50 Mainers Leading by Example
Maine isn’t short on independent spirit. We have a long history of artists calling Maine home, escaping to the woods and sea to find inspiration. Small businesses drive our economy, which has one of the highest percentages of self-employed workers in the country. But what makes the individuals on the following pages special isn’t just their self-reliance; it’s their drive to do what’s best for their communities, no matter the odds or expectations. They take action, even if they don’t know who will follow. In the process they make their communities healthier, more prosperous, more educated, more diverse, and more culturally rich. They’re creating world-class research institutions in the outer edges of the state. They’re focusing investment in neighborhoods and regions abandoned by past industries. They’re providing jobs and support to Maine’s most vulnerable populations. They’re doing this all for their communities, because if they don’t, who else will?
Deirdre Nice | Executive and Artistic Director of St. Lawrence Arts, Cofounder of Silly’s Restaurant
When Deirdre Nice purchased the vacant St. Lawrence Church on Munjoy Hill in 1993, she didn’t plan on eventually leading an arts organization. “At first, all I wanted to do was save this big, old, beautiful historic building from destruction and make an arts center,” Nice says. She bought the former church to save it from disrepair and then helped form the nonprofit organization that renovated the parish hall side of the building into a 100-seat theater. At the time, she was also running Silly’s Restaurant with her sister, Stefani. After they sold the restaurant, Nice was hired as executive and artistic director at St. Lawrence Arts. The organization’s ultimate goal is to rebuild the sanctuary side, which was demolished in 2008, into a 400-seat performance hall; it currently hosts a full schedule of musical, theatrical, and other performances in the smaller theater. “Art transcends all cultures, all languages, and all circumstances,” Nice says. “The importance of making performing arts accessible is what fills divides and builds bridges in a community.” Nice has dedicated herself to community and the arts beyond St. Lawrence, serving as a board member at 317 Main Community Music Center and as an advisory board member at Mayo Street Arts, and volunteering at East End Community School’s Rise and Shine and Walking School Bus programs. She also worked as a volunteer DJ at WMPG for 21 years. “Silly’s has become bigger and better since I left,” Nice says, “and I hope that St. Lawrence Arts, once the building is whole again, will do the same.”
Lucas St. Clair | President of Elliotsville Plantaion, Inc.
When President Barack Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in August 2016, it capped off five years of work by Lucas St. Clair to conserve 87,500 acres of land in Maine’s North Woods. Before St. Clair took over his family foundation and the effort in 2011, his mother, Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby, had worked for more than a decade to turn tens of thousands of acres into a national park. Since the national monument designation, the region has seen a boost in visitors, real estate values, and economic activity. Even people who previously opposed the monument have defended it, saying it’s brought new energy and helped unify the region. “Rather than sitting there waiting for the next mill to open or the next big thing to come along, people are really recognizing that they need to own this,” St. Clair says, “and they’re working hard and working together, and that is something that’s really phenomenal to see.” His family foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., had been building out infrastructure in the land prior to the designation, including a 22-mile round-trip loop road around the southern portion of the monument and trails for hiking and biking. “My hope is that a lot of people come up and visit and explore and see what the interior of Maine has to offer,” St. Clair says.
Mary Dempsey | Founding Member and Community Services Coordinator at the Dempsey Center
When Mary Dempsey’s mother, Amanda Dempsey, was first diagnosed with cancer, the Dempseys realized how much that diagnosis impacts the entire family. Mary Dempsey was part of a small team, including medical professionals at Central Maine Medical Center, that helped define what the Dempsey Center would be and develop its original mission. Today, as community services coordinator, she often works directly with cancer patients and families, providing front-line communication with clients who call or walk through the doors of the center. “What fills my cup every day is being able to give, support, and make a difference for people impacted by cancer,” she says. “It gives me joy to help others bring much-needed comfort to people dealing with a cancer diagnosis.” Dempsey works to keep her mother’s spirit alive at the center and to offer hope to those navigating a difficult journey. In recognition of her commitment to the community, she received an honorary doctor of public service degree from St. Joseph’s College on Mother’s Day 2015, a year after her mother passed away.
Patrick Dempsey | Founder of the Dempsey Center
In 2007, ten years after his mother, Amanda Dempsey, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, actor Patrick Dempsey approached Central Maine Medical Center with the idea of creating a cancer support center in his hometown of Lewiston, where his mother first received cancer treatment. Founded in 2008, the Dempsey Center provides free quality of life care to people impacted by cancer, including cancer patients, their families, and caregivers. “That human interaction, that human touch is really important to the healing process,” he says. Every year Dempsey cycles in the Dempsey Challenge, an annual fundraising event for the center in October that includes cycling races of various distances and a 5K and 10K walk/run. Last year Dempsey, who says he’s most proud of the involvement and commitment from the community, took on an advisory role at the center. “Without question it’s the most rewarding thing I do. It really makes you appreciate what you have and want to give back,” Dempsey says. “In the world we live in right now that’s so divisive and so divided, when you have a center like this, it’s symbolic of what our community is and the wellness of our own community.”
Justin Alfond | Entrepreneur, Former Maine Senate President
In Justin Alfond’s career as politician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, he has concentrated his efforts on helping the state and its residents reach their potential. “My parents and grandparents taught me to believe in myself and my community,” he says. “Every person has a talent and deserves an opportunity to succeed.” Alfond served in the Maine State Senate for eight years, becoming Maine’s second-youngest Senate president in 2012. In 2006, as director of the Maine League of Young Voters, Alfond and the organization worked to create what became the Opportunity Maine program, which provides tax credits to college graduates in Maine paying off student loans. He cofounded Full Plates Full Potential, which brings together businesses, chefs, nonprofits, and government to collaborate on solutions to end child hunger in Maine. In his entrepreneurship work, Alfond has invested in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. He opened Bayside Bowl in 2010 and recently completed a $3.5 million expansion. Nearby, Alfond helped establish Fork Food Lab, a coworking kitchen for food entrepreneurs. “Every part of our state is intertwined and interdependent,” Alfond says, “and we have to embrace this by investing in Maine’s competitive assets, raising the bar, and holding each other accountable.”
Erin Flett | Textile Designer
Featured in more than 45 magazines around the world, Erin Flett’s vibrant, graphic prints have made a resounding impact on the world of design. First a graphic designer for businesses, Flett branched out into freelance work when she was four months pregnant. “I wanted to make things that would brighten someone’s life by surrounding them with mindfully made, beautiful things,”= she explains. She began creating her prints in her basement and then expanded into the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook. Since then, her company has grown to include a small staff, and she values the local production of her work. Flett’s recognitions are numerous: Better Homes and Gardens selected her as a top “Stylemaker” in 2016, and in the same year she won an Etsy competition in which she pitched her products to several large companies, winning two of the six available prizes. She was also named a Designer to Watch by HGTV. Recently she produced over 200 linen hand-printed pillows for the Portland Harbor Hotel. Despite international accolades, Flett continues to be inspired by Maine. “As I grow, my design grows, but it is all rooted here in Maine in every facet,” says Flett, who is pictured in front of her painting, Mother Moon. “This state has always spoken to me, and I am inspired every day just living here.”
