2017 Anchorage ATHENA Leadership Award


Laile Fairbairn

Laile is the managing member of some of Anchorage’s top eateries: Snow City Cafe, Spenard Roadhouse, South, and Sacks Cafe. Laile grew up in Anchorage and graduated from West High. Like many young Alaskans, she left the state to attend college and see what the rest of the world had to offer. Luckily, she returned to Alaska, and with a degree in journalism and a passion for her community, she rolled up her sleeves and got involved. Giving back to her community has always been a top priority for Laile. With her more than 300 employees she has generously: supported Straw for Dogs and Children’s Lunchbox; donated coffee sales to AWAIC; provided Thanksgiving dinner for Camp Fire kids; cooked dinner for Covenant House; sponsored the Rainbow Run, a 5K for Identity; raised money for earthquake victims in Nepal; participated in Food Bank’s Dine Out for Hunger; provided gifts for Toys for Tots. Awards include: 2016 UAA Culinary Arts Celebrity Chef Invitational Extraordinary Commitment; 2013 Outstanding Business in Philanthropy; 2012 All Alaskan Award, Seymour Awards, Visit Anchorage; 2010 Entrepreneurial Excellence Gold Pan Award, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce; 2005 ATHENA Society Inductee; 2005, 40 Under 40. When not actively working, Laile enjoys traveling with her husband and two children, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the outdoors.

2017 Anchorage ATHENA Inductees

Dr. Christina Darby

Dr. Christina Darby grew up in Anchorage, and returned to Alaska to start the sleep clinic at ANMC, serving as the Medical Director and sleep medicine physician. She received her medical degree from the University of Washington, and completed a fellowship in sleep medicine at Stanford University, a residency in neurology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, along with an internship in internal medicine at the University of Hawaii. Christina worked as a sleep medicine physician and neurologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle for her first five years of training and was recognized by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as a 2015 Top Doctor in Sleep Medicine. In 2013, Christina was recognized as a Native American 40 under 40 Award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Christina enjoys mentoring women as they move through the various stages of training including residents, medical students and high school students.

Marcia Davis

An Alaska Bar member since 1982, Marcia’s first job in Alaska was as a law clerk to Chief Justice Edmund Burke. Following a career in private practice, Marcia joined BP Alaska as senior counsel. In 1999, she worked for Era Aviation as their General Counsel followed by joining the Department of Revenue in 2007. In 2012, she joined Calista as General Counsel both by helping to grow their business units and working to protect their political voice through redistricting. In 2014, Marcia returned to public service as Governor Walker’s deputy chief of staff, a position she just recently retired from. Marcia’s volunteerism has been expressed through pro bono legal services, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, her community council service and recently hosting American Foreign Exchange students. Marcia has constantly mentored and supported young women in pursuit of professional career goals. Her friends doubt that she will slow down much in the future.

Raquel Edelen

There’s something extraordinary about housekeeping staff being part of nominating Raquel Edelen. It’s also something about Raquel to know that when she heard that, she cried. Because this is what Raquel is about: creating an atmosphere so that everyone knows they’re valued, that they can have the opportunity to move up, get an education and to give back. Spend time with Raquel and you hear about “being part of the solution.” Her own heart belongs – in addition to her three sons – to AWAIC, Catholic Social Services, and Alaska (through Visit Anchorage board). She is thrilled to be the Honorary Squadron Commander of the 732nd Air Mobility Squadron at JBER. As Raquel puts it, these soldiers are risking their lives “while I get to live this life,” and she shows her gratitude by listening, being a “regular person” for them, and (of course) getting them involved in volunteering and giving back.

Cathy Gleason

Cathy started Gleason’s Graphic Design, in 1983, primarily serving nonprofit clients. But volunteer community service has been her primary focus for over 30 years collaborating with public, private and nonprofits on efforts to protect and enhance Anchorage’s waterways, parks, trails and natural areas. Long involved with the Turnagain Community Council she is currently acting President. Cathy has served with Anchorage Audubon Society, Anchorage Citizens Coalition, TREErific Anchorage and Anchorage Waterways Council (AWC), helping organize Creek Cleanup for 10 years. Her community service has been recognized with numerous awards including AWC’s 30th Anniversary Award for Continuing Dedication, and in 2014, the Alaska Legislature honored her with an award for “Significant and Long- Running Contributions to the Anchorage Community.” Recently, Cathy and her husband donated 36 trees to beautify their neighborhood. Nominator Mark Begich wrote, “Cathy’s life of giving and service does remind us all of the Shel Silverstein book, The Giving Tree.”

