The Maine Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women. The Hall of Fame is dedicated to women who have met these specific criteria: the woman’s achievements have a significant statewide impact, the woman’s achievements significantly improved the lives of women in Maine, and the woman’s contribution has enduring value for women.
Nomination forms are submitted by a variety of organizations, businesses, or individuals. An independent panel of judges reviews the nominations with careful consideration to select one or two honorees to be inducted each year. You may complete our online nomination form, or if you prefer to receive a form by mail, please contact Marilyn Ladd, Office Manager, The Futurama Foundation, 103 County Road, Oakland, ME.
Each year’s ceremony has been held at the University of Maine at Augusta on the third Saturday of March, in observance of Women’s History Month. The event raises money for scholarships through the BPW/Maine Futurama Foundation. Since the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame was established, the University of Maine at Augusta has generously provided the site for the display of photographs and citations for each honoree in the Bennett D. Katz Library.
Please click on an honoree’s name for more information about them
Sharon H. Abrams is the Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville, Maine, a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is “to build and strengthen families and their children, instilling hope for the future and a better quality of life.” The agency celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999.
Sharon has been a tireless advocate for teen parents and their needs, having taught and directed the teen parent school program of the Home from 1974 to 1990, when she became assistant director and then executive director of the organization in 1992.
What makes Sharon special is not necessarily the number of teen mothers that she has affected over her 30-year tenure, but the quality of the effect. Hundreds of pregnant and parenting girls grew into women under Sharon’s careful guidance, and many of them attribute their success as mothers, partners, and citizens not to the Maine Children’s Home alone, but to the individual who taught them about life, about living and about being a good mother.
Sharon created a Teen Parenting Conference in Maine five years ago, an event that continues to grow and provide important tools to those who offer services to this vulnerable and important group of young women. Her passion and high ideals for families and children are visible in her own “blended” family. She leads by example, imparting a strong belief that each person can achieve goals with proper guidance. In 1978, Sharon was selected to attend a study of the new curriculum of caring by the Kennedy Foundation in Washington, D.C., and was chosen in 1979 as one of America’s Outstanding Young Women.
Sharon has brought the Maine Children’s Home through its most difficult and rewarding times. In 2001, she launched a successful capital campaign to ensure the agency’s longevity; a process that led to the Dorothy “Bibby” Alfond Campus of the Home that offers new and enhanced programming, employment opportunities, an astute Board of Directors, and a growing donor base.
Two gubernatorial appointments to a board and commission are testament to the important role Sharon has played in Maine’s social service arena. Her past involvement on the Commission to Study Poverty Among Working Parents, as well as her current role on the Maine Board of Social Worker licensure, have afforded Sharon the ability to positively affect change on a statewide level.
Sharon has brought many honors to the Maine Children’s Home, including the Maine Children’s Alliance 1999 Giraffe Award, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce 2000 Community Service Award, and the Waterville Business and Professional Women’s Business of the Year Award. In 2003, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce awarded the Home a Certificate of Achievement Award, due in large part to Sharon’s outstanding leadership.
It is not only timely but fitting that such a modest, hard-working woman receive this esteemed recognition for all she has done for the children and families in Maine.
Inducted March, 2004
Mary R. Cathcart of Orono is a former advocate for battered women, a Maine State Representative and State Senator, and currently a Senior Policy Associate with the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. In 2009, she co-founded Maine NEW Leadership, a six-day, intensive, nonpartisan institute held annually at the University of Maine and designed to educate, engage, and empower the next generation of women leaders for Maine.
Mary has worked tirelessly in various capacities over the past thirty years to advance the cause of women in Maine, to improve their lives, and to bring enduring change. She was nominated for this honor by the Penobscot Valley Branch of AAUW, where she has been a member since the 1980’s and serves on the Leadership Team.
Mary Cathcart’s association with women’s concerns began shortly after she arrived in Maine as a young wife and mother of two young children in the 1970’s. She enrolled in hotline training at Spruce Run, a new organization at the time, and the third oldest domestic violence shelter in the country. Mary worked with others in the statewide domestic violence coalition to seek funding for shelters and pass legislation to protect women and their children from abuse.
After several years as a hotline volunteer and steering committee member, Mary was hired as community education coordinator for Spruce Run; she trained volunteers for public speaking and hotline service, worked with the media to publicize the facts about violence against women, and engaged with local law enforcement and the district attorney on better training for police and placing an advocate for battered women in the DA’s office. Because of that work, Mary was appointed to the Maine Commission for Women. Believing that the Commission should reach out to women beyond Augusta, she was instrumental in founding the Eastern Regional Commission for Women, which was responsible for re-establishing a rape crisis center for the Bangor region.
In 1988, Mary was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, where she sponsored legislation to strengthen Maine’s Protection from Abuse Act. In the 1990s, she was appointed by former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell to the United States Commission on Child and Family Welfare, and was elected by her peers to chair that body, which held public hearings around the country and made important recommendations on parental rights and responsibilities in the best interest of children.
In both the Maine House and Maine Senate, Mary continued to advocate for social justice, particularly for women and children. She sponsored legislation to require a judge to consider a history of domestic abuse between the parents when determining custody and visitation arrangements, and also brought forward legislation concerning breastfeeding.
Elected to the Maine Senate in 1996, Mary Cathcart quickly became known as a staunch supporter of higher education. Determined to convince the State to invest in research and development, she sponsored legislation that resulted in the creation of Maine’s first Joint Select Committee on Research and Development, which she co-chaired for 2 years. Her efforts led to a successful R&D bond and ongoing funding to support University research.
Throughout her years in office, Mary not only worked with other legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft good public policy but also devoted many hours to assisting her constituents with their concerns and problems. She had a reputation for always returning constituents’ calls and listening with empathy to what they had to say.
When Mary reached her 4-term limit in the Maine Senate, she was offered a position in the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.
She has sought to build stronger relationships between Maine’s flagship public university and state government, initiating a program that brings 2 or 3 state leaders to campus each semester for one-day residencies to educate UMaine students and faculty on the challenges policymakers face and encourage them to engage in public service. At the MCS Center, Mary co-founded Maine NEW Leadership in 2009, to offer undergraduate women students an opportunity to receive, at no charge, hands-on leadership training to build their confidence in themselves as potential leaders and inspire them toward public service and political action. Mary continues to co-direct the program, which has prepared 106 younger women from 27 different higher education institutions to step forward as leaders. She is dedicated to sustaining the NEW Leadership institute and spends numerous hours networking, fundraising, and seeking opportunities for students to practice their leadership skills through shadowing women legislators and speaking to civic organizations.
Mary has found time also to volunteer as a board member at a number of organizations, including the New England Board of Higher Education, which she chaired in 2006-2008; Eastern Maine Medical Center; Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community; and Maine Center for Economic Policy.
Mary Cathcart envisions a future where women and children feel safe to pursue their dreams, women’s voices are heard everywhere, and women occupy at least half the seats at the tables of power.
“A woman among women, a person among people. Pat Collins has made a difference in the lives of her family, her community and her state. We are pleased to recognize this person who truly is North of Ordinary.”
Nancy Hensel, UMPI, 2001, presenting Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Pat Collins.
Patricia M. Collins met her husband Don while attending the University of Maine as an out-of-state student from New York. Married in 1948 they settled in Caribou and raised 6 children, including United States Senator Susan Collins. Firm in her belief that education is the way to a better life, Patricia entered the work force in 1973, serving for nine years as Religious Education Coordinator at Holy Rosary Church. This positively impacted hundreds of Caribou families.
Always motivated and willing to work towards a better future for all, Patricia utilized her public speaking and organizational skills to move into city and state government. Elected Mayor of Caribou, she went on to lead the Maine Committee for Judicial Responsibility & Disability and the University of Maine System Board of Trustees for several years where she earned tremendous respect from her male peers.
As Chairman of the Board for Catholic Charities Maine, Pat is known for taking a unique and personal approach to leadership. She is fond of saying, “Don’t call it charity, call it justice,” when referring to these vital statewide programs.
A graduate of the University of Maine with a BA in Mathematics and of the University of Maine at Presque Isle with a BA in Art, Pat Collins is a genuine, personable and consistent example of a committed public servant. Her actions have improved the lives of Maine women and children by her leadership in the educational, health and human service organizations essential to their needs, involvement with the Maine Women’s Forum and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Achieving the delicate balance offamily, community service and success in the arts, Patricia M. Collins is truly a “woman among women”.
Inducted March 2005
Sharon Barker’s contributions to the advancement of women and girls in Maine are extensive and long-lasting. In her leadership and advocacy roles throughout her career, Sharon has demonstrated a deep commitment to public service. Her personal power, keen intellect and exemplary networking skills have brought disparate people and causes together to create a better place for Maine people to live, work, grow and succeed.
Sharon has worked tirelessly to challenge and change the status quo for women, including improving educational access and creating economic opportunities as well as providing for their health care, safety, and reproductive freedom. Her focus is always on gender dynamics, and her approach is to act as a bridge and a catalyst, leveraging others’ work and communicating across generations and between sectors.
Through her position as Director of the University of Maine Women’s Resource Center, Sharon has made significant contributions in the development of all students (men and women) and the entire faculty and staff who work in so many diverse disciplines with diverse responsibilities. She has offered leadership in different ways at different times, responding to the needs and opportunities she encounters, including leadership programs for women students, networking opportunities for women in fields where they are under represented, advocacy for support staff and socioeconomic equity, exploring power dynamics, building coalitions, and working with men and women to achieve gender equity.
As an influential and engaged citizen of Maine, Sharon’s reach extends far beyond the University of Maine campus. She provides support to the public schools and to numerous community and governmental organizations that benefit women and girls, including the nationally recognized “Expanding Your Horizons” conference for middle school girls, her leadership in founding Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center and her service on numerous boards of directors and committees (e.g., Mabel Wadsworth Center, Penobscot Valley AAUW, Maine Women’s Fund, Eastern Regional Commission for Women, Good Samaritan Agency, Bangor CUReS Project, Bangor Rape Crisis Center, Women’s Business Development Corporation, and the Komen Foundation). In addition, Sharon has made significant public service contributions on state task forces, committees and special projects; for example, she served on Congressman John Baldacci’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Crime, Domestic Violence, Drug Abuse and Hate Crimes. Most recently, Sharon served as a member of the Maine Jobs Council and chairs its Women’s Employment Issues Committee, which issues an annual report, “Working Women in Maine: Initial Indicators for Progress,” tracking Maine women’s success in the labor market.
Sharon’s prominence on the national level is exemplified by her receipt of two grants. A grant from AAUW Educational Foundation established a scholar-in-residence program at the University of Maine with author and researcher Lyn Mikel Brown. Brown studied the societal forces that influence girls and ultimately affect women’s friendships, and wrote the book Girl Fighting, one of many outcomes of this grant. The second grant created the Maine Girls Collaborative Project, a member of the National Girls Collaborative Project, through funding from the Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the National Science Foundation. This initiative brings girl-serving organizations together to strengthen capacity by sharing practice research and program models, outcomes and products to increase girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Sharon’s work has been widely recognized through a variety of local, state, and national awards. Notable among these are the 2004 Sarah Orne Jewett Award of the Maine Women’s Fund, the 1997 National Education Association’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award, the 1997 Mabel Sine Wadsworth Women’s Health Achievement Award, the 1999 Bangor and Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year Awards and the 1995 Steve Gould Award at the University of Maine.
Sharon was born in Canada and grew up in Aroostook County. She attended the University of Maine, receiving degrees in psychology and public administration. Her family has always been a primary support in her life, along with Ruth Lockhart, her lifelong friend and professional colleague. Sharon lives in Bangor with her life partner, John Hoyt. They have two sons, Adam Barker-Hoyt and Matthew Hoyt and a granddaughter Chelsea Hoyt.
United States Senator Susan Collins has established a record of integrity, unsurpassed work ethic, and a steadfast commitment to the people of Maine. Her willingness to reach across the aisle and her centrist, moderate approach has earned her the title of “The Most Bipartisan Republican” by her Senate colleagues.
Senator Collins brings these qualities to her work on her four important Senate Committees: Homeland Security, Armed Services, Appropriations, and Aging. She has authored landmark, bipartisan legislation to strengthen our nation and is an effective advocate for America’s taxpayers and most vulnerable citizens.
Senator Collins has been named the “Greenest Republican” in the Senate for her record of standing for clean air, clean water, and clean energy. She is long-time supporter of measures to help small businesses to grow and create more jobs, earning a 100 percent rating from the nation’s largest small business organization year after year.
Senator Collins has been a leader for education legislation, including authoring the law providing a tax deduction for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies. As a national leader in health care advocacy, she has worked to improve health care, particularly in rural areas, founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus, and serves as co-chair of the Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Senator Collins has been a champion for women. She is a leader on issues of women’s health and domestic violence, has worked for successful equal pay legislation, and is the author of legislation to create a privately funded National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Senator Collins’ integrity, leadership, hard work, and dedication have earned honors from many professional and civic groups. In 2009, she received the University of Maine’s Stillwater Presidential Award and the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Untied States Navy’s highest civilian award. For her work on homeland security, she has also been honored by families who lost loved ones on September 11th, and by the American Association of Port Authorities. In addition, Senator Collins has been named “Guardian of Small Business” by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, “Legislator of the Year” by the American Diabetes Association, and has received honors from other groups ranging from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Association to the National School Boards Association.