Deanna Sherman | President and CEO of Dead River Company
Deanna Sherman began at Dead River Company in 1986 as assistant manager of procurement. Over the next two decades she moved up to district manager, region manager, and then vice president of the energy division. In 2016, she became president and CEO of the 108-year old, family-owned company. “I have remained here that long due to the people I work with, the customers we serve, the positive culture of caring, and the opportunities I have been afforded to grow professionally as the company has grown,” Sherman says. In her time at Dead River, she has led several acquisitions, including the company’s largest, the acquisition of Webber Energy Fuels’s home-heating division five years ago. A graduate of Colby College, Sherman earned her master of business administration degree from the University of Southern Maine while working at Dead River. In her community involvement, Sherman has focused on providing educational opportunities to others in Maine. She’s a director on the boards of Educate Maine and the USM Foundation, and served on the United Way of Greater Portland board (UWGP) for six years. She continues to volunteer with UWGP and helped established Women United, an affiliated group that supports the advancement of single mothers and their children in the Greater Portland area. “In working with these organizations,” she says, “I am staying connected to do my part in advancing educational opportunities for Maine children and adults.”
Craig Lapine | Executive Director and Founder of Cultivating Community
The goal of Cultivating Community, which Craig Lapine founded in 2001, is to democratize the ability to produce or consume healthy, local food. Its programs include community gardens, farmer training, teen programs, and partnerships that help schools create gardens and garden-based curriculum. As executive director of the Portland-based organization, Lapine says he’s most proud of Cultivating Community’s efforts to raise issues of equity, inclusion, and fairness within the local food conversation. He and his team have worked with the city of Portland to ensure that access to community gardens mirrors the diversity of the city, and have enabled teenagers, especially young people of color, to join conversations about social, environmental, and racial justice. “And I’m very proud that we have supported the launch of dozens of farm businesses owned and operated by new Americans who are reshaping in wonderful and unexpected ways Maine’s farming landscape,” Lapine says. The organization’s refugee and immigrant farmer training program, based mostly at the Packard-Littlefield Farm in Lisbon, provides instruction on growing food in Maine’s climate, understanding customer preferences, and business skills. Last year four graduates of the program launched New Roots Cooperative Farm, a 30- acre farm in Lewiston. “That’s a huge win for us,” Lapine says. “If people can get out of the incubator farm and continue to have profitable businesses, that’s really exciting.”
Stephen D. Sears, M.D., MPH | Chief of Staff at VA Maine Healthcare System
Dr. Stephen D. Sears has spent his entire career in the public health field, from his time on the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to hospital administration at MaineGeneral Health and Mercy Hospital to serving as the state epidemiologist and now chief of staff at VA Maine Healthcare System. Sears, born and raised in Maine, did his fellowship in infectious disease at the University of Maryland and his master of public health at Johns Hopkins around the time the AIDS crisis in the United States was emerging. When he returned to Maine in 1988 to work as vice president for medical administration at Kennebec Health System, he helped craft solutions for responding to HIV/AIDS in Maine and served on the governor’s task force. Sears says public health always appealed to him because he wanted to look at the bigger picture of improving the health of communities. His infectious disease philosophy is rooted in that mindset. “You are actually able to get upstream from the disease process,” he says. “If you can prevent them, you don’t have to end up having as many people getting sick from things.” While at Kennebec Health System, Sears helped oversee a merger with Mid-Maine Health Systems to create MaineGeneral Health and MaineGeneral Medical Center in 1997. “This allowed me to put together my three professional passions: improving health system delivery, public health, and taking care of patients,” Sears says. After serving as the chief medical officer and chief quality officer at Mercy Hospital, he became the state epidemiologist. Since 2014, he has been chief of staff at VA Maine Healthcare System, where he helps improve the delivery of care to veterans.
Adele Masengo Ngoy | President & Founder of Women United Around the World, Founder of Adele Masengo Designs, Owner of Antoine’s Tailor Shop and Formal Wear
Fashion designer Adele Masengo Ngoy rose to prominence in southern Maine through her vibrantskillfully crafted styles and support of a growing design community in Portland. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngoy attended fashion school and worked as a professor. When she came to Portland as a refugee and single mother in 2000, she couldn’t speak English and felt “hopeless and lost,” as if she had lost the power to express herself. “It was very challenging until I could do my art and my work,” she says. She eventually learned English and re-established herself as a designer, founding Adele Masengo Designs and purchasing Antoine’s Tailor Shop and Formal Wear. She wanted to support other immigrant women who might not have the skills to immediately find the well-paying jobs that are necessary to build new lives in Maine, so in 2011 she founded Women United Around the World. The organization promotes the leadership development of female immigrants, teaches sewing, and provides workshops and connections for new immigrants in the community. Thirteen women went through the sewing program, and several have already found jobs in the sewing industry. She is thankful for the board members of Women United Around the World and for her friends in the community who have supported her, saying, “I’m proud to be in Portland.”
Cabot Lyman | Founder and Owner of Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, Owner of 250 Main Hotel
Cabot Lyman and his wife, Heidi, moved to Maine in 1978 with a plan to work in boatbuilding. At the time, Morse Boatbuilding Company in Thomaston was closing, so he inquired about renting space to work on a boat. When he found out the company had outstanding contracts to build two vessels, he approached the customers about taking over the contracts and bought the business itself, opening Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding. Since then, the company has launched more than 110 vessels. Lyman attributes the success to the quality of the vessels and his own bluewater cruising experience. After graduating from college, Cabot and Heidi spent five years sailing and skippering boats in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. “We had a lot of sailing experience, a lot of miles on the ocean,” he says. “That really helped sell our boats to customers. We could guide them as to what was right and what was wrong.” Lyman has completed more than 150,000 miles of offshore voyages, including three years spent circumnavigating the world with Heidi and their three sons, Alex, Drew, and Zach, on their 49-foot sailboat built at the yard. The company, now led by son Drew, took a significant step forward in 2015 when it purchased Wayfarer Marine in Camden, establishing a presence in the popular Camden Harbor. In 2016, the family moved beyond boatbuilding and opened 250 Main Hotel, a 26-room hotel in Rockland. “It’s important that the area stays vibrant,” says Lyman, pictured with Anna, a 65-foot cold-molded modern classic sailboat under construction. “Our customers like to come to Maine when we build their boats and be a part of it. It’s an important facet, that people like to come here.”
Jean Hoffman | President of Q Street Advisors, LLC, Founder and Former Board Chair, President and CEO of Putney, Inc.
