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Lyn Mikel Brown
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Arline Rebecca Andrews Lovejoy

Lyn Mikel Brown

Lyn Mikel BrownFor 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.

2013 Photograph
Inducted 2013