Our Honorees

Continuing her work into the 21st Century

Each year the Frances Perkins Center honors three individuals whose work in the area of social justice and economic security exemplifies the spirit of Frances Perkins.  The awards are:

Intelligence and Courage Award

The name of this award comes from a speech given by Frances Perkins in 1929 when she was New York State Industrial Commissioner, in which she pledged, “I promise to use what brains I have to meet problems with intelligence and courage. I promise that I will be candid about what I know. I promise to all of you who have the right to know, the whole truth so far as I can speak it.”

Past Honorees:

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William E. Leuchtenburg is the William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Considered by many to be the dean of New Deal history, he is the author of over a dozen books on 20th century American his- tory, including the prize-winning Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 (1963), a volume still used in many university courses today. His latest work is The American Presidency: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton,  published by Oxford University Press in December 2015. Professor Leuchtenburg has been a summer visitor to Newcastle and Boothbay Harbor for the past several years and is a frequent presenter at the Frances Perkins Center’s annual Garden Party.  Watch Award Video.

Bill NemitzBill Nemitz– Recipient of our 2015 Intelligence and Courage Award. Bill is a news columnist for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. He began writing his thrice weekly column for the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram in 1995. While focusing on Maine people and issues, his work has taken him three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, where he was embedded with members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Army Reserve for which the Maine Press Association named Nemitz Maine Journalist of the Year in 2004. Nemitz is a past president of the Maine Press Association and teaches journalism part-time at St. Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the New England Newspaper Association.

The Center honors Bill Nemitz this year for his intelligence and courage in elucidating the complexities of Maine’s sometimes difficult political environment, confronting its contradictions with humor and wisdom, and keeping his focus on policies, not personalities.
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Barney Frank croppedFormer Congressman, Barney Frank- 2014 Intelligence and Courage Award.  As the co-author of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Barney Frank wrote legislation that has been referred to as the most sweeping change in financial regulation since the Great Depression. In addition to this, causes that received Frank’s attention included rental housing and civil rights. In more than three decades of service in Congress, Frank rose to Chair the House Financial Services Committee. Frank’s courage in standing up to powerful financial interests, his intelligence and mastery of complex issues, and fearlessness in the face of what is said and written about him leads us to nominate him for the Frances Perkins Center Intelligence and Courage Award. Watch Award Video

Ai-jen Ai-Jen Poo 2013 Courage and Intelligence HonoreePoo – Recipient of our 2013 Intelligence and Courage Award, co-founded Domestic Workers United (DWU), which helped pass the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, extending basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers in New York State. She directs the Domestic Workers Alliance, promoting labor rights for millions of domestic workers in the United States, including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly.

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Frank Roosevelt 2012 Courage and Intelligence HonoreeFranklin D. Roosevelt III – Recipient of our 2012 Intelligence and Courage Award, Franklin (Frank) D. Roosevelt, III is a progressive economist who has spoken eloquently on the efficacy of New Deal programs and the relevance of progressive economic analysis in responding to the challenges of today’s economy. He is Professor Emeritus at Sarah Lawrence College.
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Ellen Bravo 2011 Courage and Intelligence Winner

Ellen Bravo – Recipient of our 2011 Intelligence and Courage Award, Ellen Bravo is the executive director of Family Values @ Work. Ellen tirelessly leads a national campaign promoting family-friendly workplace policies including paid sick days and family leave insurance. Her organization recently hosted a National Tele-Townhall Event to discuss fair pay, paid leave, and access to child care, featuring Nancy Pelosi, Lilly Ledbetter, as well as working women and Congresswomen from across America championing these critical issues. The former director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, her most recent book is Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation.

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Brooksley Born 2010 Courage and Intelligence HonoreeBrooksley Born – Recipient of our 2010 Intelligence and Courage Award. As the former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born recognized the dangers of unregulated derivatives trading and warned about the potential collapse of the financial system. Her attempt to save the country from economic disaster is the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary, “The Warning.” Born was honored by the JFK Library in 2009 with a “Profile in Courage Award.”
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Steadfast Award

The Steadfast Award gets its name from the motto of Frances Perkins’ Mount Holyoke class of 1902, “Be ye steadfast.”   Traditionally, this award has been given to someone who works tirelessly and without public recognition in one of the areas to which Frances Perkins dedicated her career.

