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2017 Women of Achievement Awardees Announced!


Women of Achievement Awardees Announced!

The YWCA is pleased to announce the 2017 Women of Achievement Award recipients have been chosen! After receiving an incredible slate of candidates the YWCA has awarded the following women:

Lee Young Leadership Award: Kirsten Walter

Marcia Baxter Social Justice Award: Fowsia Musse

Tonie Ramsey Service Award: Shukri Abasheikh

Priscilla Gendron Legacy Award: Betty Robinson

Kirsten Walter is the founding director of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center. She established its flagship program, Lots to Gardens, in 1999 with just one community garden in Lewiston. She is a member of the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn, co-founder of the Maine Network of Community Food Councils, and supported the development of the Maine Food Strategy. She has served on the boards of the Eat Local Foods Coalition, the Maine Local Food Access Network, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Rooted in Community National network and “Lets’ Go 5210” obesity prevention program. She is an alumnus of the Maine Network Partners Fellowship as well as the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute, where she continues to serve as an advisor.  Kirsten has co-authored academic research publications, including Maine Policy Review and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Community and Banking. She is the recipient of several awards including the University of Maine’s Maryann Hartman Award and the Maine Nutrition Council’s Katherine Musgrave Public Service Award. She earned a B.A. from Bates College in Lewiston.



Fowsia Musse works as a lead awareness educator at Healthy Androscoggin for both new and long-time Mainer populations in Lewiston. She has been working in the field of health as a cultural broker, medical interpreter, and Community Health Outreach Worker for nine years. She is also a student at Central Maine Community College, pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Human Services. Fowsia worked collaboratively with Susan D. Jacoby, DNP, CNM, who practiced midwifery at Central Maine Obstetrics-Gynecology; Heather L. Lindkvist, a former lecturer in the Anthropology Department at Bates College; and Dr. Monique Lucarelli, who practices Internal Medicine at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, on an article published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, entitled, “Increasing Certified Nurse-Midwives’ Confidence in Managing the Obstetric Care of Women with Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.” Fowsia spent her early years in the U.S. working in Lewiston with the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine (formerly United Somali Women of Maine) to empower immigrant women and children, and advocating for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, family crisis and generational trauma. Fowsia is a board member at a Maine Community Integration, a nonprofit ethnic-community based organization working on education, advocacy, and social change empowerment in Lewiston’s New Mainer communities. She has been a leader in the organization since its beginning and founded a tutoring program for immigrant youth that was one of MCI’s earliest projects. She serves on the Immigrant and Refugee Integration and Policy Development Working Group, that was established by the Lewiston City Council and volunteers with the Lewiston/Auburn Neighborhood Network and the local Red Cross. She also regularly volunteers her expertise to work on parent/school engagement with Auburn Public Schools.



Shukri Abasheikh is the owner of the Mogadishu Business Center on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. The Mogadishu Business Center offers comprehensive services, including: Halal foods, a cleaning business, tax preparation, money transfers, a seamstress business, a restaurant, and catering services that meet the cultural needs of the diverse communities of African immigrants in Lewiston, as well as, serving the larger community. She opened the Mogadishu Business Center after fleeing the civil war in Somalia and coming to the United State from Kenya. Shukri grew her business from a small grocery store into the robust business center it is today. Her service to the larger community include volunteering with the Red Cross, working with the Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center of Maine, and collaborating with local businesses for World Refugee Day. She credits her additional jobs at Lewiston High School, Salvation Army, Hyatt Hotel, and LL Beans’ for teaching her about customer service.


Betty Robinson is a recently retired professor of sociology and leadership studies at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College, where she taught for nearly 30 years. For seven of those years, she served as the College Dean. She has been on the boards of numerous Maine non-profits, including the Maine Community Foundation. Betty served as the first Board Chair of Tree Street Youth. When she stepped down from that role, she immediately became Chair of Tree Street’s very successful Capital Campaign, which raised over 1.3 million dollars to enable the organization to construct a new wing of the building. In addition, Betty presently serves on the Finance, Development and Executive Committees. She is a significant recruiter for Tree Street Youth and has introduced many people to the program. Betty volunteers at Tree Street regularly, providing assistance to youth who are college bound. Beyond Tree Street, Betty continues to involve herself in a variety of educational and social justice issues; she is always studying, learning and offering up her time, energy and insights for various campaigns and causes.



This year the Women of Achievement Awards Gala will feature a keynote address from Sherri Mitchell. Sherri Mitchell is an attorney and activist and the founder of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the global protection of Indigenous rights and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life.

In order to support the Women of Achievement Awards Gala, the YWCA is in search of sponsorships from local businesses who would like to contribute to the event and to the larger work of the organization. Sponsorship opportunities include multiple levels of support to fit within the budgets of businesses of all sizes. Companies that contribute to the Women of Achievement Awards Gala can receive recognition in publicity, programs, and on the YWCA’s new electronic sign on East Avenue, in addition to complimentary tickets.

The YWCA invites the full community to join in celebrating the work of the honorees at the Women of Achievement Awards Gala on Thursday, October 19 at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston. Tickets to the Women of Achievement Awards Gala are $45 before September 15 and $50 thereafter until the date of the event. All proceeds benefit the work of the YWCA in the Lewiston-Auburn community. For more information about the event or sponsorship opportunities please contact the YWCA at 795-4050.


This year’s Gala is October 19th!

Special pricing on tickets purchased before September 15th.

Purchase your tickets online or at the YWCA.

The YWCA Central Maine Women of Achievement Awards Gala will be held Thursday, October 19 at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston. Reception begins at 5:30pm and the award ceremony will take place at 6:30pm. The reception will include substantive appetizers and a cash bar, featuring a signature YWCA persimmon cocktail. There will be dessert and a complimentary champagne toast following the award ceremony. This year the Women of Achievement Awards Gala will feature a keynote address from Indigenous rights attorney and activist, Sherri Mitchell.

Tickets are $45/per person when purchased before September 15 and $50/per person thereafter until the event. Sponsorships and congratulatory notes are available for purchase below. For more information about the event, tickets, or sponsorship, please contact the YWCA at 795-4050.