2024 Anchorage ATHENA Leadership Award Recipient

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski embodies service, strength, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to the values we hold as Alaskans. Throughout her 21 years in the U.S. Senate, she has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alaskans. She’s a champion for responsible resource development, secures critical funding for infrastructure and advances workforce development initiatives. She has improved access to healthcare and supported resources for behavioral and mental health services. Working collectively with diverse local and state organizations, she helps ensure Alaskans have the resources they need to support their families in a safe environment that encourages and empowers Alaska’s youth.

An advocate for the rights of Alaska Natives and all indigenous people, she shepherded the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the Tribal Law and Order Act and the implementation of ANCSA and ANILCA, including crucial subsistence provisions. Her commitment to addressing public safety, and the critical issue of missing and murdered indigenous people, led to a more robust federal government response and increased funding for cold case investigations, equipment needs, personnel, and forensic training. The Alaska commitment to working together runs deep in our senior senator. Bridging divides and finding common ground is among her greatest attributes.

Whether it’s hosting the women of the U.S. Senate for dinner, or negotiating landmark legislation amongst her colleagues
and the White House, she understands the importance of collaboration to address our state and nation’s most pressing needs. She continues to inspire the next generation of leaders through her internship program and her mentor- ship to many Anchorage ATHENAs. The first Alaska-born senator, she holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from Willamette College of Law. She and her husband Verne Martell have two sons, Nicolas and Matt.

2024 Anchorage ATHENA Inductees

Leah Boltz, Principal and Partner, Bettisworth North Architects and Planners

Leah Boltz, FSMPS, CPSM, is principal/partner of Bettisworth North Architects and Planners in Anchorage and Fairbanks. The 39-person design firm is majority woman-owned and prides itself on being Alaska’s Community BuildersTM, a vision Leah helped create.

Leah was a Top 40 Under 40 and a past president of Anchorage Rotary Club and SMPS Alaska. She serves on the boards of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, and Anchorage Museum. Leah is a UAA Alumni. She was assistant editor for The MILEPOST travel guide, market- ing director at CRW Engineering Group and director of business marketing at GCI. Leah co-founded Parks for All in 2009 to bring play to children of all abilities, and there are now 30+ inclusive playground projects throughout Alaska.

Leah lives (and plays) in Anchorage and Girdwood with her husband Nate, Executive Director of Challenge Alaska, and daughters Anna (17) and Adeline (6).

Codie Costello, President and Chief Operations Officer, The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts

Codie Costello is president and COO of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, and the general manager of Broadway Alaska. She’s the visionary behind an exciting cultural addition to our community. She has a passion for what the arts can do and she lives her purpose every day.

From her start at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, to earning her master’s at the Actors Studio in New York, to directing multiple plays here – in Alaska, Codie lifts up women and girls to tell their stories through the arts, command the stage (whatever their stage) and own their narrative and potential. Codie is among the top women in Alaska mentoring women in the arts, and she does it by raising her hand, believing in ideas, and using her influence to make things happen. We’re so fortunate Codie is part of making Anchorage, and Alaska, a better place for all of us.

Lanie Fleischer, Retired, Big Brothers Big Sisters

For most of you, what you like most about Anchorage is a direct result of Lanie Fleischer’s hard work. Our trail system, Town Square, the optional school program, Saturday Market and so much more. Lainie created our network of neighborhood councils, providing leadership opportunities and local government counsel. For 15 years she served as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

A consummate volunteer and mentor to so many members of ATHENA, Lanie is a member of the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame and the YWCA Women of Achievement. She served on the Anchorage Parks Commission and helped create the Alaska Center for the Environment, statewide gaming task force, KSKA, and ever so much more. As one of those recommending Lanie said, “Every once in a while a remarkable person crosses our doorstep and has a profound effect on your life.”

Vonnie Gaither, Artist, Art by Vonnie

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Vonnie moved to Alaska in 1970 and attended Anchorage Community College and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, majoring in art. She came to Alaska to visit her father who was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, now known as JBER.

In February 1990, she began displaying her paintings professionally in various Alaska coffee shops, offices, retail stores, and selected galleries. Vonnie’s paintings have been exhibited statewide in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Girdwood. In 2002, Vonnie participated in her first “outside of Alaska” First Friday Exhibit at October Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In September 2012, she had an art showing at Village Coffee in Portland, Oregon. Vonnie has produced limited-edition serigraphs, prints, and note cards while continuously participating in local competitions, exhibits and social events.

Presently her art is exhibited at various Anchorage businesses, buildings, and Onyx Fine Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington.

Rachel Kallander, Owner and Chief Strategist, Kallander & Associates

Rachel Kallander, J.D., is deeply committed to advocacy, amplifying voices, and policy reform across diverse platforms. As Owner & Chief Strategist of Kallander & Associates, she helps visionary leaders achieve their boldest goals by building movements, human capital, and partnerships worldwide.

