Maria Mossaides ’73, the Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and president of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association, was given the Steadfast Award by the Frances Perkins Center.
Mossaides was honored at the center’s 11th annual Garden Party on Sunday, August 18, 2019, at the Frances Perkins Homestead in Newcastle, Maine.
The event also celebrated the 84th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act, a signature New Deal program that benefits all Americans, thanks to the efforts of Frances Perkins, class of 1902, the driving force behind its enactment.
Peggy Rotundo ’71, board director of the Frances Perkins Center, presented the Steadfast Award to Mossaides, noting, “Each year the Frances Perkins Center honors a person whose life work has steadfastly promoted the values and ideals that guided Frances Perkins’ life. The board is honored to present this year's Steadfast Award to Maria Mossaides, who has worked tirelessly as a public servant to ensure that government works for all people, particularly children and youth, and that all have access to justice.”
In accepting the award, Mossaides highlighted Frances Perkins’ influence on her own career and commitment to public service.
“I was first introduced to Frances Perkins as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, our mutual alma mater,” Mossaides said. “At the time, I could not have imagined that Frances Perkins would become a personal hero. Frances Perkins’ example has sustained me in the actual work of my over 40 years of public service.”
Mossaides continued, “Frances Perkins was the voice of the voiceless, the champion of working people and families. She created our safety net — Social Security and unemployment insurance. She established the programs that kept Americans from starving during the Great Depression.”
After describing life for working Americans prior to the New Deal programs of the 1930s, Mossaides said, “For the past 30 years I have shared the story of Frances Perkins in a class I teach for public managers. I use her as an example of what one determined person can accomplish — I want Frances Perkins to inspire my students to ‘do the right thing,’ just as she has done for me.”
The Frances Perkins Homestead, a national historic landmark, was settled by the Perkins family in the mid-18th century on the Damariscotta River, contains Frances Perkins memorabilia, earlier homestead foundations and remnants of the family’s brickworks.
The Frances Perkins Center, founded in 2008, honors the legacy of Frances Perkins by sharing her commitment to the principle that government should provide all its people with the best possible life, and by preserving the place that shaped her character. The Center convenes leaders and future leaders in public policy, labor and related fields to generate creative solutions to today’s social and economic problems, and teaches students of all ages about a remarkable woman whose work continues to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
Susan Bateson ’76 is the board vice chair of the Frances Perkins Center.