The Courage is Contagious Award is awarded annually at the Justice For Women Lecture to an outstanding woman leader who:

  • Demonstrates a commitment to the mission of the Justice For Women Lecture Series to raise awareness in Maine about the injustices women and girls face globally and locally.
  • Has achieved the highest level of professional excellence and is dedicated to empowering women to realize their full leadership potential.
  • Has created lasting impact in our community through her work, time, talent, and/or resources.
  • Reinforces and models policies, practices, attitudes, and/or actions that are intended to produce equitable outcomes for all.
  • Has fostered connections with Maine’s diverse communities to empower their collective voices.

2020 and 2021 Courage is Contagious Awards

As part of 2021 Justice For Women Lecture, Maine Law was honored to recognize Blanca Santiago and Donna Loring as the 2020 and 2021 recipients, respectively, of the Courage is Contagious Award. Recordings of both the 2021 JFW Lecture and the Awards Presentation are now available to view on Maine Law’s YouTube Channel.

Blanca Santiago (2020 Recipient)

Blanca SantiagoBlanca Santiago is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent three decades developing visibility, safe spaces, and resources for BIPOC, LGBTQIA individuals and others experiencing the effects of structural and societal oppression. After retiring last year, Blanca contracted with Portland Public Schools to help address issues of diversity and equity in the district. She supports a new generation of BIPOC social workers and is a consultant to Presente via Mano en Mano; in that capacity Blanca supports the behavioral health staff that serve Latinx and immigrant communities. She serves on the board of ILAP and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools. She is the founding member and president of El Centro Latino of Maine and has worked on three immigration reform campaigns over the last 15 years. Blanca holds an undergraduate degree in Organizational Leadership and a Master of Social Work.

Donna Loring (2021 Recipient)

Donna LoringDonna M. Loring is an elder and former council member of the Penobscot Indian Nation. She entered into public service when she joined the Women’s Army Corp. She served in Vietnam as a Communication Specialist, processing all the casualty reports for South East Asia. She was one of few enlisted women in the Vietnam War who served in a combat zone.

For over a decade, Donna was the Nation’s Representative to the Maine State Legislature. She was appointed Aide de Camp to former Gov. Angus King and also served as the Senior Advisor of Tribal Affairs to Gov. Janet Mills.

Donna hosts “Wabanaki Windows” on WERU Community Radio. The University of New England houses her papers and sponsors an annual lecture series in her name. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters by the University of Maine, and the Alumni Career Award from the University of Maine Alumni Association.

Past Recipients