Susan Margaret Collins was born in Caribou on December 7, 1952. Her family runs a fifth-generation lumber business, founded by her ancestors in 1844. Each of Senator Collins’ parents has served as Mayor of Caribou, and her father served Maine as a State Senator. Her mother, Pat Collins, was inducted into the Maine Womens Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of her extensive public service.
For more than twenty-five years Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. has dedicated her life to changing the cultural environment for girls and young women in Maine. As a founding member of the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development, an AAUW Scholar in Residence, a member of the APA Presidential Task Force of Adolescent Girls, a consultant to the Ms. Foundation’s National Girls’ Initiative, her work has been instrumental to creating widespread and enduring change for Maine girls and women in the areas of programming and policy.
Dr. Brown’s acclaimed work on girls’ development has consistently broken new ground and challenged old perceptions. She is the author of five books, five curriculums, and numerous articles. Her books include, Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development (with Dr. Carol Gilligan), which sparked an international debate about the lives of girls and redefined our understanding of women’s development, and Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls, which explores the way our culture nurtures and reinforces competition and general meanness among girls. Her research focuses on the relational lives of girls, their expression of anger and resistance, and how cultural definitions of femininity and popular media impact girls’ sense of themselves, their desires, and their agency.
But what sets Dr. Brown apart is more than just research, because embedded in her approach to her work is a dedication to translating theory into practice. While she’s an academic by training, she’s an activist through and through. Much of her activism is done through the organization she co-founded more than twelve years ago, Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW). HGHW is a non-profit founded on her research and dedicated to empowering girls with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a platform to drive social change.
At Hardy Girls, Dr. Brown develops strength-based programs and materials that scaffold girls’ leadership and social change work. Working with the Girls Advisory Board at Hardy Girls and her students at Colby, for example, she founded Powered by Girl, an online media literacy and activism site dedicated to providing a space for girls and young women to make their voices heard on sexism in the media through blogging, art, and social networking.
As a professor at Colby College, Dr. Brown brings both her research and practice into the classroom and her classroom into the community. Every student she teaches works with school- or community-based youth groups and the curriculum she developed with her Colby students and with Dr. Mary Madden, From Adversaries to Allies, has been used with over 100 girls coalition groups across the state, as well as with girls groups in 41 states across the country, giving both her students and the girls they work with opportunities to develop their leadership and voice.
Throughout her career, Dr. Brown has collaborated with community leaders to encourage them to include girls’ voices. She has worked with school guidance counselors to incorporate strength-based methods and her work with the State Board of Education and the Governor’s Subcommittee on Youth Safety brings a gendered lens and the voices of lesbian, bi, and transgendered girls to the tables where policies are made. She helped to revive and now co-facilitates the Waterville High School Gay, Straight, Trans Alliance, and helped to initiate and now sits on the Executive Committee of the Waterville Inclusive Community Project.
Because she believes girls have the capacity to positively impact the culture they grow up in, Dr. Brown has worked to develop a national platform for girls’ voices. In 2010, with her friend, Dr. Deborah Tolman, she co-founded SPARK Movement, a growing coalition of girls, activists, researchers, and partner organizations united in their determination to challenge the sexualization of girls and women in the media and work collectively to demand girls’ rights to embodiment and healthy sexuality.
Dr. Brown has had a deep and widespread impact on the lives of women and girls throughout Maine. Her research, teaching, advising, and activism have been credited with changing lives and changing the way people understand and work with girls around the country. The key to bettering women’s lives is a strong foundation of empowerment and support in girls’ lives. Dr. Brown’s lifelong work has ensured that this is the case for Maine girls, and thus for Maine women.
Home Economist, Feminist, Environmentalist, Citizen Activist, Liz Crandall is truly a leader in the movement to improve the physical, emotional, social, and political environment of the women of Maine. Liz earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in family economics and resource management from Kansas State College, and her Ed.D. at Boston University, pursuing her interests in the foundations of education, human relations, and conflict resolution.
Using her background in resource management to improve her new hometown environment within weeks of moving to Brunswick, she voted for a curb-side recycling program and was appointed to the Brunswick Recycling Committee which she served as chair, helping to organize a successful model program. Liz was also involved in organizing, raising funds for, publicizing, and implementing the League of Women Voters’ Hazardous Waste Pick-up.
On a statewide level, the American Association of University Women asked Liz to serve as representative to the New England Energy Task Force, of which she was an original member. Liz’s roles in investigating alternative, safe energy sources, in improving the collection of hazardous wastes, and in establishing curb collection of recyclable wastes, are only a few examples of her commitment to improve the environment and the lives of residents of her adopted and beloved State of Maine.
As citizen activist for women, Liz advocated for services and legislation in domestic violence, equity, discrimination, reproductive freedom, and teen pregnancy. To inform and assist victims of domestic violence, Liz helped publicize state-wide the Information Guide for Abused Women in Maine. To further equity for women, Liz campaigned for the ERA; participated in the first Women’s March on Washington, and a daybreak vigil in Kennebunkport during the Bush administration; lobbied personally on both state and federal levels to protect welfare programs for women and children; and wrote a series of newspaper articles on “getting out the vote”. To combat discrimination in housing, credit, employment, and public accommodations against women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians, and people with AIDS, Liz served as legislative chair for AAUW and the Maine Home Economics Association and as a member of the Women’s Legislative Agenda Coalition. Her work was recognized in 1987 when she received the Presidential Award of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance for Courage, Service and Integrity.
From 1993-1995, Liz served as state liaison for AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund which supports women who have sued institutions of higher education for gender discrimination. To protect women’s reproductive freedom, Liz has been a representative to the Maine Choice Coalition since its inception and helped to develop its bylaws. Liz helped arrange hearings on legislation to provide courses in parenting and school-based child care for teen parents in an effort to end the cycle of uneducated and uninformed children bearing children.
Inducted March, 1996
Linda Smith Dyer, lawyer and activist, was a founder of the Maine Women’s Lobby. In 1977 Linda traveled to the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, having been elected at a state meeting to be one of 19 women representing the state of Maine at this prestigious national conference. The following year she helped organize a statewide conference in Augusta to discuss the needs of Maine women. During the 1970’s, in addition to supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, Linda Smith Dyer lent her support to innovative legislative reforms that would have provided assistance to displaced homemakers and victims of domestic violence, breakthrough issues that the Maine Legislature had never previously been confronted with. In 1977-78, several bills, including funding for domestic violence programs, were not enacted in the waning days of the Legislative session even though the bills had widespread public support and unanimous conunittee endorsements. Linda and a small group of Maine women decided that their lack of permanent presence at the State House would not be repeated. Consequently, Linda Dyer sent out a call to arms to other activists to organize a Maine “Women’s Lobby,” the purpose of which would be to create a fulltime presence for women in the halls of the Maine Legislature and to put an end to the death-by-neglect of major pieces of legislation significant to women in the notorious late night bargains reached at the “Appropriations Table” or through closed-door back-room deals.
In 1978 Linda Dyer, with two other women (Janet Mills and Lois Reckitt) who had attended the Houston and Augusta conferences, organized the Maine Women’s Lobby, a one-of-a-kind non-profit membership organization, unique in the nation, based on $2 dues, extremely low overhead, and a less than shoestring budget. The first Board of the Maine Women’s Lobby hired a fall time, professional lobbyist to represent the views of Maine women at the State House and Legislature. The Lobby has funded a full time lobbyist at the Maine Legislature since 1979.
Under Linda’s leadership and as a result of her dedication, the Lobby has become one of the most successful organizations of its type in the nation and has had an enduring impact on the lives and health of women in Maine. In the last 22 years the Lobby has not only survived but endured and flourished, developing a longstanding reputation as a thoughtful, knowledgeable and powerful presence in the halls of the State House.
Linda is an attorney and graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. She has been an active member of the Bar and served as President of the Maine State Bar Association in 1998. As Bar President, Linda urged women attorneys to become more involved and assume leadership roles in an organization and profession dominated by men. Through her own positive example, she demonstrated to women both within and outside the profession that hard work and commitment could make a difference.
Linda is 52 and grew up in Monmouth, Maine. She lives in Winthrop with her husband, Charles Jacobs, and daughter Lauren Jacobs. She has twin sons from a prior marriage, Rick and Skip Dyer, both of whom were high school Merit Scholars and graduates of Stanford University.
Inducted March 2001
Laura A. Fortman has dedicated her adult life to improving the lives of Maine women and girls. In fact, thousands of women who have never heard Laura’s name have benefited from her tireless work on their behalf.
Laura was once a single parent trying to make ends meet while putting her education and commitment to women to best use. She spent three years working at the Women’s Resource Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire before moving to Maine in the mid-1980s. At a time when sexual assault and domestic violence services were still struggling grassroots and marginalized programs, she was the successful Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center in Augusta. She was a well-known and very visible spokesperson for women and children rendered invisible by sexual assault and domestic violence.
Laura’s contributions as a key leader in the anti-violence movement in Maine are one example of the enduring value of her contribution to women. Always conscious of the need to couple support and empowerment of individual women with broad based social change and problem-solving, she not only managed the agency, but she also served as a statewide leader and advocate across the state. Importantly, she has consistently coupled her advocacy on behalf of women and girls with nurturing leadership in others, mentoring many young and not so young, women at the Maine Women’s Policy Center.
As Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby and the Maine Women’s Policy Center for over a decade, she was the voice for women and girls in the Legislature, speaking to the full array of circumstances affecting women, including health care, reproductive rights, economic security, discrimination, and education. In the legislative and policy arena, she helped to pass Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act, insurance coverage for contraception, a resolution requiring the Department of Labor to implement Maine’s Equal Pay Act, Maine’s Parents as Scholars program empowering welfare recipients to access higher education, the ground-breaking employment leave for victims of violence law, and unemployment insurance protection for part-time workers and for victims of violence, among many others. Through her leadership on the Commission to Study the Unemployment Compensation System, the Commission to Study the Costs and Benefits of Paid Family Medical Leave, the Maine Health Care Performance Council, and many others, she brought the voices of women to the policymaking process.
Appointed Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor in 2003, Fortman brought her management and political competence to the state’s workforce development system. Under her leadership, that system has developed new standards for helping women attain professional and economic success, fostering, first and foremost, equal pay for women and long-term security for Maine’s families and communities. In her tenure, the wage gap has narrowed, and the state’s employment services have improved for women, offering better pay and a wider range of jobs, including nontraditional occupations. Laura Fortman has been a tireless advocate for improving the social, economic, and political lives of Maine women and girls. Her work has truly touched the lives of every woman in Maine.
In 1984, ten years after her brother, William’s murder, federal laws were enacted to protect the rights of crime victims. Although not aware of it at the time of her brother’s death, the passing of these laws put Mary on a path that led to a career in victim advocacy.
Mary Farrar studied at the University of Maine at Farmington. She was hired by the Somerset District Attorney’s Office in February of 1990. For six years she advocated for children and adult victims of sexual assault, and victims of domestic violence, aggravated assaults and attempted murders. In addition to being an advocate, Mary educated crime victims about their rights as victims, encouraged them to exercise those rights, and guided them through the criminal justice system.
The State of Maine Office of the Attorney General hired Mary in 1996, where she worked for fourteen years providing direct services to surviving families and friends of murder victims.
The Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children welcomed her as their victim advocate. More importantly, they embraced her into their unique group as a fellow family member of a murdered victim. She is on the board of directors and remains an active member. The members of the Maine Chapter continue to provide her with emotional support and friendship and are her extended family.
Mary was instrumental in the planning and success of the Maine Chapter’s first Victim’s Rights Week in 2006, and in organizing Maine’s first National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Victims in 2007. These have become annual remembrance programs and continue to be events that raise awareness about the aftermath of murder.
Mary was the State of Maine Office of the Attorney General Employee of the Year in 2000. She has served as a member of many elected and appointed panel positions throughout her career, including: the Maine Homicide Review Panel, the Department of Corrections Victim’s Advisory Group, the Maine Elder Death Review Panel, and the Maine Commission to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Mary has testified before Maine Legislative Committees, and is a past panel member for the Impact of Crime Program at the Maine Correctional Center and the Maine Correctional Reentry Network as a representative and advisor for the crime victim community. In 2010 she was a member of a working group involved in a bill for the enactment of Elder Abuse legislation.
She has also facilitated training on trauma and death notification practices for the Muskie School Social Worker Studies at the University of Southern Maine and the Maine State Police, local law enforcement agencies and Emergency Medical Services in Southern Maine.
In December 2009, Mary was hired by the Department of Corrections as a victim advocate. She provided services in regard to restitution and notification of release of prisoners to crime victims.