After a British firm bought Putney, Inc., the veterinary product company Jean Hoffman founded, for $200 million in 2016, Hoffman wanted to recognize the team that made Putney successful. She gave $14,000 to every employee who had worked at the company for at least six months. “Putney was my idea and strategy, but I didn’t build Putney alone,” Hoffman says. “I built a fantastic team, and it was the team, from our industry-leading regulatory experts to our groundbreaking R and D scientists to the persistent relationship builders on our commercial team, who overcame great obstacles to achieve Putney’s success.” Putney, twice named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States, was the second company Hoffman built from the ground up that was later sold. Newport Strategies, a provider of competitive intelligence for the pharmaceutical industry, was sold in 2004 to Thomson Reuters. She is now president of Q Street Advisors, a company she founded for investing in and providing board service to growing companies. “I enjoy building and I enjoy shaking things up,” Hoffman says. “I love giving people opportunities and helping them succeed.” The charity work of her family foundation focuses on supporting community, education, and culture, ensuring access to reproductive healthcare, and promoting the health of pets, the environment, and dialogue with China.
John Hathaway | CEO and President of Shucks Maine Lobster
“I’m a better dreamer than a businessman,” says John Hathaway, CEO and president of Shucks Maine Lobster, but his business record is impressive. After opening companies all over the world, including a successful real estate development firm, Hathaway returned to his home state of Maine to open Shucks Maine Lobster, a business that supplies raw lobster meat to international and local companies. Soon after it had started, Shucks won two Seafood Prix d’Elite Awards at the Brussels Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing= Global for the best new seafood product. Shucks now employs about 80 people in Maine. For Hathaway, lobster symbolizesMaine, and selling lobster at fair prices in an expanded market can impact industries from fishing to tourism. He worked to classify Maine lobster as certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and is currently the president of the Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Maine Lobster, a client group of the MSC. “I believe people should follow their passion, and I’m passionate about Maine lobster,” says Hathaway. Festivals also promote Maine branding abroad, Hathaway says, and so he created the Shucks Maine Lobster Chef World Series. Hathaway has also served as a state senator. He often advises young people, “Dream about what you want your life to be. If you open the first door, you’ll see others.”
David MacDonald | President and CEO of Friends of Acadia
After growing up in Somesville on Mount Desert Island and leaving the state for college, David MacDonald didn’t plan on returning. But he was struck by how much he missed Maine, so he came back and sought out work in land conservation. He started working at Maine Coast Heritage Trust and eventually became director of land protection for the organization. Now, as president and CEO of Friends of Acadia, MacDonald works with Acadia National Park to support, protect, and promote stewardship of the park and surrounding communities. In contrast to many other national parks, the nearby communities play an integral role in how people experience Acadia, MacDonald says. “It makes for a whole different visitor experience, and makes for, I think, a richer interaction people have with this particular national park.” In 2016, the organization led a year-long celebration of Acadia National Park’s centennial, working with more than 400 organizations and businesses that contributed events, products, works of art, and financial gifts to celebrate Acadia. Friends of Acadia also recently completed a $25 million capital campaign to help improve visitor experience, resource protection, youth engagement, and trails and carriage roads. “Among all of Maine’s dazzling array of conservation gems, Acadia National Park is certainly the most popular and world-renowned, but that’s not why I work here,” MacDonald says. “I work here because it’s my home.”
Christiane Northup, M.D. | CEO of Christiane Northup, INC., Founder and CEO of Amatalife
The first time Christiane Northrup saw a birth as a medical student, she was so moved that she decided to dedicate her life to women’s health, first as an OB/GYN and later as a teacher and writer. When she first began practicing, Northrup found that many women lacked access to comprehensive care, and their bodies were often stigmatized rather than effectively treated. “I created a language of women’s health, instead of women’s pathology,” Northrup says. She believes that women’s bodies are sources of wisdom, and that the process of birth is a blueprint for the shape our lives and creative projects take: “All the stages of labor are physical metaphors for the way creation comes into matter.” Her vision for women’s bodies and mental health contributed to her recognition by Oprah Winfrey, who named Northrup one of 2016’s Super Soul 100. She has authored eight books, including several New York Times bestsellers, such as Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being and The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change; hosts a weekly internet radio show called Flourish!; and created and hosted eight PBS specials. Based in Yarmouth, Northrup says that “Maine is a hotbed of holistic healing,” due in part to its residents’ inherent respect tfor others and commitment to the defense of natural resources. “Whathappens in Maine can transform other parts of the country.”
Susan Morris and Chip Newell | Principals at Newheight Group
As principals at NewHeight Group, Susan Morris and Chip Newell have a direct hand in the development of Portland. “We aim, in a small way, to support business growth in Portland and create a sense of community along the way,” says Morris of the duo’s condominium projects, 118 on Munjoy Hill and Luminato Condos. Luminato features shared amenities, including a guestroom, lounge, rooftop terrace, and fitness room, that aim to deepen the sense of community and reduce overall living costs for professionals who contribute to Maine’s economy. Previously involved in development in Washington, D.C., Morris and Newell came to Maine for the lifestyle, but soon realized that their skills and passion could positively impact the state, especially Portland. Both want to invigorate the startup community in Maine, especially through their nonprofit work. Newell is on the board of directors at Coastal Enterprises, Inc., the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and Community Housing of Maine. Morris focuses on inspiring entrepreneurs by organizing events such as Maine Startup and Create Week, House of Genius, and TEDxDirigo, and mentoring individuals through Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun Track, Women Standing Together, and 2 Degrees Portland. The pair believes that their condominiums play a role in continuing to make Portland attractive for young professionals and other workers. “I see Portland as the economic driver for the state of Maine,” says Newell. “It’s important to keep what makes the city special, like its historic buildings, restaurants, and breweries, but to bring in more workers to drive the economy and benefit the whole state.”
Carol Noonan and Jeff Flagg | Co-owner of Stone Mountain Arts Center
Ever since Carol Noonan and Jeff Flagg opened Stone Mountain Arts Center in the woods of Brownfield in 2006, the barn-turned performance venue has been attracting world class musicians, and an audience, from well beyond western Maine. Noonan, a singer-songwriter, and Flagg, a former commercial fishing net builder, moved to Brownfield in 1994. While Noonan was touring, she noticed that many owner-operatedvenues, where more attention is given to artists and audience members, had closed. She thought they could do better, so Flagg, with volunteers and local contractors, converted the barn behind their house into a venue. “Instead of starting small, which would have been the safe thing to do, we started big so we could get people to travel and find the place,” Noonan says. She used her connections in the music industry and the reputation the venue was developing to book bigger names, like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, and Mavis Staples. “The room’s so intimate. When you have an artist they play a different show here because the audience is right in front of the stage,” Noonan says. “When Lyle Lovett is here and you’re five feet away from him, that just creates a different environment for a show.” Looking back, Noonan and Flagg say they were lucky to find success, partly crediting the town of Brownfield for its support. “Had we known what we would be facing,” Noonan says, “we might not have had the guts to do it.”
Dr. Kevin Strange | President and CEO at MDI Biological Laboratory, CEO and cofounder of Novo Biosciences, Inc.
