Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy

Each year, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs awards the Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy, which recognizes an outstanding Colby senior who has demonstrated a commitment to public affairs and plans to pursue a career related to public policy.

The prize, a $5,000 cash award, is determined by a committee of faculty who have been engaged in public affairs, as well as the Goldfarb Center’s executive director. The award is based on an application that showcases a student’s public affairs engagement while at Colby, plans for the future, and how this award will impact the student’s ability to fulfill those plans. It is meant to be a bridge to help a student who needs assistance post-graduation to jumpstart their career.

The Franko-Maisel Prize is possible because of a generous gift from Patrice Franko, the Grossman Professor of Economics and Professor of Global Studies, and Sandy Maisel, the Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of American Government (emeritus). 

Professors Sandy Maisel and Patrice Franko
Professors Sandy Maisel and Patrice Franko

Professor Maisel was the founding director of the Goldfarb Center in 2003 and Professor Franko was the director from 2016-2019. The gift is further testament to their decades of commitment to public affairs programming and Colby students.


Application Guidelines

Seniors should self-nominate by submitting applications to [email protected] by Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at 11:59pm.  Be sure to include your name, major(s), contact information, including your Colby ID #, and a copy of your CV. Answers to questions should not be more than 500 words each. Please submit your application as a Word document or pdf. All seniors are qualified to apply. Note that the cash award is reportable income and potentially taxable. The Goldfarb Center will announce the award winner in May 2024.

Apply by answering the following essay questions:

1. What does public affairs mean to you and how have you demonstrated a commitment to public affairs during your time at Colby both on and off campus?
2. Explain the career goals you hope to achieve and how they relate to public policy. What are your plans after graduation?
3. How will this funding help you accomplish your immediate career goals? If you win, how will you spend the money?

Nena Burgess ’22
Nena Burgess '22 received the 2022 Franko-Maisel Prize.

Champion for Social Justice Wins Franko-Maisel Prize

This year’s winner of the Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy is awarded to Nena Burgess ’22, a Government and Global Studies major whose career goal is to become an advocate for underrepresented communities through legal support and policy change.

Nena explained in her application that she sees public affairs not only as a necessity for a functioning society, but also as a catalyst for social change. Her internships at the Pro Bono Institute in Washington, DC and with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Maine helped her understand the role of policy reform and legal aid advocacy related to issues ranges from drug policy to criminal justice. She aims to become a paralegal at an immigration, civil rights, or housing law firm before attending law school. Her ultimate goal is to become litigation attorney or a legal director of an equitable legal aid organization in the Washington, DC area.

“I plan to obtain a law degree so I can protect and fight for community needs in the courts. I would also like to go into policy advocacy to change the laws to better serve the needs of underrepresented communities,” Nena said. “My goal is to continue learning, serving, and protecting the needs of marginalized communities, which I believe is a critical component of public affairs.”

Nena has been an active leader on Colby’s campus, including serving as a Class Senator for the Class of 2022 in the Student Government Association and as a Communications Chair for the Students Organized for Black and Latinx Unity (SOBLU).

Through the Goldfarb Center, Nena has led discussions on race and identity with Susan Rice and moderated a discussion on free speech and campus protest rights with ACLU attorney Emerson Sykes. She was a Posse Scholar, a student research fellow for Montgoris Assistant Professor of Government Carrie LeVan, and a community liaison in the Office of Civic Engagement. She was also awarded two Davis Grants for Global Experiences and was a Sandy Maisel Student Internship Grant.

She plans to use the prize money to help with moving expenses to relocate in the fall of 2022 to Washington, DC, where she is best placed to work on legal aid and policy advocacy while preparing for law school. As she wrote, “as a proud low-income, first-generation college student, this funding will help me accomplish my immediate career goals by allowing me to overcome financial barriers that inhibit them.”

Franko-Maisel Prize Awarded to Future Leader in Education Policy

Emmanuel Sogunle '21 received the 2021 Franko-Maisel Prize
Emmanuel Sogunle '21 received the 2021 Franko-Maisel Prize.

The 2021 winner of the Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy is Emmanuel Sogunle, a Colby graduate who plans to pursue a career in education policy to reform the inequalities he has seen and experienced among communities of color. He was a double major in economics and education, held numerous leadership positions across campus, and will be working for Teach for America in Dallas while simultaneously getting his master’s in education policy after graduation. After two years teaching low-income middle school students, he plans to attend law school in order to use litigation to reform the education system.

When Emmanuel went home to Nigeria after his freshman year at Colby, he was struck by how many students were dedicated to their education but struggled to buy basic school supplies like rulers and calculators. Along with his sisters, he organized a fundraiser to help send backpacks with school supplies to middle schools in Nigeria and has been sending them ever since. 

He became intrigued and inspired by the role of advocacy, policy, and litigation to reform communities when he co-moderated a Goldfarb-sponsored event last fall with Jeffrey Robinson from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the U.S. justice system and racial inequalities. Emmanuel was then hired by the ACLU in Maine to help design a Youth Advocacy Summit for high school and college students to better understand their voting rights, lobbying, and how to organize for change. He plans to create a similar youth summit in Texas.

In his application, Emmanuel talked about the discriminatory policies, inequitable funding, and lack of support that he witnessed in the education system. He wrote, “I want to help contribute to reforming the system.” He reflected that growing up he only had one Black teacher his entire life and how important it is “to see someone that looks like you in the classroom.” Through Teach for America his hope is to not only better understand the education system, but also to connect to students of color to improve their academic outcomes.

On campus, Emmanuel was the president of the Colby African Society and a parliamentarian of the Student Government Association. He also actively volunteered as a mentor to 5th grade students once a week, was a Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences (CAPS) Scholar, and a research assistant for Colby’s Lunder Institute for American Art.

First-Ever Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy Winner: Gal Cohen

Gal Cohen '20 received the first Franko-Maisel Prize.
Gal Cohen '20 received the first Franko-Maisel Prize.

We are pleased to announce that the first-ever Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy was awarded to Gal Cohen. She is a 2020 Colby graduate who majored in Global Studies with a concentration in International Relations. Gal, a dual U.S./Israeli citizen, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She plans to relocate to Washington, DC to start her career in public service to directly affect and improve public policy.

Gal has done impressive work already. During her time at Colby, Gal demonstrated her commitment to human rights by leading the Amnesty International chapter and serving as a student leader and community advocate for the Oak Institute for Human Rights. She worked as a Sexual Violence Prevention educator and mentor and had internships at two prominent think tanks: the Center for European Policy Studies in Belgium and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. Gal also contributed to the grassroots mobilization of at-risk female asylum seekers in Thailand for healthcare reform; partnered with community leaders in Nicaragua’s poor indigenous communities to advocate for equal access to state-funded resources; created campaigns to raise awareness of corruption in the Israeli government; and lobbied Israeli officials and international health organizations to improve policies and access to healthcare in the West Bank and Gaza.

As she wrote in her application, Gals’ career goal is to “create better policies for better lives.” She has certainly earned the honor of being named the first Franko-Maisel Prize winner, and the Goldfarb Center looks forward to watching Gal continue to advance the hallmarks of good public policy.