The Alaska State Legislature is made up of 60 people. Of the 60 legislators serving today, 18 are women, or 30% of the total. As we close out Women’s History Month, we asked Alaska’s women legislators for the best advice they received on being a female in public service. Here are their words to the wise.

Rep. Sara Hannan, Juneau 

“The best advice and regular reminder is to ‘not take the bait’ and, ‘you don’t have to engage in every fight….’ You will have more issues to juggle than you can imagine and will constantly have to make decisions about where to put your energy because you can never accomplish it all!” 

Senator Natasha von Imhof, Southwest Anchorage

“I think the best piece of advice was similar to the serenity prayer, which traditionally goes like something like: ’Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Specifically, it was akin to, ‘You are going to come in with bright ideas and the notion of making big changes. You will quickly learn that in this business, change is slow and difficult. So choose the areas that are the most important to you, focus on those few things where you can make a difference. Many little wins over time add up to a big accomplishment when taken as a whole.’”

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, East Anchorage 

“My mom told me to never forget who I am and where I come from, and to be proud of it. My mom had a tough upbringing, and I grew up pretty poor for most of my life. While many of my friends had different experiences, I had to work in high school to help pay for my ballet lessons and school clothes. She taught me to be proud of who I am and that my experiences made me tough, empathetic and resourceful. Those traits serve me every day in the legislature.”

Rep. Cathy Tilton, Wasilla 

“Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I received when I first decided to run was, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.’  Do the right things for the right reasons and God will bless you with all tools necessary to be successful.  That is the same underlying message from the strong, independent women that were my role models growing up.  I have to thank my amazing grandmother and mother for helping me become who I am today.”

Rep. Sara Rasmussen, Southwest Anchorage/Sand Lake

“The best advice I received when running for office was, ‘Stop waiting for the right time.’ There may never be a right time to run. You just need to jump in with both feet and roll with the punches!”

Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson, Spenard, Midtown, UMed (Anchorage)

“Have the courage ‘do the right thing’ regardless of the consequences.”