Building Bridges: How Can Academic Research and Public Policy Inform Each Other?​

6:30 p.m. Reception / 7 p.m. Event, Thursday, March 10, Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building (also live streamed)

Join us for this hour-long event where we consider the role that academic research can play in informing and impacting public policy. Learn from Maine lawmakers and policy advocates about ways you can help drive evidence-based public policy on pressing contemporary issues. And learn more about the Maine Scholars Strategy Network, an organization working to strengthen democracy and improve public policy by linking academic expertise with journalists, civic organizations, and policymakers. 

Winifred Tate, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Colby, will moderate a panel that includes Rep. Jessica Fay, serving House District 66 in the Maine House of Representatives, Rep. Charlotte Warren, serving House District 84 in the Maine House of Representatives, and Julie Ann Smith, Executive Director, Maine Farm Bureau.


Rep. Warren
Rep. Charlotte Warren
Julie Ann Smith
Rep. Fay
Rep. Jessica Fay
Winifred Tate

Rep. Charlotte Warren is serving her fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives. She serves as House chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and previously served on the Judiciary Committee. Warren is an adjunct professor at the University of New England’s Graduate School of Social Work and owns her own consulting business. She served on the Hallowell City Council for 12 years, including four as mayor.

Julie Ann Smith is the Executive Director of the Maine Farm Bureau Association. A Maine native, Smith serves as the Farm Bureau’s principal lobbyist before the Maine legislature. Smith grew up on a fourth-generation family dairy farm in Monmouth and attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland. She started her career in the legal profession as deputy registrar of the Cumberland County Probate court, and as a paralegal for the Boston law firm of Holland & Knight. She then moved to Fort Collins, CO, where she worked as a teacher and artist and was involved in a number of agricultural organizations, including the state’s first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and a non-profit restaurant that served locally-produced food. She was named the head of the Maine Farm Bureau Association in the summer of 2017.

Rep. Jessica Fay, a small business owner and community volunteer, is serving her third term in the Maine House of Representatives. She serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Government Oversight Committee. Fay’s passion for protecting Maine’s environment has stemmed from time spent at her family’s camp on Sebago Lake in Raymond, where she learned to swim, paddle and sail at a young age. She and her husband Kevin moved to Raymond almost two decades ago and set down strong roots in the community. Fay opened her first business, Raymond Village Florist, in 2000. Public service was an integral part of Fay’s family life growing up. Family members worked in the public sector as well as served on volunteer and elected boards and committees. Inspired by this service, Representative Fay volunteers for Meals on Wheels and founded an Age-Friendly Community initiative in her hometown of Raymond. Fay graduated from Simmons College, Boston, MA. She currently owns Maine Lakes Wedding and Events Florist which keeps her busy when the Legislature is not in session. She and her husband Kevin enjoy playing and hiking with their three labrador retrievers, Murphy, Lowell, and Ellis. 

Winifred Tate is a political anthropologist who studies drug wars, community, place, and politics in the Americas, with a focus on southern Colombia and Maine. She is the author of two books about political violence, drug policy, and social movements: Counting the Dead: The Culture and Politics of Human Rights Activism in Colombia (University of California Press, 2007) and Drugs, Thugs and Diplomats: US Policymaking in Colombia (University of Stanford Press, 2015). As director of the Maine Drug Policy Lab at Colby College, she works to bring together policymakers, scholars, and students and provide research-based analysis for addressing critical drug policy issues in our state. Dr. Tate conducts research on shifting conceptions of drug use, addiction, and recovery among community members, law enforcement, and health care providers.