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Karen Heck

Karen Heck

Since 1979, Karen Heck has dedicated her professional career to bettering the lives of women and girls throughout the State of Maine. Through her tireless efforts and far-sighted vision, she has advanced a broad spectrum of women's issues, including reproductive rights, economic security, literacy, safety, and health. To put it quite simply, the hallmark of her life has been to make life better for all women and girls in whatever way she can.

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.

2007 Photograph

Inducted March, 2008