Eastern Connecticut State University presented its annual Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards on March 30. In its eighth year, the awards recognized three individuals who work tirelessly to promote women’s rights and gender equality. The community award went to Leigh Duffy ’06, director of the Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center; the staff award went to Sergeant Lisa Hamilton of Eastern’s Department of Public Safety; and the student award went to political science major Alex Cross ’16. The event’s keynote speaker was Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain.
Ella T. Grasso became governor of Connecticut in 1974, and in doing so was the first woman in America to be elected in her own right to that office. Known for her compassion, intelligence and tenacious spirit, Grasso was seen as an effective leader who shattered the “glass ceiling.” She tragically passed away from cancer in 1981.
“I would like to be able to say that through the leadership of people like Ella Grasso, women have no limits today in what they can accomplish,” said Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern. “The fact is, we still have more work to do.” Núñez went on to explain that women outnumber men in college, yet have more difficulty finding employment and get paid less for the same work. “The struggle that Ella Grasso fought for us decades ago continues,” said Núñez, “and the three people we honor this afternoon, as well as our keynote speaker, are part of that good fight.”