Office of Public Affairs

Rita Kissen receives 2012 Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award

2012 Catalyst for Change Award recipient Rita Kissen

Editor’s Note: Rita Kissen, this year’s recipient of the Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award, is available for interviews by phone on Monday and Tuesday, October 15 and 16 at 207-766-5158 or 207-653-2328 (cell).

For contact: Susie Bock, 780-4269

Rita M. Kissen, a teacher and activist for equality, human rights and civil rights, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award. Kissen, a founding co-chair of GLSEN-Southern Maine (Gay, Lesbian and straight education Network), will receive her award at a dinner on Thursday, October 18 at the Italian Heritage Center, Portland.

Go to 2012 Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award Dinner to purchase tickets, or call Susie Bock at (207) 780-4269.

The award, given annually by the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine at the University of Southern Maine, celebrates an individual who has been in the forefront for change regarding diversity, equality, and human and civil rights in the state. Past recipients include Rabbi Harry Sky (2007), Dale McCormick (2008), Sallie Chandler (2009), Allen Sockabasin (2010), and Howard Solomon (2011).

For more than 35 years Kissen has been a teacher, writer, singer, composer and activist. An active spokesperson for marriage equality, she was a professor of teachers education and women’s studies at USM from 1995-2005 and is the author of two groundbreaking books on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the classroom. She also founded and became the first president of the Portland chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

The Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine collects material documenting the ongoing histories of diverse communities. Current collections represent the African American, Jewish and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Maine.