Women and Gender Studies Program

Awards & Honors

Women and Gender Studies Updates and Honors

June 6, 2013 -- 2013 Women & Gender Studies and Sociology Awards Presented

Jaquie St. Pierre, Grace Mueller, and Julia Davidson, 2013 Outstanding Graduate of Women and Gender Studies Award

The University of Southern Maine Women and Gender Studies Program announced the winners of their annual awards at a reception held in April.

The first award presented was the Kathleen I. MacPherson Outstanding Feminist Faculty Award. The winner of this award was Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies Rebecca Lockridge of Windham, a member of the Women and Gender Studies faculty council since 1990. She served on many committees and panels, and her scholarship is in the area of gender studies. Professor Lockridge co-edited the anthology, “Mothers and Daughters: Complicated Connections Across Cultures,” published by University Press of America. She and Sarah Lockridge co-authored the essay, “Mother Daughter Care: the Bridge that is my Back,” appearing in that book. Lockridge serves on the executive board of the Organization for the Study of Language, Communication, and Gender and was instrumental in bringing that organization's annual conference to Maine in 1998.

The Nancy K. Gish Award recipient is Gabriel Demaine of Portland. Demaine has held many positions at USM, most recently as the USM coordinator for diversity and inclusivity programming. Through her outreach, USM has co-sponsored feminist political and cultural events with Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Peace Action Maine, AddVerb Productions, Southern Maine Community College, University of New England, Bates College, Bangor Theological Seminary, Maine College of Art, Space Gallery, and the Portland Museum of Art.    

The Friend of Women and Gender Studies Award was given to Hardy Girls Healthy Women President Megan Williams of Falmouth. Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a national, research-based non-profit organization empowering girls with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a platform to drive social change. Williams is a graduate of Colby College with a B.A. in sociology and women and gender studies. She created the Girls Advisory Board and launched the Hardy Girls Healthy Women Training Institute. She also established the Girls Rock Awards to recognize girls and young women who are demonstrating leadership in their communities and advocating for a better Maine for all people. Williams has received consistent accolades for her leadership including inclusion in Maine Today Media’s 2011 “40 Under 40 List” and selection for the Frances Perkins Center 2010 “Open Door Award,” honoring a woman under 30 who has demonstrated exceptional leadership.

The Outstanding Graduate of Women and Gender Studies Award was presented to alumna Julia Davidson of Portland, who graduated from USM with a social work major and women and gender studies minor. She went on to earn a Master’s degree in social welfare public policy, community organizing and social work administration at Rhode Island College. She then worked for several years in HIV services, and also volunteered on the Crisis and Support Line for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, where she is now an advocate. Duties there include weekly outreach in jails and the women’s shelter and participating in the steering committee for Take Back the Night 2013.


April 4, 2012 -- Graduating Senior in Women & Gender Studies and Sociology Receives Accolades

Hannah Schwenk-Sandau

Hannah Schwenk-Sandau, a graduating senior in Women & Gender Studies and Sociology has been named the 2012 recipient of the David Fullam Social Justice Award. The award is given each year to "a sociology major or minor who best exemplifies a commitment to equity and social justice through service to their community."

Schwenk-Sandau has also been accepted to the 2012 Maine NEW Leadership Summer Institute. Offered by Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, the training offers participants a unique and valuable opportunity to hone their leadership skills by hearing from a variety of women leaders in politics and civic organizations, interacting with several faculty-in- residence, spending a day at the Maine State Legislature, and participating in a hands-on action project.

An excellent student, Hannah Schwenk-Sandau will be graduating this spring with honors in Women and Gender Studies. Congratulations Hannah!


March 23, 2012 -- Laura Fortman Receives USM Women & Gender Studies Award

Wendy Chapkis and Laura Fortman, 2012 Friend of Women and Gender Studies

At the annual Women’s History Month celebration at the University of Southern Maine in March, Laura Fortman of Nobleboro was presented with the 2012 "Friend of USM Women & Gender Studies" Award. Fortman has served as an advocate for women’s rights in the state as the Labor Commissioner for the State of Maine (2003-2008), the Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, and the Executive Director of the Frances Perkins Center. In her current position with the Frances Perkins Center she continues her work of tying together activism and history, and promoting the legacy of Frances Perkins, the US Secretary of Labor under FDR and the first woman cabinet member. Fortman was presented the award in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the betterment of Maine women's lives and the preservation and promotion of women's history in the state.