After twenty-one years of services to crime victims, she retired from her position as a Victim Advocate in October 2011. She continues to serve on the Department of Correction’s Victim Advisory Group and work on behalf of crime victim’s rights as well as watch over legislative bills that have a direct impact on crime victims.
Mary received the distinguished Father Ken Czillinger Professional Award from the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children in August of 2011 for her contribution, dedication and sensitivity to the victims of violent crime.
Ethel “Billie” Wilson Gammon is a Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Humanitarian, and the innovative Founder of the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center. A communityminded citizen and activist, Billie’s background has included teaching Sunday School, being a Girl Scout leader and a youth leader of high school students, organizing the first senior citizens’ group in the community and a reading club at the North Livermore Library.
Billie’s most enduring endeavor has involved the Norlands, historic home of the famous Washburn family. Billie became interested in the Norlands library in 1954, and that interest became a lifelong passion to pursue her visions of the Living History Center that the Washburn farm has become.
Billie became the volunteer Executive Director of the Norlands Living History Center, negotiating the establishment of a Foundation and the transfer of ownership from the members of the Washburn family to the Foundation in 1973. With some help from other volunteers, Billie has worked intently to preserve the mansion of 23 rooms, the large barn, church, library, schoolhouse, office building, two carriage sheds and about 450 acres of land. Extensive fund-raising efforts have been essential, and Billie has devoted much time and skill to this endeavor, working to secure grants and private donations over many years.
Always a teacher, Billie has never stopped developing educational programs at Norlands. Young women from Maine and other states have come as interns for periods of six months or a year, and have lived, learned, studied, and worked to earn college credits. Many girls attending the learning center have gone on to become history majors, to teach or to work in museums because of Billie’s influence.
Billie organized “Live-Ins” which are held Friday to Monday periodically throughout the year. Women, girls, teachers, and even families may attend, having the unique experience of living, learning and working as was done in the 1800s. This program attracts people from many parts of the country. Maine children also benefit from the Living History Center with whole classes of schoolchildren arriving by bus to spend a day in this historic atmosphere where people who lived and worked on the Washburn farm a hundred years ago come to life in contemporary times in the roles played by current volunteers. Billie values this kind of “role playing” as an effective and memorable teaching procedure for people of all ages.
Among the many honors Billie has received are the Achievement Citation Award (AAUW of Maine, 1976), Outstanding Woman of the Year (Livermore/Livermore Falls Historical Society, 1976), Distinguished Achievement Award (University of Maine Farmington, 1976), Distinguished Alumni Award (University of Maine Machias, 1979), Honorary Membership (Delta Kappa Gamma, 1980), Jefferson Award (1983), Maine Historic Preservation Award (1983), Woman of the Year (Business and Professional Women, 1988), Appreciation Award (North East Regional Conference on the Social Studies, 1991), and “Recognition of 34 years as Director of Norlands” from the Maine Senate and House of Representatives (1988).
The Norlands Living History Museum has become a valuable reality for the people of Maine because of Billie Gammon’s foresight and determination in the pursuit of her vision for it. Beyond her tireless efforts to make this dream come true, Billie’s smile and her enthusiasm are contagious and have endeared her to everyone who has become a friend of Norlands. Billie’s life is a testimonial of what an innovative and determined woman can accomplish.
Inducted March 1997
Professor Caroline Gentile, a nationally known educator in the field of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, has been teaching physical education at the University of Maine at Presque Isle for 54 years. Her dream was to build a physical education program that would serve the County, the State, and the regions beyond. Over the years, the program gained a reputation for excellence around New England and has remained in good standing throughout her tenure.
Professor Gentile’s leadership role at UMPI is legendary. She has served on and chaired every University committee, and for twenty years chaired the Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She has also served on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on HPER.
Caroline Gentile’s greatest contribution to the welfare of women has been her outstanding abilities as a teacher and role model. A perfectionist, she demands the best from her students. Her ethics, integrity, discipline, motivation and professionalism are reflected in the success of many of her graduates, including Major General Mary Morgan of the U.S. Army; Bonnie Tyler, nominated in 1991 as Physical Education Teacher of the Year for the United States; and Sherry Abbott Deschaine, who retired in 1998 as Professor Emerita of Physical Education at Bates College. The achievements of these women and many others have been passed on to the next generation as an enduring legacy of the many exemplary qualities of their mentor — Caroline Gentile.
In November, Miss Gentile received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. During the banquet, the presenter asked if those present who had had Miss Gentile for a teacher would stand up. In a crowded Samoset dining hall, half of the people in the room rose to their feet.
Her concern for women’s issues is evidenced by her active participation in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs since 1947, in the American Association of University Women, and in Delta Kappa Gamma. She is a community advocate for women and was a gubernatorial appointee to the Maine Commission for Women. In 1999 Professor Gentile was selected by the “Maine Sunday Telegram” to serve on a committee to identify the top 20 Maine athletes of the century. The person selected as the top Maine athlete of the century was a woman-Joan Benoit Samuelson. It seems fitting that Caroline Gentile will be inducted into the Maine Womens Hall of Fame along with Joan.
Miss Gentile received a B.S. degree from Sargent College in 1946, an M.A. from New York University in 1949, and did further graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1996.
Inducted March 2000
The struggle for the recognition and achievement of the rights of women has a dedicated champion in Ellen Golden. Her decision to make a positive difference in women’s rights comes from a lifetime commitment to social and economic justice and knowledge of the history and current conditions of women in our society. In both her personal and professional lives, Ellen has been an advocate for the needs and rights of women in general and for the needs and rights of women business owners in particular.
In the mid-1980’s, with the aid and support of CEI, a private non-profit community development corporation, Ellen found an ideal position from which to work on behalf of Maine’s women business owners. She discovered that although women were starting businesses at twice the rate of men, there was little information about their experiences. Her subsequent pioneering research helped to define the characteristics of and challenges facing Maine women entering a traditionally man’s world.
Action followed research. In collaboration with Maine’s technical college system, Ellen organized a statewide series of seminars for women business owners. For a more permanent resource, Ellen started the state’s first targeted business counseling program for women at CEI. Its Women’s Business Center, with funding from the US Small Business Administration (SBA), has helped over 15,000 Maine women start and manage their businesses. To ensure the continuity of this work, Ellen has hired and coached younger women who currently staff the WBC. Ellen has also promoted micro and small business financing – at CEI, in Maine and nationally – to increase financing for women business owners. As a result, more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the state have received over $46 million in capital from CEI.
Throughout her career, Ellen has worked to build a stronger infrastructure for women as business owners. She developed and delivered training to bankers, business counselors and others to help them work more effectively with women business owners while training women to understand better how to access business resources. She was a founder of the Association of Women’s Business Centers which successfully advocated with Congress for sustaining funding for the WBC program nationally. She founded MicroNet, a statewide microenterprise association, in 1994 to share best practices, coordinate services, develop policy and train practitioners across New England in microenterprise development. In recognition of her contributions, she received state and regional awards from the US SBA for her advocacy on behalf of women, minorities and financial services as well as the 20th Anniversary Star Award from the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community.
Ellen’s volunteer activity has shown her dedication to women, complemented her work and created a lasting impact on Maine women. Her presence on the boards of organizations such as the Maine Commission for Women, SBA Advisory Council for Maine, Association for Enterprise Opportunity and the National Commission on Women’s Voices in the Economy has ensured that women’s issues were raised and women’s voices heard.
Her tenure as a board member of the Maine Women’s Lobby illustrates her role as a volunteer. In the early 1990’s, she chaired an Economics Task Force which turned its attention to sexual harassment as a barrier to economic security. The result was first in the nation legislation mandating workplace training in sexual harassment. Ultimately, the task force led to the founding of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, the Lobby’s sister organization which improves the social, political and economic status of Maine women and girls through research, education and leadership development. When she returned to the Lobby Board in 2008, her experience with organizational development helped the Lobby through a leadership transition and prepared it to move forward as an important resource for Maine women and girls.
Communication has been at the center of Ellen’s advocacy in support of women’s economic development. Statistics make women visible, but stories make statistics meaningful. Whether it has been testifying before Congress on women business ownership and microenterprise development or presenting at events in Maine, nationally or internationally or in private conversations, Ellen has told and will continue to tell the story of women’s experiences and accomplishments.
Among Dorothy Murphy Healy’s roles in life were those of turkey farmer, teacher and Director of Development for Westbrook College. But she is most noted and best remembered for her tireless efforts to collect and preserve the novels, stories, diaries, journals, letters and memorabilia of noted Maine women writers; and most especially for her loving diligence in uncovering the writings of many, many unsung Maine women who, in fact, were pioneers in many fields of literature.
From 1967 until her death in 1990, Mrs. Healy was curator of The Maine Women Writers Collection which she co-founded in 1959. Each year she gave between 50 and 60 public lectures on the Collection, and annually ran several conferences, book openings and literary receptions at the Collection’s house in Westbrook College.
The extent and importance of the Collection cannot be overstated. From a modest beginning, it has expanded to more than 4,000 volumes. These volumes represent the work of over 400 Maine women writers and 200 additional authors whose publications are closely related in focus. In 1986, Down East magazine described the Collection as “…an extraordinary contribution to Maine’s literary heritage … probably the finest assemblage of its kind in the United States today.” Of Dorothy Healy, Down East declares: “(this) literary treasure would never have been as valuable without the wisdom, energy and enthusiasm devoted to it over the years by its co-founder and (since 1967) its curator, office staff, and public relations director, all rolled into one.”
Indeed, Mrs. Healy dedicated herself for over thirty years to securing rare and valuable materials, cataloging and caring for them and making their availability and existence known to the public. And while her great personal interest was in discovering writings from the nineteenth century, she eagerly acquired the latest works of many women who are currently enhancing Maine’s literary reputation. But perhaps the most unique acquisitions in the Collection are the many works by Maine women who, though their names may not be familiar today, were true pioneers in a variety of literary fields. These authors were rescued from obscurity by Dorothy Healy.
Dorothy M. Healy is honored here for her dedication to the Maine women who wrote and the world of women who are now able to read and study these authors. Mrs. Healy has rescued women of the past, enlightened women of the present, and bequeathed a treasure to women of the future.
Inducted March, 1993
Karen has an endless supply of energy for working to promote women’s issues in Maine. She has worked both locally and statewide for a variety of causes and countless programs have benefited from her attention over the past twenty-five years. Her efforts most recently have resulted in the widely acclaimed Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Inc., which she co-founded in 2000 with Lyn Mikel Brown and Lynn Cole as an outgrowth of their annual girls’ conference, Girls Unlimited! Hardy Girls programs offer diverse learning experiences ranging from media literacy, self-esteem, adventure and career opportunities, in all of which Karen has been a guiding light.
In addition to Karen’s work with Hardy Girls, she has been a principal for more than ten years in The Avalon Group, a consulting company focused on women’s and girls’ health issues. She also is a Senior Program Officer for The Bingham Program, a charitable endowment that promotes health and advances in medicine in Maine. Prior to these endeavors, during her tenure with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, Karen focused much of her attention on family planning and reproductive rights, and promoting fair taxation and universal healthcare.
Karen has volunteered thousands of hours in her role as a community activist, fundraiser and champion for women’s rights. It would be virtually impossible to list all of the wonderful causes to which Karen has applied her energy, iron-willed determination and unbridled enthusiasm.
Karen is committed to making Maine a great place. She helped found the Peace in Our Communities Task Force, is a member of the American Association of University Women and Bridges for Peace and Justice, a member and past president of the Waterville Rotary, the current Vice President of Waterville Main Street, past president of the Coalition and Family Planning Providers’ group, a past board member of the Maine Women’s Fund, founder and past board member of Safe Abortions for Everyone, and has volunteered her time to help in various ways with the Mid Maine United Way, the Waterville Boys and Girls Club, the Mid Maine Homeless Shelter as well as for various Maine women’s political candidacies.
Although Karen doesn’t look for acknowledgement of her accomplishments, she has received recognition and accolades in many forms. Most recently, she was awarded the Maine Statewide AAUW 2006 Achievement Citation Award, the highest award for extraordinary community involvement in women’s issues. In 2002, Karen was awarded the Business and Professional Women’s Women of the Year Award, together with Lyn Brown and Lynn Cole, for their work founding Hardy Girls Healthy Women.
Throughout her more than twenty-five years of working in Maine, Karen has brought wisdom, creativity and strength to the table for women and girls. In all her professional and volunteer work, Karen has made life in the state of Maine the way life should be for women and girls. She has been a mentor, a friend and an ally to tens of hundreds of women, young and old, helping in ways large and small. It is with great honor that her sister Janet Heck Doyle and Hardy Girls Healthy Women have nominated Karen for the 2008 Maine Womens Hall of Fame.
Inducted March, 2008
Dr. Nancy H. Hensel is President of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, having moved into this position in 1999 from the University of Maine at Farmington where she served first as Dean of the College of Education, Health and Rehabilitation (1992-95) and then as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (1995-99). Before her affiliation with UMF, she lived and worked in California. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, San Francisco, and her doctorate from the University of Georgia. Her academic preparation has concentrated most heavily on early childhood education, and throughout her career, her professional research, writings and presentations have focused on a variety of issues related to women’s equity.
