Women and Gender Studies Program

Awards & Honors

Women and Gender Studies Award History


May 9, 2014 -- Second Annual Awards Reception Held

The USM Women and Gender Studies Program (WGS) held their” second annual “Celebration of Feminist Creativity and Community” Awards Reception in the University Events Room of the Glickman Family Library on evening of May 8, 2014.

WGS Director Lucinda Cole welcomed the assembly and began the celebration by congratulating our graduating seniors and by recognizing four of the five students graduating this year with Honors in the major. Paige Barker, Jessica Benn, Samantha Lyman and Olivia Meyer all received their purple honors stoles. Caroline O’Connor, who is graduating with a dual degree in Sociology and WGS was unfortunately omitted from the awards program but will be also graduating with Honors. Kelsea Dunham, graduating senior in Marketing and WGS was recognized as the recipient of two prestigious awards, USM Senior Husky Achievement Award and the 2014 Student Government Association Student Leader of the Year and Meaghan LaSala, was recognized as the 2014 recipient of the USM Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life Award.

Lorrayne Carroll, WGS Council member and Professor of English presented the Program’s four annual awards. The Kathleen I. MacPherson Outstanding Feminist Faculty Awardfor Excellence in Feminist Scholarship, Teaching and Service was presented to Meghan Brodie, Assistant Professor of Theatre and a faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies Program.

Meghan Brodie joined the Women and Gender Studies Council in 2012, and she has produced a truly remarkable record of feminist scholarship, teaching, and service in a very short time. Even before her tenure-track appointment in the Department of Theater in 2012, Dr. Brodie had demonstrated a strong commitment to feminist work: as an adjunct instructor and as a lecturer, she taught the groundbreaking class “Butches, Bitches, and Buggers: An Exploration of Modern Queer Drama.” She continues to offer that course, as well as a range of classes and independent projects to which she brings her knowledge of the fields of dramaturgy and theatre pedagogy, always infused by her feminist principles. Dr. Brodie’s extensive scholarship includes work on Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, and several studies of Feminist Theatre. As well, she publishes and presents on feminist and queer dimensions of theatre, notably through her coedited project, Out and Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth and Allies, which received the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Best Anthology.  Her list of directing credits suggests that Dr. Brodie has brilliantly adapted the Bechdel rule to theatre: Airswimming, Sappho or Suicide, Eurydice, [Un]Spoken Maine, Orlando, and, currently, In the Underworld: A Darkly Comic Operetta, which is, of course, receiving astonishing reviews from near and far.  Dr. Brodie’s service is frankly stunning: as soon as she joined the WGS Council, she became Chair of our Programming Committee. Even as our Programming budget was cut, Dr. Brodie marshaled a diverse, extensive array of events that kept feminist issues and ideas “out and proud” at USM. A brief review of her community service, makes evident Dr. Brodie’s apparently inexhaustible dedication to scholarly-informed feminist activism, through her collaborations with Add Verb Productions, WMPG, the St. Lawrence Arts Center, Bonney Eagle HS, the Preble Street Resource Center, and the Maine Educational Theatre Conference. The WGS Program is remarkably fortunate in benefitting from the teaching, scholarship, and service that Meghan Brodie brings to USM every day. In presenting the MacPherson Award, our most longstanding award, to Dr. Brodie, one of our newest Council members, WGS honors Dr. MacPherson’s passion and commitment to feminist work. We recognize Dr. Brodie’s vital and irreplaceable role in our community.

Nancy K. Gish Award for Excellence in Feminist Social, Intellectual, Political,
or Cultural Practice which recognizes recipients for their commitment to feminist social, intellectual, political or cultural practice at the University of Southern Maine was presented to Luisa Deprez, Professor of Sociology and a faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies Program.

