WILLIAMSTOWN -- Attorney General Martha Coakley received multiple accolades Wednesday night, during a "Woman of Achievement Dinner" at the Williams Inn.

Coakley, who was first elected in 2006 and recently announced a gubernatorial campaign, was honored by the Northern Berkshire Professional Women's Club.

The North Adams native spoke about the many accomplishments women have made in recent decades, as well existing challenges.

"We need to be able and willing to work with each other and put ourselves out there, and take on those challenges," she told attendees.

Letters read Wednesday that recognized Coakley's work came from North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, the Williamstown Board of Selectmen, and State Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield).

A letter written by Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin thanked Coakley for her dedication to residents of the Spruces mobile home park, which was devastated during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Coakley took personal time out of a weekend visit to North Adams to tour the park, he wrote.

"In the months since then her office has been a staunch ally of the Town of Williamstown and a guardian angel to the residents of the Spruces," Fohlin wrote.

After accepting the awards, Coakley spoke about the many accomplishments women have in today's world. Women-owned businesses now account for 30 percent all U.S. business, she said, generating $1.9 trillion and employing 9.2 million people.


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Coakley received applause when she poked fun at the recent Government Shutdown.

"I'm convinced if we send a few more women down to Congress we might get them back to work," she said.

But Coakley stressed that more work is to be done.

"Almost half of our nation's workforce is made up of woman, and a record 40 percent of American mothers are the primary breadwinners for their families," she said. "And yet we know women and children are more likely to be in poverty."

Coakley shared an anecdote about the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who she identified as a hero of hers.

"She was concerned about those who lived in poverty, she was concerned about what she could do in her office," she said.

Roosevelt had many great quotes, Coakley said, including: "Woman are like tea bags, you only know their strength when they're in hot water."

"I think we it's important that we all make a resolution tonight to lean in, to misbehave once in a while...and get into hot water together," she said. "It will make Berkshire County better, it will make Massachusetts better, and frankly it will make the world a better place."

Proceeds from Wednesday's dinner benefited the Women's Club's Margaret E. Lanoue Scholarship, a $500 award given to a non-traditional student.

To reach Edward Damon, email
edamon@thetranscript.com.