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AARP Volunteer Leader Honored by University of Washington

AARP Washington is proud to share that AARP volunteer and former State Executive Council member Shelby Gilje was recently inducted in to the University of Washington Communication Alumni Hall of Fame. The Communication Alumni Hall of Fame Award is bestowed upon a University of Washington Communication graduate and is presented annually by the UW Department of Communication. The award is for outstanding alumni who are distinguished for their service and achievements over a period of years since graduation from the University of Washington.

According to the University of Washington, Hall of Fame members are people who have “made a difference” in an important way: as prominent journalists (e.g., winners of the Pulitzer Prize), public servants, celebrities who have used that celebrity to help others, leaders in their field, devoted mentors to our students and academic stand-outs. They are people who did more than just have a job or career; they did it with great success and often with great dedication to others.

Since its inception in 2004, 55 alumni have received this prestigious honor. Inductees are chosen on the basis of involvement and recognition in their community. This is judged by the number of people and organizations impacted by their involvement, the breadth of their impact, and the quality and quantity of evidence of national or international recognition.

Shelby worked for more than 30 years as a writer, editor and columnist for The Seattle Times. She reported on a variety of topics, including abortion reform, federal and county courts, features and general assignments. She also served as reporter and editor for The Sun, the Anchorage Daily News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the West Seattle News.

While employed as a journalist, Shelby moved The Seattle Times’ “Troubleshooter” column from a question-and-answer format about streetlights and potholes to a column noted for advocacy, price surveys and issues such as Medicare HMOs. Additionally, she was active in the Consumer Protection Roundtable, president for two terms on the board of the Western Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a coordinator of a Matrix Table for Women in Communications.

Shelby served six years on the Board of Trustees for People's Memorial Association (PMA), two as president. PMA, founded in Seattle in 1939, is the oldest and largest nonprofit funeral-and-memorial cooperative in the U.S. and is dedicated to dignified service and reasonable prices with no sales pressure.

Shelby also served for six years on the Washington State AARP Executive Council and continues to do advocacy and community service work for the association. “AARP is fortunate to count Shelby as one of our volunteer leaders,” said AARP Washington State President John Barnett. “She always offers sound and wise opinions and AARP and our members are better for her many contributions and volunteer work,” he said.

Shelby currently volunteers for a writing project at the Nordic Heritage Museum, of which her late husband, Svein Gilje, was founding president. She is a contributing editor for an ethnic publication, the Norwegian American Weekly.

More information about the award, including a video of Shelby’s comments, is available on the UW Department of Communications website. Other 2011 inductees included J. Anthony (Tony) Angell, a prominent and respected artist and environmentalist; Jack Geraghty, former mayor of Spokane; Hal Newsom, former president and CEO of Cole & Weber when it was the largest advertising agency in the Northwest; Terrence (Terry) Tazioli, newspaper journalist and television host; and Betty Houchin Winfield, Missouri School of Journalism faculty.

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