Dr. Kevin Strange admits that his decision to leave a tenured position at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to lead an underfunded research organization was risky. “I’m driven by big challenges,” says Strange. He joined the small, “largely unknown” MDI Biological Laboratory in 2010 as an opportunity to transform a summer research station into a global mecca of scientific discovery. At the laboratory, he would be able to pioneer new approaches in regenerative medicine and develop new drugs to treat diseases and injuries without the bureaucratic constraints of a major institution. “Maine is attractive to people who like to blaze new trails and who want to make a difference,” says Strange. In seven years, the MDI Biological Laboratory has already developed potential therapies to activate the regeneration of damaged tissues and delay the onset of age-related degenerative diseases. In 2013, he cofounded a spinoff company, Novo Biosciences, and patented a new drug candidate that activates the regeneration of heart muscle damaged by a heart attack. Most recently, he launched the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, a technology incubator and innovation hub that trains students for STEM careers and provides startup companies with laboratory space, training, and access to expertise. The center also offers an opportunity to create technology leadership roles in Maine. “Biomedical research will and must play a leading role in Maine’s future and in helping modernize our economy,” he says.
Sue Roche | Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
During an internship with a federal judge in Boston, Sue Roche learned about the complexity of immigrant rights issues in the United States, and discovered a cause to which she could direct her passion for human rights. “Our legal system cannot work unless everyone has access to justice,” Roche says. After finishing law school at Northeastern University, she joined the ImmigrantLegal Advocacy Project (ILAP) in 2000, which had just become a staffed organization in the same year, and she never left. Now executive director of ILAP, Roche is proud of her small staff of 12, as well as the organization’s board members and over 200 volunteers, including 150 pro bono attorneys who serve over 2,000 clients each year in Maine’s growing immigrant community. Without legal aid, individuals applying for asylum in immigration court face an 88-percent denial rate; ILAP, however, maintains a 97-percent approval rate for full representation cases reaching a final decision. In 2016, ILAP never lost a case. In the same year, it received the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s Gerda Haas Award, which honors excellence in human rights leadership. Roche says those who endure the process of immigration bring skills and values that enrich Maine both economically and culturally, but “without legal status, it’s much more difficult to integrate into the community.” Roche notes that support in the community is growing both for ILAP and for the immigrants the organization represents. “We’re a better community when we’re more diverse,” she adds.
Daniel Minter | Artist, Instructor at Maine College of Art
Daniel Minter is a multidisciplinary artist working across different mediums. He is a painter and sculptor who is an illustrator at heart. His work is often symbolic and explores broad concepts that are linked to social justice issues, often while weaving in spiritual themes from the African diaspora. “There are difficult stories to tell that are easy to not talk about. Many involve racism, displacement, and bias historically experienced by most people of African descent,” Minter says. “Artwork can provide a starting point for looking deeper, by first inspiring the emotional response to the aesthetics.” Minter has illustrated 11 children’s books, including Ellen’s Broom, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor. He’s drawn to children’s books because they allow him to insert something of his own story in the artwork. “It is important that children sometimes see characters that look like them and characters that look different from them in the books they read,” says Minter, who is represented by Greenhut Galleries in the Portland area and Soren Christensen Gallery in the New Orleans area. He cofounded and created the bas-relief sculptures that mark the Portland Freedom Trail, a self-guided walking tour of notable sites related to the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movement. “The work I do is my way of making sense of the world through the lens of my people,” Minter says. “The work is also a way of engaging the community and giving them a window to understanding who I am enough to see that my work also carries a reflection of them.”
Tony Owens, M.D. | Attending physician at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Maine Medical Center, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine
As a doctor in the Emergency Department at Maine Medical Center, Tony Owens has often observed firsthand the connection between conservation and human health, and as an environmental advocate, he has worked to create stronger conservation policies and inspire the next generation of leaders. In front of a United States Senate committee in Washington, D.C., he testified in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, arguing that carbon dioxide emissions from Midwestern power plants contribute to Maine’s high rates of pediatric asthma. Speaking out about climate change, he has suggested that higher temperatures have expanded the range of tick-borne diseases and caused higher incidences of Lyme disease. In 2007, Owens joined the board of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) after his fourth child graduated from college. He was instrumental in the development of NRCM Rising, a subgroup of NRCM that seeks to expand advocacy among people under 40. As a practicing emergency physician for nearly 40 years and an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, he also teaches residents and medical students in the Emergency Department at Maine Medical Center. Leading by example, Owens says, “I’m constantly challenging young people to become more engaged. These people will live much longer than me, and I want to teach them to become better stewards and advocates.”
Zoe Weil | Cofounder and President of the Institute for Humane Education
As cofounder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil envisions education as a path toward a more just world. In 1996, Weil and Rae Sikora founded the Institute for Humane Education in Surry, creating a hub of educational programs offering online and in-person courses, master’s degrees, and an online resource center. The institute posits “solutionary thinking” as a new approach to resolving issues of injustice by recognizing the interconnectedness of human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation. Instead of approaching issues like conservation from a single perspective, solutionary thinkers combine multiple frameworks; for example, students learn about the connections between water pollution caused by fertilizer runoff and poor health caused by common agricultural practices, and devise solutions that help protect the ocean, restore farmland, and improve human health. Weil has also authored seven books, including her most recent, The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries, and she has delivered six TEDx Talks. After training adults for two decades, the institute is now targeting youth. Recently, the institute began developing a solutionary pilot program that involved 350 middle and high school students this past year; in early June, student teams from six schools presented their innovative solutions for local and global problems at the University of Maine during the institute’s first regional summit. “If we can transform education, we can create solutions to virtually anything,” says Weil.
Cidny Bullens | Singer, songwriter, musician, performer, writer and recording artist
“I have never specifically strived to send a message in my work—only to tell a story,” says Cidny Bullens. In the artist’s lengthy career, he has received two Grammy nominations, sung backup vocals for multiple tours with Elton John, written a musical about North Haven with a Tony award-winning producer, and released eight solo albums, including one inspired by the death of his 11-year-old daughter, Jessie. Written in the two years after Jessie’s death from cancer, Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth includes performances by Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, Bryan Adams, and his elder daughter, Reid Crewe. “I could not have imagined that those ten songs—all moments in my grief—would touch bereaved parents and others all over the world,” Bullens says. Most recently Bullens has been performing his one-person show, Somewhere Between: Not An Ordinary Life, to audiences around the country. The show follows his journey through being a 70s rock-and-roll musician, getting married, dealing with the death of his daughter, becoming a grandparent, and his decision in 2011 to transition from female to male, changing his name from Cindy to Cidny. The theatrical production also includes songs from Bullens’s past and more recent work. “I thought, if I tell my story honestly, maybe whoever sees it would have greater insight into what it is to be a transgendered person,” Bullens says. “But ultimately, it’s a human story—about love, loss, and resurrection. Those things every human being has experienced.”
