Frances Perkins Center seeks public input for annual awards

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This year the Frances Perkins Center is seeking public input for nominees for its three annual awards.

The following descriptions highlight the inspiration behind the three awards, which embody different facets of Perkins’ life:

The name for the Intelligence and Courage 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.”

The award is given to an individual who epitomizes the intelligence and courage of Frances Perkins.

This recipient is usually a person who has taken a strong stand based on their convictions. Past recipients include former Congressman Barney Frank, and Ai-Jen Poo, recent MacArthur Fellowship recipient and co-founder of Domestic Workers United (DWU), which helped pass the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.

The Steadfast Award gets its name from the motto of Frances Perkins’ Mount Holyoke class of 1902, “Be ye steadfast.” This award is given to someone who is doing the work of Frances Perkins, but without public recognition.

Past honorees include Christine Hastedt, Public Policy Director at Maine Equal Justice where she has been a legal advocate for low income people for more than 35 years, and Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League since 2007.

The 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. This award traditionally has been given to a young person who has chosen to pursue the work of Frances Perkins.

Past recipients include Lindsey Davis, Director of Crisis Services at the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City, and Hilary Doe, former National Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s Campus Network and current Vice President of Strategy at NationBuilder.

If you have people you would like to put forward please share your ideas with Frances Perkins Center Executive Director Michael Chaney by email at, by phone at 207-563-3374, or by mail at P.O. Box 281, Newcastle, ME 04553, by April 1.

The awards are presented at Frances Perkins Center events during the summer.

Shining a light on Frances Perkins' legacyFinally getting her due