In our Storyteller profile series, we highlight the dreams, journeys and achievements of Doyon Foundation students, alumni and supporters. Profiles are available to read, watch and listen.

In this Storyteller supporter profile, our executive director, Tiffany Simmons, speaks with Robin Renfroe, Doyon, Limited vice president of human resources and shareholder relations. Robin is a longtime supporter of the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, a major fundraiser for the Foundation’s scholarship program.

You can watch or listen to Robin’s full interview below, or read a transcript, with minor edits for clarity.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: This morning we’re interviewing Robin Renfroe. Robin, can you share a little bit about yourself … who you are and where you’re from and what your position is here at Doyon, Limited?

ROBIN RENFROE: I’ve lived here in Fairbanks my whole life. My family is from Circle, originally, but my mom grew up here also; she’s 97 years old this year. So Fairbanks is very important to me. I’m married to Leonard Chase from Anvik and we’ve got two children together.

I started out here at Doyon in the mid-1980s, doing the newsletter and the annual report and corporate communications; they didn’t have that as a department. Slowly I moved up, worked hard. Morris (Thompson) was a great mentor; he really believed in helping young people find their passion, and so that’s helped me get where I’m at today: the vice president of human resources and shareholder relations.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: That’s a great segue into our next question. You’ve been a long-time volunteer for the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic; how long have you volunteered at this event?

ROBIN RENFROE: Since the very beginning. Morris, again, was just a great individual, like I said. His retirement goal was to expand his dream of helping young Alaska Native people be mentored by other Alaska Native leadership. As a result of his passing and the starting of the Morris Thompson golf tournament at the Doyon Foundation, which he was a strong believer in, it was just natural to give back. And that was Morris’ philosophy all the time: give back whenever you can.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: I hear that very often about him. So since you were here from the beginning, you have played many roles in the golf tournament. What kind of roles did you play as a volunteer throughout the years?

ROBIN RENFROE: I’ve done little fundraisings, where you buy a ticket and get to pop a balloon, see if there’s cash in there. I usually sell 50/50 tickets at the golf tournament at the evening event. At the golf tournament itself, mainly I help with the games, stand out when they’re playing golf. I don’t understand golf at all, so it’s more social than anything, but it’s fun.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: It definitely is. My first year I participated in the golf tournament, I was worried I was going to mess something up, but it was very clear that everyone was there to support the students and do some fundraising and just have fun and enjoy themselves.


TIFFANY SIMMONS: You touched on this a little bit, and so why is this event important to you?

ROBIN RENFROE: From the very beginning, Morris has always made it clear that we’re there to help people. What I always say is that he was everybody’s person. He said, ‘I don’t care if I’m talking to the president of an oil company or I’m back in Washington, D.C. meeting people, or I walk across the bridge and meet somebody who was a street person.’ He’d be courteous and kind to everybody, because everybody matters, and you don’t know what their story is. That was his philosophy and that kind of was always mine, but he built that foundation a little bit more for me. So believing in what he believed in, mentoring, helping people find their interest and their passions was very important to him, and that’s the path that I followed. So, for example, long before what we have now as Get Out The Native Vote, Morris would hold little barbecues at the old building to try to encourage Alaska Native people here in town to be engaged in the voting process, because he said that’s where you make a difference, you vote in people that believe in what you believe in. And so I ended up running that program for many, many years with him. So again, it’s back to that level of engagement, letting people know what they believe in and what they can do to try to get there.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: So you volunteered, I want to say for over 20 years, right?


TIFFANY SIMMONS: 20 years is a long time. Why do you continue to volunteer 20-plus years later?

ROBIN RENFROE: It’s the people. Like you said earlier, the golfers are there to contribute to a cause that’s important, and I think a big part of that is in the evening event where we have some of the students come in and tell their story. It’s very grassroots and it’s all about being able to tell a story about where you come from and where you want to go. People believe in the Morris Thompson golf tournament as a result of that, and you feel that you can make a difference.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: What would you say to others who might be interested in supporting the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic as a golfer or as a supporter or a volunteer?

ROBIN RENFROE: As a volunteer, I think we’ve had several people that have come and I think they just enjoy that camaraderie and it goes back to Morris’ point of view. You’ve got people that are very high up in their business industries, whatever industry that is, that are golfers, and a person that is just entering school or just starting their job, and they get a chance to interact right away, right? Because they’re helping. And so it’s all about making those connections for a volunteer. It may pay benefits right away, it may take a long time; making an impression is important.

For the golfers, I think it’s just that camaraderie with other people and being able to mix with a variety of people, and it’s just a fun event. Again, I know nothing about golf, but people enjoy it, and it’s a nice golf course and it’s always good people that are running it, so I think it’s just being able to support something that they believe in.

TIFFANY SIMMONS: Thank you so much for your time today, Robin. I really appreciate it and really appreciate all your support of the event and our students.


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