Alumni of Achievement

Alumni of Achievement Award logoThe Alumni of Achievement Award honors an alumnus or alumna who has attained prominence through his or her industry, profession or voluntary service and demonstrates sustained excellence, integrity, motivation and dedication in the sphere of their expertise. There is an expectation that the nominee is in the middle or toward the sunset of what is, or has been, a long-term distinguished career or role.

Previous Winners 

A. Janelle Pfleiger

A. Janelle Pfleriger — 2023-24 Alumni of Achievement
B.B.A. Real Estate '78
Real estate agent and former national president of the Residential Real Estate Council

Purchasing a home can be one of the biggest, costliest transactions a person or family can make. A. Janelle Pfleiger understands the enormity of such a decision and ensures the real estate agent guiding clients through the homebuying process is beholden to the highest code of ethics. In 2016, Pfleiger served as national president of the Residential Real Estate Council, during which she championed the continuing education of real estate agents and included awarding the coveted certified residential specialist designation — considered to be the doctorate of the real estate industry. Outside her work supporting fellow real estate agents, Pfleiger has served as board chair for the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Providence Alaska Children’s Hospital, and board member of the Alaska Botanical Garden. She currently sits on the board of the Better Business Bureau western region and is a member of the Anchorage Athena Society. In 2006, she was named CRS REALTOR of the Year and Anchorage REALTOR of the Year, followed by Alaska REALTOR of the Year in 2010 and YWCA Alaska Woman of Achievement in 2007. Read more about A. Janelle Pfleiger >>

Kenneth McCoy

Kenneth McCoy — 2022 Alumni of Achievement
B.A. Justice '96
Division chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Providence

As division chief DEI officer at Providence, Kenneth McCoy promotes culturally-competent patient-centered care across the organization in Alaska and Puget Sound. Before joining Providence in 2022, McCoy retired from a 27-year career with the Anchorage Police Department, starting at the patrol level before culminating as chief of police. Read more about Kenneth McCoy >>

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson — 2021 Alumni of Achievement
M.B.A. '98
President, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, likes to humorously sum up her life’s trajectory by saying she’s only ever lived, studied, and worked in the three biggest states in America, serving as vice chancellor for administrative services at the UAA; vice president at California State University, Fresno; and currently president at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Throughout her career, Dr. Teniente-Matson has made a point to focus on issues of equity and inclusion, working to enact policies at every institution she leads while also delivering keynote addresses nationally on the topics of women’s leadership and Latinx leadership. She has also never strayed far from her initial studies in business administration from the UAA and UAF, as she continuously employs an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset to higher education. Read Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson's story...

Laurie Fagnani

Laurie Fagnani  2020 Alumni of Achievement
B.A. Journalism and Public Communications '86
Founder and President, MSI Communications

Established in 1995, Laurie Fagnani grew MSI Communications from a home business with herself as the sole employee to the go-to marketing agency for Alaska’s resource industry. Fagnani attributes her agency’s success to staff with an intuitive understanding of Alaska’s industries, a quarter of whom come from UAA. Additionally, Fagnani has grown her business' digital services capacity to better aid clientele as they also adapt to an increasingly web-dependent business model. Read Laurie Fagnani's story...

Leverette Hoover

Leverette Hoover  2020 Alumni of Achievement
B.S. Technology '97
National Operations Manager, Siemens

After serving for eight years in the United States Air Force, Leverette Hoover pursued a civilian career in electronics and engineering, consisting of various positions with Siemens over the last 20 years. Hoover is a past recipient of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Top Forty Under 40, a Gold Pan Award winner for community service, served as the chairman of the Anchorage School District School Business Partner board of directors, was a founding member of the UAA Alumni Association and is an honorary commander for the 176th Alaska Air National Guard Wing. Read Leverette Hoover's story...

Jacki Holzman

Jacki Holzman  2019 Alumni of Achievement
M.S. Environmental Quality Science '92
Deputy regional administrator for the Alaska region of the Federal Aviation Administration

Holzman is the deputy regional administrator for the Alaska region of the Federal Aviation Administration. Her position is the latest in a 27-year career with the FAA and helps keep the organization afloat by connecting operations and stakeholders to address aviation safety. Holzman also remains connected to her alma mater by serving as a mentor for the UAA College of Business and Public Policy’s Leadership Fellows and Leadership Fellows Junior programs.
 Read Jacki's story...

Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Thompson  2018 Alumni of Achievement
President and CEO, Thompson and Co. Public Relations

Family is the cornerstone of Thompson’s business philosophy. Starting as an intern at Anchorage PR agency Bernholz and Graham in 1999, she worked to become president and CEO in 2006 and purchased the firm in 2009, renaming it Thompson and Co. as it’s known today. Under her leadership, the business has grown from four employees to 24 and added offices in other parts of the country. But more importantly to Thompson, she’s built a company where family wellness, personal growth and collaboration are woven into the corporate culture. Read Jennifer's story...


