The YWCA Central Maine has announced the recipients of its 2016 Women of Achievement Awards. These awards honor the often overlooked contributions of women in our community in three distinct categories: the Tonie Ramsey Award recognizes service, the Lee Young Award recognizes leadership, and the Priscilla Gendron Award recognizes philanthropy and its promotion.
The three awards were unveiled last year at the first annual Women of Achievement Awards Gala, where each of the award namesakes was recognized for contributing years of impactful service and leadership to the YWCA. In selecting the first cohort of recipients this year, the awards selection committee reviewed a remarkable pool of applicants. “The difficulty of the selection process was a powerful tribute to the achievements of women in the Lewiston-Auburn community,” said YWCA Central Maine Board President Barbara Bixby.
Receiving the 2016 Tonie Ramsey Service Award is Ms. Marilyn Simonds; receiving the 2016 Lee Young Leadership Award is Representative Peggy Rotundo; and receiving the Priscilla Gendron Legacy Award is Ms. Barbara Trafton.
Tonie Ramsey Service Award honoree Marilyn Simonds is an exceptional example of the dedication to community service that is emblematic of the award. Simonds has worked for decades in organizations and causes that benefit children, homeless and food insecure families and individuals, youth in the juvenile justice system, and English language learners. Each week Simonds reads to preschool children through the BookReach program, serves monthly meals at both Calvary Methodist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church, and teaches English language learners through Lewiston Adult Education.
Simonds has also contributed significantly to the Androscoggin Head Start and Childcare program, where she taught for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a Board Associate. In 1975, Simons helped to found an early childhood program that has evolved into Pathways Inc., a program serving individuals with developmental disabilities in Maine. Simonds received the Lewis Hine award from the National Child Labor Committee in 2006 in honor of her extensive community contributions.
She also contributes philanthropically to several community organizations, including Literacy Volunteers, Auburn Public Library, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project of Maine, New Beginnings, and Good Shepherd Food Bank. She is currently a member of the Program-Social Action Committee and Preschool Committee of Temple Shalom in Auburn. Her spirit of volunteerism, breadth of service, and remarkable connection to her community is an exceptional representation of the Tonie Ramsey Service Award.
The Lee Young Leadership Award is presented to Lewiston Representative Peggy Rotundo in honor of her diverse and immense contributions to Lewiston-Auburn throughout nearly 30 years of work in the community. Representative Rotundo came to Maine in 1978 and began working in the Bates Office of Career Counseling. In her role as Assistant Director, Rotundo offered counseling that supported college women’s professional aspirations. She was also engaged in community career counseling workshops for women in transition in Lewiston-Auburn. In service of her passion for public education and equitable opportunity for young people, Rotundo ran for a seat on the Lewiston School Committee and was elected in 1993. She went on to chair the committee for four years. In 1995, Rotundo helped to found the Center for Service Learning at Bates College in order to connect students to the Lewiston-Auburn community through meaningful work and service.
In 2000, Rotundo was elected to the Maine Senate and served until 2008. While in the Senate, she chaired the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the State and Local Government Committee. She also served on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, and the Senate Ethics Committee, among others. Rotundo was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2008, where she served on the Government Oversight Committee and as Chair of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission. She has served on the Appropriations Committee for the past eight years, most recently as Chair.
She is currently the Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives at the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships. Representative Rotundo has dedicated her career in both Maine politics and higher education to the betterment of the Lewiston-Auburn community. She has been a constant advocate for equal opportunity in education, women’s rights and advancement, and racial equity. Her civic leadership and commitment to mentoring and advocating for women and girls makes her exemplary Lee Young Leadership awardee.
The Priscilla Gendron Legacy Award will recognize the work and impact of Barbara Trafton. Trafton’s career has spanned diverse fields, including education, public service as a legislator in the State of Maine, and organizational development. Trafton holds a B.A. from Wellesley College, an M.Ed. from the University of Southern Maine, and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University. She began her career at the YWCA of Central Maine as the first Director of the YWCA pool. Her educational work has included teaching positions at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School, Maine Teacher Core, and Carrabassett Valley Academy.
She served two terms in the Maine State House and Senate and was a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy and the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services (House) and the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary and the Join Standing Committee on Public Utilities (Senate).
Trafton has also worked extensively in fundraising and development for nonprofit community organizations in the Lewiston-Auburn area. In the 1980s, she served as Vice President of Development at the Sisters of Charity Health System and developed St. Mary’s Annual Fund. She has also led numerous development projects as a volunteer consultant and board member. Beginning in 2000, Trafton led the successful six-year, $7.25 million campaign to restore and expand Auburn Public Library, where she currently serves on the Board of Trustees. From 2005-2014, she chaired the Garcelon Society and led fundraising for the Bates College Androscoggin Fund, which provides scholarships for students from the greater Lewiston-Auburn area. Trafton also served on the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy from 2004-2014 and co-chaired the $100 million campaign to support conservation in the State of Maine. She continues to volunteer with the World Office of the Nature Conservancy around trustee engagement.
She is a volunteer consultant for numerous community nonprofits, including recent work with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Trafton is also the author of “Women Winning: How to Run for Office.” She is currently a realtor with the Maine Real Estate Network in Auburn. Trafton’s years of public service and her contributions of time and expertise to some of Maine’s most invaluable organizations make her an exceptional Legacy award honoree.
The award recipients will be honored at the 2016 Women of Achievement Awards Gala on Thursday, October 27 at Lewiston’s new Agora Grand Event Center.