March 23, 2012 -- Carolyn Cunningham Named Outstanding Graduate of USM’s Women and Gender Studies Program

Carolyn Cunningham

At the annual Women’s History Month celebration at the University of Southern Maine, alumna Carolyn Cunningham of Spokane, WA was named the 2012 recipient of the Outstanding Graduate of USM’s Women
and Gender Studies Program.

A 1997 graduate of USM with a BA in Women's Studies, Carolyn Cunningham received her PhD from the University of Texas Austin and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Masters in Communication and Leadership Studies program at Gonzaga University in Washington state. Her research and teaching examines the social impacts of new technologies, with a particular focus on gender, race and class. She is passionate about media literacy and has worked with several nonprofit organizations aimed at encouraging girls' media production. Her current research project is an ethnographic study of girls' video games. The award was given in recognition of her outstanding contribution to gender equity and feminist thought.

April 15, 2011 -- USM Senior Awarded 2011 Heart and Soul Award

Cole Leighton

USM senior Cole Leighton was awarded the 2011 Maine Campus Compact Student Heart and Soul Award for his outstanding service on and off campus.

Leighton, sociology major and Women and Gender Studies minor, plans to graduate from USM this spring. He hopes to work with college students in a campus setting before applying to graduate school for public policy.

Over the past year, Cole has worked with the Campus Safety Project as an Americorps Service member. He assisted in developing the programs and provided prevention education through workshops and public events. He is also the founder of Men Creating Change, a group for male-identified students dedicated to preventing and reducing violence. “Getting other men across campus involved in interpersonal violence prevention has proved to be my most challenging project, but, in many ways, the most rewarding as well,” Leighton said.

His other projects include volunteering with the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, working as a resident assistant in Gorham, organizing the Safe Zone Project Orientation and the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event in 2007. Leighton says that getting involved is the best way to make friends on campus. “It helps you feel like you are part of a community.”

Each year, Maine Campus Compact recognizes up to six college students for exemplary civic engagement and outstanding work in campus-community partnerships in service of a community-identified need.

“By being an active member in more than just the classroom, I have formed relationships with people I would not have otherwise met, both students and staff members,” Leighton said. “I am truly honored to have received this award, but I also know there are a lot of other people doing great work to improve our campus and I would like to recognize them as well.”



Susie Bock Receives USM Women & Gender Studies Award
March 23, 2011

Wendy Chapkis and Susie Bock

At the recent annual Women’s History Month Banquet at the University of Southern Maine Susie Bock of Saco was presented with the 2011 Friend of USM Women & Gender Studies Award. Bock is the director of USM’s Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine and the head of Special Collections in USM’s Glickman Family Library. Bock was presented the award in recognition of the support she provides to the program through her positions at USM.

Bock came to USM in 1999 after serving as cataloging supervisor at the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries Special Collections and as an archivist for The Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Yale University. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from Bates College and master’s degrees in European history and library service from Columbia University.


Kristin Espey Named Outstanding Graduate of USM’s Women and Gender Studies Program
March 21, 2011

Kristin Espey and Wendy Chapkis

At the recent annual Women’s History Month Banquet at the University of Southern Maine alumna Kristin Espey (2004) was named the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Graduate of USM’s Women and Gender Studies Program. Espey, a 1984 graduate of Westbrook High School, is a resident of Portland.

Espey is an outreach case manager with Frannie Peabody Center, the largest community-based HIV/AIDS services organization in Maine. The agency works to prevent the spread of HIV and to provide support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Espey reports that she has found the past six years as a case manager to be “an exploration of how to work with men; it has been most empowering, especially when working with prison inmates. Through this work, I have learned to see issues through the perspectives of other genders and cultures, while continuing to believe that consciousness-raising for men must involve a feminist lens. A degree in Women and Gender Studies certainly has been a practical degree for me.”

Women and Gender Studies Award History

MacPherson Outstanding Feminist Faculty Awardees

MacPherson Award Recipients (from left to right)

2007 Eileen Eagan, 2009 Susan Feiner, 2006 Wendy Chapkis, 2010 Susan Fineran, 2004 Lorrayne Carroll