As a leader in higher education in Maine, Dr. Hensel has led several efforts that significantly benefit the citizens of Maine. She chaired the state Committee on Results Based Teacher Certification, which developed the ten standards for teacher education that are now used to certify all Maine teachers. Her strong leadership, staying the course in a very difficult change process, resulted in a teacher education certification process that is noted nationwide as exemplary and has led to Maine having some of the best-prepared teachers in the country.
In her work at Presque Isle, she led the effort to establish the Houlton Higher Education Center, where individuals, especially women who are place-bound by family and other responsibilities, can receive work training, complete their GED, or earn a college degree in their own community. The Center is a partnership of the University of Maine at Presque Isle; the Northern Maine Technical College; Women, Work and Community; and the Houlton Adult Education Program. It was Dr. Hensel’s efforts that coordinated the planning of this one-stop education center, including working with state legislators to obtain funding. Because of her efforts, this innovative Center now serves as a model throughout Maine and rural areas elsewhere to address the training and education needs of individuals, especially women, for whom traditional education programs do not work.
Throughout her career, Dr. Hensel has been a tireless advocate for women, constantly exploring the complex issues facing women and the many intersections of issues that are unique to women in today’s society. She has, in her writings and professional presentations, explored over and over again, in many ways, the question, “How is balance struck for women?”
In her professional work, she has constantly studied, researched, and written on women’s issues. Her 1991 groundbreaking monograph was the first of its kind to focus on the impact of maternity and child rearing on university tenure; this monograph has since had significant impact on university campuses nationwide as leaders have increasingly sought to address the issues of tenure, maternity leave, and women’s roles in the higher education power structure.
Dr. Hensel serves as both a professional and personal model for women who seek to become leaders with integrity. She has achieved a remarkable career and has a strong sense of herself, but her actions come from a selfless place. In an environment traditionally dominated by males, she has taken a chair at the leadership table while remaining true to herself, governed by her intelligence and sense of justice, and she has led other women by her example.
Not to be overlooked are the challenges she establishes for herself personally. Her friends have marveled at her personal focus on adventure and exploration of the unknown. From seats of comfort, they have cheered her on as she has explored the flora and fauna of the Amazon, the icy environment of the South Pole, and with great respect, waited for word as she traveled to Tanzania and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dr. Hensel sets persona’ goals for herself that unintentionally built deep respect for her among her friends and colleagues, both female and male alike.
As Dr. Hensel takes her place in the Maine Womens Hall of Fame, all citizens of Maine should be proud that ten years ago she chose Maine as her home. Women throughout the state, her friends, colleagues, and even those who do not know her personally have benefited, and will continue to benefit, significantly from that choice.
Inducted March 2003
Judith Magyar Isaacson is an educator, a well-known author, a champion of equal opportunity for women, and a human-rights advocate whose passion was forged by her experiences in the Holocaust.
She was born in Kaposvar, Hungary, in 1925. When she was 19, her family was deported to Auschwitz¬≠Birkenau, where her grandmothers and an aunt were gassed upon arrival. From there, Judith, her mother, Rozsa, and her aunt Magda Rosenberger were sent to a slave labor camp in Hessisch Lichtenau, a satellite of Buchenwald. They lost the rest of their family in the Holocaust, including Judith’s father, Jeno, who perished at MiihldorfLager. Miraculously, the three women were liberated together in Leipzig by American forces in April 1945.
Judith met Irving Isaacson, a captain in the U.S. Army Office of Strategic Services, a month later. They married that year and came to the United States in 1946. Today Judith and Irving, an attorney, have three children and seven grandchildren.
Judith Isaacson earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Bates College in 1965 and a master’s in math at Bowdoin College two years later. She taught math at Lewiston High School and then at Bates, where she became the dean of women in 1969 and dean of students in 1975.
As dean, Isaacson was instrumental in ending practices biased against women – for example, in athletics and in separate, drastically unequal codes of conduct for men and women. At the same time, she emerged as a public advocate of women’s rights. She continued to work for those rights as a member of the Bowdoin College Board of Overseers from 1984 to 1996.
In 1976, after discussing her wartime experiences with a group of students, Isaacson was moved to record those memories. Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1990. It won glowing notices in The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe, was placed on the New York Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age” list, and became a valued source for Holocaust research and women’s studies. Isaacson’s papers are available to researchers at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library at Bates.
Seed of Sarah has appeared in German and Hungarian translations, and was adapted by Maine composer Mark Polishook for an opera and subsequent film. The book continues to sell worldwide and has brought increasing demand for Isaacson’s services as a speaker. She has appeared frequently before student groups and other audiences to share her memories and speak out for fair and equal treatment of all people.
In addition to her board service to Bowdoin College, Isaacson has served on the governing boards of the Auburn Public Library, Central Maine Medical Center, and the CMMA Nursing School. She has received honorary doctorates from Bates, Colby College, and the University of New England; and received both the University of New England’s Deborah Morton Award and the Hargraves Preservation of Freedom Prize, established at Bowdoin to stimulate appreciation of Constitutional rights and freedoms.
Most important, Seed of Sarah over the years has become an enduring inspiration of courage and resilience for young women and men.
Inducted March, 2004
Dr. Theodora J. Kalikow, President of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), is an unassuming individual who quietly runs one of Maine’s finest educational institutions. Dr. Kalikow’s strengths include inspiring women, contributing to the community locally and statewide, volunteering on numerous committees, and offering educational opportunities to hundreds of women and men.
Leading the Maine Academic Management Institute (ME-AMI), President Kalikow is a visionary who has been a significant force in providing a forum for professional development for women in academia throughout Maine and in actively supporting leadership education for Maine women. Her commitment to and involvment in ME-AMI has markedly influenced the lives and careers of women with whom she has collaborated. Her values, directness, unassuming nature, kindness, “can-do” attitude, and sense of humor make her a fine role model for women learning leadership skills. She also engages in considerable one-on-one mentoring of women, using her wide network of contacts to help women advance professionally.
President Kalikow was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Studies Program at UMF, which affects women and men students every year. Under her watch, UMF also achieved national recognition as the top liberal arts college in its region. She is known statewide as a model for establishing outstanding town-gown relationships with the people of Farmington. When UMF’s Mantor Library needed upgrading, she orchestrated a successful fundraising campaign with the town’s public library, which was also in need of substantial renovation.
The enduring value of President Kalikow’s commitment to women is noteworthy. As a university president, she has been a model for many women. Her influence in Maine has been to encourage and empower women to reach for higher goals than they would have without her influence. As a leader and manager, she is positive, direct, open, honest, and appreciative of the diverse viewpoints of those around her. Her commitment to education runs deep and is a way to help make the world a better place to live in. Women who meet her quickly understand her values and feel encouraged to act on their own.
Over the past decade, groups in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Colorado have honored President Kalikow. In 2000 she received the Maryann Hartman Award from the University of Maine’s Women’s Studies Program. Her intelligence, hard work, and focused commitment to her goals has earned her the respect of the people she has worked with and recognition by many organizations in Maine and beyond.
Inducted March 2002
The oldest child of a Navy family, Bishop Chilton Knudsen grew up in several parts of the world. Military life taught her to subordinate the interests of self to the mission at hand and to adopt an inner stance of respect toward all people. In her early life she dreamed of being a medical missionary. In college she became interested in the social issues of Vietnam, the environment, civil rights and women’s rights.
In an Episcopal Church deeply divided about the proposed ministry of women, a historic vote in 1976 did open the priesthood to women, and on the next day, Chilton Knudsen announced her call to the ministry. She completed years of study in the ordination process and received her M.Div. from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1980. As a church leader, she assumed many responsibilities, including pastoral care for clergy and their families, crisis intervention, teaching, and ministry development.
She was elected Bishop of Maine in November 1997, the only woman among a slate of five nominees, and is still one of only five women diocesan Episcopal bishops, out of 110 dioceses. Since her election, 38 Maine women have been ordained to the orders of Deacon and Priest, serving congregations in every region of the state from Presque Isle to Eastport, from Norway to Dover-Foxcroft. Thirty-nine congregations in the state benefit from some level of ordained ministry by women. With Bishop Knudsen’s leadership and vision, Maine leads the nation in the percentage or women leading congregations.
As a religious leader in Maine, Bishop Knudsen has created a legacy for women and girls that will flourish long after her retirement, which is set for 2008. Her dedication to ensure that women are given full opportunity to serve in the leadership of the church and her surety of the ability of women to offer unique and important gifts in the area of pastoral care have made an indelible impression on the lives of many women and men in Maine.
Under Bishop Knudsen’s leadership the Episcopal Diocese of Maine is committed to keep the doors of its smallest churches open. It is there, she posits – in the small rural communities that are economically stressed – that the Church is needed most. In many communities the Episcopal Church is where social services are housed: the literacy program, the jobs program, the local food and clothing bank. Many of these smaller congregations are served by women priests and deacons who have been raised up by their local congregations to serve. Women and families across Maine benefit from the social programs that thrive at the local level because the Bishop’s support to struggling communities refuses to wane.
Bishop Knudsen, and the women clergy she nurtures, provide Maine girls and young women, Sunday by Sunday, exemplars of leadership, courage, and confidence in a highly respected role of each community’s life. Bishop Knudsen’s contribution to young women, and not-so-young women, continues to benefit the people of Maine by providing a place for self-esteem and confidence to blossom and nourish far into future generations.
Inducted March 2006
First Female President of Thomas College, First Female President of the Maine Development Foundation, and First Female Maine State Economist
There is a reason why Laurie Lachance’s three career changes have landed her at the top of the fields of higher education, human development, and economics in her beloved State of Maine. Laurie has a profound understanding of the role that leveraging individual potential plays in the development of an economy. When it comes to human capital, Laurie believes that it’s at the heart of everything that we do and everything that we can achieve. That belief, along with the action steps that she has delivered over her entire career, have profoundly improved the aspirations of women across the State of Maine and beyond.
In her position as State Economist, Laurie emphasized the role that human capital plays in value-added economic development. As the leader of two great Maine institutions, she has maintained a laser-like focus on unlocking the innovation that resides within us all. Her move to higher education matched her rhetoric of two decades prior – that higher education is a key ingredient that promotes economic development.
Laurie Lachance was born and raised in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. A product of the humble beginnings that are part and parcel of a rural Maine upbringing, Laurie sought the best education that Maine had to offer. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, her Master’s degree from Thomas College, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
Laurie’s career began as an economist for Central Maine Power. As State Economist, she served an unprecedented three Maine governors: a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat. During her eleven year tenure as State Economist she served as the chair of the Maine State Revenue Forecasting Commission, restoring public trust in the forecasting process. Her advocacy of promoting lower energy costs through restructuring of the market is one of many shining examples of her influence.
Later in her career, Laurie turned her attention to human potential. In a letter of support to the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Committee, Cheryl Miller of the Maine Development Foundation expressed what it was like to operate under the leadership of President Lachance in a work environment that was at times made up of all women. In Miller’s words, “she creates a culture of kindness and honesty…we all became more than we thought we ever could be, both professionally and as an organization. For those who know her, she is consistently one who inspires, empowers and affirms all those she touches. ”Her tenure at Thomas College has been characterized by growth and change. The College has flourished with new buildings, programs and playing fields along with major gains in student population. Thomas College is a business and liberal arts educational institution located in central Maine whose mission is to prepare students “for success in their personal and professional lives, and for leadership and service in their communities.”
As U.S. Senator and former Maine Governor Angus King said of Laurie in her nomination letter, “To each opportunity she brings the same abundant enthusiasm and unflagging optimism in the belief that positive thinking can overcome obstinate obstacles and turn the most hostile skeptics into ardent promoters of a new idea.” Senator King went on to add: “I guarantee that we haven’t yet realized all the great things that Laurie will introduce and make happen.”
Gail H. Laughlin was born Abbie Hill Laughlin at Robbinston, Maine (near Calais) in 1868. She was one of nine children. In 1890 she attended Wellesley College after spending four years as a bookkeeper, earning only $4.00 per week to pay for her tuition to college. In 1896 Gail Laughlin entered Cornell School of Law from which she graduated in 1898. Ms. Laughlin was the first woman from Maine to practice law. She moved to California to begin her work as an attorney, followed by a judgeship in San Francisco.
Gail Laughlin became involved in the suffrage movement (women’s right to vote) in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Minnesota. At that time, all travel was by stagecoach. As her involvement in women’s issues grew, she traveled to St. Louis in 1919 to attend a women’s organizational meeting which established the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. Gail Laughlin was elected the first president of this new organization which still exists today as an International association with over 100,000 members in the United States.
In 1924 Gail Laughlin returned to Portland, Maine where she opened a law firm with her brother, Fred. She became the president of a local Portland chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs in 1926, when the national convention was held there. She served three terms in the Maine House (1927-1934) and then three terms in the Maine Senate (1937-1941) and was the first woman with a law degree to be a member of the Maine legislature.
