Photo courtesy of Joyce Gibson

By: Haley Hersey, Staff Writer

The Maine Women’s Hall of Fame’s 2021 inductees are Joyce Taylor Gibson and Leigh Saufley. Gibson is an associate professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Southern Maine and the former dean of Lewiston-Auburn College. Saufley is the Dean of the University of Maine School of Law and former Maine Chief Justice.  

According to the Office of Public Affairs, the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes “women whose achievements have had a significant statewide impact, have significantly improved the lives of women, and whose contributions provided enduring value for women.” 

Chief Justice and Dean, Saufley, graduated from the University of Maine in 1976. In 1980 she graduated from the Maine School of Law. Throughout her career, Saufley has worked in Togus and in the Office of the Attorney General. Leigh Saufley was even one of the office’s first female Deputy Attorneys General. She was the first woman and youngest to be appointed Chief Justice in 2001. Last April, Saufley was appointed Dean of the Maine School of Law. 

Dean Gibson shared she is “from a Southern, farming family of religious African American people who believed that education is one of the most important tickets to equity.” Her passion for education has led Dean Gibson to have more than thirty years of experience in academic and administrative leadership within higher education.

Dean Gibson was rather surprised about her induction because “I was not aware of the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame, and because my work promoting equity for women is a natural part of my social justice work.”

Gibson works hard to be a role model for women in girls in Maine through doing her best in her professional and community positions. Advocacy is something Gibson regularly practices, especially in regards to rights. Equity is a focus of her efforts.

 “Through my role as Dean of the LAC campus,  I have fought for fair salaries for women at USM and have engaged in many everyday battles for women’s representation in the business of the university and local community organizations,” shared Dean Gibson.

To further prove Dean Gibson’s dedication to Maine, she has been a volunteer to various women’s groups over the years, including the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, and is affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies group at both USM and UMO. Additionally, she is most proud of “being a charter, lifelong member of the  Boston Chapter of the National Association of Negro Women, an international organization that support women and girls’ development throughout the world.” 

Gibson eloquently stated, “While the laws and practices of our country, and in so many other places in the world are still designed to subjugate women, discriminate against us, and to generally take advantage of us, we must educate ourselves to fight our battles in collaboration with others who believe in women’s rights.” 

Dean Gibson has demonstrated the significance of equality and education in her life to her children seeing as though her only daughter is a graduate of Stanford and works on Wall Street; her granddaughter is a sophomore at Brown University.

“We have to keep passing the torch to every generation to succeed.  Much of my success can be attributed to my educational background, thus, I will always promote it as a tool for equality.”

On March 20, 2021, a virtual induction ceremony for Joyce Gibson and Leigh Saufley is scheduled to take place.


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