On Saturday September 23 Bowdoin College’s Pickard Theater was the setting for this year’s Frances Perkins Center Betta Ehrenfeld Public Policy Forum. The forum featured a spirited conversation between New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer, and Bill Nemitz, news columnist for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram and was introduced by Janet M. Martin, Professor of Government and Legal Studies and Michael Chaney, Executive Director of the Frances Perkins Center who thanked the John C. Donovan Lecture Fund and Betta Ehrenfeld for making the event possible.
Jane Mayer took the stage greeted by an outpouring of appreciative applause even before she began to speak. She said, "I am incredibly honored to even have my name in the same sentence with that of Frances Perkins, we’re not in the same league but it’s wonderful to be in such great company and the company of all of you [the audience].” Mayer was presented the 2017 Intelligence & Courage award for her efforts “to make transparent for an informed public the profoundly corrupting role of such money in our politics,” from Frances Perkins Center board chair Dr. Christopher Breiseth.
The six hundred people in attendance were treated to an engaging exchange between the two journalists as they discussed Mayer’s experience researching and writing her New York Times best-selling book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right that her website says:" illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats—headed by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys—who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.”
The Betta Ehrenfeld Public Policy Forum is an annual event hosted by the Frances Perkins Center to highlight the principles that guided the life and work of Frances Perkins and apply those principles to today's economic and social problems. The Center was incorporated in Newcastle, Maine, in 2009 to honor its namesake and to fulﬁll her legacy by continuing her work for social justice and economic security and preserving for future generations her nationally significant family homestead. The Center inspires people to address current economic and social problems as Perkins would, through work in the areas of education, outreach, and advocacy. The nonproﬁt, nonpartisan Center is currently headquartered in downtown Damariscotta, Maine, where it offers an interpretive exhibit on the life and achievements of Frances Perkins. The Center seeks to acquire and preserve the place Perkins called home--her family homestead on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle.