JAHC’s 50th Anniversary Highlights

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) celebrated 50 years on Thursday, July 27th, 2023. We are thrilled to share with you the highlights and joyous moments from the JAHC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration!

This special event took place on the unceded territory of the Áak’w Kwáan on Lingít Aaní, at the Sealaska Heritage Arts Plaza in downtown Juneau, and we are filled with gratitude for the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) for allowing us to hold our celebration in their space.

As our guests and supporters arrived at the plaza around 4:30pm, they were greeted with smiles from JAHC staff and board members and the smell of delicious food wafting through the air from local vendors. Laughter soon filled the air and the atmosphere buzzed with excitement as JAHC 50th Anniversary commemorative hats were given out by staff. Old friends reunited and new connections were forged, which created a sense of camaraderie among everyone present.


Guests were able to get dinner and drinks from local food vendors, which included El Chingon, Four Plates Cochina, Blumen Dogs, and Twhrly Whrliy Cotton Candy. JAHC staff worked in the beer garden with donated beverages from the Alaskan Brewing Company.

Performances from Local Artists

Opening performances set the tone of lightheartedness and joy from local musicians Qacung Blanchett, Annie Bartholomew, and Daniel Firmin. Ben Brown, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, introduced the Land Acknowledgement, recognized SHI’s donation of the event space, and addressed the impact of JAHC’s on trajectory of arts in Juneau over the last 50 years.


Performances by local groups and musicians included the Yees Ku Oo Dancers, Rio Alberto & Luke Weld, and Quenton Woolman-Morgan of The Flukes. As the Yees Ku Oo Dancers were brought to the stage, they allowed the community to come together in dance — bringing Raven, Eagle, Wolf, and Killer Whale dance to the plaza, as well as welcoming those who do not belong to those clans.

Rio Alberto with Perseverance Theatre sang a beautiful, inspiring song while Luke Weld accompanied them on the piano. The Flukes vocalist, Quenton Woolman-Morgan, set a tone of light and fun and folk while also performing on the guitar and harmonica. Ending the evening was a performance with local musicians, Annie Bartholomew and Daniel Firmin.


2023 Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy Awards for the Arts

Throughout the event, past JAHC Executive Directors, Nancy DeCherney, Natalee Rothaus, and current Executive Director, Phil Huebschen, along with the SHI President, Rosita Worl, Ph.D. made speeches and introduced this year’s Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy Awards for the Arts recipients. There were nine awards presented to recipients throughout the event, with   2023 recipients of the Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy Awards for the Arts were given throughout the evening in this order:

  • Patron of the Arts – Amy Dressel, Ph.D., presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen
  • Exceptional Artist – Lisa Phu, presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen
  • Lifetime Achievement in the Arts – Molly Smith, presented by past JAHC Executive Director,Nancy DeCherney. Accepting the Award on Molly’s behalf was Leslie Ishii.
  • Leadership in the Promotion of Oral Traditions – Victoria Johnson, presented by SHI President, Rosita Worl, Ph.D.
  • Excellence in Arts & Cultural Education – Wayne Price, presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen. Accepting the Award on Wayne’s behalf was Davina Cole.
  • Business Leadership in the Arts – Sealaska Heritage Institute, presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen. Accepting the Award was SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D. and SHI Art Director, Kari Groven.
  • Advancement of Community Equity, and Stewardship by an Elected Official – Maria Gladziszewski, presented by past JAHC Executive Director, Natalee Rothaus. Accepting the Award on Maria’s behalf was Sally Smith.
  • Leadership in Environmental Health & Sustainability – Rachael Juzeler, presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen.
  • Innovation in the Arts – Chloey Cavanaugh, presented by JAHC Executive Director, Phil Huebschen.


The most touching moments of the awards was when both, Lisa Phu and Victoria Johnson, accepted their awards and gave their speeches. They each spoke about their struggles, the hurdles they’ve overcome (and continue to do), and expressed the gratitude and support they’ve received over the years from various local organizations and community members. Their words touched the depths of everyone’s hearts, we thank them for their dedication to the arts, and we look forward to witnessing their continued work in our community.

As we look back upon this commemorative event and the last 50 years of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, we take with us precious memories, laughter, and camaraderie amongst the art community in Juneau. Celebrations like these remind us of the importance of coming together to form meaningful connections and celebrating all who make the arts possible in our community.

The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council 50th Anniversary logo was designed by Chloey Cavanaugh of Black and White Raven Co.

For more information on the annual Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy Awards for the Arts, please go to: www.jahc.org/award-for-the-arts