LEWISTON — The YWCA Central Maine has announced that the 2017 Women of Achievement Awards Gala will feature a keynote address from Indigenous rights attorney and activist, Sherri L. Mitchell.

Mitchell was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian Reservation at Indian Island. She received her JD and a certificate in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. While at the University of Arizona, Mitchell served as president of the University of Arizona’s Native American Law Student Association and as treasurer of the National Native American Law Students Association.

She also served as president of the UA-ACLU and vice president of the University of Arizona’s Human Rights Organization. Mitchell received her BS from the University of Maine, magna cum laude, where she received the Outstanding Student Achievement award from her department.

Over the past 10 years, Mitchell has worked as an educator for the Maine Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division; a law clerk at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor; an associate with Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan, LLP; and as a legal advisor to Indigenous and Aboriginal groups across the United States and Canada. In 2009, Mitchell’s work on nation-state complicity with Indigenous human rights violations won her the Maloney-Dunn International Human Rights and Humanitarian Award.

Prior to law school, Mitchell worked as a business counselor and development coordinator for Four Directions Development Corp. and as the development and communications director for the Maine Women’s Lobby. In addition, Mitchell worked as a community development and cultural awareness consultant from 1996-2008, which provided her with the opportunity to work with tribal groups across the United States.

She was appointed to the Maine Commission for Community Service in 2004; served on the board of the Maine Council for Adolescent Health from 1999-2000; and served on the board of trustees for Maine Initiatives and their Major Grants Committee. Mitchell was an advisor to the Maine Youth Voices Underage Drinking Program and she was a recipient of the Maine Governor’s Award for Service and Volunteerism in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Mitchell has served as a program coordinator to the American Indian Institute’s Healing the Future Program and has been a participant of the institute’s Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth since 1995. She is an alumni member of two American Indian leadership programs: the American Indian Ambassadors Program and the Udall Native American Congressional Internship Program. She is also a published poet, scholar and philosopher.

The gala is an annual event of the YWCA Central Maine, honoring women in the fields of leadership, social justice, service and philanthropy. This year’s award recipients include Kirsten Walter, founding director of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center; Fowsia Musse, lead awareness educator at Healthy Androscoggin; Shukri Abasheikh, owner of the Mogadishu Business Center; and Betty Robinson, chairwoman of Tree Street Youth Capital Campaign.

The gala will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Gendron Franco Center, 46 Cedar St. Tickets are available online at ywcamaine.org, over the phone or in person at the YWCA Central Maine, 130 East Ave.

FMI, tickets, sponsor: 207-795-4050.

Sherri Mitchell

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