Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011

When Lieutenant Commander Gary Ryals interviewed for the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management’s executive MBA program in 2006, he did so on a secure phone line from his command center in Baghdad, Iraq. During his first year in the program, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement during his 2005-2006 Iraq tour. While at Anderson, he emerged as a leadership mentor to his peers and was selected to be the class commencement speaker.

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Courtesy of First Bank / Courtesy of First Bank
Courtesy of First Bank / Courtesy of First Bank

A decorated veteran with 18 years of service as a Navy SEAL, Ryals most recently returned from Afghanistan, where he led 21 combat missions as the Commander of the SEAL Task Force for Southern Afghanistan, served on the Afghan Provincial Governor’s Security Council, and earned a nomination for his second Bronze Star. Ryals currently serves as the Executive Officer of SEAL Team One in Coronado, Calif. In addition, he recently established a consulting practice that provides training in team building and leadership development to individuals and corporations in the high tech and medical fields.

Ryals is a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School. He is the son of Kenneth Ryals and Karen Polley.


Aislinn W. Shaul-Jensen has been named to the President’s List at Gonzaga University. Colin J. Flynn has been named to the university’s Dean’s List. Students must earn a 3.70 to 4.0 grade-point average to be on the President’s List and a 3.5 to 3.69 grade-point average to be on the Dean’s List.


REACH Inc. announced that Kanoe Toutaiolepo has been awarded an Outstanding Direct Service Professional of the Year Award by the Alaska Alliance for Direct Service Careers. Kanoe has been awarded the prize in the category of Empowering People with Developmental Disabilities. The decision was made through judging by her state wide peers in the Direct Service field. Kanoe will receive $1,000 and a trip to the 2011 Full Lives Conference for Direct Service Providers, where she will receive her award and recognition. The Full Lives Conference takes place in Anchorage April 13-14.

Kanoe has been a member of the REACH team for the past seven years and has demonstrated excellence in serving clients and representing REACH values.

She was nominated by her supervisor, Cindy Boesser, who said of Kanoe in her nomination, “Kanoe is totally engaged in her work, and strives to understand what each client needs in order to be as satisfied with their lives as they possibly can. She appreciates each client for who they are, celebrating and supporting whatever they can do, whether a single word spoken or a Special Olympics medal earned, anything that brings our residents the joy of success.”

Kanoe’s ability to celebrate each and every accomplishment of the people she serves comes through in their appreciation of her. One of her clients submitted a letter of endorsement with the nomination. In this endorsement her client said, “She laughs and sings lots. She’s silly. She walks dogs and visits the kitties with me at the Humane Society. We do laps, and race, and I’m faster!” This endorsement demonstrates the value of Kanoe’s service to her clients and the joy she brings to her work as well as the people she serves.


First Bank was nationally recognized for its community outreach efforts during the American Bankers Association National Conference for Community Bankers in San Diego on Feb. 22. First Bank was awarded for its endeavors in the Encouraging Volunteerism category for their Community Service Award Program.

The ABA selection committee awarded 9 banks from a field of more than 180 nominations across the nation based on the innovation, creativity and effectiveness of the bank’s approach to making a difference in its community.

“First Bank is honored to receive this award which represents our commitment, passion and leadership to our communities in Southeast Alaska throughout the year,” Michael Medford, vice president and community reinvestment officer for First Bank said.

First Bank’s Community Service Award Program is designed to encourage and foster citizenship, knowledge and personal development of people in Southeast Alaska through community service opportunities. The program provides local organizations opportunities to serve their communities and at the same time, get paid for it.

For example, a middle school girls’ softball team in Ketchikan, organized a food and fundraising drive for Women in Safe Homes (WISH). The local softball team raised over $1,000 worth of food that was donated to WISH. In turn, First Bank donated $1,000 to the softball team. Since inception of the Community Service Award Program, over 800 young volunteers, not including family participants, have raised or contributed over $62,000 in value to local community organizations.

Entries were divided into seven categories including helping to achieve home ownership, encouraging volunteerism, fundraising for foundations and local groups, improving financial literacy, reaching out to the underserved, building with Habitat for Humanity and revitalizing your community.

The ABA Community Bank Awards program was established in 2005 to recognize community banks’ outstanding charitable achievements.

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