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UAS Honors Elizabeth Nelson of Ketchikan with Meritorious Service Award

Elizabeth’s leadership is guided above all by inclusivity and is fueled by an unwavering drive to bring new people into the fold

Ketchikan, Alaska

Date of Press Release: April 7, 2021

Elizabeth Nelson
Elizabeth Nelson

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) uses the occasion of Student Commencement each year to recognize individuals in our community who’ve offered outstanding service to the university, the state of Alaska, or Southeast communities. Meritorious Service Awards are awarded for public and volunteer service to the university or a local community. The UA Board of Regents approves candidates who are nominated by local campuses. This year UAS will honor Elizabeth Nelson with a Meritorious Service Award, presented during the Ketchikan campus ceremony on Friday, April 30, for her outstanding leadership and devotion to the arts community of Ketchikan and throughout the region.

Elizabeth Nelson has been the executive artistic director of the First City Players since 1988. Under her leadership, First City Players has become a major venue for the arts in Southeast Alaska. She has directed over 150 productions, with shows ranging from classical drama to Ketchikan home-grown melodrama “The Fish Pirate’s Daughter,” from Rogers and Hammerstien to Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret”. Every summer since 1997 and every winter since 1999, she has directed children’s summer theater camps for students ages 8 to 17 that have provided arts education to over two-thousand local kids. As an Alaskan Teaching Artist she has worked in schools as far north as Utquagvik, as far west as Shishmaref, as far southwest as Kodiak, and of course, in southern southeast Alaska.

Elizabeth’s leadership is guided above all by inclusivity and is fueled by an unwavering drive to bring new people into the fold. She is visionary in her outreach to the broader Ketchikan community, and beyond. Her career has been devoted not only to the financial stability and artistic integrity of the organization, but to the social health of our community. Ketchikan is an incredible place for any artist to live, or for anyone who loves the arts. For the better part of thirty years, Elizabeth Nelson has been an enormous part of building that community.

In addition to her work with First City Players, Elizabeth Nelson has served as an adjunct faculty for UAS, teaching theater history, literature, and acting courses. She was President of the Alaska Community Theatre Festival and a state representative and board member of the American Association of Community Theatre. She has been honored by WISH (Women in Safe Homes) as a Woman of Distinction and is the recipient of the Delta Kappa Gamma “Red Apple Award” for her creative energies and outstanding efforts on behalf of children. She has also been recognized for her work with Rotary, Boys & Girls Club, Youth Court, Pioneer Home, Ketchikan Theater Ballet, and the Ketchikan Gateway School District.

UAS is proud to honor Elizabeth Nelson at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony, which will be prerecorded and held virtually. Virtual commencements for all three UAS campuses — Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka — will be available for viewing on our website on April 30 at 5 p.m.

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509