Perkins Center to honor Obama labor official, MIT professor

Posted:  Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 7:15am

The Frances Perkins Center will honor a former top official from the Department of Labor and an industrial relations professor from MIT at its 10th annual Garden Party later this month.

“We’re delighted to recognize M. Patricia Smith and Thomas Kochan for their decades of work in advancing the causes championed by Frances Perkins,” said Perkins Center Executive Director Michael Chaney.

Smith, who served as Barack Obama’s Solicitor of Labor from 2010 to 2017, will receive the Open Door Award. Prior to her time at the Department of Labor, Smith served as the New York Commissioner of Labor—a position first held by Frances Perkins.

Kochan, an expert in industrial relations, work, and employment, will receive the Intelligence & Courage Award. He has been a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 1980.

The Perkins Center Board of Directors will present Smith and Kochan with their awards at the Garden Party, which celebrates the 83rd anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act, on Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark.

Garden Party guests will be shuttled from downtown Newcastle via old-fashioned trolley to the Perkins Homestead, where attendees can enjoy wine, refreshments, hors d’oeuvres, and the Homestead’s beautiful landscape.

The Garden Party will run from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $75, and can be purchased online at, by phone at (207) 563-3374, or in-person at 170A Main Street in Damariscotta.

Perkins was the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet position. She was the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was one of the principal architects of the New Deal. Perkins’ grandson Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall founded the Perkins Center to educate the public about Perkins’ life and work, and to promote her legacy.

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