Contributions of three Maine women recognized at 2022 Deborah Morton Award ceremony

Julia Sleeper-Whiting, Hannah Pingree, and Lise Pelletier pose for a photo in academic regalia
Julia Sleeper-Whiting, Hannah Pingree, and Lise Pelletier were inducted into the Deborah Morton Society during a ceremony on June 10.

Dozens gathered in Innovation Hall on the University of New England’s Portland Campus on Friday, June 10, in celebration of the 60th annual Deborah Morton Society Convocation and Awards Ceremony.

Three prominent Maine women were presented with the 2022 Deborah Morton Award: Lise Pelletier, former director of the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and president of the Maine Acadian Heritage Council; Hannah Pingree, director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future; and Julia Sleeper-Whiting, co-founder and executive director of Tree Street Youth Center in Lewiston.

The Deborah Morton Award recognizes distinguished Maine women who have made an exceptional impact through their careers and public service or leadership in civic, cultural, or social causes.

The award memorializes UNE’s own distinguished Deborah Morton of Round Pond, Maine, valedictorian of the Class of 1879 of Westbrook Seminary, the forerunner of Westbrook College. After graduating, Morton served as a longtime faculty member at the seminary and was an advocate for equal rights on social, political, and economic levels. In her honor, the Deborah Morton Society continues to promote education and the fostering of leadership for future generations of Maine women.

Alongside the annual award, the society gives scholarship support to students who are women in the Westbrook College of Health Professions and who manifest outstanding qualities of character, leadership, and academic ability like Deborah Morton. For 59 years, the award has continued to foster the importance of women in society and serves as encouragement to young women across the state to reflect Morton’s values and service-focused attitude.

Speaking at Friday’s ceremony, UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D. said the annual award reflects UNE’s continued devotion to welcoming students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

“There’s so much to be proud of, but in these quiet moments, there’s one aspect of UNE that fills me with a special sort of pride, and that’s our commitment to expanding access to higher education for students from traditionally underserved groups from across the state,” Herbert remarked. “Our message to students is that we are an inclusive and supportive community, and if they are hungry to learn, there is a place for them on our campus.”

Read more about this year’s Deborah Morton Awardees.


President James Herbert poses with the awardees.


Pingree accepts the Deborah Morton Award.


Pelletier accepts the Deborah Morton Award.


Sleeper-Whiting accepts the Deborah Morton Award.


The stage party processes into the ceremony.


UNE Board of Trustees Chair Dan McCormack welcomes the crowd.

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