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President's Annual Outstanding Women of NH Awards

In honor of Women’s History Month, Keene State College recognizes outstanding women. This year’s theme, “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” recognizes women in New Hampshire who understand the importance of eliminating bias and discrimination from our lives and institutions.

Today, the desire for equity, diversity and inclusion is a powerful driving force. As members of families, civic and community groups, businesses and legislative bodies, women are in the forefront of reevaluating the status quo. They are looking anew at what harmful social policies and behaviors exist and, often subtly, impact human experience. In response, women in communities across the nation, including locally and in New Hampshire, are helping to develop innovative programs and projects within corporations, the military, federal agencies, and educational organizations to address and rectify injustices.

It takes courage for women to advocate for practical goals like equity, diversity and inclusion when established forces aim to misinterpret, exploit, or discredit them. We honor women who have taken the lead to show the importance of change and to establish firmer safeguards, practices and legislation reflecting these values.

We will honor awardees in four categories: Keene State Student, Keene State Faculty or Staff, Greater Monadnock Region, and State of New Hampshire. An on-campus celebration to recognize honorees is Thursday, March 28.

Please click on the RSVP HERE link below to RSVP for the in person ceremony.


State of New Hampshire Awardee

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director, ACLU Of New Hampshire

As the Executive Director since 2012, Devon has overseen the ACLU of New Hampshire’s major growth in membership and staff and its success in protecting and defending civil rights in the Granite State.

Under her leadership, the organization has made historic progress, including repealing the death penalty, adding gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law, and overhauling the bail system.

Devon’s fight for civil liberties in New Hampshire continues to be focused on deepening relationships with communities impacted by injustice and fighting to create a more equitable Granite State for all.

Previously, Devon served as Legislative Counsel in the National ACLU’s Washington D.C. Office, and as Advocacy Counsel at Human Rights First, fighting against U.S. counter-terrorism and national security policies that violate human rights.

Devon received her law degree, magna cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Region Awardee

Debbie Bowie, Tri-Chair, Truth Reconciliation and Equity Collaborative

Debbie is a community volunteer who unites community members to create an inclusive society that provides a sense of belonging for all. She is committed to working with individuals and groups resulting in action and positive change.

She is a Tri-Chair of Keene State College’s Truth Reconciliation and Equity Collaborative, a member of the Manchester NAACP Economic Justice Committee, a Cheshire Academy of Lifelong Learning (CALL) student, the CALL Book Group facilitator, and a City of Keene volunteer in the roles of Election Greeter, Roadway Safety Committee Member, and Human Rights Committee Alternate.

Previously she served as a Board Member/Chair of the Keene Housing Kids Collaborative, Member/Co-Chair of the American Association of University Women, and hosted teens with the Creating Friendships for Peace Program.

Debbie resides in Keene with Dwight, her husband, and Ted, their cat.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, taking CALL classes, and spending time with family.

Region Awardee

Gail Somers, Chair, Keene Family YMCA’s Community Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force

Gail is a finance professional, entrepreneur, and ardent community advocate.

Gail immigrated to the US from Jamaica in the 1990s from a rural part of the country and humble beginnings. Food — especially “good food” — was how her family celebrated and showed love, and today she owns Yahso Jamaican Grille in downtown Keene.

Gail graduated from the University of Technology in Jamaica and later earned a degree in business and finance from Villanova. She also owns an MBA from St Joseph’s University.

When she’s not busy juggling professional and entrepreneurial pursuits, Gail is a tireless and engaged champion for equity and social justice in her community, especially for BIPOC individuals and new Americans. She serves on several boards and committees, including the Keene YMCA Board; chairperson for the Y’s Community Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force; the City of Keene Racial Justice and Safety Committee, and the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter.

She is working on a vision to establish a multicultural center to serve Keene and surrounding communities. Gail is the mother of two children and she spends her free time reading and traveling.

Region Awardee

Ritu Budakoti, Educator, Activist, Member of Keene Human Rights Committee

Ritu is an exemplary educator at Keene Middle School and epitomizes unwavering dedication to her student’s growth and learning. Recognized with the 2020 Exceptional Teacher Award during the pandemic, she demonstrated resilience and innovation in her teaching, inspiring a love for learning.