Stephanie Primm | Executive Director of Know County Homeless Coalition and Hospitality House
“It’s an invisible problem here on the midcoast,” explains Stephanie Primm. “One of our clients said it best: ‘Homeless people hide quite well here in rural Maine.’” As executive director at the Knox County Homeless Coalition (KCHC) and Hospitality House, Primm has facilitated the growth of homelessness programs, which have achieved a 90-to 95-percent success rate of sustainable independence for clients who move into permanent homes and continue to participate in the programs. Currently, the coalition offers shelter and sustained comprehensive support for clients. In May, the organization began building a tiny house prototype in conjunction with Midcoast Habitat for Humanity that will increase its supportive shelter capacity, a first step toward Primm’s vision of permanent affordable communities for low income families. Recently the board has approved a plan to begin exploring new social entrepreneurship ventures to help generate funding. The work can be draining, but Primm is encouraged to see quantifiable change in her community in educational achievement and earning potential, among other indicators, and clients often return to the organizationas volunteers and advocates. Through multiple collaborative partnerships with organizations that include Preble Street, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, and New Beginnings, Primm hopes to find sustainable connections to resources and funding, as well as begin to create affordable housing and living-wage jobs through partnership and collaboration.
Tae Chong | Business Advisor at Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
When Tae Chong’s family came to Maine from South Korea 40 years ago, the transition was very difficult. “The Maine community was not ready to receive people of color, especially those from other countries,” he says. “We struggled.” As a consultant with Coastal Enterprises, Inc.’s StartSmart program, Chong now helps immigrants and refugees start and manage their own businesses. “Using an economic development mindset, I work to foster new opportunities and unlikely partnerships, which ultimately impact not only individuals and their families, but contribute to the state’s overall economic health and progress,” Chongsays. He’s been a longtime advocate for the immigrant and refugee population. In 2002, he became the first Asian-American elected to public office in Portland. He served on the school board, where he advocated for resources and equity for disenfranchised populations. He later cofounded a statewide certification program for interpreters and translators, Language Access for New Americans, which helps speakers of nearly 70 languages access services. Chong has also given talks, co-authored research papers, and co-written articles on the importance of attracting immigrants to Maine. He encourages educators, business leaders, and policymakers to see immigrants and refugees as a solution to the state’s population and workforce challenges, and as an opportunity to grow the economy. “If we do not find more people to replace the large numbers of retiring Maine workers, our way of life is in peril,” Chong says.
Nik Charov | President of Laudholm Trust, Chairman of Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
“I’ve always worked on behalf of science institutions because science is the way we discover truth,” says Nik Charov, chairman of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve and president of its nonprofit partner, the Laudholm Trust. “Truth is what we need right now; it’s also what we can’t afford to ignore.” By his own standards, truth has directed the course of Charov’s life and that of his organization. Previously employed in science and environmental nonprofits in New York, he continues to raise funds, awareness, and understanding of educational, research, and conservation opportunities at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The reserve studies how changes in climate and land use transform salt marshes, fisheries, watersheds, and coastal communities. “Coasts are amazingly diverse and dynamic because they’re where land and sea meet,” Charov says. “I feel the same way about ideas—the more opposites we can mix together, the more solutions we can make.” Since joining Wells Reserve in 2012, Charov has worked with the federal government to make the research center Maine’s first entirely solar powered nonprofit organization. This year he inaugurates the Summer of Art and Science, an event series that includes a sculpture exhibition and sale, workshops, festivals, and concerts. Charov says both art and science are “two complementary ways of approaching the natural world, and they both require attention.” As the Laudholm Trust grows, he hopes it will develop new strategies for diversifying revenues and programs. “I’m proud to put whatever talents I have to work for a better future for my kids,” he adds. “To do otherwise would be the pinnacle of negligence.”
Jane Dahmen | Artist
Jane Dahmen has been painting the Maine landscape for the past four decades. Her paintings are inspired by the natural world around her, often looking through trees at water or sky beyond. “Walking in the woods, in fields, and along the Damariscotta River near my home, I see paintings everywhere,” she says. “The natural world is my point of departure, but playing with the wet colors leads me into emotional terrain, and the form, color, and surface texture evolve as the painting comes alive.” Before moving to Maine in 2004, Dahmen would sketch the rocky forested islands while sailing the reaches of Casco Bay, returning to her studio to create paintings from the rough pencil sketches. Her paintings don’t necessarily represent specific places, but instead capture the feelings they inspire. The paintings, which have grown in size over the course of her career, create immersive environments that enable viewers to enter into her experience of the midcoast landscape. Her work is part of numerous private and corporate collections around the world. Since 2013, Dahmen has curated Talking Art in Maine: Intimate Conversations, a series of one-on-one conversations with other artists and curators in front of an audience at Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta. In her paintings and the Talking Art series, Dahmen likes to explore unknown territory. “Pushing boundaries and risking failure is what leads to good art,” she says, “and it is inspiring to hear firsthand the challenges artists face.”
Danielle Conway | Dean and Professor of Law the University of Maine School of Law
As dean and professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, Danielle M. Conway teaches students about their obligation to defend the United States Constitution, to promote the rule of law, and to represent the most vulnerable in society.“As a lawyer and a teacher, I belong to two noble professions that view leadership as service and demand that such service be prioritized above self,” Conway says. As the state’s only law school, Maine Law producesthe state’s next generation of lawyers and serves as a community and government resource. Its Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic provides free legal services to individuals and families based on low-income guidelines, while teaching law students practical skills that complement their critical thinking skillshoned through engagement with the core curriculum. In one of Conway’s most recent projects, the law school has launched a three-year pilot project to address an expected shortage of lawyers in rural counties in Maine. The University of Maine School of Law Rural Lawyer Pilot Project will place law students with practitioners in communities that would otherwise have limited access to legal services. Conway has put service above self throughout her career, spending 27 years in the United States Army, the United States Army Reserve, and the Maine Army National Guard, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in November 2016. But her passion is the law. “Law has the power to protect individuals and their communities by drawing on core values such as liberty, equality, and fairness,” she says. “With a focus on these core values, law’s fundamental purpose—to foster an organized, civilized society—offers one of the best opportunities for collective community engagement and progress.”
Beth Shissler | President and COO at Sea Bags
Beth Shissler envisions her company, Sea Bags, as part of a revolution to bring fashion production back to Maine, which has a long history of cutting and sewing. Constructed from recycled sails, the nautical carryalls are designed and sewn at Custom House Wharf in Portland. Sea Bags products rely on American-manufactured thread and New Englandproduced rope, and whenever possible, materials come directly from Maine. In the 11 years since she joined, the company has employed 180 different people, and it now operates out of 12 different storefronts across the country. She believes that it’s her responsibility as an employer to support the people who work for her. “We create career paths for folks,” says Shissler, who helps her employees find long-term fits within the company. Six of her employees have created businesses of their own, and although she doesn’t take credit for their ingenuity, she’s proud to have created “a business model that is replicable and sustainable.” Outside of Sea Bags, Shissler supports the community through her work as a board member at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “If you buy a product made locally, you’re supporting all your neighbors,” she says.