Gail Laughlin introduced and supported many pieces of legislation. Included were bills on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, establishing an overseer to control the use of drugs, early environmental laws regarding waste dumping into Maine rivers, and obtaining funding for a 22,666 acre national wildlife preserve in Washington County in the 1930’s (now Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge). She was also instrumental in organizing the Department of Health.
In addition, she sponsored several bills which were instrumental in helping women. She sponsored An Act Relating to the Commitment of the Insane to stop husbands from committing their wives involuntarily. She supported a Registration Bureau for Nurses, an increase in the minimum wage and regulations, and sponsored a bill conferring equal rights of guardianship for father and mother. Perhaps one of the most important bills affecting girls involved changing the law permitting girls to marry at age 13 and boys at 15 to 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys.
Gail Laughlin died at the age of 84 in Portland, Maine.
Inducted March, 1991
Dale McCormick has spent over three decades fighting for jobs, economic justice, health care for all, human rights, and equality for women. As a young child, she was fascinated with carpenters’s tools. That fascination has become a lifetime focus. Dale was the first woman in the country to complete a carpentry apprenticeship with the carpenter’s union. She is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters local 1996, and has been a carpenter and contractor for 30 years.
In 1988, Dale founded Women Unlimited, a program that successfully trains women on welfare to compete for high-paying jobs in trade and technical occupations. Dale has, in her own way, become the Susan B. Anthony of today’s woman in striving to bring women aboard the work force with dignity, proper training, and fair pay. The results have been astounding and women have proven they are capable of any task they have been trained to undertake.
Dale helped found in 1984 and became the first President of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (now called Equality Maine), which advocates statewide for civil rights and better treatment for lesbian/gay/bi/transgender/and questioning people.
She was a co-founder of Northeast Women in Transportation, which educated women’s organizations around the country about the opportunities in the Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (ISTEA) for increasing the number of women and minorities in the construction industry.
McCormick won a seat in the Maine Senate in 1990 and was re-elected twice in a conservative district. She was elected Treasurer of the State of Maine on December 4, 1996 and served 8 years. Dale is Maine’s first female Constitutional Officer.
Dale McCormick has a B.A. from the University of Iowa and has written two books: Against the Grain: A Carpentry Manual for Woman and Housemending: Home Repair For The Rest of Us.
In 2005 Governor John Baldacci appointed Dale as Director of the Maine State Housing Authority. This quasi-governmental organization each year finances the construction of $130 million of affordable housing, weatherizes 1000 homes, serves 48,000 households on heating assistance, gets the lead out of 200 homes, assists 8,000 Mainers with their rent, and helps 1000 Mainers buy their first home.
Inducted March 2007
Deeply committed to reproductive rights and equality for all women, Ruth L. Lockhart began her career in love for women’s health in the mid-1970’s when she volunteered as a receptionist for a local family planning program. Since then, she has accumulated more than 35 years of experience in the field of reproductive and sexual health care.
As a family planning counselor, Ruth found that providing women with the information they needed to make decisions about their own bodies created an empowering experience that had a profound and positive impact on their lives. She became an expert in women’s health issues and a local, state and regional trainer.
Recognizing the need for an independent, community-based organization that could step up and speak out about issues of reproductive choice and lesbian rights when needed, a small group of five activists, including Ruth, decided to form a new non-profit in Bangor. With its founding in 1984, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center became and remains the only private, non-profit, freestanding, feminist health center in Maine and one of fewer than fifteen in the nation. Ruth served for many years on the Center’s board of directors and volunteered her spare time to work on organizational development and community education.
Ruth became director of the Bangor Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic in 1984. As one of the first AIDS educators in Maine, she presented educational sessions for diverse audiences throughout the state. Ruth served on the Governor’s Task Force on AIDS and was instrumental in forming the anonymous HIV/AIDS antibody testing program for City of Bangor and trained counselors to sensitively educate clients about the risks, benefits and results of HIV antibody testing.
Ruth continued this work when she became a Health Educator for the University of Maine and was its first professional AIDS educator. She organized and chaired UMaine’s AIDS Task Force and provided reproductive and sexual health programming campus-wide. She created peer educator programs, which gave students the opportunities to teach and learn from each other. Her Health education position grew to include coordination of the student women’s health services. She also co-chaired UMaine’s Rape and Sexual Assault Awareness Program and served on the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Concerns Committee.
Ruth was appointed Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center first Executive Director in January of 1992. Her work since then has been wholly focused on developing Mabel Wadsworth Center into a premiere women’s health care provider, educator and advocate for women in Eastern and Northern Maine. The Center is now the only publicly available abortion provider north of Augusta. As a representative to many state, regional and national coalitions, including serving as chair of the Maine Choice Coalition, Ruth works tirelessly to advance the cause of women’s reproductive health and rights.
Born and raised in Fort Fairfield, Maine, Ruth is very proud of her Aroostook County roots. As a potato picker from first grade through high school, Ruth developed a strong work ethic that still guides her to this day. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine in the early 1970’s with a degree in elementary education and a certificate in special education/learning disabilities. Her work in rural public schools gave her a deep and lasting understanding of poverty in Maine as well as broadened her appreciation for different learning styles. She lives in Bangor with Peter Thibeau, her husband of 32 years. She is the proud mother of two grown children, Chad and Abby. Ruth is especially grateful to Sharon Barker, her friend for the past 50 years, for introducing her to Mabel Sine Wadsworth and to the field of reproductive health and rights and for envisioning Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center.
Ruth’s vision is for a future where all women are in control of their lives all of the time – a world where feminist principles will benefit all people.
Elizabeth H. Mitchell is wife, mother, grandmother, educator, public servant, mentor, friend, advocate, trendsetter and a leader.
The first time Libby approached the Maine legislature was to lobby in support of the Equal Rights Amendment with the League of Women Voters. In 1974 Libby Mitchell was elected to the Maine House of Representatives and served until 1984. She again served in the House from 1990 to 1998. In 1980 she broke ground and became the first female House majority leader. Over the course of her eighteen years as a legislator, Libby has sponsored dozens of bills that have affected the lives of virtually every woman and girl in the State of Maine. Included in this legislation is expanded access to education and training for recipients of welfare, increased home ownership, and the creation of a District Court Family Division, transitional residential programs for adolescent girls at risk, and Women’s Recognition Week within the Maine school system.
From 1986 to 1990, as Director of the Maine State Housing Authority, Libby worked diligently to expand rental housing to help meet the needs of low-income Maine families primarily women and children; and under her leadership, the Authority won several national awards for excellence.
In 1996 Elizabeth H. Mitchell launched a new political era when she was elected the first female Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives in the state’s 176-year history – the highest ranking Maine woman ever to serve in state office. The Kennebec Journal stated “The first female speaker of the Maine House certainly will not be the last, but Elizabeth Mitchell has set a standard of excellence for speakers to follow, female or male.”
A graduate of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, she received her Master’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A former teacher, Libby and her husband Jim live in Vassalboro. By example, they have imparted a strong belief in public service to their four children and three grandchildren. Their daughter J. Elizabeth Mitchell served in the Maine legislature as a representative from Portland, while their son Charles was elected in 1998 to represent Vassalboro and Augusta in the House of Representatives.
With her quiet, genteel manor as mentor and leader, Libby encourages Women and girls at all levels to believe in themselves, find their voice, become involved, and value education.
Inducted March, 1999
Gilda Nardone has developed and managed the Maine Displaced Homemakers Program from the time service delivery began in 1978. The Maine Legislature funded a pilot program the previous year, one of several programs being developed across the country to address the needs of mid-life and older homemakers forced to enter or re-enter the paid labor force due to death, disability, or unemployment of a spouse, divorce or separation.
Under Gilda’s leadership the Program has grown from a budget of $15,000 and one paid staff person to a budget of close to one million dollars and over 40 fulltime and part-time staff in 1993. Comprehensive community-based services are provided to over 1,000 individuals each year through 14 Resource Centers from Aroostook to York Counties.
Gilda grew up in a working class family in Presque Isle. Her mother became a displaced homemaker at 46 when Gilda’s father died suddenly from a heart attack. She began her professional career as a secretary with an Associates Degree from Westbrook College. She became involved with the women’s movement in the early 1970’s and completed her BA through the University Without Walls Program at the University of Massachusetts while teaching day care and organizing women’s services and resources on Cape Cod. Earning her M.S. in Educational Administration from Wheelock College expanded her interest in adult development, and she returned to Maine at 30 to continue her work with women.
Gilda’s collaborative and empowering style is reflected throughout the Program’s work on a community, state, regional, national, and international level. The Program is at the forefront in advocating for and expanding women’s economic and leadership development opportunities.
Gilda serves as President of the Governing Board of the National Displaced Homemakers Network and previously represented New England for the NDHN and the Women’s Work Force Network of Wider Opportunities for Women. She was the first Chair of the AFDC Advisory Council and currently Co-Chairs the Advisory Board of the Family Law Project.
In recognition of her significant contributions to women and girls in Maine, Gilda received the Maine Commission for Women’s Progress Award in 1989 and the Maryann Hartman Award in 1991.
Inducted March, 1991
Chellie Pingree has the courage to take on tough issues she believes in – and the political skills to create life-transfornling public policy.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chellie moved to the island community of North Haven, Maine when she was 17. She settled there permanently in 1977 after graduating from the College of the Atlantic.
In 1981, after operating a small farm, Chellie started North Island Yarn, a cottage industry of hand knitters with a retail store on the island. Her business expanded to become North Island Designs, which marketed knitting kits and pattern books nationwide. Chellie has served as a member of the North Haven Planning Board and chair of the School Board. And North Haven is where she has raised her three children.
First elected to the Maine Senate in 1992, Chellie believes that everything she knows about politics she learned living on North Haven. She was able to put the skills she gained on the island to work in the legislature – finding creative, practical solutions to problems and building consensus. These abilities and her substantial knowledge of public policy issues were quickly recognized. At the age of 37, she was elected Maine’s Senate Majority Leader in December 1996, a position she held through 2000.
During her tenure as a state senator, Chellie sponsored landmark legislation championing the interests of women and low-income families. She sponsored legislation that: created the Parents as Scholars program; led to the expansion of health care to 10,000 low wage parents; and expanded the low cost drug program for low income Maine people. Chellie also led several economic development initiatives including legislation to enhance small business opportunities in Maine and, since 1994, she has served as co-chair of the Maine Economic Growth Council. She was instrumental in the battle to increase public access to land, which culminated in a successful referendum in the fall of 1999. Chellie is perhaps best known, both in Maine and nationally, for her sponsorship of the country’s first prescription drug pricing bill.
Chellie has actively encouraged women to run for public office and assisted in their election. As chair of the Maine Women’s Vote Project, she has worked tirelessly to boost the voter turnout. Chellie is impassioned about democracy – and her enthusiasm has galvanized women and men from all over the state to become involved in the political process.
The prestigious Eisenhower International Exchange Program named Chellie to a fellowship in 1997, and through this program she traveled to Hungary for six weeks to participate in that county’s transition to a more peaceful and accountable democracy. Additionally, she served on a special White House delegation to oversee the Bosnia and Herzegovina first democratic election of 1998 and, the following year, she was a member of the U.S. delegation to Belfast, Ireland, working with women political leaders there.
Since leaving the Maine Senate, Chellie’s pace hasn’t slowed. She has accepted requests from advocates, health care providers and policy makers across the country to speak about the Maine prescription drug pricing law. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington.
Inducted March 2001
Born in Ste-Agathe, Maine on January 17, 1944, Judy is the middle child in a family often. Her French Acadian roots and bilingualism have been major assets in her work. She prides herself in being multicultural as well, embodying both American and French heritages.
After completing her secondary education in the Ste-Agathe schools with the Daughters of Wisdom, she majored in French at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and went on to teach her native French at Wisdom High School in Stc-Agathe and Madawaska High School. She earned the Maine Education Association Medal of Honor in the early 80’s for her successful battle to solidify tenure rights for all teachers in the state.
Elected to the Maine House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1986, she embarked on a 14-year career in the Legislature, serving three terms in the House and four in the Senate. She served on several committees, eventually chairing Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Health and Human Services. Judy soon established herself as a hard worker who dedicated herself fully to serving her constituents with all her might and skills. She was renowned for her tireless advocacy for the underprivileged, the young, and the elderly, supporting public policy that would impact Maine citizens far into the future. She was steadfast in supporting measures preventative in nature, like using the tobacco settlement money to fund Even Start and home visits. She was also a major player in passing the landmark Maine RX Program, enabling the state to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for affordable prescription drugs.
As the president of the Maine Chapter of the Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians, she worked with lawmakers from all over the French-speaking world. Her joy in doing so was tempered by the reality of the lack of human rights for women and children in third world countries.
In the early 90’s, she participated in a fact-finding mission to Haiti that paved the way for the peaceful return of power from General Raul Cedras to deposed but duly elected President Bertrand Aristide. The international mission succeeded because of its knowledge of the French language and Haitian culture and history.
Nominated by the legislative leadership in Augusta, Judy was awarded a Toll Fellowship by the National Council of State Legislatures in 1991. A productive NCSL conference in Lexington, Kentucky enabled her to establish meaningful relationships with legislators from many other states. She also garnered a Distinguished Legislator Award and the UMFK Outstanding Alumni Award.
Since leaving elected office, Judy has dedicated herself full-time to the work she started as a teenager helping to meet the needs of the people around her. She voluntarily staffs a constituent office in Madawaska, a first in Maine, to improve service to the people of the St. John Valley and beyond. She is active in many civic and religious organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others.
Inducted March 2005
Katherine Ogilvie Musgrave, Professor Emerita of Food and Nutrition at the University of Maine, is driven by a passion for teaching and spreading the word about the importance of wise food selection for promotion of wellness. Since 1942 she has been active in the American Dietetic Association where 97 % of the more than 60 thousand members are women.
Katherine attributes her respect for education to her Mother and to the many dedicated teachers in her life, although she claims that most of her knowledge of nutrition has resulted from questions by her students, causing her to seek answers as she continues in retirement to teach her favorite course – The Fundamentals of Nutrition. Her method of delivery has evolved through several stages with continuous change of content according to new findings and technological advances, moving from lecturing in the classroom, to audiocassettes accompanying 35 mm slides, to televised lectures to the internet. For these changes, she has revised her study guide for the students – now in its 22ndedition but Katherine states that the basic principles of wise food selection have endured.
Her first attempt at pedagogy was at Vanderbilt University Medical School where she taught dietetic interns and at the University of Alabama Medical School where she taught basic dietary theory to student nurses and was tasked with combining the dietary departments from two hospitals. This was one of the many examples during her long professional career of her ability to perform on her own, well above her level of professional training. Through research and hard work she has always managed to successfully complete any challenge handed to her.
After starting as an assistant professor in 1969 at UM in Orono, her first community project included placing nutrition students in the classroom and lunch program in nearby Indian Island School. This led her to add two upper level courses to the Nutrition Curriculum: Lifespan and Community Nutrition. In both courses, Katherine and her students learned in real life situations throughout Maine benefiting the students and the recipients while widening her horizon of possibilities in Community Nutrition.
Collaborating with a Child Development Professor provided the opportunity for publication of a Nutrition Consumer Education Curriculum Guide for the Department of Educational and Cultural Services. Allyn and Bacon published their second book – Nutrition: A Teacher Sourcebook of Integrated Activities.
In the early days of nursing homes, Katherine and two Nutrition colleagues developed a course for certification of Food Service Managers in Maine long term care facilities and worked with the Department of Educational and Cultural Services to write a Training Manual for School Nutrition Programs Personnel and conducted workshops.
Katherine’s efforts have contributed to the health of children and adolescents by training staff in Day Care Centers, Head Start, WIC; also Cooperative Extension Nutrition Associates. She developed and coordinated a three-credit hour course in Fundamentals of Nutrition that was taught to more than 2000 Teachers and School Nutrition Directors participating as teams from schools throughout Maine.
For two decades, she has spread the word about food and nutrition in a weekly radio talk show and provided nutrition education through corporate wellness programs. Her ability to relate to the needs of individuals in all walks of life has enriched the lives of Maine men, women and children. For this work, she has been recognized by her professional Associations, including the American Dietetic Association, the Maine Nutrition Council, the Maine Dietetic Association, the American Home Economics Association. Early in her tenure at the University, she received the Biological Science Teaching Award and in semi-retirement, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. She was named the Outstanding CED Faculty in New England Region and the Outstanding Older Worker in Maine.
Katherine counts herself fortunate to have a supportive husband, a daughter, a son and four grandchildren. She is equally grateful for her family of former students in this state, throughout the nation and in other countries accomplishing nutrition education tasks that she dreamed of and thought impossible.
Lois Galgay Reckitt, Executive Director of Family Crisis Services in Portland, Maine, has been at the forefront of Maine’s efforts to stop domestic abuse and assist its victims. She has lobbied for stronger laws against abuse and pushed for aggressive enforcement of those laws. A list of her achievements must include that she has helped to raise the consciousness of the general public in Maine to the existence and the magnitude of domestic violence in our society. With her help, the Legislature has passed major reforms in the area of domestic violence, including anti- stalking legislation, a domestic violence homicide review panel, and gun control measures for abusers.
In her struggle to bring about changes through laws and policies, Lois has given her time to many committees and boards that directly influence her goals. She has been the Chair of the Maine Coalition for Family Crisis Services, the Maine Representative to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and, for six years, a member of the Maine Commission on Domestic Abuse- serving for three years as Chair. She has also served on the Performance Council of the Judicial Branch, and is currently Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
In addition to her work in the area of domestic violence, Lois has initiated many groups in Maine to fight for the rights of all people. She co-founded the first chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Maine, co-founded the state organization of NOW, the Maine Coalition for Human Rights, Maine Right to Choose, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and the Matlovich Society-an educational and cultural group for gays and lesbians and their allies. Her outstanding organizational skills, her personal sense of what is right, and her special brand of humor have enabled her to forge alliances with diverse groups of individuals and organizations.
Lois gained national exposure through her service to NOW where she has served more than fifteen years on the National Board of Directors, including two terms as Executive Vice President in Washington, D.C. In addition, she helped to organize and served for eight years on the National Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and served as the group’s Deputy Director before returning to Maine in 1990.
Lois is one of those unique individuals who can both work quietly behind the scenes to accomplish great things and use the media to garner support and advocates for her cause. Her energy, intelligence, insight, and passion on behalf of battered women and their children are well known and highly respected. She works equally well with the law enforcement community, the legislature, and her human services colleagues. Lois Galgay Reckitt has never wavered from her goals of protecting the physical and emotional health of women and promoting Civil Rights for all. As a feminist she tirelessly crusades for Social Justice.
Inducted March, 1998
Ninetta May Runnals has been viewed as “one of Maine’s most respected leaders in educational circles.” Miss Runnals served as Dean of Women at Colby College in Waterville for 27 years.
A Colby alumna herself, Miss Runnals accepted the position of Dean of Women and Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Colby in 1920.
One of her first achievements was the development of the Department of Hygiene and Physical Education for women and the hiring of a corresponding director for the 1921-22 academic year. This department was not in existence the previous year and was then only under consideration by the Board of Trustees.
Prior to 1920, an effort was made by the Colby trustees to divide the institution into two separate colleges for men and women. Upon her arrival, Dean Runnals succeeded in keeping the campus as a coordinate college so that female students would have the same courses and opportunities available to them as did male students.
Dean Runnals was a leader in the fundraising for the Women’s Union, which was constructed prior to WW II at the cost of $100,000, raised entirely by the alumnae. In 1959, the Board of Trustees voted to name the women’s student union on the Mayflower Hill campus Runnals Union in her honor.
She was founder of the Waterville branch of the American Association of University Women. In 1973, she received a citation from the A.A.U.W. for “developing quality education for women.”
Dean Runnals was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by Colby in 1929. She was the only female faculty member prior to 1949 to have the Colby yearbook, The Oracle, dedicated to her (1938) by the seniors.
Colby President Bixler was quoted in 1959 as saying, “Dean Runnals has enriched this College beyond measure. No one is held in higher esteem by the alumnae whom she served with affection and understanding during nearly three decades.”
Ninetta Runnals died at the age of 95 in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
Inducted March, 1992
Dr. Elizabeth S. Russell is an outstanding scientist, one of the relatively few women elected to the National Academy of Science, author of over 120 papers, with specialties in the patterns of aging and the genetics and physiology of blood abnormalities. Dr. Russell was born on May 1, 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1937, she came to Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor as an independent investigator and retired in 1978 as Senior Staff Scientist. Dr. Russell’s primary research interest has been in physiological genetics; hereditary disease; mouse hematology and aging.
Dr. Russell has traveled extensively including China and Africa for the World Health Organization. She has also been active in her community having served on numerous committees of town government. She has received international fellowships; she has also worked on Fundraising activities to benefit local scholarships for women and has spent much time counseling high school girls headed for college. Dr. Russell was a Trustee of the University of Maine from 1975 to 1983 and is currently a Trustee of the College of the Atlantic.
Dr. Russell raised four children, essentially as a single parent during the later years of their childhood. At the same time, her research of aging led to heavy involvement with the Maine Eastern Area Agency on Aging, dealing with social issues. In her “retirement” she has twice taught at Cuttington College, a women’s college in Liberia, to which she took her wide knowledge of women’s organizations in Maine, and from which she brought back and shared many new and exciting ideas.
As a featured panelist at each of three symposia for students at the University of Maine, Dr. Russell also managed to meet one-on-one with many of the students and to give each one a new sense of worth, ability, and higher potential. This is her specialty, which she has pursued throughout Maine at every opportunity. During her fifty years in Bar Harbor, she has sponsored an enormous number of students in her laboratory, from teenagers to post-doctoral investigators. An unusually high proportion have been women, many Maine natives, and many have stayed in Maine to carry on scientific research and the education and encouragement of young women.
During her term as trustee of the University of Maine, she was a strong advocate of placing women in upper-level positions in faculty and administration, at a time when this placement was much rarer than now. Dr. Russell’s efforts toward education and professional employment of women, together with her outstanding personal example as mother, teacher, scientist, and humanitarian, have made an enduring impact on the lives of many women in this State.
Patricia Ryan has been working for Maine women and girls since she became involved with passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973, shortly after moving to Maine. She served as statewide coordinator of the Maine Coalition for the ERA, a group of 25 organizations throughout the state who worked together to make Maine the 17th state to ratify the constitutional amendment in 1974. The Coalition believed that the Equal Rights Amendment was a matter of simple justice, and ratification of it answered a simple question: Should women and men be equal under the law? The answer to that question continued to form the basis for Pat’s work over the next 40 years.
In 1975 Pat was appointed Chairwoman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women, where she worked for women and on women’s issues over the next 4 years. During that time she was elected as International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee Chair, and organized Maine’s participation in, and election of delegates to, the IWY Conference in Mexico. She was also appointed as Chair of the Governor’s Positive Action Committee, a group formed to advance issues impacting women and minorities. The first “Talent Bank” comprising names and resumes of women interested in serving on State boards and commissions was developed under her leadership to encourage greater inclusion of women by appointing officials.
During this time, sensing a need to bring perspective of women to public policy discussions and decisions in Maine, Pat, along with 9 others, became a founder of the Maine Women’s Lobby, a statewide organization dedicated to advancing the interests of women and girls. She served on the first Board, and the organization accumulated enough funding from 2000 individuals to hire its first lobbyist in time for the beginning of the 1979 legislative session. The Lobby continues as an important, thriving force today.
Pat was appointed as Executive Director of the Maine Human Rights Commission in 1979, a position she held for the next 32 years, shaping policy and enhancing the law protecting women, minorities, and others from discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations. Under her leadership, the law was amended to include pregnancy as a form of sex discrimination; families with children were protected from housing discrimination; sexual harassment was defined and strongly enforced; girls were protected from discrimination in education, and sexual orientation discrimination was finally made illegal.
Pat Ryan has been a part of securing protections for women and girls, minorities, and others who needed laws, interpretations, guidance, and enforcement to level the playing fields, and she is grateful for the opportunity to help make a difference. Whether opening doors for women to serve as police officers, prison guards, and in other non-traditional fields; or ensuring that families with children could not be denied housing solely because there were children in the family; or that people with disabilities had to be reasonably accommodated to do a job, or live in a dwelling, access a building, or ride a bus; or that girls could play on sports teams for which their skills qualified them, and not be excluded from sports solely because of their sex, while enjoying comparable training facilities and tournament venues; or that students who were transgender had a right to use bathroom facilities for the sex they identified with, were all issues formed and shaped by Pat.
Following retirement in 2011, Pat has rejoined the Board of the Maine Women’s Lobby, where she continues to work on issues that affect women and girls in Maine. In her capacity as a mediator, she serves on the panel of mediators of the Maine Human Rights Commission, and enjoys continuing work in this area. She is married to Charlie Priest who has supported her work, sharing her values and her passions. They have two daughters, both of whom are remarkable young women, and of whom they are tremendously proud.
Joan Benoit Samuelson is a hero and role model for women everywhere, but particularly here in Maine. As Maine’s first female athlete to achieve world renown, she has paved the way for other young Maine women to pursue their dreams, push themselves further, to not give up. Joan Benoit Samuelson has generously shared her experience and advice through her books, Running Tide and Running for Women, and by giving running clinics, coaching women’s cross-country and long-distance running, working as a sports commentator and a motivational speaker.
The eyes of the world were watching Joan Benoit when she won the first ever women’s Olympic Marathon on August 5, 1984. Born in Maine in 1957, she was the only female student in her high school to run cross-country. In her junior year, as a way of reconditioning herself after she broke her leg in a skiing accident, she began to run more often and to run greater distances.
While a senior at Bowdoin College, Benoit entered the 1979 Boston Marathon as a virtual unknown and won, setting a record for American women. Following surgery on her Achilles tendons, she again won the Boston Marathon in 1983. In May 1984, she won the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon, only 17 days after arthroscopic knee surgery. Norway’s Grete Waitz was favored to win the gold medal in 1984, but Benoit surged ahead only three miles into the race and completed the race one and a half minutes in the lead. Twelve years and two children later, Joan qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials Marathon. She has a long list of victories, has set many records, and is still competing.
