UAA Alumni Association announces 2011 Alumni of Distinction award recipients.

August 17, 2011

The UAA Alumni Association will honor alums Eric Wohlforth, Joan Fisher and Dan Bigley at its upcoming Green and Gold Gala in Anchorage on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, at the Hotel Captain Cook. The Green and Gold Gala will bring together alumni, friends and the community in support of UAA. The elegant ‘black tie’ event will help kick off Homecoming Week at UAA and will celebrate achievements of alumni, showcase University success and raise important UAA scholarship support.

Eric Wohlforth, LL.D. '09UAA Alumni of Achievement Award: Eric Wohlforth, LL.D. ’09, M.A. Interdisciplinary Studies ’11, Senior Partner & Attorney, Wohlforth, Brecht, Cartledge & Brooking

Awarded to an alumnus who has attained prominence in his or her industry or profession, and who has had a demonstrated impact on their community and enhanced the reputation and image of UAA.

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.

Joan Fisher, M.B.A. '99UAA Alumni Humanitarian Award: Joan Fisher, M.B.A. ’99, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center

Awarded to an alumnus who has contributed to their community and who has strived to make a difference in the life of others. This could be through voluntary service or their profession.

Since earning her M.B.A. from UAA in ’99, Joan served as the executive director of Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center (ANHC). Joan, who recently took on the new role of director of strategic initiatives, has been instrumental in raising funds to build a new $28.3M health center in Anchorage–set to open in summer 2012–that will more than double ANHC’s capacity to serve the city’s health care needs.

Dan Bigley, M.S.W. '09

UAA Alumni Emerging Leader Award: Dan Bigley,M.S.W. ’09, Director of Therapeutic Foster Care Services, Denali Family Services

Awarded to an alumnus who has made a significant impact in their industry or profession or contributed to the community and has strived to make a difference in the lives of others. The nominee must have received their degree within the past 10 years.

A grizzly bear mauled Dan Bigley in the summer of 2003 on the shores of Alaska’s Russian River and left him for dead. The odds were against him, but Dan survived, and after many surgeries and rehabilitative efforts he was able to pick up where he left off several years ago. With the support of UAA’s Disability Support Services, Dan earned his M.S.W. in ’09 from UAA with a 4.0 GPA. He now works with youth and families facing trauma, sexual abuse, substance abuse, behavioral disorders or mental illnesses. Dan is currently writing a book about the bear that nearly killed him and left him blinded. Read Dan’s full story at under “I am UAA.”

The 2010 inaugural Green and Gold Gala raised nearly $30,000 in scholarship support for UAA students. UAA alumni and community are invited to attend this year’s Gala. The event includes a champagne reception beginning at 6 p.m., dinner, award program and select live auction. Sponsorships and tickets for the Green and Gold Gala are available now. For ticket information, contact University Advancement at (907) 786-1733, visit or email

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