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Press Release  

May 25, 2011

Second-ever Judson Brown scholarship given to student pursuing master’s

Helen Dianne Dangel, recipient of the 2011 Judson L. Brown Leadership AwardSealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has awarded approximately $447,000 in scholarships to Sealaska shareholders and descendants and given a leadership award from a separate endowment to a student pursuing her master’s degree.

The awards, funded mostly by Sealaska Corporation, will help students pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees and voc-tech training for the 2011-2012 school year. A portion also will fund heritage studies, language studies and culture camps.

The scholarships for university and voc-tech studies went to 356 Alaska Natives, said Rosita Worl, president of SHI, which administers the scholarship program for Sealaska.

“These awards are based on merit and class standing,” Worl said. “So, it’s an accomplishment just to receive a Sealaska scholarship, and our recipients should be very proud of themselves.”

SHI also made the second Judson L. Brown Leadership Award from an endowment established in 2006 by a $100,000 donation from Chris and Mary McNeil. The award was named after Chris McNeil’s uncle, the late Tlingit leader Judson Lawrence Brown, who was a forceful advocate for education and leadership development. The award supports college education and leadership development of Sealaska shareholders and their descendants.

That award of $5,000 was given to Helen Dianne Dangel (above), who is pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.  Helen is the granddaughter of Frances Daniels Craig and Gene Craig, and Walter and Margaret Dangel, and is descended from Charlie Daniels, Sr. and Rudolph Walton. She is an environmental scientist and holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resource policy. She also served as a Cultural Resources Specialist and Resources Protection Director at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Her work has entailed documenting the Tlingit culture and fighting for subsistence rights, particularly protection of herring. She chose to study psychology so she can help Native people on a direct and personal level.

 “There is a need for Native leadership in the mental health community,” Dangel said. “I believe that there is a role for culture to help in healing. I know from experience that being strong in your culture makes you proud, and it can help to heal the many issues the Native community has.”

“I think my uncle would be very proud of Helen and her vision to serve Native people with her life’s work,” said McNeil, who is the president and CEO of Sealaska Corporation. “She is the kind of Native leader Mary and I had hoped to support with our endowment.”

Sealaska Corporation is a regional Alaska Native corporation formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. Scholarships are provided by Sealaska from a scholarship endowment and corporate 7 (i) sharing provisions established under ANCSA. Sealaska founded the nonprofit Sealaska Heritage Institute in 1980 to run the corporation’s cultural and educational programs. The scholarship program is one of many programs operated by the institute. The scholarships are given annually, and the total award is based partly on income earned from the endowment.

CONTACT: Dr. Rosita Worl, SHI president, 907-463-4844; Chris McNeil, Sealaska Corporation president and CEO, 425-283-0600; Helen Dianne Dangel, 907-747-3121