children; Raise-a-Reader, a program of the Anchorage Council for Family and Community Education; and Wayne Mergler of Anchorage, editor of The Last New Land, an anthology of Alaska literature.
Nancy Warren Ferrell, Juneau author of Alaska: A Land in Motion and other titles; Lela Kiana Omano of Nome, for efforts to record from Inupiaq Eskimo and translate to English The Epic of Qayaq; and Doris and Russ Riemann of Anchorage, founders of The Book Cache stores.
Bruce Merrill, Anchorage Municipal Libraries, Alaska Collection librarian; Barbara Brown, Anchorage community activist; and Ron Spatz, Alaska Quarterly Review, in recognition of service to Alaskans.
Alaska Humanities Forum.