Local banker to be named distinguished alumna
Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumni Association will honor local banker Jyotsna "Jo" Heckman as this year's distinguished alumna.Heckman, president of Denali State Bank, will receive the associations Distinguished Alumnus Award during a Sept. 29 luncheon at the Princess Riverside Lodge. The event is part of the alumni association's annual reunion, scheduled for Sept. 28-30.
Heckman was born and raised in India and came to Fairbanks in 1975 to attend UAF. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in business four years later and went on to earn a master's degree in 1985.
More than two decades ago, Heckman was among a group of local bankers who chartered and opened Denali State Bank. Since then, she has held multiple positions within the bank, serving in operations, marketing, information systems, human resources and administration. In April 2003, Heckman succeeded Gary Roth as president of the bank and, in doing so, became the first woman bank president and chief executive officer in the state. Later that year, the trade publication "U.S. Banker" named Heckman one of 25 women to watch in banking. Today, she oversees more than 90 employees and five branches in interior Alaska. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Heckman is active in multiple community and civic groups, including Junior Achievement, Financial Women International, UAF Alumni Association, UAF College of Fellows, Quota International, Rotary, Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of the Tanana Valley and the United Way. In 1999, Heckman received the alumni association's William Cashen Service Award. The Farthest North Girl Scouts Council honored Heckman as a Woman of Distinction in 2004.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award was first given in 1962 and recognizes service to UAF, business or professional accomplishment and distinguished human service. The association will also honor five other alumni during the awards luncheon. The 2006 Alumni Achievement Awards for Business and Professional Excellence will go to Margaret Nelson, '80, an Anchorage real estate agent and former president of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Eric McDowell, '66, founder of The McDowell Group, a professional consulting and research firm.
Kenneth Larimore, who has earned three bachelor's degrees from UAF, in 1979, 1985 and 1997, is this year's winner of the William R. Cashen Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding service to the alumni association. The Alumni Achievment Award for University Support will go to Dana Thomas, UAF assistant provost and statistics professor. Bernice Joseph, dean of the UAF College of Rural and Community Development, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award for Community Support.
The awards luncheon is just one of many activities scheduled as part of the 2006 alumni reunion. Other events include a demonstration in the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center's Discovery Lab, a book signing by alumni authors, alumni night at The Pub and the lighting of the Starvation Gulch bonfires. For a full schedule and to register, visit www.uaf.edu/alumni.