AUGUSTA — The 27th annual Maine Women’s Hall of Fame celebration is set for Saturday, March 19, at Jewett Hall Auditorium at the University of Maine at Augusta. The silver tea and registration will take place from 1 to 2 p.m., with the induction ceremony at 2 p.m., according to a news release from The BPW/Maine Futurama Foundation and the UMA, co-sponsors of the event.

Honorees include Dr. Connie Adler, of Chesterville, a physician and advocate for Women’s Health; and Elizabeth Ward Saxl, of Belgrade, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Maine Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by the the federation. UMaine has been a cosponsor, and has generously provided a site in the Bennet Katz library for the display of the photographs and citations. Each year’s ceremony is held in March, in observance of Women’s History Month.

The Hall of Fame is dedicated to women who have met these specific criteria: the woman’s achievements significantly improved the lives of women in Maine, and the woman’s contribution has enduring value for women.

To honor the inductees of the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame, contributions will benefit the BPWMaine Futurama Foundation scholarships for women.

About Dr. Connie Alder

Healthcare for women involves much more than just blood pressures and pelvic exams. It has been Adler’s mission to promote recognition that the care of women must include the pursuit of reproductive rights, contraceptive choice, and prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, all embedded within a system that provides access to healthcare for all of Maine’s citizens, according to the release. Adler has been a family medicine physician at Franklin Health Women’s Care in Farmington, where she has provided obstetrical, gynecologic, and primary care to women and families for 23 years.

Adler currently serves as secretary of the Board of Directors of Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, as well as on the Boards of the Maine Health Access Foundation and Maine Family Planning. She has served on the Boards of the Maine Women’s Fund, Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services, and Peace in Our Families. She has been involved with Family Planning programs since 1989 and has been on the Maine Family Planning Board of Directors for 10 years, serving as board president from 2010 to 2014.

She was the medical director for the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program from 1996 to 2001. During that time, Adler and her colleagues established a statewide program that has allowed Maine women to access essential, life-saving healthcare services that, in many cases, would have been inaccessible or unaffordable for them.

Adler’s tenure as Maine Family Planning’s Board president combined compassion, competence and courage, according to the release. Overseeing a statewide network of 40-plus family planning sites serving an average of 25,000 Maine women and teens, she helped MFP transform its system to respond to the Affordable Care Act and to the realities of our rural state. To increase access in the most rural sections of Maine, she oversaw the implementation of telehealth systems, allowing women in even the most remote parts of the state to access confidential, compassionate reproductive health care. During Adler’s time as board president, Maine Family Planning became the only Title X grantee in the nation to initiate a Women’s Centered Medical Home by co-locating primary care services in an established family planning clinic in Belfast.

Over the last 23 years, she has been a leader in preventing and addressing domestic violence and sexual assault in Maine. The success of policies and protocols implemented in western Maine has resulted in both cultural changes and improvements in health and safety that have rippled throughout the state. Adler was instrumental in efforts to include universal screening for DV in emergency department and obstetrical visits, as well as screening for DV at primary care offices. Her influence extends beyond healthcare spaces, as well. Farmington has posted signage about domestic violence along major roadways, and the DV trainings she helped develop are currently administered to law enforcement statewide.

In recent years, Adler has won the Maine Women’s Fund leadership award for service to women, the Franklin Community Health Leadership Award, the Maine Medical Association award for humanitarian service promoting safe obstetric care for women in Nicaragua, the Hanley Center award for physician leadership, and the Peace in Our Families award, among others, according to the release.

Her life has been immeasurably enriched by her two daughters, Naiche and Shifra, and her nephew, Joel, and by the humor and ingenuity of her husband, Dr. Mike Rowland. She is deeply appreciative of the thousands of women who have shared their stories with her over the years.

Adler has a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University and an MD from Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine in Augusta. Except for five years working in a migrant and community health clinic in Washington, Adler has practiced in Maine since 1983.

About Elizabeth Ward Saxl

Saxl is a passionate advocate for the joining of public policy solutions with community-based approaches that address the complex problems which impact the lives of Mainers, and particularly women and girls, according to the release. For the last 16 years, she has proudly served as the executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Her work to end sexual violence and to support high quality response focuses on both on statewide public policy advocacy and expanding the ability of Maine’s local sexual assault support centers to engage in their critical work of providing prevention programming for tens of thousands of Maine children and victim services to thousands of victims of crime each year.

Her approach to long-term social change means engaging in collaborative leadership to create meaningful partnerships which have resulted in tangible policy outcomes to improve the lives of Maine’s women and girls. She has played a central role in policy solutions including the elimination of the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, the creation of a wide range of housing protections for victims of violence, access to protection orders for all victims of sexual assault, additional protections for dependent and incapacitated adults, and many improvements to Maine’s Criminal Code. She has also worked to help craft thoughtful, evidence-based public policy in the often contentious and emotionally-driven area of sex offender management. Her policy expertise has been recognized both locally and nationally including by three administrations, resulting in gubernatorial appointments by Independent, Democratic and Republican governors, according to the release.

As someone who cares deeply about the range of interconnected social justice issues from violence to poverty to discrimination she has served on the boards of the Maine Center for Economic Policy and the Maine Women’s Lobby and serves on the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees and on the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. She has worked tirelessly to support organizations, programs and initiatives to improve the lives of marginalized Mainers including immigrants and refugees, elders, and Native women.

She is married to Michael Saxl who shares her professional and personal passions, chief among them raising a daughter of whom they are extremely proud. They enjoy working together to make Maine a better place.

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