David Herring | Executive Director at Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation
Since 2012, David Herring has led the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation and the organization’s 626-acre saltwater farm and educational resource center in Freeport. Wolfe’s Neck offers educational programs for children and families, including summer camps and a teen agriculture program through which teenagers can learn about sustainable farming while managing the farm’s fruit and vegetable production. Last year Wolfe’s Neck received a $573,256 federal grant to expand its two-year residential Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program. With the average age of farmers being almost 60, Herring says it’s critical to develop training programs like the organic dairy apprenticeship that will support new food producers. “The work we’re doing at Wolfe’s Neck will help produce the next generation of organic farmers and food producers,” he says. “We’re helping people of all ages develop a greater connection to the source of their food and gain a greater understanding for the impact their food choices have on their health, the economy, and the environment.” Before Herring joined Wolfe’s Neck, he helped start Maine Huts and Trails and was hired as its first executive director in 2006. “Maine has something special that we need to continually work to protect and enhance,” Herring says. “Through my work at Maine Huts and Trails and at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, I’ve been very blessed to have such great opportunities to add to Maine’s quality of place.”
Susan D. Shaw, DRPH | Founder and Executive Director of the Marine and Environmental Research Institute
As an environmental scientist, Dr. Susan D. Shaw’s work over the last three decades has focused on the toxic exposure of people and animals to hazardous chemicals. In 1980, because of her background in both film and public health, photographer Ansel Adams commissioned her towrite the first book on health hazards of photographic chemicals. The book, Overexposure, published in 1983, launched her early career and ultimately transformed the field. In 1990, she founded the Marine and Environmental Research Institute in Blue Hill following a mass die-off of 20,000 harbor seals in polluted waters of Europe. Over the next two decades, the center’s research focused on understanding the health impacts of toxic chemicals on ocean sentinels, like seals, which can provide advance warning of risks to humans. Named a Gulf of Maine Visionary by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment in 2007, Shaw was credited as the first scientist to reveal widespread contamination of fish and marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine by flame retardant chemicals. She was also the lead scientist on a 2013 study of San Francisco firefighters that investigated the role of occupational chemical exposures in their high cancer rates. She has since provided scientific testimony for safe chemicals policies in Maine to benefit firefighters and all Maine residents.
David Edson | President and CEO of Sewall
David Edson began his career at Sewall in 1974 as a forest technician, later becoming executive vice president and eventually president and CEO. The engineering and forestry consulting company has served Maine clients since 1880 and now serves clients worldwide. In Maine, Sewall contributed to the establishment of the Certified Logging Professional program, an effort by the Maine Forest Products Council and others to create a safety program for loggers that has saved lives and helped sustain a viable logging force in Maine’s timberlands. The company also helped pioneer the introduction of geospatial sciences into sustainable forest management and community governance. Edson says effective forestry management requires using metrics to anticipate the impacts of change, either taking advantage of positive developments or mitigating challenges, like insects or climate change. One of his favorite projects has been assessing the impact of the spruce budworm onMaine’s forests. During the last outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s, the insect killed between 20 and 25 million cords of spruce and fir, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue for theforestry industry, according to a 2016 report on how the state is preparing for the next infestation. “This time we are better prepared,” he says. Edson has served on the boards of the Maine Tree Foundation and Maine Forest Products Council, and as president of the Maine Forest and Logging Museum. He currently serves on the MDI Advisory Committee for Maine Coast Heritage Trust and is a board member of Friends of Acadia. “For me, Maine is home, professionally, culturally,and emotionally,” Edson says. “Maine is a brand that warrants respect and value nationally and internationally.”
Gary Lawless | Editor, Publisher and Poet
The author of 21 poetry collections, Gary Lawless has often pursued and expressed the development of his own ideas, but he also works to encourage others to find their voices. He and Beth Leonard opened Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick 38 years age as a community hub. “We saw the bookstore as central to a community of ideas,” Lawless says, in reference to the shop’s support of local and small presses, as well as the diversity of perspectives and opportunities for conversation that it offers. Books are “tools and resources,” and to author one can be empowering. Through working with various communities in Maine for decades, he has encouraged and published the work of combat veterans, prison inmates, immigrants, and refugees. At Spindleworks Art Center in Brunswick, he has helped adults with disabilities produce three anthologies of poetry and is in the process of contributing his talents to a film about their dreams; as an artist-in-residence at Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, he has produced an anthology of poems written by homeless and low-income authors. In honor of his community work, the Maine Humanities Council awarded Lawless the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize, and the Emily Harvey Foundation offered him a residency grant to spend one month in Venice this upcoming autumn. “The books I publish, the books we sell at the store, and the conversations we have all move us toward a wider, more informed, and more loving community,” he says.
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury | President and CEO of Unity College
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury was the first member of his immediate family to get a degree beyond high school. Growing up in West Africa, he says, higher education was a privilege. “Once I had achieved my bachelor’s degree I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to making sure that anyone who wants an education has an opportunity to get one,” Khoury says. “And now, as the leader of America’s Environmental College, I’m finally at a point where I can help others break through their own barriers and realize their own educational goals.” He first fell in love with the statewhen he attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent. As he became more aware of the environmental situation of the state, the country, and the planet, he says it became clear that Maine has a strategic advantage, with three climate zones and an abundance of natural resources. “What better place to become the hub of environmental science research and education than Maine?” Khoury says. Along with developing a vision for higher education that responds to pressing environmental and social problems, Khoury sees an opportunity for environmental education to be an economic driverfor the state, encouraging some of the millions of Maine’s annual visitors to stay full time and pursue education in the environmental sciences fields. During his succession from senior vice president for external affairs to executive vice president to chief academic officer, and, finally, president, he oversaw significant institutional gains, including three consecutive years of record enrollments and over 20-percent enrollment growth.
Edward Miller | Former CEO of the American Lung Association of Maine, Public Health Policy Consultant
“Maine is a place where things get done,” says Edward Miller. During a work-study job at the Harvard School of Public Health, Miller, who served as CEO of the American Lung Association in Maine between 1986 and 2007,found a love for public health policy that would define the course of his life. In the 1970s he penned one of the first professional articles that demonstrated the positive health impact of an excise tax on cigarettes, and he has worked on nearly all of the smoke-free legislation in Maine since 1980. Between 1996 and 2006, he worked collaboratively on a program that reduced the youth smoking rate inMaine by over 60 percent. Of the reduction in smoking rates, Miller says, “I feel proud to be part of the group of people who demonstrated that big changes in society can happen when people work together.” At the American Lung Association of Maine, he facilitated the growth of the annual bike Trek Across Maine to a multimillion-dollar fundraiser, the largest single fundraiser in the nation for the American Lung Association. He also helped to create the Fund for a Healthy Maine, which redistributes settlement money from the tobacco industry to health-forward initiatives within the state. Miller remembers that at one point itseemed “impossible” that smoking could be reduced so extensively across society. “It gives me hope with some of the serious issues we’re facing today, like the opioid epidemic,” he says, “that there is hope, there is an answer.”