Ritu’s influence extends beyond her classroom, as she mentors fellow educators and spearheads community-building initiatives like the Keene International Festival. She was a recent finalist for N.H. Teacher of the Year, and her commitment to excellence and continuous professional growth through Keene State’s Leadership Graduate Program promises a future of continued transformative leadership in education.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Ritu is a dedicated community activist, working to bridge diverse cultures in the Monadnock Region. She holds leadership roles in organizations like the Keene India Association, The Daily Good, Keene Public Library, and Keene Human Rights Committee. Her efforts have embraced, showcased, and celebrated diversity where she lives and works.

Keene State Faculty/Staff Awardee

Celia Rabinowitz, Assistant VP for Academic Engagement and Director of Mason Library

Celia Rabinowitz has been at Keene State College since 2014 and currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Academic Engagement and Director of Mason Library. She has a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fordham University, an MLS from Rutgers University, and has been working in academic libraries for 32 years.

At Keene State, she has worked on planning several campus teach-ins, is a member of the Safe Space Committee, and served as Interim Director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Staff Recognition Committee. She is interested in interfaith dialog, LGBTQ+ equity, and facilitating access to information.

Celia collaborated with the Coordinator of LGBTQ Student Support to create the Courageous Conversations Committee and offered events like “Can we Disagree and Still Be Friends?” Said Celia to The Equinox for a story on the event: “To me, people’s trust and respect is more important than whether they like me or not. When you disagree, it’s about your relationship as friends and respect for one another.”

Most recently she worked on a project that now offers free Mason Library privileges to all New Hampshire residents.

Student Awardee

Molly Edmark ‘24, President, Student Athletic Advisory Committee

Molly is majoring in Secondary Education and History and will graduate in the spring.

From Plymouth, N.H., Molly has excelled as a four-year member and captain of the field hockey team and is a four-year member and president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. She was also involved in a partnership with the college Wellness Center and Athletics in a joint effort to bridge barriers and enhance resources for student-athlete mental health.

Being a part of these groups allowed Molly to lead and participate in projects that have enhanced not just the experience of student-athletes at Keene State, but the campus community as a whole.

Throughout her time at Keene State College, Molly has developed a love for learning and teaching, but also an undeniable passion for field hockey and coaching. Molly looks forward to utilizing the tools she’s developed at Keene State in her career as an educator and coach.