Past Honorees:

Ron PhillipsRon Phillips founded CEI in 1977. Under his leadership, CEI has grown from a three-person office focused on Maine’s fisheries to become one of Maine’s and the nation’s major finance development organizations.

Ron was selected by the James A. Johnson Fannie Mae fellowship for the class of 2002. His past and present board and advisory board memberships include the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; KeyBank’s National Community Development Advisory Board; Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston; Board of Regents, Economic Development Council of Maine; Maine Small Business Advisory Council; Mainewatch Institute; Maine Center for Economic Policy; Maine Fisheries Industry Development Center; and Albanian-American Trade and Development Association. He is a member of Rural LISC Advisory Counsel and on the national board of LISC; he is a past board member of Opportunity Finance Network, a long-time board member of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, and a founding member of Association for Enterprise Opportunity.  Watch award video.

Milkulski less resolutionBarbara Mikulski- 2015 Steadfast Award. Senator Mikulski served in the U.S. Congress for over thirty years. She broke the record for the longest-serving female senator in 2012. Mikulski told Time magazine that “In the Senate, I plan to use the good mind, the good mouth, the good heart that God gave me.” Mikulski is a trailblazer, in 1986 becoming the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. A leader in the Senate, Mikulski builds coalitions – proving that the Senate women are not solo acts, but work together to get things done.

The Center honors Barbara Mikulski with its Steadfast Award in recognition of her early career in social work, steadfast leadership on economic issues and a continuing concern about the decline of the American middle class. Her advocacy for a fair minimum wage and equal pay for women is well-known, having been noted as “one of the fiercest fighters for women, families and the middle class.”

Christine HastedtChristine Hastedt– Recipient of our 2014 Steadfast Award is Public Policy Director, Maine Equal Justice, based in Augusta, Maine. She has been a legal advocate for low income people for more than 35 years. “If anyone has ever been steadfast in his or her work to keep the legacy of Frances Perkins alive, it is Chris Hastedt,” according to a State House Leader.
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Sally Greenberg 2013 Steadfast Award HonoreeSally Greenberg – Recipient of our 2013 Steadfast Award, Sally Greenberg leads the National Consumers League, having served as its executive director since 2007. The National Consumer League’s Special Project on Wage Theft ensures that employers comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, a key part of Frances Perkins’ New Deal initiatives, establishing minimum pay, overtime pay and child labor standards. NCL also works to end child labor exploitation and protect working minors in the United States and abroad.

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Dale McCormack 2012 Steadfast Award HonoreeDale McCormick – Recipient of our 2012 Steadfast Award, Dale McCormick is the first woman in the country to complete a carpentry apprenticeship with the carpenter’s’ union. She also helped found and was the first President of Equality Maine. McCormick won a seat in the Maine Senate in 1990, serving three terms. Most recently, she served as Director of the Maine State Housing Authority from 2005-2012. Watch Award Video

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Peter Crockett 2011 Steadfast Award HonoreePeter Crockett – Recipient of our 2011 Steadfast Award, Peter Crockett is the Executive Director of the Maine Labor Group on Health. Founded in 1977, the Maine Labor Group on Health advocates for Maine’s working men and women and provides training to Maine workers on health and safety on the job. In the spirit of Frances Perkins, Peter Crockett has been a tireless advocate for workplace safety. He is also President of the Central Maine Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

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Nancy Altman 2010 Steadfast Award Honoree Nancy AltmanNancy Altman – Recipient of our 2010 Steadfast Award, Nany Altman has been working on Social Security policy since the 1980s, when she worked on the 1983 Greenspan Commission on Social Security as Alan Greenspan’s assistant. She has taught at both Harvard’s Kennedy School and Law School and is a founder of the National Academy of Social Insurance, on the board of the Pension Rights Center, and co-founder of SocialSecurity-Works.org. She has testified before Congress on Social Security policy on numerous occasions and is the author of The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble.

