Helena Marie Jacobs is the daughter of Dee Olin and David Hoffman, and the granddaughter of the late Lillian and Fred Olin, the late Lorraine and John Honea, and the late Helen and George Hoffman. Born in Fairbanks, and with family roots in Ruby, Alaska, Helena now owns a consulting business in Anchorage, Alaska. She has spent over 10 years working to support leadership development, capacity building and the pursuit of higher education.
Helena received bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and Spanish from Willamette University, where she graduated cum laude, and with honors from the Spanish department. She then continued her education by receiving a master’s in public policy from UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.
Helena, who received both basic and competitive scholarships, says Doyon Foundation helped her financially throughout her academic career. “The Foundation offers financial support, and an invitation to join a community of supporters and cheerleaders. It is invested in promoting the well-being of our people through educational advancement and connection to culture and language,” she says.
During graduate school, Helena shares that she “wanted to quit every midterm period. So once about every two or three months, I would secretly work on an exit strategy to leave my school in California and move back home to Alaska.”
While she did end up taking a semester off, Helena returned to successfully finish her studies. “Looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t allow myself to quit. Two years of homesickness feels like a drop in the bucket now compared to all the opportunity, open doors and relationships I have because of it,” she says.
Helena encourages other students who are struggling to plug into the community that the Foundation provides. “Reaching out and investing in just one extra relationship with someone who can help provide you perspective and support when you need it most can be one of the most valuable things to help you reach your goals,” she says.
Today, Helena stays busy running her business and raising five children ranging in age from 1 to 15 alongside her husband, Torin. She stays involved in her community as a RurAL CAP Alaska Native youth success resource basket advisory group member, and a hero donor for Blood Bank of Alaska.
She is also a part of the Doyon Foundation Alumni Association, and volunteers her time reviewing students’ scholarship essays before submission. Helena also serves on the Foundation’s board of directors, and supports the Foundation as a Nee Ts’ee Neeyh (We All Give or Help) donor.