Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:55 PM on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women of Distinction to be honored March 22

South Peninsula Haven House has announced the four nominees for this year's Women of Distinction Awards, plus the "Hero of the Heart" award. The awards dinner will be at Land's End Resort at 5:30 p.m. March 22. Tickets are $35 each or $265 for a table of eight. They are available at the Homer Bookstore.


Amy Bollenbach

Amy Bollenbach

Woman of Wisdom

Born during the Great Depression on a farm near Paulding, Ohio, Amy Bollenbach recalls that one of her first life lessons was that boys and men were more important than girls and women. Small wonder that the accomplishment of which she is most proud is founding the Anchorage Women's Liberation Group, the first, large feminist group in Alaska in December 1970. That came after she read a paragraph in Newsweek about women's liberation. Something inside Bollenbach clicked and she realized she had been working for justice for others, "but not for myself." The AWLG's first meeting was on a day when temperatures plummeted to minus-20, but the enthusiasm of area women and a few men pushed attendance to more than 100.

In 1970, 1971 and 1972, new attention, press conferences, debates and the AWLG's regular newsletter, "On Our Way," contributed to the founding of the Women's Resource Center, Alaska Women's Aid in Crisis, the Women's Political Caucus and Standing Together Against Rape. Bollenbach was the first women in Alaska to run a major political convention, the Democratic Southcentral Convention in 1972.

After being awarded a bachelor of arts in History from Indiana University in 1959, Bollenbach worked as a teacher and a court recorder between 1959-1969. In 1973 she was earned a master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage and worked as a psychology teacher for the Anchorage Community College from 1973-1989 and at UAA from 1989-1991. Bollenbach organized the first Women's Studies committee at ACC, which introduced courses to empower women such as Current Woman, Assertiveness Training, Amateur Mechanics and Combating Depression. In 1982, she received the Soroptimist's "Women Helping Women Award" for contributions to the advancement of women's education.

She continued post-graduate work and experiments in cognitive psychology for depression at the University of London, Bedford College, London, England, and wrote three professional articles on that subject with UAA professor Robert Madigan.

Bollenbach continued promoting equal opportunities and flexibility of roles for women and men "calmly in spite of verbal barbs." As an activist and college teacher, she listened to women and asked questions "to help them find ways to become free and independent women," something she continues to do.

Illness caused her to retire from teaching in 1991. Having fallen in love with Homer, she purchased a log house and moved here, with the plan that she would focus on her health, enjoy nature and do some creative writing. However, concerned with what she saw as the Legislature's move away from a progressive agenda toward writing laws favoring large corporations and conservative religious groups, Bollenbach decided to follow her passion and become involved in progressive causes. She spearheaded a petition drive for Kachemak Heritage Land Trust to conserve Overlook Park, and continues to participate in progressive groups working for human rights.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Ingrid Harrald

Ingrid Harrald

Woman of Distinction

Ingrid Harrald grew up in a close-knit family with one older sister. Having a father in the military meant frequent moves for the family. Her parents strongly believed in public service and encouraged the sisters to volunteer at local organizations beginning at an early age.

"This has been a guiding principle in my life," said Harrald, recognizing that it also has given her many opportunities and helped broaden her life experience.

Harrald attended college at Virginia Tech, studying biology and psychology. After graduation, she moved to California and worked in wildlife rehabilitation and education for many years.

Her first job in Alaska came in 1996, and involved studying seabirds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I fell in love with Alaska and returned for seasonal jobs until finally moving to Homer permanently in 2000," said Harrald of being given "many opportunities to grow and learn, and I am very fortunate to have found such a vibrant place."

Harrald works at the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College-University of Alaska Anchorage, running the science lab and working with the Youth Job Training Program. Her summers are spent coordinating the Youth Conservation Corps for USFWS. She also is studying towards a master's degree in social work from the University of Alaska.

"I try to give back to the community when I can, and especially enjoy working with youth," said Harrald, who has been a volunteer at the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Harrald is an advocate for bike safety and believes parks are vital to the sustainability of life in Homer. She started "Bike to Work Day" a few years ago and volunteered on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission to work on the Kachemak Drive Bike Path.