Andrea L. Irwin | Executive Director of Mabel Wadsworth Center
As executive director of Mabel Wadsworth Center, a feminist healthcare provider in Bangor, Andrea Irwin works to normalize abortion within the context of reproductive healthcare. Irwin has driven the center toward more inclusive policies that meet community needs; for example, the healthcare provider now treats men as well as women and provides gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender people. In partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mabel Wadsworth Center sued the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to restore Medicaid coverage of abortion, a case that has not yet been settled. The center’s continued refusal of all state and federal funding allows it to provide all types of counseling and treatment for clients across the boundaries of age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, race, and ethnicity. “When people have choices to make decisions about their own healthcare, they have the ability to make choices in other areas of their life,” she says. “It’s really about empowerment.” Her grandmother had only an eighth-grade education, and Irwin, born into a greater wealth of options than her female predecessors, has attended law school. She has also had an abortion, and believes that sharing personal stories reduces the shame and stigma that stifles dialogue about pregnancy termination. “I want all girls and women to know that their lives have value and that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she says.
Jess Knox | Director at Maine Accelerates Growth Initiative, Founder of Maine Startup and Create Week, and Cofounder and President of Venture Hall
Jess Knox came up with the idea for Maine Startup and Create Week (MSCW) in 2012, two years before he would eventually kick off the organization and event series. “Maine is a world-class place with all the raw materials to drive a high-impact startup movement, but we need the courage to do so,” says Knox. Believing that collaboration is essential to economic prosperity, Knox set out to design a weeklong conference that would foster creative dialogue, the development of soft skills, and innovation. Since its inception, MSCW has brought together 10,000 people from more than 30 states and three countries. As the director of Maine Accelerates Growth and cofounder and president of Venture Hall, a startup accelerator partnered with Unum and Maine Health, Knox has played a vital role inspiring the Maine startup community. Due in part to Knox’s efforts at promotion, Maine’s startup community has “gone from an underground effort to a nascent movement,” he says. As examples of recent success stories for Maine startups, Putney, Inc., and Kepware Technologies were acquired by other firms for $200 million and $100 million, respectively, and Vets FirstChoice raised $52.3 million in a new investment round. In 2015, Knox received the Robert R. Masterson Award for economic development from the Portland RegionalChamber of Commerce in honor of his contributions to the city. Of Maine, Knox says, “I love this place, and that’s why I fight for it.”
Ann Lee Hussey | Adviser to Rotary International Polioplus Committee, Rotary’s Representative on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Transition Management Group
Over her lifetime, Ann Lee Hussey has immunized tens of thousands of children all over the world against the poliovirus. In 1955 at the age of 17 months, Hussey contracted the poliovirus while growing up in South Berwick. During her childhood, a woman who read about her illness in the newspaper began sending her gifts and letters, and her mother massaged and exercised her legs for three hours every night; both women inspired her toward a life of advocacy and service. Although she recovered her ability to walk, she knew that “as long as polio still exists anywhere in the world, all children, even here in Maine, remain at risk.” She began working with Rotary International in2001, through which she promoted a hands-on approach to eradicating polio, traveling and creating relationships that spanned the globe. The World Bank recognized Hussey this year as aWoman of Action, and in 2013 President Obama recognized her as a White House Champion of Change. Expanding her advocacy to include social and economic welfare, she has helped to develop a small village in Nigeria, fundraising to construct a school, two wells, and a toilet block, along with infrastructure that provides access to commerce and health services. “I am proud that I am able to share my story and inspire others,” Hussey says.
David T. Flanagan | Director at the Harold Alfond Foundation, Director at MaineGeneral Medical Center, Director at Dead River, Inc., former President of the University of Southern Maine, former CEO of Central Maine Power Company & Kaye Flanagan | Chair of the Steering Committee for the Deborah Morton Society of the University of New England
David and Kaye Flanagan note that while civic engagement is declining around the country, Maine has maintained a strong sense of civic duty. Exemplifying the local work ethic, the Flanagans have made it their mission to contribute to the greater good. David has led several organizations that have stimulated Maine’s economy, from controlling costs and improving efficiency as CEO of Central Maine Power Company to to assuring affordable and accessible higher education as president of the University of Southern Maine, where he led a successful effort to balance the budget and restore financial stability. Outside Maine, he also led an investigation regarding Hurricane Katrina for the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, underthe direction of Senator Susan Collins. Now a director of the Harold Alfond Foundation, he says that he “deeply admires the Alfond family’s commitment to funding transformational changes in health care, educational opportunity, and economic development.” InMaine, Kaye found the opportunity to combine her two careers, nursing and teaching. At Catholic Charities, she worked to create a new coordinated program that provided home care support services for senior citizens, and she later became the director of the organization’s home care agency, where she instituted a community mental health program. With David as campaign co-chair, she raised $1.4 million for a new facility for the Children’s Center in Augusta, a preschool program for children with special needs. “Helping individuals and families through illness and other crises is very gratifying,” she says.
Jim Gerritsen | Former Owner of Wood Prairie Family Farm
As the owner of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Bridgewater for the past 40 years, Jim Gerritsen dedicated his life to organic farming and the politics that go along with it. His life’s work has been to realign our culture and the food it consumes by protecting the rights of organic farmers and promoting their products. As cofounder and president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Gerritsen was the lead plaintiff in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, a federal lawsuit filed in 2011 in which farmers disputed the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents, arguing that genetically modified seeds negatively impacted human health; the farmers also challenged the implication that if organic farmers’ products were inadvertently contaminated by Monsanto plants, they could be sued for patent infringement. He received the Jim Cook Award from Food For Maine’s Future in 2013 in honor of his contributions to Maine’s local food movement. In early 2014, Gerritsen helped Maine and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association pass the historic LD 718, which would require food with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled if five contiguous states adopt legislation requiring mandatory GMO labeling. He has also combatted multiple attempts to weaken Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection’s mining regulations. He now describes himself and his wife, Megan, as “farm hands” at Wood Prairie since their 23-yearold son, Caleb, has taken over the family business. Through hard work as active citizens, Gerritsen says, “We can make this the state we want to live in.”
David A. Greene | President at Colby College
David A. Greene, who became Colby College’s twentieth president in 2014,has made the revitalization of downtown Waterville a priority for the college. Once located downtown, the college moved to its spot on Mayflower Hill thanks to Waterville residents who rallied to raise the funds needed to buy the land in the early twentieth century. “Today, while Colby is stronger than ever, Waterville is facing challenges,” Greene says. “With mill closings and fewer local businesses downtown, the city needs a new way forward. I believe that the city and Colby have found that new direction together, and we are committed to making it a reality.” Under Greene’s tenure, the college has bought several downtown buildings it plans to redevelop, spurring additional private investment in real estate. CGI Group, an information technology company, plans to create 200 jobs after it moves to a building purchased by the college, and Colby is developing a boutique hotel on another site it acquired. Earlier this year, Colby announced it had received a gift of more than $100 million to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art, a research center that will complement the Colby College Museum of Art. As president, Greene has established collaborations with several Maine organizations, including the Herring Gut Learning Center, Jackson Laboratory, the Maine Lakes Resource Center, and Up East Foundation, which is supporting projects for students on Allen Island, the family retreat of painter Andrew Wyeth. “Colby is very much a part of Maine,” Greene says, “deeply rooted in its community, connected to the state’s amazing natural resources, and partnered with organizations that reflect Maine’s impact on the world.”
