ORONO — The 2022 Maryann Hartman Awards recognizing the inspirational achievements of Maine women will be presented to recently retired Opportunity Housing Inc. founding president and CEO Bonnie-Jean Brooks of Stockton Springs, community leader and certified nursing assistant ZamZam Mohamud of Lewiston, and long-time senior executive and UMaine alumna Susan Bell of Hallowell, former director of the Maine Forest Service and the first woman in the United States to serve in such a role.

The women will be honored in a free public ceremony and reception at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Buchanan Alumni House at the University of Maine. To attend the ceremony, RSVP online or by phone: 581-1591. Note that space is limited for the event.

The Maryann Hartman Awards, named for the late UMaine associate professor of communication, have recognized Maine women’s achievements in the arts, politics, business, education and community service since 1986. Maryann Hartman (1927–80) was a distinguished educator, feminist, scholar and humanitarian.

This year, the UMaine Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program is collaborating with the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost to continue the three-decade tradition of honoring Maine women by enhancing awareness of their unique accomplishments.

The work of the Hartman Award winners provides inspiration to others and testifies to women’s potential to positively impact the contemporary world.

Brooks is an advocate for people with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. She founded Opportunity Housing Inc., now called OHI, in 1979. The nonprofit started with two residential homes offering support services to people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental illness. Today, OHI supports nearly 600 people with disabilities in their own homes or in one of OHI’s 32 group homes.

In the past four decades, Brooks has consulted for public and private agencies nationwide and in four other countries. She founded the Maine Association for Community Service Providers, was appointed to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Policy Impact Council, and served as a staff member and program consultant to the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, now the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She has provided congressional testimony on Medicaid policy, housing issues, fraud and abuse investigations, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues.

Mohamud has been a community bridge builder in her adopted hometown since 2001. For nearly two decades, she was a certified nursing assistant at Central Maine Medical Center and worked as a translator when needed. In the Lewiston community, she served as a liaison between other immigrants and the city. Mohamud found her way into the role as community leader by being visible, but the motivation came from a desire to give back.

She has volunteered for just about every major institution in town: the library, school department, police department and hospitals. She even served on the School Committee, the first Somali ever to do so. If a newly settled refugee needs help navigating rental housing, or if a school is facilitating a discussion on cultural diversity and inclusion, or if the police want to do outreach in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood, they call Mohamud.

Bell has had a career of 40 years-plus in public administration, public policy, management and education, with leadership responsibilities in all three branches of Maine state government. The former three-term legislator served as deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation and then directed the Maine Forest Service from 1992–95 — the first woman in the country to be named state forester. For eight years, Bell was a senior policy advisor and a member of Gov. Angus King’s executive management team. She went on to serve as director of the Office of Clerks of Court and was a senior project manager at Bernstein Shur Government Solutions for six years, through 2012. A former biology and human physiology teacher, Bell led a public health education project and established Project Graduation at Oxford Hills High School, an alcohol-free celebration for graduating students that served as a prototype for the nation, helping to protect the lives of graduating seniors in every state.

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