Tim Gravel - 2017 Alumni of Achievement
B.B.A. Accounting '90
Owner and CEO, Kaladi Brothers Coffee

Gravel has kept Kaladi Brothers grounded on its road to expansion without losing sight of its “catalyst for community” mission. The company had one café and six employees, all fun-loving 20-somethings with a gift-giving habit, when Gravel joined more than 20 years ago. Today, he leads more than 200 employees, roasting 1.2 million pounds of coffee each year, at 15 cafes and one restaurant across the Pacific Northwest. Read Tim's story…

Beth Stuart

Beth Stuart, Alumni of Achievement 2016
B.B.A. Accounting '94
Office Managing Partner, KPMG LLP

Stuart has built relationships and gained respect statewide in her career at KPMG. Now partner at the international auditing company, she’s firmly committed to helping Alaska students find similar career success in their hometown, too. Read Beth's story…

Viorica Marian


Viorica Marian, B.A. Psychology '94.
Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University

Viorica is a world-recognized leader in psycholinguistics, studying how multiple languages change our thoughts and behaviors. Her research shows bilingualism provides a constant brain workout, can delay cognitive declines associated with aging, and even changes the way we see the world (yes, literally). The Ph.D. graduate from Cornell—who now leads a research lab in Northwestern University's School of Communication—has presented at conferences across the continents, published over 100 scientific papers and been featured everywhere from Time to BBC to 
The Washington Post. And her academic achievements launched right here at UAA. Read Viorica's story...

Ted Trueblood


Ted Trueblood, M.S. Civil Engineering '80.
President of Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc. (Retired)

Ted's 42-year career in engineering kicked off the summer after the earthquake, and he's had a hand in building the state's infrastructure ever since. Likewise, he's equally dedicated to UAA. He chose to attend MIT when UAA didn't offer a civil engineering baccalaureate degree, and lobbied for expanded undergraduate courses at UAA upon his return to Anchorage. Additionally, he's served as an adjunct instructor for both undergraduate and graduate courses, sat on the civil engineering advisory board, joined UAA's 50th anniversary committee and, along with his wife, been a major gift donor to the College of Engineering. He also served as founding president of the UAA Alumni Association. Read Ted's story...

Sophie Minich


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

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. Sophie's served in several leadership roles at CIRI, and was named president and CEO in 2013. A leader with a strong commitment to her community, Sophie is a current director and former chair of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation's board of directors, as well as a trustee of Alaska Regional Hospital and CIRI Elders' Settlement Trust. Read Sophie's story...

Carol Comeau


Carol Comeau M.Ed. '86, LL.D. '07
Retired Superintendent, Anchorage School District

Carol Comeau has been a fixture in the Anchorage community for 38 years. Her passion for education and for children never waned as her career developed from the classroom into administrative leadership. Notably, her proudest success is having been an effective collaborator with the community and the state. From K-12 leader to university leader, Carol continually encouraged good rapport and partnership with the university’s chancellors, and she always loved opportunities to advocate for programs on UAA’s campus as an alumna. Read Carol's story...

Eric Wohlforth


Eric Wohlforth, LL.D. '09, M.A. Interdisciplinary Studies '11
Senior Partner & Attorney, Wohlforth, Brecht, Cartledge & Brooking

Seventy-nine-year-old Eric Wohlforth is the epitome of a lifelong learner. He adds his degree from UAA to a resume that includes Princeton University, University of Virginia School of Law, Loyola University and the Fielding Graduate Institute. Rooted in community service, Eric serves on the Chancellor's Board of Advisors and the UA Foundation Board of Trustees, is a leadership-level donor to the University, and is currently the chair of the UA Foundation Investment Committee.

Dana Stabenow


Dana Stabenow, M.F.A. ’85, Author

Dana Stabenow is an Alaska author who has produced literary works in the science fiction, mystery and suspense/thriller genres. Many of Stabenow's books are set in her home state of Alaska, where she was raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. Stabenow received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Alaska in 1973 and graduated in 1985 from UAA's MFA program. She published her first novel, Second Star, in 1990. Her first Kate Shugak book, A Cold Day for Murder, won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original in 1993 and her 27th novel, Though Not Dead, came out in February 2011. Her proudest achievement is participating in two successful Authors to the Bush programs in 2001 and 2007, which sent a hundred published authors to communities from Unalaska to Anaktuvuk Pass to talk to kids in the Bush about reading and writing.