Thursday, September 24, 2009

22nd Annual Abigail Adams Awards on Sept. 30

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," will serve as Emcee for the 22nd Annual Tribute to Abigail Adams Awards sponsored by the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus.

The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus introduced the Tribute to Abigail Adams in 1988. Award recipients are women who have demonstrated through their work and/or their community activism an outstanding commitment to the realization of equal political, economic, and social rights for women.

This year's honorees include Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley; Massachusetts Senate Assistant Majority Leader Joan Menard; former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey; and Boston Women's Commission Executive Director Marie Turley. The Abigail Adams/Jane M. Swift Commitment to Public Service Award also will be presented to Michelle Keating, President and Chief Executive Office of Alder Foods. Other distinguished honorees also will be recognized for their accomplishments and achievements.

A dinner and awards ceremony honoring the recipients will be held Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. A reception will begin at 6 p.m. with a dinner and awards ceremony to follow at 7 p.m. The event is open to members of the press.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the MWPC Education Fund, a 501c(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus is a multipartisan organization that promotes the participation and involvement of women of all ages in the political process. The organization was founded in 1971 for the purpose of increasing the number of women elected and appointed to public office and public policy positions.

Born in Weymouth, MA in 1744, Abigail Adams was one of the earliest women's advocates with strong beliefs in equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Abigail was the wife of our nation's second President, John Adams, and the mother of six children.

Background information on award recipients follows below:

DOLORES MITCHELL is the executive director of the Group Insurance Commission, the state agency that provides life, health, disability, dental and vision services to more than 300,000 state and municipal employees, retirees and their dependents. She has been in that position since 1987, serving in the administrations of Governors Dukakis, Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney, and now Governor Patrick.

Mrs. Mitchell serves on a number of professional and community organizations, including the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium, of which she is a Director, and the Greater Boston Big Sister Association, of which she is Board Chairman.

Mrs. Mitchell is a frequent speaker on health care, politics, women's career issues, and related subjects.

KERRY HEALEY has been a life-long advocate for women in Massachusetts and all over the world. As Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2003-2007, she successfully increased penalties and supervision for sex offenders, as well as increased protections for victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Healey is currently working on the executive committee for the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. In September 2008, Healey served as chair of the "core" committee for The Afghan Women Lawyers' Training and Empowerment Conference being held in California in January 2009 and visited Afghanistan in October 2008.

Healey graduated from Harvard College in 1982, and was awarded a Rotary International Scholarship. She earned a Ph.D. in political science and law from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

MARTHA COAKLEY has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to a career in public service.

Before being elected Massachusetts Attorney General, Coakley served eight years as Middlesex District Attorney, bringing justice to crime victims and their families and emphasizing the importance of working with community leaders, schools, and law enforcement in a variety of diverse and multi-faceted prevention efforts.

Coakley has been involved in a number of community and professional organizations, including the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts and the Board of Directors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Martha Coakley received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Williams College in 1975, and a J.D. degree from the Boston University School of Law in 1979.

MICHELLE J. KEATING is owner, president and CEO of Alder Foods, Inc. She joined the company in 1998 as Vice President of Marketing. Under her leadership, Alder Foods has become one of the top 30 companies selling worldwide to the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA).

Michelle's concern for and commitment to our United States service members and their families continues to be an integral part of Alder Foods. Her support of The Fisher House Foundation has led her to take on the role of fundraising chair for the new construction of the Fisher House Boston, which is slated to open in 2010. Fisher Houses are comfort homes specially designed to house and support the families of our veterans while their loved one is recovering at military medical centers.

SUSAN WINDHAM-BANNISTER is president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Previously, she served as Managing Vice President of the Commercial Strategy Group for Abt Bio-Pharma Solutions Inc. and a founding member of the commercial division of its parent company, Abt Associates.

Dr. Windham-Bannister was President of her class at Wellesley College and is active at Wellesley College with mentoring and career development for future women leaders. She is a member of LINKS, which is a service organization of African-American women focused on service projects for women, such as scholarships for young women who are having trouble paying for school. She is a former Board Member for YMCA of Greater Boston, where she was inducted into their academy of women achievers, and she served as member of the Board of the Center for Women and Aging at Brandeis University.

Dr. Windham-Bannister holds a B.A. from Wellesley College, a doctorate in health policy and management from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School. She completed her doctoral work under a fellowship from the Ford Foundation.