Emerge Maine To Honor Shenna Bellows as 2015 Woman of the Year

Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon named 2015 Rising Star

Portland--Emerge Maine, the premier political training program for Maine Democratic women, has named Shenna Bellows its Woman of the Year. Previous Emerge Women of the Year are former Clerk of the House, the late Millie MacFarland (2010), the Honorable Libby Mitchell (2011), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2012), Attorney General Janet Mills (2013), Senator Dawn Hill (2014), and Representative Peggy Rotundo (2014).

“Shenna Bellows is the first Emerge alumna in the country to run for the U.S. Senate,” said Jill Barkley, the Executive Director of Emerge Maine. “We were proud of the race she ran, her commitment to championing  progressive values, and all of her incredible advocacy work before and after the election.”

An Emerge Alumna from the Class of 2010, Shenna Bellows is the Owner and President of Bellows & Company, an advocacy, development, and communications consulting firm.  She was the 2014 Democratic candidate for United States Senate in Maine. Prior to running for U.S. Senate, Bellows was Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.  In that leadership role, she developed a track record for building unusual coalitions with Republicans and Democrats alike to pass groundbreaking privacy and civil rights laws.  She was a key leader of the successful 2012 ballot campaign to pass same sex marriage in Maine.  She co-chaired a successful 2011 statewide ballot campaign to expand voting rights.  

Bellows served on the Coalition for Maine Women and the Maine Choice Coalition and has received numerous awards for her work to advance women’s health and reproductive choice.  She was a founding member of the Maine Immigrants Rights Coalition.  She also was an active leader in the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and the Right to Know Advisory Committee.

“I’m honored to be named Emerge Maine’s  woman of the year,” said Bellows. “My Emerge training was instrumental in giving me the courage to run for office, and the Emerge network was a powerful source of support throughout my race.  It's exciting to be part of a movement to support women in leadership, and it's an honor to follow in the footsteps of so many extraordinary Maine women leaders."

Emerge Maine will also be honoring Rising Star Representative Sara Gideon, of Freeport.

“Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon is the first Emerge Maine alumna to serve in leadership in the Maine State Legislature” said Barkley. “We are excited when women run for office, win, and continue to look for even more opportunities to lead.”

An Emerge Alumna from the class of 2012, Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon is serving her second term in the Maine House of Representatives. She is a past member of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, where she worked to lower energy costs, encourage increased energy efficiency and promote clean and renewable energy to capitalize on Maine’s natural resources and build a clean-energy economy.  

Gideon’s commitment to public and volunteer service at the local community level has given her an appreciation for how decisions made in Augusta affect people and businesses in Maine. Sara was elected to the Freeport Town Council, where she served as vice chairwoman. She has been an active classroom volunteer in the RSU 5 schools, has served on the board of Freeport Community Services and on the board of the Freeport Economic Development Corporation.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by Emerge as a ‘Rising Star,'” said Representative Gideon. “Emerge has played a vital role in preparing me and hundreds of female candidates and lawmakers to be a strong voice for people in our state. Together we have worked to change the conversation about women's issues and the role of women in office. We stand united in showing the people of Maine that issues affecting women are everyone's issues.  As a working mother, a lawmaker, and an advocate for change, I am so humbled and proud to accept this award." 

Emerge Maine is one of fourteen state Emerge programs across the country. Emerge is committed to increasing the number of Democratic women in office, building a strong network of dedicated women leaders, and creating a pipeline of Democratic candidates at all levels of government. Emerge Maine has 155 alumnae. 11 Emerge Maine Alumnae currently serve in the Maine House of Representatives, accounting for 15% of the House Democratic Caucus, and 14 Emerge Maine Alumnae are serving in local or county level positions, including School Board, City Council, Town Council, and District Attorney.

Shenna Bellows and Representative Sara Gideon will be honored at the 2015 Woman of the Year and Rising Star reception Thursday, June 4th, at 6:00 p.m.  at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta.


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