Joan has worked tirelessly in Maine on behalf of the Samantha Smith Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Special Olympics, Multiple Sclerosis, the Maine Women’s Fund, and the Governor’s Executive Council on Communities for Children. In 1998 she put Maine on the road race map by establishing a world-class road race in Cape Elizabeth to benefit children’s charities in Maine.
Studies show that participation in sports by young women significantly improves self-esteem and enhances the chances of success in all areas of life. When Joan began adolescence, only 1 in 27 girls in Maine participated in competitive high school sports. Today that ratio is 1 in 3. Part of this increase is due to the culture change brought about by having female sports heroes and role models like Joan Benoit Samuelson.
Joan Benoit Samuelson’s persistence and endurance will long inspire increased self-confidence in Maine women, reinforcing the knowledge that Maine women are tough-they can compete, go the distance, and achieve great things.
As Joan continues to pursue her goals we celebrate her enthusiasm and spirit, and the spirit and potential of all Maine women, by recognition of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s place in the Maine Womens Hall of Fame.
Inducted March 2000
As Home Economist, “Good Samaritan,” Nutritionist, Newspaper Columnist, Food Judge, Author and Cook, Mildred “Brownie” Schrumpf can truly be called “First Cook” of the State of Maine. “Brownie’s” spark, her stimuli for good, simple, “State of Maine” cooking influenced over three generations of Maine families. Consequently, their children and their grandchildren have grown up healthier and happier because of her.
Born in 1903 in Readfield, and a graduate of the University of Maine, Orono, with a B.S. in Home Economics, “Brownie” Schrumpf was assistant 4-H Club leader for the State of Maine (1925-32) and the Penobscot County 4-H Club agent (1932-39). In the 40s “Brownie” was a part-time instructor at the University of Maine, Orono, teaching foods, food preservation, and camp cookery to the forestry students at the University. For 42 years (1951-93), “Brownie” Schrumpf was food columnist for the Bangor Daily News. Deeply committed to the use of native, Maine-grown foods and simple methods of food preparation, she carefully changed her recipes to fit the seasons. Hers has been a constant quest for the new recipe, the new method, and the new concept of preparation.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, “Brownie” was the Maine Food Products Promoter for the Maine Department of Agriculture at the Eastern States Exposition. In addition, she ran a TV series of food demonstrations and worked on the staff of the General Alumni Association of the University of Maine. “Brownie” was also a member of the Board of the G.A.A., serving as Assistant Executive Director (1963) and as Acting Director (1968). She was president of the Maine State Home Economics Association (1952-54), a member of the Women’s Legislative Council, and always an active member of the American Association of University Women.
During the 70s and 80s, “Brownie” acted as a food expert in another TV series titled “A Time to Live”, and was a teacher for 20 years for the YWCA cooking classes. As author, she wrote two very successful cookbooks, The Flavor of Maine (BDN 1976, 164 pp.) and Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen (BDN 1989, 230 pp.)
Since retirement, “Brownie” has never stopped. She lectured, wrote, and judged food exhibits wherever they took her. She took meals to the ill and elderly, chauffeured them and shopped for them, and visited local nursing homes and schools regularly.
Mildred “Brownie” Schrumpf has been honored with a variety of awards, including The Black Bear Award (University of Maine, 1957), Woman of the Year (Maine Press, Radio and TV Women, 1968), Unofficial Ambassador of Good Eating (Maine Department of Agriculture, 1970), General Alumni Association Pine Tree Alumni Service Emblem (1974), Kiwanis Recognition in Service Award (Orono-Old Town Kiwanis, 1976), and American Association of University Women Achievement Citation Award (Maine AAUW, 1989).
Dedicating her professional and personal life to the betterment of nutrition in the State of Maine, “Brownie” Schrumpf represents the entire 20th century’s development of cooking as a science. In her mother’s day, recipes were ambiguous, reading a ‘pinch’ of this and a ‘dash’ of that until your ‘taste’ was satisfied. “Brownie’s” directions were precise, and a tasty, healthy diet was assured. She taught the women of Maine to use independent thought and scientific judgment to better their family’s nutrition. “Brownie” has passed on her love of cooking the simple “State of Maine” foods to a new generation of Maine cooks, and the legacy of “Brownie” Schrumpf will live forever!
Inducted March 1997
Former Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Maine’s First Lady, is perhaps best known for her contribution to the well being of the United States and its people with her consistent stand for the condemnation of bigotry and injustice wherever she found it. Her stand against “McCarthyism” in the early 1950’s marked her outstanding courage and devotion to conscience and justice.
Margaret Chase Smith is the only woman elected to serve in both houses of Congress. She was first elected to the House of Representatives from the Second District of Maine in 1940. In 1948, Mrs. Smith was elected to the United States Senate by an overwhelming margin. She received the greatest total vote majority in Maine history.
In 1954, when Senator Smith was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, she received the most votes of all candidates for all offices. In the primary that year, she set a new record for the total number of votes received in a contested primary, a great illustration to all women that gender is not an obstacle if one is willing to work hard and be honest. In 1966, the Senator repeated her record.
Senator Smith put her name at the forefront of women’s achievements that have significantly improved the lives of women when, at the Republican Convention in 1964, her name was placed in nomination for the President of the United States. This is the first time a woman had been so nominated by a major political party.
Senator Smith is the first woman elected to a leadership post in the United States Senate, serving as the leader of the Conference of all Republican Senators from 1967 until her retirement. In 1943, as a member of the House of Representatives, she secured a seat on the powerful Naval Affairs Committee enabling her to have influence over shipbuilding and other interests vital not only to Maine, but to the Nation as well.
Senator Smith is also recognized for her contribution of enduring value to women’s rights when she pioneered in the area of reserve legislation and waged a successful battle for women in the armed services. She succeeded in achieving regular, rather than just reserve status, for women. She was nicknamed “Mother of the WAVES” after introducing legislation to create this organization.
Senator Smith is a charter member and past president of the Skowhegan Business and Professional Women’s Club and also was president of the Maine Federation. On July 6, 1989, President George Bush presented Senator Margaret Chase Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor “… for her commitment to truth and honesty in government and in America.”
Inducted March, 1990
Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican, is known nationally for her work on women’s issues, budget deficit reduction, student financial aid, education technology, health care, and defense issues. Senator Snowe is the first Greek-American woman elected to the United States Senate.
Senator Snowe has won more federal elections in Maine than any candidate since World War II. Before her election to the Senate, Senator Snowe represented Maine’s Second Congressional District for eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. When she was elected to Congress in 1978 at the age of 31, Snowe was the youngest Republican woman, and the first Greek-American woman, ever elected to Congress.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Snowe earned widespread respect for her leadership as cochair of the. Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Senator Snowe was also a member of the House Budget Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and was a leading member of the former House Select Committee on Aging, where she served as Ranking Republican on its Subcommittee on Human Services.
As of the time of her induction, during the 106th Congress, Senator Snowe is serving her fifth year in the U.S. Senate. She is a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, where she chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower; and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where she chairs the Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries. Senator Snowe also serves on the Senate Budget Committee, and the Senate Committee on Small Business.
Before her election to Congress, Ms. Snowe served in both the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate. She was first elected to the Maine House in 1973 to the seat vacated by the death of her first husband, the late Peter Snowe. She was re-elected for a full two-year term in 1974.
In 1976, Ms. Snowe was elected to the Maine Senate. She chaired the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Institutional Services, where she gained particular recognition for her work on health care issues and for sponsorship of legislation in the health field.
Formerly Olympia Jean Bouchles, Senator Snowe was born on February 21, 1947, in Augusta, Maine. She is the daughter of the late George Bouchles, a native of Mytilene, Greece, and the late Georgia Goranites Bouchles, whose parents emigrated to America from Sparta.
Raised by her aunt and uncle Mary and the late James Goranites of Auburn after the death of her parents, Ms. Snowe graduated from St. Basil’s Academy in Garrison, New York in 1962, and completed her secondary education at Edward Little High School in Auburn. She graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Maine at Orono in 1969.
Senator Snowe is married to former Maine Governor John R. McKernan Jr. and resides in Falmouth, Maine.
Ms. Snowe is a member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Lewiston-Aubum, Maine, and has been an active member in a number of civic and community organizations.
Inducted March, 1999
Marti Stevens’ legacy to Maine of education, inspiration and theater reflects her belief that education and knowledge will provide power and a better world. How can one measure the impact of a whirlwind or a rainbow? Marti Stevens was a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm and a rainbow of warmth, giving, and talent. Her impact on the lives of Maine women is immeasurable, continuing even after her untimely death.
Earning her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism at the University of Missouri and Masters in Education at City College of New York City, Marti also studied acting and directing as well as teaching in ghetto schools.
Her commitment to education via non-traditional programs was the catalyst for her grant-writing and for her founding of Cornville Academy, Cross Roads, Teens ‘n Theater, Maine Literacy Theater, and Education Skills, Inc., helping people who are disabled, at-risk, incarcerated, teen-agers, and other adults.
Marti was Director of Somerset County Basic Skills from the late 70s until her death in 1993. She authored training modules for the Literacy Advocacy Program, used throughout Maine. Cross Roads won national recognition and developed into a coeducational alternative education program, recently renamed the Marti Stevens Learning Center, one of the oldest and largest in Maine, under her directorship.
TRAINING FOR TOMORROW, the successful program she developed with the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community (formerly Displaced Homemakers) and ASPIRE, has been replicated by the State of Maine and continues to be used statewide.
She presented the improvisational theater concept throughout the country and at international educational conferences. She taught composition at the University of Maine at Farmington for twelve years, ending with her death. Her love of theater was the impetus to co-founding the Cornville Players which evolved into Curtain Up Enterprises and the resurrection of Lakewood Theatre, the oldest summer theater in Maine.
Marti’s energetic life included her farm, where she raised flowers, vegetables, cows, sheep, chickens, and even peacocks, as well as serving terms as the plumbing inspector. Her love of life, talents, energy and enthusiasm were boundless, and the people of Maine are the beneficiaries.
The late Marti Stevens, our whirlwind -rainbow, gave lasting value to Maine women in many ways, through education, entertainment, and inspiration, reflecting her beliefs, her commitment, and her work.
(Photo by: Vernon Homer)
Inducted March, 1996
According to her family, Thelma Swain’s mantra throughout her life, and particularly in her final years, was “nobody’s luckier than me.” She made her life and she relished every moment of it (all 99 years), with acts of appreciation and admiration for those around her. Thelma told many that she didn’t really “come into her own” until she was 75 years old.
Thelma Swain has a soft spot in her heart for the underdog; that young person who did not have much. She was appreciative of and captivated by their stories of “beating the odds.” Her philanthropy reflected that – with gifts over the years. She became resident “grandmother” to the teen mothers at the Maine Children’s home for Little Wanderers in her last ten years, and spent many hours rocking their babies and talking to them about their life, about their potential, and about their important role as mothers. They particularly enjoyed hearing about her challenges being ahead of her time, going to college, and becoming a career woman and a parent.
Her touch turned underdogs into overachievers. Through her legacy, teen mothers graduate and go to college with hope, encouragement, and scholarship dollars she provided to ensure they could. Her many supportive personal notes and cards to these young ladies meant more to them than she will ever know. A plaque about the personal lounge bears her name “Grammy Swain Lounge.” Thelma Swain has a lust for life that was infectious. She taught many about how to live life to the maximum, and she sincerely cared about each person she touched.
Thelma Swain made significant and long-lasting contributions to Maine people through her work with and support of the Maine State Museum, the only museum that preserves and interprets Maine’s pre-history, history and natural science. She wore many hats at the museum. She was a dedicated volunteer, bringing her love of learning, attention to detail, and insightful observations to research projects. Plus she worked tirelessly on compiling, filing, and organizing information about the Maine State Museum’s own history. In the course of that work, she became a fierce proponent of the efforts to promote the museum and its educational programs and exhibitions to the people in every corner of the state. She felt that Maine people should value their Maine heritage, as she herself did, and learn about that heritage through the museum’s offerings.
While her personal volunteer efforts were significant enough, she did not stop there. She donated funds to upgrade the Museum Store and enhance its educational mission. She provided funding to publicize the museum on a public radio and television, thereby parenting two of her favorite Maine-based statewide organizations, the Maine State Museum and Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Finally, Thelma donated many household items to the museum collection. Dating from the early decades of the 1900’s to the 1960’s and reflecting several generations of Maine women’s domestic lives, many of these items have been included in the museum’s current “At Home in Maine ” exhibition.
Thelma Swain believed deeply that education was the path out of poverty for Maine people, especially women. It was that conviction and her love of the occupational programs of the Maine Community College System, which led to her scholarship donations to the Maine Community College System over the past fifteen years totaling nearly two million dollars. The people that the college system are designed to serve were near and dear to her heart. She was awarded “Trustee Emeritus” status by the Board of Trustees of the Maine Community College System as a testament to the deep respect and lasting impact her gifts have had on their students. Only twice in their history has the Board awarded this special designation. Because of her, thousands of Maine people have been given the opportunity for a brighter and more prosperous future.
