YWCA announces Women of Achievement awards


LEWISTON — The YWCA of Central Maine announces the recipients of the 2017 Women of Achievement Awards.

They are: Lee Young Leadership Award, Kirsten Walter; Marcia Baxter Social Justice Award, Fowsia Musse; Tonie Ramsey Service Award, Shukri Abasheikh; and Priscilla Gendron Legacy Award, Betty Robinson.

Walter is the founding director of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center. She established its flagship program, Lots to Gardens, in 1999 with 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.

Walter 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 bachelor of arts from Bates College.

Abasheikh is the owner of the Mogadishu Business Center on Lisbon Street. The 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 center after fleeing the civil war in Somalia and coming to the United States from Kenya. Her service to the larger community includes volunteering with the Red Cross, working with the Immigrant & Refugee Resource Center of Maine and collaborating with local businesses for Global Refugee Day. She credits her additional jobs at Lewiston High School, Salvation Army, Hyatt Hotel and L.L. Bean for teaching her about customer service.

Musse works as a lead awareness educator at Healthy Androscoggin for new and longtime Mainer populations in Lewiston. She has worked 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.

Musse 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. She also worked with Dr. Monique Lucarelli, who practices internal medicine at Central Maine Medical Center, on an article published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, titled, “Increasing Certified Nurse-Midwives’ Confidence in Managing the Obstetric Care of Women with Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.”

Musse 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.

She 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.

Musse 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.

Robinson is a recently retired professor of sociology and leadership studies at the University of Southern Maine’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 nonprofits, including the Maine Community Foundation. She served as the first board chairwoman of Tree Street Youth. When she stepped down from that role, she became chairwoman of Tree Street’s Capital Campaign, which raised over $1.3 million to enable the organization to construct a new wing of the building.

In addition, Robinson serves on the finance, development and executive committees. She is a recruiter for Tree Street Youth and has introduced many people to the program. She volunteers at Tree Street regularly, providing assistance to youth who are preparing for college.

Robinson 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.

The Women of Achievement Awards Gala is Thursday, Oct. 19, at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, 46 Cedar St. The keynote address will be given by Sherri Mitchell, 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.

The YWCA is seeking 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.

Tickets are $45 before Sept. 15 and $50 thereafter. All proceeds benefit the work of the YWCA in the Lewiston-Auburn community.

FMI: 207-795-4050.

Betty Robinson
Shukri Abasheikh
Fowsia Musse
Kirsten Walter