Mary Allen Lindemann | Cofounder and Community Builder at Coffee by Design & Alan Spear | Cofounder and President of Coffee by Design
When Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear opened their first Coffee By Design (CBD) location on Congress Street in Portland, the downtown was experiencing a 40-percent vacancy rate. Coffeehouses have a history as “community centers,” as Lindemann notes, which allowed the pair to pursue their love of high-quality coffee while also making a difference in their community. “We were young folks with a vision,” says Spear, “and we didn’t have doubt.” As Portland has evolved, CBD has grown, too, and Lindemann and Spear now employ more than 60 people and operate six retail locations, as well as a roastery with over 500 accounts. For all their success, Lindemann and Spear have not forgotten their love of Portland. In each of their locations, they respect the character of the neighborhood and try to strengthen the area through the creation of a community space, rather than transforming it. In the past 23 years they have committed almost$750,000 in cash and in-kind donations to fund various community development projects, including international projects in communities that grow their coffee beans, such as a wellness facility in Jardin, Colombia, and an educational programin Coorg, India. Back in Maine, Lindemann is the cofounder of Portland Buy Local, an organization that supports Portland based businesses and preserves the city’s strong identity. The pair started the Rebel Blend Fund grant program to support art projects around the state. Sustainable practices continue to define the CBD brand, as exemplified by its B Corporation certification, which represents a business’s commitment to measure its impact on all stakeholders, including the community. “We have always been focused on planet, people, and then profit,” says Lindemann. Of their success, Spear adds, “I just feel blessed by how we have been embraced by the community. All of us are lucky to live in Maine.”
Xavier Botana | Superintendent of Portland Public Schools
Portland superintendent Xavier Botana is proud of his district’s diversity. Botana, who came to the United States as a Cuban refugee who didn’t speak English, notes that given an influx of immigrant families into Portland, his experiences are similar to those of many children in the district. Inspired by his work in Portland’s changing community, he says, “Education can transform lives in this land of opportunity.” His commitment to diversity is unwavering. Following analleged hate crime against students of color, he helped the school board to pass three resolutions that validated the staff’s right to free speech and established anti-Islamophobia and safe-haven protections for students. In December, the school board adopted a comprehensive plan for providing an education that not only teaches academic subjects, but also helps to reduce disparities in achievement that are often defined by race and socioeconomic status. The plan also recognizes that only a diverse and committed staff can reduce barriers to student success. Botana worked with the school board and the city council on a proposal to rebuild up to four elementary schools, which will be presented to city voters in November. Portland public schools already provide an excellent education, and in part Botana credits the system’s diversity. “Our students benefit from learning in a diverse environment that is constantly challenging them to do their best thinking, question their assumptions, and look at the world through new lenses,” he says.
Kay Rand | Chief of Staff for U.S Senator Angus King
Through Angus King’s two gubernatorial campaigns, two terms as governor, United States Senate campaign, andcurrent term in the Senate, there has been one constant: Kay Rand. Rand, a native of Ashland, managed all of King’s campaigns and has served as his chief of staff since he was first elected to the Blaine House in 1994, running as an outsider against former Democratic governor Joseph Brennan and Republican Susan Collins in a “campaign that few thought couldbe successful,” says Rand. “While winning that campaign was a once in a-lifetime heady event, it has been qually as special to support his style of leadership as governor and now as U.S. senator.” Rand’s entire career has revolved around public policy in Maine, first as a lobbyist for the Maine Municipal Association, representing Maine’s towns and cities. As a consultant at Bernstein Shur Government Solutions, she helped develop STRIVE U, a first-in-the-nation postsecondary education and training program for young adults with developmental disabilities. Although she now works in Washington, D.C., connecting with people from Maine is a meaningful reminder of why the work is worth doing. “Every variation of my career has furthered my respect for the elected officials who work in Maineat every level of government,” Rand says. “It has been a privilege to be a participant in a host of public policy decisions that have impacted the state in which I was born and that I have always called home.”
Maureen Drouin | Executive Director at Maine Conservation Voters and Maine Conservation Alliance
As a child, Maureen Drouin loved playing outside—swimming, hiking, fishing, and camping. Now she works to protect Maine’s natural heritage for future generations. As executive director of Maine Conservation Voters, Drouin and her colleagues have quadrupled the political advocacy group’s budget and grown its staff, as well as its partnerships. At Maine Conservation Alliance, an affiliated organization at which she also serves as executive director, Drouin has helped to create the Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition, a partnership of 34 conservation and public health organizations that represent 100,000 collective members. “We are building Maine’s environmental movement into a powerful political force,” says Drouin, referencing the campaign strategies, policy agenda, and accountability measures that she has helped to implement. In the 1990s and 2000s, Drouin drove across Maine’s North Woods from Grand Lake Stream to Greenville as an organizer for the Northern Forest Alliance, identifying the places that were important to local communities and mobilizing community members. She understands that Maine jobs depend on the health of our environment, from fishing and farming to forestry and tourism. At a time when many of the state’s natural resources are at risk due to warming waters, ocean acidification, and downwind pollution, Drouin sees her role as empowering communities and individuals against environmental degradation, protecting the local economy, along with Maine principles. “The values of clean air, water, and land unite us as Mainers,” she says, “regardless of political party.”
David C. Driskell | Artist, Distinguished University Professor of Art Emeritus at The University of Maryland College Park
David C. Driskell first came to Maine in 1953 as a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture residency program, and has always felt that the state was a special place for artists. At his studio in Falmouth, where he lives during the summer, he feels at one with nature and considers it a privilege to have the peace and quiet needed to keep his creative spirit alive. “Even when I create compositions that relate to memory, history, and the broad aspects of American culture, Maine helps to fuel my ideas because of the rich history of artists working in Maine over the years,” he says. Driskell, one of the world’s leading authorities on African American art, received honorary doctoral degrees from four educational institutions in Maine. In 2001, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center to honor his work as an artist, scholar, collector, and curator. He says being represented in the permanent collections of some of the top museums in his adopted state, including the Portland Museum of Art, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Colby College Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art Museum, and Center for Maine Contemporary Art, adds validity to his love of Maine. “My life has been enriched by being a part of a cultural continuum in which my art has been promoted and collected in Maine on the basis of a quality canon that has little to do with the fact that I am African American,” Driskell says. “The entire nation could benefit measurably by adopting and enforcing such an enlightened point of view.”