2013 Award Recipients

UAA Alumni of Distinction Awards

The Alumni of Distinction Awards honor individual alumnus, faculty, staff, students and volunteers who have contributed their time, efforts and creativity to the advancement of UAA, the state of Alaska or the communities in which they live.

2013 Award Recipients

UAA Alumni of Achievement Award:

Originally from Seward, Sophie began her 20-
year career with CIRI as a project accountant soon after she graduated from UAA's business and finance program in 1989. Sophie's served in several leadership roles at CIRI, including chief operating officer, senior vice president of business development, chief financial officer and vice president of administration. In 2013, Sophie was
named president and CEO.

A leader with a strong commitment to her community, Sophie is a current director and former chair of the Anchorage Economic DevelopmentCorporation's board of directors, as well as a trustee of Alaska Regional Hospital and CIRI Elders' Settlement Trust. She also serves on the Wells Fargo Bank Statewide Advisory Board and Great
West Division Board of the American Cancer Society. Sophie also chaired the 2010 United Way of Anchorage community giving campaign.

In 2008, Sophie was inducted into the Athena Society, and in 2011 she was named one of the YWCA Women of Achievement.

Read Sophie's full story at the Green & Gold

Sophie Minich

Sophie Minich, B.B.A. Finance '89
President and CEO of Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI)

UAA Alumni Humanitarian Award:

Susan LaBelle has shown steadfast leadership, compassion and dedication for building healthy communities in rural Alaska, for underserved populations and for Alaska Native people over the past 30 years. Through her work, Susan has brought a rural Alaska perspective to some of the state's most important discussions and decisions surrounding mental illness, dementia, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury and developmental disabilities. She has created a legacy of advocating for Alaska's children, helping ensure they grow up to be healthy adults. She has worked tirelessly to build connections between tribal corporations, the State of Alaska and professional organizations to expand behavioral health programs and services statewide.

Susan earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from UAA. She was an influential advocate for establishing the M.S.W. program at UAA, and was a member of the first cohort of graduates from the program. Susan is actively talking with young people to encourage them to enter the field of social work. She currently serves as the interim director for Chugachmiut's Community and Family Services Division and as a part-time assistant clinical professor in UAA's social work program.

Read Susan's full story at the Green & Gold

Susan LaBelleSusan LaBelle, B.S.W. '84, M.S.W. '97

More than 35 years of professional and volunteer service to the Alaska Native and non-Native community

UAA Alumni Emerging Leader Award:

A lifelong Alaskan, Stephen Trimble serves as a project manager and mining business lead for URS Corporation. Stephen sits on several boards, two of which are at UAA. He chairs the Department of Geological Sciences advisory board and co-chairs the College of Arts and Sciences advisory board. He also has active board appointments with the Alaska Minerals Commission, State of Alaska Emerging Energy Technology Fund Advisory Committee, Alaska Arctic Policy Commission and Gold Cord Development Corporation. Stephen also serves on the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees.

As a young leader himself, Stephen recognizes the importance of building the next generation of Alaska leaders. Toward this end, Stephen teaches geology to students in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program’s (ANSEP) Summer Middle School Program at UAA. Stephen has demonstrated the qualities of a natural, ethical leader who has earned the respect of his peers and the community. Earlier this year, Stephen was recognized as one of Alaska Journal of Commerce’s Top Forty Under 40, an award that recognizes young professionals who display both professional excellence and a commitment to the community.

Read Stephen's full story at the Green & Gold


Stephen Trimble

Stephen Trimble, B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies '08

Project Manager at URS Corporation in Alaska