March 19, 2015 — In observation of Women’s History Month, the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame honors two new inductees: Ellen F. Golden, Senior Vice President at CEI, Founder of the Women’s Business Center at CEI, and a Founding Board Member of the Maine Women’s Policy Center; and Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee of Vassalboro, longtime president of Kennebec Valley Community College, who has helped pave the way for women in higher education. The nomination of Ellen F. Golden was sponsored by Ronald L. Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. The nomination of Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee was sponsored by Dr. John Fitzsimmons, President of the Maine Community College System.
Ellen Golden, Senior Vice President at CEI, oversees CEI Investment Notes, LLC, a 501(c)(3) CEI affiliate that mobilizes capital from individual and institutional investors to support CEI’s financing activity. The struggle for the recognition and achievement of the rights of women has a dedicated champion in Ellen Golden. Her decision to make a positive difference in women’s rights comes from a lifetime commitment to social and economic justice and knowledge of the history and current conditions of women in our society. In both her personal and professional lives, Ellen has been an advocate for the needs and rights of women in general and for the needs and rights of women business owners in particular.
In the mid-1980s, with the aid and support of CEI, a private nonprofit community development corporation, Ellen found an ideal position from which to work on behalf of Maine’s women business owners. She discovered that although women were starting businesses at twice the rate of men, there was little information about their experiences. Her subsequent pioneering research helped to define the characteristics of and challenges facing Maine women entering a traditionally man’s world.
Action followed research. In collaboration with Maine technical college system, Ellen organized a statewide series of seminars for women business owners. For a more permanent resource, Ellen started the state’s first targeted business counseling program for women at CEI. Its Women’s Business Center, with funding from the US Small Business Administration (SBA), has helped over 15,000 Maine women start and manage their businesses. To ensure the continuity of this work, Ellen has hired and coached younger women who currently staff the WBC. Ellen has also promoted micro and small business financing—at CEI, in Maine and nationally—to increase financing for women business owners. As a result, more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the state have received over $46 million in capital from CEI.
Her tenure as a board member of the Maine Women’s Lobby illustrates her role as a volunteer. In the early 1990’s, she chaired an Economics Task Force which turned its attention to sexual harassment as a barrier to economic security. The result was first in the nation legislation mandating workplace training in sexual harassment. Ultimately, the task force led to the founding of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, the Lobby’s sister organization which improves the social, political and economic status of Maine women and girls through research, education and leadership development. When she returned to the Lobby Board in 2008, her experience with organizational development helped the Lobby through a leadership transition and prepared it to move forward as an important resource for Maine women and girls.
Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee’s long and successful career in education has been defined by her commitment to improving the lives of her students. At Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, where she served as president for 28 years, the majority of those students were women, many of them low-income, many of them single mothers, who Barbara believed in and on whose behalf she worked tirelessly. Her goal: to help them achieve their educational goals and build a more secure future for themselves and their families.
Throughout her presidency, Dr. Woodlee sought to increase access to education for Maine women by designing and building programs—in health care and other fields—that met their needs and held the promise of good paying jobs. Many women from throughout Maine jump-started their lives and careers by earning a credential from Kennebec Valley Community College.
For over three decades, Dr. Woodlee has worked to remove barriers to higher education for Maine people. She has built numerous partnerships among colleges and worked to ease transfer between two- and four-year degree programs, not only for students from KVCC but for those enrolled in all of Maine’s community colleges. Again and again, she has taken strong stands on issues she believes to be in the best interest of students. She has been a strong advocate for low- and moderate-income students and has worked to keep tuition low, even when her college faced extremely challenging budget realities. Community college students from throughout the state have benefited from this advocacy for low tuition rates and greater financial assistance, and today, the Maine Community Colleges have the lowest tuition and fees in New England.
Dr. Woodlee holds the distinction of being the first woman president within the Maine Community College System, and she now serves as the System’s chief academic officer. By taking on these challenges (while raising four children), she has opened the door to other women to assume leadership positions within the System. To them, she has served as a mentor, a coach, and a supportive colleague.
Throughout her career, Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee has demonstrated that women can use the power of kindness, confidence, persistence and personal presence to lead and advance in their careers, to support the careers of others, and to fight for a cause. In addition to her work at KVCC, she has given her time and energy to improving the lives of others in her community and across the state, serving as Chair of the Board of MaineGeneral Health; on the inaugural Board of Displaced Homemakers (now Women, Work, and Community); and in volunteer leadership positions with the Maine Science and Technology Foundation, State Workforce Incentive Board, and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. In the process, she has earned the deep respect and affection of those who have had the good fortunate to work with her.
Dr. Woodlee is a proven leader, reliable friend, and dedicated colleague, who has contributed significantly to the welfare of others, leaving an indelible mark on the State of Maine.
The Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women established the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990, to honor women who have made an outstanding contribution to improving opportunities for all Maine women. The BPW/Maine Futurama Foundation and the University of Maine at Augusta are co-sponsors of the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame.
The three criteria for selection to be included are (1) woman’s achievements have had a significant statewide impact, (2) woman’s achievements significantly improved the lives of women in Maine, and (3) woman’s contribution has enduring value for women.