Rachel founded Arctic Encounter Symposium (AES) as a law student in 2014. Today, AES is North America’s largest Arctic policy and business event. She also owns The Cordova Times, Alaska’s second oldest newspaper, and founded INTRA Retreats, fostering personal growth experiences and community. As the Honorary Consul of Iceland for Alaska and an Advisory Committee Member for McKinley Alaska Private Investment’s Na’-Nuk Investment Fund 2, Rachel’s work spans diplomatic relations and sustainable investment.

Her efforts, rooted in her Alaska heritage and a passion for community engagement, aim for meaningful change. Raised in a fishing family in Cordova, Alaska, Rachel now resides in Anchorage with her husband and two energetic toddlers.

Denali Kemppel, General Counsel, Hilcorp of Alaska

Denali Kemppel is the General Counsel of Hilcorp Alaska, LLC. Hilcorp is the largest independent oil and gas company in the United States. Denali graduated with honors from Dartmouth College, where she was also an NCAA All-American athlete. After college, she worked for U.S. Senator Ted Stevens before starting law school at Duke. While at Duke Law School, Denali served on the Alaska
Law Review.

Denali started her legal career at Ropes & Gray in Boston where she advised public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and other corporate matters. She previously served as EVP, General Counsel for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and as the Chief Operating Officer for McKinley Capital Management LLC.

Denali was born and raised in Anchorage. Denali, her husband, and their children enjoy running, cross-country skiing and traveling.

Austin Quinn-Davidson, Consultant, AQD Strategies

Austin Quinn-Davidson served on the Anchorage Assembly from 2018-2023 and as Acting Mayor from 2020-2021, leading our community through one of its most challenging periods. In both roles, Austin was a strong advocate for our most vulnerable residents. Austin is Anchorage’s first woman mayor and first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Austin has worked for several nonprofit organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Great Land Trust, and most recently for Alaska Children’s Trust, where she is leading the implementation of Anchorage’s newly-passed Child Care and Early Education Fund.

Austin is originally from a rural logging town in northern California. She has been indelibly shaped by the closeness of her small hometown, the ability to run wild outside, and observing first hand the impact of poverty on families. Austin is most proud of her work to uplift the voices of those with less power, often alongside her passionate wife, Stephanie, and advocate-in-training son, Wilder.

Ivy Spohnholz, State Director, The Nature Conservancy of Alaska

Ivy Spohnholz was born in a small cabin in remote Nabesna and has spent most of her life in Anchorage. Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to helping Alaskans, a commitment that led her to serve three terms in the Alaska State Legislature.

Previous roles include work for The Salvation Army in Alaska, University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Conservation Foundation and Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, where she developed innovative partnerships and attracted private investment in pursuit of solutions to a broad range of issues. Ivy holds a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration, both from the University of Washington. She has been a foster and adoptive parent and is the past board chair for the Alaska Children’s Trust.

Outside of work, Ivy loves trips to the family cabin in Talkeetna with her husband, Troy, and their three adult daughters, Iris, Kim and Maya.

Schawna Thoma, Vice President, Northern Compass Group

As one of seven children, Schawna grew up on a Midwest farm, headed to Washington D.C. after college and landed her first job in Alaska on a commercial fishing set-net site in Kodiak.

She has since spent her career in Alaska working on municipal, state and federal policy making and the private sector as Vice President of Northern Compass Group, a consulting firm she helped found in 2015. Schawna is committed to highlighting downtown Anchorage as a culturally rich place with easy access to nature where people will want to visit, live and invest. She currently chairs the Visit Anchorage Board of Directors, serves on the board of the Anchorage League of Women Voters, AK Hopes & Dreams, and volunteers for Spenard area neighborhood projects with the Anchorage Park Foundation.

She believes people should use their time and talents to volunteer and mentor young professionals and students whenever possible.

Bede Tranita, Retired, KSKA

Bede began her career with KSKA in 1979 as a volunteer and soon became the Morning Edition host on KSKA in 1980, advancing to Operations Manager in 1981, training radio staff and creating on-air and control room policies and pro- cedures. In 1989, Bede was named Program Director, overseeing programming and operations staff, creating KSKA’s on-air schedule, creating programming strategies, co-pro- ducing membership drives and radio auctions, and building AKPM’s Leadership Circle.

Under Bede’s leadership, KSKA’s audience grew to one of Anchorage’s favorite stations. Bede was awarded the Alaska Broadcasters Association Employee of the Year in 1991, the 2019 Alaska Humanities Forum Governor’s Award for the Humanities Distinguished Service in Community, and a UAA Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2019.

Bede has been a Providence Alaska NICU Cuddle Corp volunteer assisting the nurses and holding babies since 2002.