Dr. Luisa Deprez has been on faculty at USM since 1977, first in the Department of Social Work and later in Women and Gender Studies and Sociology.  She has served the institution in multiple capacities, including as Director of the Women and Gender Studies Program from 1999 to 2001. Throughout her career as a scholar, Dr. Deprez has drawn attention to the challenges facing low-income women in the United States. Among her signature policy achievements has been the "Parents as Scholars" program, which helped open the doors of higher education to Maine women.  She is a widely published scholar and public intellectual, providing testimony to government committees, writing newspaper articles, and contributing to major regional and national organizations including the Scholars Strategy Network of Maine and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington D.C.  Her national reputation in the field of gender and social policy has led to multiple Visiting Scholar appointments: Manoa Public Policy Center at the University of Hawai’i (2012), the McCormack School of Policy Studies and the Center for Women in Politics and Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston (2005-2006), and the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women (1998-1999).  WGS honors Dr. Deprez’s distinguished career and significant contributions to feminist intellectual and political practice by presenting her with the 2014 Gish Award.

Friend of Women and Gender Studies Award is given each year to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the Women and Gender Studies Program and/or to gender equity in the Southern Maine community. The 2014 Award Recipients are Reza Jalali and Sue Lewey Hamilton, co-coordinators of the USM Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Reza Jalali, is a writer, an educator and a Muslim scholar. He has collaborated with the Women and Gender Studies Program on many successful events and initiatives, including the 2009 Women’s History Month program, “New Mainers: Stories of Survival and Arrival,” which presented stories from women immigrants living in Maine and concluded with a book release party for “New Mainers” (©2009, Tilbury House, Publishers) for which, Jalali wrote the Foreword. His play, The Poets and the Assassin, about women in Iran and Islam, has been staged at Bates College, Bowdoin College, University of New England, and for the USM Women and Gender Studies celebration of International Women’s Day in 2012.  

Sue Lewey Hamilton specializes in administration of the Native American Waiver & Educational Program. As a bi-racial Penobscot Nation tribal member, she is dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation for diverse cultures and ethnicities on campus. Her identity fuels her passion for her work. Lewey Hamilton has collaborated with the Women and Gender Studies Program on many successful events and initiatives: the 2012 lecture by Winona LaDuke on “Environmental Justice from a Native Perspective,” a talking circle led by Mi'kmaw tribal elder Isabelle Knockwood in 2010;  “The Life and Traditions of the Red Man: History as Told by Native Peoples” lecture by Annette Kolodny and Charles Shay in 2008. As Vice President of Seven Eagles Media Production, Lewey Hamilton produced videos on Native culture, including documenting the historic Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation movement; five television shows, both local and national; and numerous documentaries.

Outstanding Graduate of Women and Gender Studies Award is given each year to an alumnae/i of the Program who has done outstanding service in the area of gender equity and/or has exhibited professional or academic excellence since graduation. The 2014 Award Recipient is Julie Beaulieu, graduating class of 2000.

Julie Beaulieu graduated this spring with a PhD in English and a doctoral certificate in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She will teach in Pitt’s gender, sexuality, and women’s studies program in the fall as a Visiting Lecturer. She began working in the GSWS program in 2012 after receiving a competitive teaching fellowship. She developed a new core course “Sex and Sexualities” for the program, a course on the history of sexuality. This course was approved to fulfill the general education requirement, “historical change.” This fall, along with “Sex and Sexualities,” she’ll be teaching a writing-intensive section of feminist theory and an upper-level course in queer theory.

Congratulations to all the 2014 Women & Gender Studies award recipients!


April 23, 2014 -- two WGS Majors recieve USM Student Leadership Awards

Congratulations Kelsea Dunham, the 2014 recipient of the USM Senior Husky Achievement Award.

Congratulations Meaghan LaSala, the 2014 recipient of the USM Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life Award.

The Leadership Development Board invites you to join us in celebration at the USM Student Involvement Recognition Gala on Friday, May 2nd from 5:00-8:00pm. This year’s Gala, reception and awards presentation, will be held in Portland’s Old Port at the Mariner’s Church Banquet Center (368 Fore Street).  Semi-formal attire is encouraged.


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