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Eastern Names Winners of Ella T. Grasso Award

Written by Emily Bonoyer


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Winners of the 2010 Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award. Left to Right:  Executive Vice President Michael Pernal; Alice Pritchard, Soncheray Hall '11, Carol Williams, and keynote speaker Professor Marcia McGowan.


            Willimantic, CT - On March 31, Soncheray Hall '11, a Social Work major from East Hartford; Alice Pritchard, executive director of the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF); and Carol Williams, associate dean of continuing education, were named recipients of Eastern Connecticut State University's annual Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards. The recipients were honored during a reception in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of Eastern's J. Eugene Smith Library.

The award program recognizes individuals who have made contributions towards advancing women's rights; provided leadership in programs serving the needs of women by organizing or empowering women; advocated on behalf of women's rights or outreach to women in need of supportive services; and initiated and implemented programs to broaden the representation of women in society.

Marcia McGowan, recipient of the first Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award in 2009 and distinguished professor of English at Eastern, delivered the keynote address.

Hall, a student leader and an aspiring women's activist won the student award.  She has served as a student ambassador in the Office of Admissions, leading tours for prospective students and their parents.  She also has served as assistant program coordinator in the Women's Center.

            Hall has worked closely with the Women's Center coordinator on numerous programs and activities, leading group discussions; working closely with Willimantic-based Perceptions and AIDS Project Hartford to secure speakers and collect information on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women globally; and working to help establish a chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW) at Eastern. 

Hall also is a member of Females Excelling Maturing to Achieve Leadership Excellence and Success (F.E.M.A.L.E.S.), and has served as vice president of the organization.  In June, Hall will attend the American Association of University Women's (AAUW) National Conference for Women Student Leaders (NCWSL) at the University of Maryland in College Park Maryland. At NCWSL, she will work with young women from across the nation to help develop a voice for young women's leadership in higher education.

Williams was named the recipient of the faculty/staff award. She has been an advocate for non-traditional students, many who are returning after years as mothers, homemakers or women returning to college to upgrade skills and seek economic advancement.

Williams also has played an important role in the establishment of a cooperative program in Jamaica that allows teachers on the island to improve their credentials through courses taught by Eastern faculty that lead to an Eastern BA degree in sociology. Her support for gender equity in education is reflected in her presentations and publications on such topics as "The Classroom Climate for Women in Higher Education" and "Career Paths: Choice and Chances for Women in Higher Education."

From 1980 to 2005, Williams was the primary organizer of "Day for Women," a day-long conference serving women in the Willimantic area. She has served on the production board and regularly hosted "What About Women," a public affairs television show on WVIT-TV/NBC, which highlights women's issues and the advancement of women's rights.

Williams has been active in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and was awarded the AAUW's State Woman of the Year Award in 1997. She has received the Athena Award for Service to Business and Professional Women from the Windham Chamber of Commerce, along with Eastern's Excellence in Service Award.

Pritchard, executive director of the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), was named the recipient of the community award. CWEALF is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities in their personal and professional lives. 

For more than two decades, Pritchard has conducted research, advocacy, training and technical assistance on issues related to education and workforce development.  She oversees CWEALF's activities related to girl's education in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as promoting model programs for women's career advancement in technology, health care and early childhood education fields.  

Since the early 1990s, Pritchard has been the main organizer of women and girls' support services to ensure equity in treatment and opportunities for women in Connecticut. Since 2004, she has assisted the Governor's Office of Workforce Competitiveness to develop the Connecticut Career Ladder Initiative, which promotes model programs for career advancement in technology, health care, and early child care and education fields. Pritchard has coordinated the Allied Health Workforce Policy Board since 2005. The board was created to document shortages in nursing and allied health professions and to provide strategies for recruitment and retention of these workers throughout Connecticut.



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