Nancy Johnson

Nancy Johnson has worked behind the scenes for more than 36 years helping build one of the most influential media organizations in Alaska — KTUU. Recently named general manager of KTUU Channel 2 and KYES Channel 5, she is recognized by the on-air talent as a “smart, savvy professional” who has supported the rise of many female broadcasters and always has time to mentor others. Nancy has a passion for community service and the role broadcasters play in supporting non-profits. She has established long running partnerships between KTUU and the Alaska Run for Women, the Alaska Ski for Women, AWAIC and others. Nancy’s impact extends to youth across Alaska through the many scholarships awarded by KTUU’s Fund the Future program, a collaboration she established between public, private and non-profit organizations. The Alaska Broadcaster’s Association has honored Nancy with the Broadcaster of the Year award and induction into its Hall of Fame.

Denise Morris

Lifelong Alaskan, Denise is known across the state for her advocacy for women’s rights in justice and health care. Motivated to end the high rate of violence and sexual assault committed against Native women, Denise has dedicated much of her time on numerous boards and commissions at the local, state, and federal level. She is a founding member of Alaska Native Women’s Sexual Assault Committee, former chair of the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, and a former board member of STAR. She has served as the President/CEO of both the Alaska Native Justice Center and First Alaskans Institute. Denise is a founding member of Alaska Innocence Project. She earned her BA in Justice from UAA and was a member of the inaugural class of APU’s Alaska Native Executive Leadership Program. She recently earned a Master’s Certificate in Health Care Compliance from George Washington University. She is married with two grown daughters.

Barbara Norton

Barbara has been “catching babies” for more than two decades. In fact, this Certified Nurse Midwife/Woman’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner has helped bring nearly 1,160 babies into the world over the course of her professional career. Her philosophy in well-women care is to empower her patients by giving them information to make good choices and take control of their lives. She’s a teacher/mentor and continues to raise the standards in health care. Barbara is also a mother, a grandmother and a competitive triathlete. She believes athleticism is important for development and confidence over a lifetime. Her work includes advocating for policy changes that have resulted in more women accessing health care including women of color, non-English speaking immigrants, refugees and the homeless. A business owner, Barbara has helped redefine and shape views of midwifery care in the medical community. She has the respect of doctors, nurses and her loyal patients.

Kate Slyker

Fourth generation Alaskan, Kate comes from a family known for its community involvement. She was the Executive VP of Spawn Ideas where her focus was telecom. Kate has a BA in marketing and English. She is a founding member of GWeN, the GCI Women’s Network and serves on Covenant House Alaska and Alaska Community Foundation boards and the UAA Athletics SAA Advisory Board. She also is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle, is the women’s chair for the GCI Great Alaska Shootout and sits on a Mayor’s office special library task force. She is this year’s co-chair for the Mayor’s Charity Ball and has completed board terms with YWCA of Alaska, Catholic Social Services and the Alaska Chapter of the American Marketing Association, and also volunteers at her sons’ local schools. She is a YWCA Woman of Achievement, a Top 40 under 40, and has won multiple industry awards.

Tara Sweeny

Tara has more than a decade of active engagement in Native American policy development and advocacy. She has held leadership roles in private, public and nonprofit organizations. Tara has been with Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) for more than 20 years, and is currently serving as chair of the Arctic Economic Council. She is a lifelong Alaskan from Utqiagvik, and lived in the villages of Noorvik, Wainwright, Bethel and Unalakleet. She co-chaired Alaska Federation of Natives, served on Breast Cancer Focus, was a 2014 campaign co-chair for Dan Sullivan for U.S. Senate, and currently serves on the Ted Stevens Foundation. Tara’s nominator, Gloria O’Neill, said “Tara continues to hire qualified women for advocacy positions and recommends them for positions on Capitol Hill. She works with them on how to be effective in their roles, emphasizing integrity, leadership and bravery.” She is married to Kevin and they have two children.

Ileen Sylvester

Ileen Sylvester inspires compassion, motivation and positive impacts. The Southcentral Foundation Vice President of Executive & Tribal Services for nearly two decades is a role model leading by example. Ileen is a champion of self-determination and self-governance within the tribal health system. She has worked closely with executive leadership to provide management and direction while reinforcing the application of traditional cultural values in the delivery of care. She models support and mentorship for the youth internship program; identifies emerging leaders; and gives guidance needed to advance and succeed. She commits time and energy to the Elder Program, advocating for its success. Recognizing learning that can be gained from bringing generations together, Ileen organizes partnerships between the Elder and youth programs, promoting understanding, and strengthening the Native Community. A mother of three, she has received numerous awards including the 2011 Indian Health Service Director’s Special Recognition Award for Public Health Leadership.