Past Recipients

  • Ms. Jennifer Carroll, 2023
  • Ms. Caitlin Howard, 2023
  • Ms. Melanie Plenda, 2023
  • Dr. Marianne Salcetti, 2023
  • Ms. Cecily Weisburgh, 2023
  • Ms. Kirsten Durzy, 2022
  • Ms. Mary E. Curtin Pierce, 2022
  • Dr. Jeanelle Boyer, 2022
  • Ms. Sara Getchell, 2022
  • Ms. Tricia J. Zahn, 2022
  • Ms. Lisa Beaudoin, 2021 
  • Dr. Denise Burchsted, 2021
  • Ms. Demitria Kirby, 2021
  • Ms. Emma Manderville, 2021
  • Victoria Bergstrom, 2020
  • Judy Reed, 2020
  • Patty Little, 2020
  • Liz Tentarelli, 2020
  • Briae Robillard, 2019
  • Therese Seibert, 2019
  • Sandra Wallace, 2019
  • Eva Castillo, 2019
  • Puja Thapa, 2018
  • Benajil Rai, 2018
  • US Representative Ann McLane Kuster, 2018
  • Patricia Pedroza Gonzalez, 2018
  • Jill Bassett, 2018
  • Marisa Benson, 2017
  • Barbara Couch, 2017
  • Ellen Moynihan, 2017
  • Katie Schwerin, 2017
  • Alyssa DeMarco, 2016
  • Kya Roumimper, 2016
  • Renate Gebauer, 2016
  • Kathy Harrington, 2016
  • Kerrianne Thomas, 2015
  • PeggyRae Johnson, 2015
  • Sarah MacKenzie Hoskins, 2015
  • Terie Norelli, 2015
  • Marty Sink, 2014
  • Johanna DeBari, 2014
  • Mary Kelly, 2014
  • Mary Ellen Fleeger, 2014 
  • Deena Snoke, 2013
  • Loren Launen, 2013
  • Yvonne Goldsberry, 2013
  • Trinidad Tellez, 2013 
  • Melinda Feola-Mahar, 2012
  • Nona Fienberg, 2012
  • Dorian Petranech, 2012
  • Mary Ellen Jackson, 2012 
  • Jaime Contois, 2011
  • Kristin Mehalik, 2011
  • Norma W. Walker, 2011
  • Jean Whitcomb, 2011 
  • Suzette Borden, 2010
  • Jane Difley, 2010
  • Susan Margraf, 2010
  • Jaclyn Vehlies, 2010 
  • Mary Jensen, 2009
  • Bonnie Riley, 2009
  • Rachel Rouillard, 2009
  • Annelies Spykman, 2009 
  • Jan Cohen, 2008
  • Juliana Eades, 2008
  • Jahel Ghanbari, 2008
  • Dottie Morris, 2008 
  • Darya A. Bushmakin, 2007
  • Jessica Cadorette, 2007
  • Susan Hay, 2007
  • Karen Jennings, 2007
  • Karol A. LaCroix, 2007 
  • JoAnn C. Fenton, 2006
  • Kristin Iodice, 2006
  • Rebecca Lawrence, 2006
  • Janaki N. Tschannerl, 2006 
  • Roberta Barry, 2005
  • Mary Maysark-Stavely, 2005
  • Valerie Nettleton, 2005
  • Susan B. Newcomer, 2005 
  • Valerie Cunningham, 2004
  • Maria Dintino, 2004
  • Ruth Ewing, 2004
  • Eliza Sieswerda, 2004 
  • Beverly Ferrucci, 2003
  • Nancy Frankel, 2003
  • Renee Pederson, 2003
  • Jane Shapiro, 2003 
  • Jean Nelson, 2002 
  • Celena Chickering, 2002 
  • Jan Youga, 2002 
  • Linda Baker, 2001 
  • Deborah Croteau, 2001 
  • Kathy Eneguess, 2001 
  • Jessie Gannett, 2001 
  • Delina R. Hickey, 2000 
  • Nancy Lory, 2000 
  • Michelle Scott, 2000 
  • Eileen Sylvia, 2000 
  • Mary Elizabeth Alther, 1999 
  • Anne Meyers, 1999 
  • Susan Whittemore, 1999 
  • Tamara Zimmerman, 1998
  • Carrye Sculthorpe, 1998 
  • Sandra Jean Whippie, 1998 
  • Dorothy A. Bauer, 1997 
  • Jessica Lewis, 1997 
  • Maureen O’Brien, 1997 
  • Nancy Ryan, 1997 
  • Darcie Boyer, 1996 
  • Cotton M. Cleveland, 1996
  • Katherine McLaughlin, 1996 
  • Judith Perry, 1996 
  • Beth DeAnna, 1995 
  • Patricia Rich, 1995 
  • Jeanne Shaheen, 1995 
  • Karen Wagner, 1995 
  • Rebecca D. Brown, 1994 
  • Dawn M. Henry, 1994 
  • Dorothy F. Kingsbury, 1994 
  • Anne-Marie Mallon, 1994 
  • Margaret Clemons, 1993 
  • Mary Louise Hancock, 1993 
  • Theresa Riddle, 1993 
  • Kim Schmidl-Gagne, 1993 
  • Anne Williams Sprague, 1993 
  • Patricia Gallup, 1993 
  • Mildred M. Horton, 1992 
  • Roxanne Kreyling, 1992 
  • Leslie Loberant, 1992 
  • Mona Norfleet, 1992 
  • Gertrude Pearson, 1992 
  • Alice Irwin, 1991 
  • Merle Larracey, 1991 
  • Cricket LaStrada, 1991 
  • Erin Nugent, 1991 
  • Rosamond Putnam, 1991

Contact Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Dottie Morris
Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
☎ 603-358-2206
Hale Building 103A
Mailstop: M/S 1501