Where to begin. President and CEO of Southcentral Foundation (SCF), the non-profit health arm of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. Visiting Scientist at Harvard University. MacArthur Award recipient. CIRI shareholder, Old Harbor tribal member, Seldovia tribal member, mother of six, grandmother of twenty-seven or maybe it’s thirty now.
Those are just some of the facts. Here are two of my favorite stories about her.
In the spring of 1988, the Anchorage Daily News ran a story about a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island in Washington state, called Hedgebrook. I read it and thought, How wonderful for some lucky writer. Katherine read it and called me and said, “You should apply for that.” I said, “Are you crazy? They’d never take me.” She called again the next day and said “Did you apply?” And the next day. And the next day. A week later I said, “Okay, I’ll apply if you promise me you’ll shut up about it when they turn me down.” I applied, was immediately accepted and became one of Hedgebrook’s first residents in October 1988.
In 1993, my first Kate Shugak novel (Fun fact: Shugak is Katherine’s mom’s maiden name) was nominated for an Edgar Award. Katherine ditched her family to come to New York City to be my date at the awards ceremony. Before we went downstairs to the banquet, she gave me this ivory storyknife brooch:
I was wearing it when I won.
Hedgebrook, to which Katherine nagged me to apply, was the inspiration for Storyknife, and, with her gift of that brooch, she named it, too (see our logo at the top of the page). It seems only a natural progression of events that she is now a member of our Council of Advisors.