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Open Door Award

The Center’s Open Door award is named after the advice given to Frances Perkins by her grandmother, that when a door opens to you, you must walk through it.   Traditionally, this award has been given to a young person whose work reflects the commitment and aspirations of a young Frances Perkins.

Past Honorees:

sarita-gupta-small-imageSarita Gupta is the executive director of Jobs With Justice and the co-director of Caring Across Generations. She is a nationally recognized expert on the economic, labor and political issues affecting working people across all industries, particularly women and those employed in low-wage sectors, as well as the changing nature of work in America. Sarita has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Politico, as well as on MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, PBS, CNBC and Fox, and writes regularly for The Huffington Post, The Hill and BillMoyers.com. As a key leader and strategist in the progressive, labor, economic justice, women’s and caregiving movements, she speaks regularly at conferences, panels and events. Recent appearances include the White House Conference on Aging and the Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Anniversary.   Watch award video.

Staff PortraitsElisa Walker– Recipient of our 2015 Open Door Award. A 2010 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Mary Washington, Elisa Walker served for five years as Income Security Policy Analyst at the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she examined how Social Security and other social insurance programs influence Americans’ economic security. During her time at NASI, she became the trusted go-to source in Washington for scrupulously accurate data and information about Social Security. She has co-authored several Academy publications on Social Security financing, policy options, and disability insurance. In 2015, she was appointed Consultant /Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy within the Social Security Administration.
The Center honors Elisa Walker with its Open Door Award for her commitment to the future of Social Security and to the well-being of Americans of all generations who count on the program to be there for them when they need it.
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LindseyDavisLindsey Davis–  Recipient of our 2014 Open Door Award, is currently the Director of Crisis Services at the Coalition for the Homeless, the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children, based in New York City.  She has been with the Coalition since 2004.   According to a colleague, “When the news media need the real story of what’s happening on the street level to homeless and poor New Yorkers it’s Lindsey who they turn to. The term Open Door activist could thus not be better applied to anyone else. Lindsey is unquestionably one of our city’s unsung heroes.” Watch Award Video

Lynn Pasquerella 2013 Open Door Award HonoreeLynn Pasquerella – Recipient of our 2013 Open Door Award, Lynn Pasquerella is the President of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, Frances Perkins’ alma mater. A philosopher and ethicist whose career has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement, Pasquerella’s first three years as Mount Holyoke’s president have been marked by a robust strategic planning process, outreach to local and regional communities as well as the world-wide network of Mount Holyoke alumnae, and a commitment to a vibrant campus community. She has written extensively in the areas of medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law. Pasquerella is also a passionate advocate for women’s education and credits her training as an ethicist with helping her reach beyond the academy to engage communities on issues of women’s empowerment.

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Kathryn Edwards 2012 Open Door Award HonoreeKathryn Edwards – Recipient of our 2012 Open Door Award, Kathryn Edwards is a former Research Assistant at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and co-authored “A Young Person’s Guide to Social Security”, a comprehensive curriculum to teach young people about the social insurance program. The guide has recently been re-released by the National Academy of Social Insurance and EPI. Edwards is pursuing her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Watch Award Video

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Hilary Doe 2011 Open Door Award Honoree 2Hilary Doe – Recipient of our 2011 Open Door Award, Hilary Doe is the former National Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s Campus Network. Founded in 2004, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network was formed to strengthen the progressive movement by meaningfully engaging young people in politics, empowering them as leaders and promoting their ideas for change. Since Hilary Doe assumed leadership of the organization, the Campus Network’s budget and membership have more than doubled in size and it has been recognized by the Washington Post, the Nation and other major publications. Hilary Doe represents the perspective of young people on the pressing issues affecting their communities and the nation.

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Megan Williams 2010 Open Door HonoreeMegan Williams – Recipient of our 2010 Open Door Award, Megan Williams is the former President of Hardy Girls Healthy Women. Named one of the ten people shaping the future of Maine’s economy by MaineBiz in 2009. Williams was hired to lead Hardy Girls in 2005, a year after her graduation from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She nurtured the ten-year-old nonprofit from its local roots into a flourishing organization with programs featuring mentoring, an emphasis on strength and activism, and national  workshops and curricula. In 2010 Hardy Girls Healthy Women was given the Governor’s award for nonprofit excellence.