Maine Women’s Fund Announces 2014 Leadership Luncheon and Award Recipients

Maine Women’s Fund Announces 2014 Leadership Luncheon

Maine Women’s Fund Announces 2014 Leadership Luncheon and Award Recipients

PORTLAND, Maine.  April 22, 2014—The Maine Women’s Fund, the only Maine foundation focused exclusively on advancing women’s and girl’s economic security, announces its fourth annual Leadership Luncheon and awards ceremony. The Leadership Luncheon brings together more than 600 prominent professional and community-minded people to network, discuss women’s leadership and invest in economic security for Maine’s women and girls. The event will honor Maine leaders who promote and inspire social change for women and girls. The luncheon will also feature inspiring stories from Maine Women’s Fund grantees.

“We are excited to share the inspiring stories of those receiving awards, as well as those of the organizations which do the work of building economic security for women and girls in Maine. The Luncheon is as engaging as it is inspiring, and funds raised as a result ensure that these organizations can continue their work for as long as it takes to give every Maine girl and woman the opportunity to fulfill her potential and contribute to our communities.” remarked CEO Sarah Ruef-Lindquist.

The Fund is pleased to announce the following 2014 Award honorees:

Originally awarded by the YWCA, the Tribute to Women in Industry Award (TWIN) recognizes a woman who is a leader in her field and has achieved significant accomplishments as a business owner, business executive or nonprofit organizational leader. The 2014 recipient is Maine lawyer and gay rights activist Mary Bonauto. She was lead counsel in legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and leading the challenge that brought down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). She is regarded as “the country’s most powerful lawyer in the marriage equality fight” by The Advocate. As Civil Rights Project Director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) for two decades, Bonauto has litigated for securing benefits for domestic partnerships, protecting custody rights, ending employment discrimination, ensuring First Amendment protections, and challenging anti-gay violence. In a New York Times article from March 2013, Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer arguing for DOMA repeal in the Supreme Court, told the newspaper, "No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto."

The Sarah Orne Jewett Award is given to a Maine woman who exhibits the attributes of the women in Jewett’s works of fiction: true grit, independence, courage, humor and discipline. The 2014 recipient is Fatuma Hussein, founder and director of Lewiston’s United Somali Women of Maine. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Hussein came to the U.S. at age 12 after living in a Kenyan refugee camp during the Somali civil war. After relocating to Maine in 2001, she set out to help fellow Somali refugees adapt to their new home by helping provide translation, transportation and healthcare assistance. In 2002, the United Somali Women of Maine began operations, with its mission to promote culturally and linguistically appropriate services, self-sufficiency, advocacy, empowerment, increase access to information, prevent all types of violence and promote a non-sexist, multi-cultural environment that rises up the strengths of refugee women and girls. According to Hussein, “Empowering people leads to healthy families, education, and citizens achieving their dreams.”

The Samantha Smith Award recognizes a young woman from Maine who works to promote social change in her school or community, inspires other girls to become active in supporting long lasting change in Maine, uses her voice boldly to influence others and make a difference in her community. 2014’s recipient, Damariscotta native and Harvard College junior Chloe Maxmin, Chloe’s achievements as a youth activist have been recognized both nationally and internationally. In 2011 she received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, awarded to the top 10 youth activists in the US. Her work as the leader of Harvard Community Action Committee, which helps Harvard students impact the political process by taking action in their community. Her activism was a feature of the Sundance Channel’s award-winning eco-documentary, “Big Ideas for a Small Planet.” Recently she was awarded the Brower Youth Award, which recognizes six environmental leaders each year. She was also named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone for her climate activism including as founder of First, Here, Then Everywhere ( and leading efforts for divestment in fossil fuels in Harvard’s $32.7 Billion endowment fund. She writes for The Crimson and The Nation. Chloe has worked with 350 Maine and Maine Sierra Club for two years on the Tar Sands Free Northeast Campaign. Dr. Kevin Caffrey, Maxmin's Harvard adviser said "Chloe's one of the voices that says, 'Don't just do something—sit there and think about it first.'”

The Fund is pleased to announce the new Visionary Partner Award, for a person or entity who has helped to advance the Fund’s vision of a just and caring society in which Maine women and girls thrive so communities prosper. The inaugural awardee is Maine Boys to Men, a Portland-based organization with a mission to reduce interpersonal violence, specifically male violence against women and girls, and support the development of emotionally fluent, civically engaged boys. For ten years, Boys to Men has delivered programming that breaks the cycle of violence by supporting the healthy development of adolescent boys, challenging traditional gender stereotypes and sexism, and increasing community awareness about challenges facing boys and the corresponding violence against girls and women. In 2010, Boys to Men was one of 23 first-time grantees to receive a prestigious grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. In March, the United Nations convened in New York City for the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women there, Boys to Men was held up as a model organization for community education and change. According to Executive Director Drew Wing, “Our communities need the absolute best we have to offer. This requires women and men working as allies to foster health, opportunity, health and full equality.”

Leadership Luncheon: 
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | Holiday Inn by the Bay | Portland, ME
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Networking Reception | 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch and Program 

About the Maine Women’s Fund:
Since 1989, the Maine Women's Fund has been creating social change by investing in the power of women and the dreams of girls. The mission of the Maine Women’s Fund is to transform the lives of Maine women and girls through strategic grantmaking, community engagement and support to nonprofit organizations dedicated to social change. The Fund’s vision is a just and caring society in which Maine women and girls thrive so communities prosper. The Fund is the only Maine foundation focused exclusively on advancing women’s and girl’s economic security.

The Fund provides critical funding and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations in Maine within six strategic areas: Education; Entrepreneurship; Healthcare; Leadership; Personal Safety and Public Policy.

Learn more at


Posted 04.22.2014 under Press Releases