Mazie VanDenBroek: Cordova Arts & Pageants treasurer for life

From set designer to coach, VanDenBroek wears many hats

Editor’s note: Cordova community events and programs run on volunteers. This is an ongoing series of Volunteer Spotlight Q&A’s in partnership with the Cordova Chamber of Commerce to honor those who give their time and efforts to better the community.


Mazie VanDenBroek displays one of her art pieces. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Mazie VanDenBroek displays one of her art pieces. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Mazie VanDenBroek has lived in Cordova for almost 50 years, she moved from Minnesota after she and her husband Marv were married. When she’s not volunteering, she is supporting the high school athletic teams, picking berries, or harvesting meat and fish for her family. She also loves to go four wheeling and picnicking.

Tell me about your volunteer roles in Cordova.
In recent years my volunteer work revolves around Cordova Arts & Pageants and the Pioneers. I have been the treasurer of Cordova Arts for about 35 years. The Cordova Theater even has a theater seat that says I am treasurer for life!

I have managed to keep the Arts Council in the black for all those years. When visiting musicians and artists come to Cordova, I am usually involved in providing food for them and working on concessions and finances for Salmon Jam. Our Wearable Art Show is one of my favorite events. I usually get on stage for this event. Cordova Arts provides student programs and public performances as well as being the umbrella organization over The Stage of the Tide Theater. As a visual artist I have donated my painted art works for various non-profits.

The Cordova Pioneers of Alaska is a group of longtime Alaskans who get together for dinners, fun and projects. I am the secretary of the women’s group and help organize our many events.  We rent out the building for weddings and receptions, providing a place for Cordovans to meet. I am involved in our yearly pie social.  

What was your first volunteer role in Cordova?
One year after Cordova Arts was formed in 1970, I helped produce the Miss Cordova Pageant by helping contestants develop their talent performance. This was probably my first Cordova volunteer effort. I made stage decorations for many Iceworm Festival variety shows and melodramas.

I usually helped paint and design the sets while my husband was a member of the cast.

The Christian Center had craft clubs, classes and summer programs in the arts, ceramics and cooking for kids or adults. I taught many of those clubs and events.   

When our daughters were old enough to do T-ball, I was a coach and a Brownie Girl Scout leader for 6 years. My volunteer work followed my kids through school. I was involved in their activities and education.

Being a volunteer keeps me engaged in Cordova and its special hometown activities. It makes us family. As our kids participated in many activities and events I able to stay connected with them as they grew to adulthood.

Mazie VanDenBroek at Harbor Art gallery and communal art studio in 2015 with one of her watercolors in progress. Photo by Vivian Kennedy/For The Cordova Times
Mazie VanDenBroek at Harbor Art gallery and communal art studio in 2015 with one of her watercolors in progress. Photo by Vivian Kennedy/For The Cordova Times

What do you do in Cordova now and what’s your professional background?
I was a certified teacher of art and math when I came to Cordova, but in Cordova I was the cook for the Senior Citizen nutrition program for about 15 years and a hospital cook for another 10 years.

What is something you’ve gained from volunteer work?
I think volunteering in a community is the best way to maintain physical, mental and emotional health. It creates ownership of my life and what I do with my time. It brings new people into my life – new experiences and excitement.  

Can you tell me a little more about what kind of art you create?
I create block prints, watercolors and acrylic paintings of wildlife and the inspiring scenery of Cordova. The largest project I ever worked on is the 64-foot mural in the Mt. Eccles School Gym. This project was completed in 2010 with three other Cordova women.

Were you artistic growing up?
As a youngster I was interested in the arts, but I really focused on the arts in college.  


If you’d like to know more information on ways to volunteer in the community contact the Cordova Chamber of Commerce at 907-424-7260 or visit cordovachamber.com/volunteer.

Volunteer Spotlight is written by Jane Spencer. Nominate someone for a future Volunteer Spotlight at spencerjaneb@gmail.com.