CIRI honored three Kenai sisters as Elder Shareholders of the Year and the head of Cook Inlet Native Head Start as Shareholder of the Year. This year’s Elder Shareholder of the Year award is the first of what is planned to be an annual honor for an Elder CIRI shareholder.
Kenai-area sisters Marjorie Jordan, Edna Linderman and Virginia Trenton, along with their extended family, are known for their generosity toward the Kenai Peninsula community. The sisters and the Sisterhood of the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church have provided delicious food for the Kenai CIRI Friendship Potlatch since 2005.
Edna Linderman has served on the Kenaitze Indian Tribe health committee for 20 years, is a member of the Kenaitze Elders’ Commission and she is a supporter of the Dena’ina health and dental clinics. The family has a long-standing history of dedicated service to the Russian Orthodox Church and the sisters are said to be the backbone of their church’s sisterhood.
Connie Wirz is the executive director of Cook Inlet Native Head Start, a nonprofit that provides early childhood education services, family and health-related services to Alaska Native people. She has dedicated her career to improving the lives of the working poor in the Southcentral Alaska region by maximizing available services to children and parents. While Wirz worked as an outpatient pediatrics administrator at Southcentral Foundation, she saw the need to bridge services with the Head Start program. Now, thanks to her efforts, a pediatrician is on-site at Cook Inlet Native Head Start for two hours each day.
Wirz has served as executive director for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, as a board member for Salamatof Village Corp., on the Cook Inlet Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and is a former Cook Inlet Tribal Council director. Her dedication to building and sustaining important programs and organizations that benefit Alaska Native people stems from her belief in the importance of Alaska Native peoples taking ownership of their well-being and building healthy Native communities.