UNE recognizes three Maine women of achievement with Deborah Morton Awards

L-R: Mary Bonauto, Betsy Webb, Kristen Miale and President James Herbert.
L-R: Mary Bonauto, Betsy Webb, Kristen Miale and President James Herbert.

September 19, 2017

Mary Bonauto
Mary Bonauto
Kristen Miale
Kristen Miale
Betsy Webb
Betsy Webb

The University of New England has celebrated a long-held tradition of honoring outstanding Maine women of achievement at the 56th Annual Deborah Morton Society Convocation and Awards Ceremony. The event was held Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. in Ludcke Auditorium, on the Portland Campus.

The Deborah Morton Awards honor outstanding Maine women who have achieved high distinction in their careers and public service or whose leadership in civic, cultural or social causes has been exceptional. The award was named in memory of Deborah Morton of Round Pond, Maine, valedictorian of the Class of 1879 of Westbrook Seminary, the forerunner of Westbrook College, which merged with the University of New England in 1996. A longtime faculty member at the seminary, Morton was a teacher, lecturer, reformer and advocate for equal rights on social, political and economic levels.

In addition to bestowing the Deborah Morton Award, the Deborah Morton Society promotes education and fosters leadership for future generations of Maine women by annually providing scholarship support for two female students in the Westbrook College of Health Professions who, like Morton, have manifested outstanding qualities of character, leadership and academic ability.

In the past 55 years, the society has honored more than 200 Maine women whose lives and accomplishments reflect the spirit of Deborah Morton. This year’s award recipients are as follows:

Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

Mary Bonauto, as GLAD’s civil rights project director since 1990, has litigated on discrimination issues, free speech and religious liberty, and relationship and parental rights. In 2015 she successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the historic case Obergefell v. Hodges, establishing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide.

With Vermont co-counsel, Bonauto won 1999’s Baker v. State ruling, which precipitated the nation’s first civil union law.  She was lead counsel in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (2003), which made Massachusetts the first state where same-sex couples could marry, co-counseled in Kerrigan v. Connecticut DPH, and served on the 2009 and 2012 Maine ballot campaign executive committees.

Bonauto headed GLAD's challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Gill and Pedersen, which led to the first federal District and Appeals Court victories against DOMA, and coordinated amici briefs for Windsor at the Supreme Court.  As a member of the legal team in the Michigan marriage case DeBoer v. Snyder, she became the Supreme Court oralist on behalf of the plaintiffs in Obergefell.

Bonauto holds a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She is the Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a 2014 MacArthur Fellow, and she is currently on an advisory board for the American Constitution Society.

Kristen Miale, President of Good Shepherd Food Bank

Kristen Miale is the president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger relief organization, which works with a network of more than 400 hunger-ending organizations to distribute more than 21 million meals throughout Maine to people in need.  Before Miale’s role as president, she was the founder and program director of Cooking Matters for Maine, a local chapter of Share Our Strength’s nationally recognized cooking and nutrition education program for low-income families.  Prior to her work with food security, Miale worked for over a decade in the private equity and business consulting fields.  After volunteering for hunger relief organizations, she decided to make her passion for ending hunger her occupation.

Miale received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and her Master of Business Administration from Boston University, where she studied both entrepreneurship and non-profit management. 

Dr. Betsy M. Webb, Superintendent of the Bangor School Department

Betsy Webb is a passionate, committed educator who believes that all children are capable of learning at high levels and that the key to their success is acceleration. She began her career as a teacher in 1983 and has held a variety of educational positions spanning the K-12 levels. Webb has been the superintendent in Bangor since 2008, where she has distinguished herself by increasing academic achievement and by developing a ten-year strategic plan that emphasizes academic excellence, professional excellence, quality instructional program and an environment for success.

Through Webb’s leadership, Bangor has received numerous awards, including National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, District Administrator National District of Distinction, Maine’s Higher Performing and Highly Efficient Rating, Parents' Choice Award Winner, Washington Post's Top 5% recognition, Newsweek's Top High Schools Award, and Sports Illustrated Top 50 Award. Furthermore, under Webb’s guidance, Bangor has created a STEM  Academy, a Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Humanities Academy, Sundown Academy and a Business Academy, which are gaining state and national attention for the success of students who are dually enrolled in high school and college level courses.

Webb was named the 2013 Maine Superintendent of the Year and in 2012 was the Maine School Superintendents' Association Outstanding Leadership Award winner.  She is in the Alumni Hall of Fame at Husson University, and in 2008 she was selected as the Maine 2008 Administrator of the Year by the Maine School Libraries' Association.

Webb serves on a number of boards in the community, is the president of the Maine School Superintendents' Association (MSSA), and is a member of MSSA’s Executive Committee, representing New England and New York, on the national superintendents' association, AASA.


To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions

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