Thelma Swain was a simple, modest lady; she didn’t build a rocket… or stop a war…or write a book… or run a business. She represented “everywoman”. Yet she had an incredible impact on literally thousands here in the State of Maine. Her volunteer work with the Maine State Museum, her personal and financial commitment to the Maine Community College System, and her love for the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers and the teen parents in the Teen Parent School Program made her unique. Hers is a story of quiet strength, unconditional love, and passion for life and perseverance for Maine underprivileged, especially the youth, and in particular of the teen mothers who lacked good female role models.
Inducted March 2010
Eloise Vitelli is an innovator and an advocate for women’s economic empowerment. She has been active in the field of entrepreneurship training since 1983, when she coordinated the Women’s Business Survival Skills Project, one of seven pilot projects funded nationally by the Small Business Administration. She then went on to develop the New Ventures training program for the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community, and was a founder of the Women’s Business Development Corporation.
She is the author of Venturing Forth, a three step guide to starting a business. She was instrumental in establishing the Maine Enterprise Option program, which allows eligible unemployment recipients to start small businesses, and in bringing self-employment resources to the Job Training System. In 1986, she was co-recipient of the Maine Small Business Administrations’ Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award.
Eloise has worked with the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community (formerly the Displaced Homemakers Program) since 1981, first as a trainer/coordinator and then as Associate Director. In her statewide role, she has focused on employment and training and economic development opportunities for mid-life and older women. She has been a Head Start teacher and Education Coordinator and has served as a VISTA volunteer Community Organizer for the Maine Women’s Lobby. She received her Masters in Education Counseling from the University of Southern Maine and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. As a child, she lived with her family in Italy and in India, and has studied and traveled throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. She spent most of her early years in Pennsylvania, moving to Maine in the early 70’s.
In addition to her work in entrepreneurship, Eloise has been a catalyst for promoting workforce development policies and strategies which combine the best uses of modern technologies with demonstrated methods of empowering individuals to meet the challenges of a changing economy. She designed a computerized management information system for her organization that is marketed nationally by Women Work! The National Network for Women’s Employment. She has designed and co-produced workforce development and entrepreneurship training over interactive television statewide. She recently co-chaired the Education and Training Goal Committee of the Economic Growth Council, is a participant in Leadership Maine, and is a member of the Human Resource Development Council. She also serves on her local school board.
Eloise’s vision, creativity, and inclusive leadership in microenterprise and workforce development have inspired and expanded opportunities for countless numbers of Maine women entering or re-entering the paid workforce or starting small businesses. She has openly and courageously shared her family’s experience of divorce, co-parenting and blended families with other Maine families in transition. Eloise brings a rare blend of insight, wit, clarity, entrepreneurial spirit and energy to her work. She lives her life fully and in a spirit of hope and optimism for the possibilities that lie ahead.
Inducted March, 1995
While earning her RN degree at the University of Rochester, Mabel Sine Wadsworth heard of Margaret Sanger’s pioneer work in birth control, and developed her own interest in helping women gain control over their reproductive lives.
When Ms. Wadsworth moved to Bangor in 1946, she joined the Maternal Health League, an organization patterned after Sanger’s work promoting contraceptive education.
Mabel Wadsworth’s community involvement in volunteer organizations have included the League of Women Voters and the Hospital Auxiliary. She helped form the Abnaki Council of Girl Scouts, served as the first president of the Bangor Counseling Center’s Board of Directors, and was active in the development of the Women’s Resource Center, out of which evolved the Displaced Homemakers Organization.
In the 1960’s, Ms. Wadsworth organized the first Family Planning program in Maine and as the first director of Family Planning in the central Maine area, she used the outreach ideas she had seen employed years earlier by the Maternal Health League. She also set a precedent when she sent a registered nurse to nurse practitioner school so that Family Planning need not rely solely upon physicians to deliver birth control services.
In the early 1970’s, Mabel Wadsworth was highly instrumental in the passage of legislation which mandated teenagers the right to confidential contraceptive services. She helped establish the Maine Family Planning Association, and was the first president; she is currently an active member.
Ms. Wadsworth is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Legal Services for the Elderly, and raises funds for the Bangor Symphony, Spruce Run (the local family violence project), the United Way and Red Cross. Still visible in the struggle to maintain reproductive rights for women, Ms. Wadsworth is an original founde rof the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, where she inspires and shares that organization’s vision of a feminist health center empowering all women, through knowledge and with advocacy, to take control of their lives.
Inducted March, 1990
Florence Brooks was born October 29, 1869, into a prosperous and socially prominent family in Augusta, Maine. She was educated in the Augusta public schools and at St. Catherine’s Hall, a private boarding school, and later spent several winters studying art, drawing, music, and languages in Boston. She loved travel, and in 1892-1893 took an extended trip abroad. Her travels took her to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Africa, and the Holy Land, as well as to the art centers of Syria and Egypt.
She returned to Maine and married Robert Treat Whitehouse, a young lawyer who was also from Augusta, and the couple moved to Portland. Over the next several years they had three sons, but Florence still found time to write two novels, The God of Things andThe Effendi, both romances set in the Middle East. For her first novel, she also produced a number of very fine illustrations; the second, written when she was confined to bed rest during her third pregnancy, was illustrated by the well-known artist I.H. Caliga. She was the author of many short stories, and with her husband co-wrote, directed, and acted in several plays.
Around 1913 Florence got interested in the issue of woman’s suffrage, and soon became active in every possible suffrage league she was able to join. In 1915 she founded the Maine branch of the Congressional Union (later the National Women’s Party), and served as its chairman until suffrage was won, five years later. This earned her much local notoriety because of the “militant” tactics employed by the Congressional Union organizers. Most of Florence’s Maine suffrage colleagues were shocked and appalled when Congressional Union suffragists picketed the White House and Congress, and campaigned against the Democrats (then the party in power) for failing to pass an amendment to the federal constitution enfranchising women. They also disrupted Congressional hearings, and burned President Wilson’s speeches in the park across the street from the White House. Florence herself picketed President Wilson, both in Chicago and later at the White House, and traveled to Wyoming in 1916 to help organize the women there (who already had the vote) to oppose Wilson because “He kept Us Out of Suffrage.”
Florence’s skills as a writer, a public speaker, and an organizer were unequalled in Maine’s suffrage movement, and she was a key figure in the last six years of the struggle. She worked closely with national suffrage leaders, including Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, especially during pivotal periods when the nation looked to Maine for breakthroughs in the battle. Following enactment of the 19th Amendment enfranchising women, she went on to serve with the Portland Chamber of Commerce and campaigned for the League of Nations and International peace and disarmament, among many other activities. It is unfortunate that her radical reputation kept her from getting more than a brief mention in the scant histories that have been written about Maine’s suffrage history; she deserves much more than that. Still, while suffrage activities occupied six years of Florence’s life, they were just one aspect of an accomplished and varied career. She was a remarkable woman, with a fierce love of justice, a deep commitment to woman’s rights, and an unshakable loyalty to her beloved state of Maine.
Inducted March, 2008
Esther E. Wood, a model for the women of Maine, is a natural teacher of history: a descendant of pre-1790 settlers who came to the Eastern Maine towns of Ellsworth, Deer Isle, and Blue Hill.
A graduate of George Stevens Academy in 1922, Colby College in 1926, and Radcliffe College in 1929, her love of history took her to Gorham Normal School, where she taught history on the same hillside campus for forty-two years, 1930 – 1972.
Her teaching helped women teach children and young adults to become everything they could be. She taught compassion, love, and improved reading skills along with Maine and American history.
As an author she has published four books, including Country Fare and Deep Roots: A Maine Legacy, about family, cooking, and living at Friends Corner, overlooking beautiful Blue Hill Bay.
Miss Wood wrote columns for the Christian Science Monitor for over a decade, and was a regular columnist for the Ellsworth American with her “Native” column. She is also well known for her stories in Sunday School papers and children’s magazines.
Esther has received many well-deserved awards over her years of formal teaching: a lecture room at George Stevens Academy and a dormitory on the Gorham campus bear her name; the Blue Hill Chamber of Commerce named her “Woman of the Year”; the Maine School Superintendents’ Association honored her “For distinguished service to education in Maine”, and Colby College awarded her a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa.
She will be remembered for her keen mind, wit and humor, her gentleness and graciousness, and her achievement of excellence in translating for her hundreds of thousands of students the value and qualities of the past into terms that could be understood in the changing world of the present.
Miss Wood still teaches history as she presents lectures and gives small talks and informal speeches in her native Blue Hill. She writes the stories in pamphlets describing places to visit when in the area.
Esther Elizabeth Wood will long be respected and loved by her former students for her teaching of the past, her concern for the present, and the foundation she provided for the future.
Inducted March, 1994
Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee’s long and successful career in education has been defined by her commitment to improving the lives of her students. At Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, where she served as president for 28 years, the majority of those students were women, many of them low-income, many of them single mothers, who Barbara believed in and on whose behalf she worked tirelessly. Her goal: to help them achieve their educational goals and build a more secure future for themselves and their families.
Throughout her presidency, Dr. Woodlee sought to increase access to education for Maine women by designing and building programs—in health care and other fields—that met their needs and held the promise of good paying jobs. Many women from throughout Maine jump-started their lives and careers by earning a credential from Kennebec Valley Community College.
For over three decades, Dr. Woodlee has worked to remove barriers to higher education for Maine people. She has built numerous partnerships among colleges and worked to ease transfer between two- and four-year degree programs, not only for students from KVCC but for those enrolled in all of Maine’s community colleges. Again and again, she has taken strong stands on issues she believes to be in the best interest of students. She has been a strong advocate for low- and moderate-income students and has worked to keep tuition low, even when her college faced extremely challenging budget realities. Community college students from throughout the state have benefited from this advocacy for low tuition rates and greater financial assistance, and today the Maine Community Colleges have the lowest tuition and fees in New England.
Dr. Woodlee holds the distinction of being the first woman president within the Maine Community College System, and she now serves as the System’s chief academic officer. By taking on these challenges (while raising four children), she has opened the door to other women to assume leadership positions within the System. To them, she has served as a mentor, a coach, and a supportive colleague.
Throughout her career, Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee has demonstrated that women can use the power of kindness, confidence, persistence, and personal presence to lead and advance in their careers, to support the careers of others, and to fight for a cause. In addition to her work at KVCC, she has given her time and energy to improving the lives of others in her community and across the state, serving as Chair of the Board of MaineGeneral Health; on the inaugural Board of Displaced Homemakers (now Women, Work, and Community); and in volunteer leadership positions with the Maine Science and Technology Foundation, State Workforce Incentive Board, and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. In the process, she has earned the deep respect and affection of those who have had the good fortune to work with her.
Dr. Woodlee is a proven leader, reliable friend, and dedicated colleague, who has contributed significantly to the welfare of others, leaving an indelible mark on the State of Maine.
|Senator Margaret Chase Smith||March 1990**|
|Mabel Sine Wadsworth||March 1990**|
|Gail H. Laughlin||March 1991**|
|Elizabeth S. Russell||March 1991**|
|Ninetta May Runnals||March 1992**|
|Gilda E. Nardone||March 1993|
|Dorothy Murphy Healy||March 1993**|
|Esther Elizabeth Wood||March 1994**|
|Eloise A. Vitelli||March 1995|
|Elizabeth (Liz) W. Crandall, Ed.D.||March 1996**|
|Marti Stevens||March 1996**|
|Mildred Brown Schrumpf||March 1997**|
|Ethel (Billie) Wilson Gammon||March 1997**|
|Lois Galgay Reckitt||March 1998|
|Elizabeth (Libby) H. Mitchell||March 1999|
|Olympia J. Snowe||March 1999|
|Caroline Gentile||March 2000**|
|Joan Benoit Samuelson||March 2000|
|Linda Smith Dyer||March 2001**|
|Chellie Pingree||March 2001|
|Theodora June Kalikow||March 2002|
|Nancy H. Hensel||March 2003|
|Sharon H. Abrams||March 2004|
|Judith Magyar Isaacson||March 2004|
|Patricia M. Collins||March 2005|
|Judy Ayotte Paradis||March 2005|
|The Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen||March 2006|
|Laura Fortman||March 2007|
|Dale McCormick||March 2007|
|Karen Heck||March 2008|
|Florence Brooks Whitehouse||March 2008**|
|Sharon Barker||March 2009|
|Thelma Swain||March 2010**|
|US Senator Susan Collins||March 2011|
|Katherine Ogilvie Musgrave||March 2011|
|Mary Farrar||March 2012|
|Ruth L. Lockhart||March 2012|
|Lyn Mikel Brown||March 2013|
|Mary R. Cathcart||March 2013|
|Laurie Gagnon Lachance||March 2014|
|Patricia E. Ryan||March 2014|
|Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee||March 2015|
|Ellen Golden||March 2015|