Founded in 2003 with a generous gift from Colby Trustee Emeritus, William Goldfarb ’68, P ’00, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs connects the Colby community to the world of public policy, inspires active citizenship, and fosters discussion about creative, interdisciplinary approaches to complex societal challenges. We believe in a nonpartisan, inclusive approach that welcomes every opinion as part of a healthy discourse. Our events include world leaders, innovative thinkers, influential politicians, community activists, and cutting-edge academics. We engage students and faculty across disciplines to address both pressing and emerging topics in public affairs and policy, and also support student and faculty research in the field.
Public affairs – whether local, national, or international – shape the life of the societies we have and the societies we aspire to be in innumerable ways. Since its founding, the Goldfarb Center has aimed to engage the Colby community with public affairs at the local, state, national, and international levels and link work in the classroom to contemporary political, economic, social, and environmental issues. Hosting events with a range of influential leaders and thinkers has always been central to the Center’s programming, as has supporting research and scholarly activities, and providing opportunities for students to develop and hone leadership skills through internships and service on the Student Executive Board. A multi-disciplinary Faculty Advisory Board supports the Center’s work by liaising with students and connecting its programming to Colby’s curriculum and academic life. The Goldfarb Center’s grant programs fund student internships, as well as faculty and student research, that consider important public policy issues. The Center has supported hundreds of opportunities since 2003 across disciplines and also provides support to students pursuing careers in public affairs through awarding the Franko-Maisel prize for public policy.
Alison Beyea joined Colby in 2023 as the executive director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs. Ms. Beyea is a civil rights attorney with over two decades experience working at the intersection of law and policy in the nonprofit, academic and government sectors. From 2014-2022, Ms. Beyea led the ACLU of Maine, where she successfully navigated the organization through one of the most tumultuous times in the nation’s history and oversaw tremendous growth across the organization. She distinguished herself as an advocate for civil rights and as a statewide leader on issues of criminal legal reform, racial justice, and the rights of youth. Prior to joining the ACLU, Ms. Beyea was director of admissions at the University of Maine School of Law, her alma mater, where she also taught as an adjunct professor specializing in juvenile law and policy. During her career, she served as a senior attorney at the Muskie School of Public Service, co-founder and attorney at Kids Legal, a project of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, and worked as judicial law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Chief Justice Daniel Wathen of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Early in her career, she was field coordinator for a congressional candidate from Iowa and a constituent coordinator for Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois. In addition to her law degree from the University of Maine School of Law, Ms. Beyea holds a B.A. from Kenyon College in Ohio.
Erica joined the Goldfarb Center as its Associate Director in 2023 after working for nearly two decades as a community builder, community organizer, and executive administrator in Maine’s non-profit and cooperative business sectors. After completing a B.A. in Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, Erica has fed a love of lifelong learning by completing additional professional trainings in the fields of mediation, data analysis, collaborative leadership, and non-profit management, and is currently a candidate for a Master of Library Science degree at Simmons University. She is humbled to have an opportunity to support the Goldfarb Center and the broad community that it serves.
Faculty Associate Director
Nicholas Jacobs is a political scientist whose research focuses on multi-level governance and the politicization of administrative power. He has published over two dozen peer-reviewed articles and book-chapters on topics ranging from school segregation, tax reform, and America’s urban-rural divide. His first book, What Happened to the Vital Center?, with Oxford University Press, explores how institutional developments throughout the 20th century created incentives to craft public policies away from median voter and use administrative tools as a mobilizing strategy for party activists. He received the American Political Science Association’s John Kincaid award for his research on federalism and intergovernmental relations and he regularly comments on American politics for local and national media outlets. At Colby, he teaches courses on American political development, public policy, political science research methods, and institutional reform. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington.