NEWS_Masters student, social justice advocate chosen for Judson Brown scholarship

NEWS_Masters student, social justice advocate chosen for Judson Brown scholarship

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

May 20, 2019

A graduate student at Western Governors University who is pursuing a master’s degree in business has won Sealaska Heritage Institute’s 2019 Judson L. Brown Leadership Award.

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has chosen Sealaska shareholder Ursula Jones of Juneau.

Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology, is currently leading a team that is creating a youth apprenticeship program to encourage Alaska Native high school students to pursue degrees in that field. She also sought out positions of leadership while employed at the National Weather Service. While there, she chaired the agency’s National Diversity Program with a goal to diversify the agency’s workforce and held the title of diversity ambassador. She also is a problem solver who is seeking to apply that skill to issues faced by the Native community.

She was the first to complete a two-year Registered Apprentice program in cyber information and security offered by Goldbelt, Juneau’s Alaska Native corporation.

Her role is paving the new workforce pathway for future shareholder-descendant youth registered apprentices, a program dependent on effectively communicating with our high school students in this new field, wrote a subsidiary employee of Goldbelt in a recommendation letter.

The employee praised Jones’s “efficiency, problem-solving capabilities, and, most importantly, her ‘can do’ nature.”

The $5,000 scholarship goes to students who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership skills, and only one person wins the annual award. Among many qualified applicants, Jones stood out, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“She has a passion for social justice for Alaska Native people that extends beyond academia, and she is already making a difference in our community by helping our youth to attain a higher education,” Worl said.

The leadership award comes from an endowment established in 2006 through a $100,000 donation from Chris and Mary McNeil. It was named for Chris McNeil’s uncle, the late Tlingit leader Judson Lawrence Brown, who was a forceful advocate for education and leadership development. The endowment is administered by Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Caption:  2019 Judson L. Brown Leadership Award recipient Ursula Jones.

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