On Thursday, March 5, on the anniversary of the women’s right to vote, the President’s Outstanding Women of New Hampshire award ceremony was held. The awards were given to four women in New Hampshire who have dedicated their time to voting rights and increasing voting turnout.
Keene State senior Victoria Bergstrom was the student recipient of the award for her work helping to increase voter turnout across the state and even across the globe. “Even though this year is an election year, there is one important thing to remember: we all have the ability to vote, but not everyone around the world has the ability to vote. Trying to fight for that will definitely be a fight. Even here in the United States, not everyone can vote,” Bergstrom said.
Keene State Professor Emeritus Dr. Judy Reed was the KSC faculty and staff awardee for her work on Project Home and others like it which help asylum seekers find a home in Keene.
“It’s taken the better part of my life time to fully realize that social change does not originate from a single great individual, whether male or female, or even a small group. Social change builds up from a foundation of a large number of ordinary people organizing together to struggle for change,” Reed said.
Patty Little was honored as the Monadnock Region awardee for 40 years of work as the Keene City Clerk and Chief Elections Officer. Program Manager for Academic Affairs at Keene State College Kim Schmidl-Gagne introduced Little.
“An entire career devoted to ensuring free and fair elections open to all,” said Schmidl-Gagne.
Little’s work includes organizing registration drives at nursing homes and educational institutions like Keene State College. “Even with all the challenges that come along with elections, they are really an important responsibility of the government, one that can directly change the lives of our citizens in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t matter much who you vote for, but rather the fact that you voted,” Little said.
Liz Tentarelli was given the State of New Hampshire award for her role as the president of the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire. Tentarelli was unable to come to the event, but had a video message for the crowd.
“Our members help new voters navigate the voter registration process. We moderate candidate forums so that voters can meet and hear candidates in person. We study the issues that matter so that we can advocate in the legislature and inform the public,” Tentarelli said.
The event was introduced by associate Vice President for Diversity and Education Dottie Morris. Morris won the award in 2008.
“Here at Keene State College, we come together every year to honor our strong dedicated women at the college, regional and state levels. These women are working hard, right here in our communities and their lives are making our world a better place for all of us,” Morris said.
Keene State President Melinda Treadwell also spoke at the event. “Their lives demonstrate for us the power of voice, of taking action and believing that meaningful and lasting change is possible in our democratic society,” Treadwell said.
Chair of the English Department at Keene State College Brinda Charry is on the committee that chooses who receives the award. “We look for people in the community who work toward the theme and this year was Women of the Vote. We looked for people who are really doing sustained work and providing leadership,” said Charry.
The award ceremony also included a musical performance by two current Keene State College students.
The ceremony marked the 30th anniversary of the award.
Teddy Tauscher can be contacted at