AWARE to honor four Juneau women at distinction dinner

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010

Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies will hold its 14th annual Women of Distinction Gala and Silent Auction at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Centennial Hall. The event will honor four distinguished women who have made significant contributions to improving the lives of Juneau's women and children.

Photo Courtesy Of Anna Graceman
Photo Courtesy Of Anna Graceman

Community members submitted nominations, and the following honorees were selected by AWARE's board of directors: Chris Ashenbrenner, Carolyn Brown, Bev Ingram and Helen Sarabia.

The fundraiser will include a no-host bar and silent auction, with music provided by Rob Cohen. Emcee Liz Dodd will extend a welcome at 7 p.m., and Anna Graceman will open the evening with original songs. A catered dinner and brief speeches by the honorees about what inspires them will follow. The public is invited and can purchase tickets by calling 586-6623. The cost is $60 per person, or $700 to reserve a table of 10.

Chris Ashenbrenner

A social justice advocate, Chris Ashenbrenner was born and raised in Alaska, graduating high school in Ketchikan and going on to college at Oregon State University and he University of Alaska Southeast.

Over the past 30 years, Ashenbrenner has worked at AWARE, the Alaska Network and Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska Department of Public Assistance and most recently with Sen. Mark Begich as a Juneau region representative where she assists constituents, champions human rights and brings concerns and comments to the foreground. While working for the state, in addition to two legislative citations, she received awards for her work including the prestigious National Governors' Association Award for State Service.

As a board member of the Juneau Pro-choice Coalition, Ashenbrenner worked to promote reproductive rights and open a Planned Parenthood clinic in Juneau. She also has worked to promote better understanding of and access to systems that help people and families who experience disabilities.

Carolyn Brown

A physician and women's advocate, Dr. Carolyn Brown was born in 1937 in Texas, where she grew up during difficult times in the nation's history. Forging ahead on her own, Brown paid her way through college and medical school. For the past 46 years, she has been a medical doctor who is board certified in obstetrics-gynecology as well as preventive medicine-public health.

She and her husband, George, came to Alaska in 1965. Here, she birthed two splendid babies and worked throughout Alaska with the U.S. Public Health Service, Anchorage Municipality Health Department, in school health, with the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, as medical director of the Anchorage Methadone Clinic, and as the medical director of the Open Door Free Clinic.

She is the co-founder of Women and Children's Health Associates, a nonprofit organization that operated an obstetric-gynecologic-pediatric practice in the Mat-Su Valley for 10 years and subsequently continues as a scholarship resource for students interested in health careers.

Brown's life work and career have been focused with the underserved and medically disadvantaged. Her commitments have included surgical and medical obstetrics-gynecology, reproductive rights for women, health in corrections, care of victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault, and empowerment of women in their own decision making and destinies. In her time, she has delivered more than 5,000 babies and worked with many thousands of women and families in clinical and preventive health care.

Bev Ingram

An occupational therapist and child development specialist, Bev Ingram has devoted her career to working with parents of infants and young children with developmental delays and disabilities. Originally from the Midwest, she came to Alaska in 1981 following graduation from University of Puget Sound in Occupational Therapy.

Ingram began her work with young children and their families as an infant learning program instructor in 1981, covering the Kenai Peninsula. For the past 20 years, she has worked in Juneau with the Infant Learning Program at REACH, where she currently coordinates the Alaska Transition Training Initiative, a statewide training project promoting community collaboration for transitioning children with special needs into school-based programs.

Ingram was director of the infant program for northern Southeast for seven years. In addition, she maintains a private practice as an occupational therapist and yoga teacher.

Helen Sarabia

Despite years of language and cultural suppression by major institutions of power in Southeast Alaska, Helen Sarabia has continued to speak the Tlingit language. She is an inspiration and role model to her family and culture and to anyone facing overwhelming challenges. She has helped the Tlingit language and culture survive and thrive for future generations.

Sarabia is a fluid Tlingit speaker and has worked with Sealaska Heritage Institute and Goldbelt Heritage Institute to document the Tlingit language and culture, including producing a verb dictionary for the preservation of the language for future generations.

Over the years, Sarabia has strived to educate people and students about the Tlingit language, dance and song by going into Glacier Valley Elementary School. She also worked for "Southeast Native Radio," where she participated in, and helped produce, "Conversations in Tlingit," for Live Day, a half hour of conversation in the Tlingit language.


For ticket purchase or more information about AWARE or the Women of Distinction Dinner, contact AWARE at 586-6623. To contact the honorees, call AWARE at the same number.

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