"When I'm not working, I am most likely found at the Kevin Bell Arena, playing or watching hockey," she said.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Katherine Dolma.

Katherine Dolma

Young Woman of Distinction

Katherine Dolma's achievements began at an early age. At 10, her book, "Women Scientists of Kachemak Bay," earned her a Girl Scout bronze award. At 12, she earned a silver award for her dedication to cleaning Homer's beaches. In 2012, after more than 80 yours of service work based on education and implementing recycling programs for schools and businesses, Katherine earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

While in middle school, Katherine's commitment to recycling made her a driving force in "EcoLogical Girls." In addition to Katherine, the Ecological Girls included Hannah Baird, Addie Davis and Taylor Ellison. They advocated successfully with the Kenai Peninsula Borough for a recycling program at the Homer landfill. As a result of EcoLogical Girls' efforts, Homer Middle School began using reusable plastic trays and in one week reduced the amount of trash disposed in the landfill from eight bags a week to four. In less than a month, recycling at the landfill went from 36 pounds a week to 120 pounds.

"Trash Into Fashion" shows organized by EcoLogical Girls was an avenue the young women used to raise recycling awareness. It featured fashions made from recycled materials.

The group's efforts to reduce local waste and raise recycling awareness earned them first place in the EPA Region 10 President's Environmental Youth Award.

Katherine's efforts to educate her community about recycling and advocating for school and government policy changes earned her the Action for Nature's 2011 International Young Eco-Hero Award. She also is a two-time Spirit of Youth Award winner.

In addition to being on the Homer High School Swim and Dive Team, Katherine has competed nationally in synchronized swimming.

During the summer of 2012, she worked as an intern aboard the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge's research vessel, the Tiglax.

In January, Katherine was one of six local teen delegates to the Rotary Global Peace Forum in Honolulu, Hawaii. Partnering with Taylor Ellison, she presented a proposal for an outdoor camp for children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences.

In this year's 21st annual Kenai Peninsula Writers' Contest, Katherine's "Together" won first place in the nonfiction category for grades 10-12.


Kris Holderied

Kris Holderied

Hero of the Heart

Kris Holderied has been the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Kasitsna Bay Laboratory since September 2005. It serves as a coastal marine field laboratory of the Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, within the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in NOAA's National Ocean Service, and is operated in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The lab's mission is to support Alaska coastal management with science that improves understanding of how subarctic coastal ecosystems respond to changing environmental conditions. As its director, Holderied is responsible for science planning, facility operations, and coordination of research and education activities with regional partners that include other NOAA offices, local, state, and federal agencies, Alaska Native organizations, universities, public schools and nonprofit education and conservation groups.

Holdereid is the science lead for Gulf Watch Alaska and co-lead investigator on the Cook Inlet oceanography and plankton-monitoring project in the program. Her research interests are focused on understanding estuarine ecosystems, including coupling between oceanography and biology and linkages to adjacent watersheds and the ocean. She has a particular interest in developing multi-disciplinary science products to support regional resource managers in the areas of coastal climate change, harmful algal blooms, contaminants and ocean acidification. She works with other NOAA and partner offices to get the seafloor and coastline mapping, ocean observing, and ocean circulation model tools needed to inform research and management in Cook Inlet and coastal Alaska.

Previously, Holderied worked for NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment in Silver Spring, Md., developing satellite-based products to help coastal managers and focusing on benthic habitat mapping, harmful algal bloom detection and the impacts of climate change.

Before coming to NOAA, Holderied worked on environmental compliance issues and navigation project studies for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, Va. She began her career with active duty service in the U.S. Navy, as an oceanography officer providing weather and oceanographic forecasts in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Holderied is a physical oceanographer, with a bachelor of science degree in oceanography from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master's degree in physical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.

In her free time, Holderied enjoys exploring the great Alaska outdoors by foot, kayak, ski and bike, playing softball and skating with the fabulous Homer Divas ice hockey team. From 2006-2013, Holderied organized Ski For women for Kachemak Nordic Ski Club. She is Pratt Museum board member and on the Kachemak Bay Water Trail steering committee.