50 Mainers Balancing Heritage and Progress
Much of what makes Maine so appealing—its outdoor recreational opportunities, dramatic coastline, and independent spirit—hasn’t changed for centuries. Yet, there’s a lot of Maine that needs to change. Ask residents of towns with shuttered mills. Or someone who doesn’t fit in the 95 percent white majority. Or a business owner who can’t recruit enough skilled workers. The individuals on the following pages are all making significant contributions to their communities and our state. They’re providing recreational opportunities and meals to kids in need. They’re connecting rural parts of the state to high-speed internet. They’re sparking conversations about how to combat racism and improve sexual education. They’re protecting our waters and our wildlife. And they’re doing it for a love of Maine—and for what Maine could be.
Carol A. Wilson, Faia | Principal of Carol A. Wilson Architect
Carol Wilson could have been an architect anywhere in the country, but she chose Maine. After a few visits to the state in the ’70s and ’80s, she was so inspired she decided to stay. The environment influences everything she creates at her Falmouth-based firm. “Our work is a direct result of living in Maine,” she says. “It responds to every physical aspect of Maine.” The climate, landscape, and topography are carefully considered with each design Wilson creates and affect the end result of each project. She says Maine is an engaging place to be an architect because of the geographical variety. Designing a home by the ocean calls for a different approach than one in the woods, which is also different from one built in one of Maine’s more urban areas. “Architecture is inseparable from both the physical landscape and its inhabitants,” Wilson says. “Design in architecture demands problem solving.” She shares the power of her field with others through curated exhibitions her firm hosts to showcase modern architecture in the state. She says the events “help people understand the potential of architecture.” Wilson’s work has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Maine and AIA New England. Wilson doesn’t do her work for awards, though. “I cannot imagine doing anything else,” she says. When she started architecture school at age 17, she says, “everything about it felt like a perfect fit. It still does.”
Leslie Oster | Events + Fundraising Director at Full Plates Full Potential
When Leslie Oster was the catering and creative director at Portland’s Aurora Provisions, she oversaw meals for high-profile clients. In 2012 she catered a dinner for President Barack Obama at the Portland Museum of Art. The “incredibly surreal” experience included making an entirely Maine-sourced menu for the president and the guests at his fundraiser. On a different occasion, Oster catered a private luncheon for Michelle Obama. Although these meals were swanky, the Obamas weren’t Oster’s most important diners. The volunteer work she was doing outside of Aurora Provisions held more meaning. As an early member of Slow Food Portland and a board member of Cultivating Community, Oster worked with organic farmers, supported garden-based education for kids, and cooked at events to support ending food insecurity. Being a volunteer for Full Plates Full Potential led Oster to her current role as the organization’s events and fundraising di- rector. The nonprofit works to end childhood food insecurity in Maine. For Oster, working with the organization is a dream come true, especially considering that her longtime career goal has been to “fix school lunch” and provide kids with access to healthy food. She coordinates with local businesses to donate a portion of profits to programs that provide students with meals at school. “I wake up every morning to a job that fills me with purpose and hope,” she says.
Christy Gardner | Director of the New England Warriors Sled Hockey Program, Assistant Captain of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team
After Christy Gardner was injured overseas while serving in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, she was told she’d never be able to do the things she once loved. “As a disabled veteran, the drastic change in life and lifestyle when you get hurt is often worse than the injury itself,” she says. “To go from a scholarship athlete and a female soldier that met the male fitness standards to being told I would never be ‘active’ again was a terrible blow.” Gardner, who sustained brain trauma, spinal damage, skull fractures, and the loss of both legs below the knee, was determined to make the most of her life after the injury. She discovered adaptive sports, returned to college, and earned a degree in therapeutic recreation. “I wanted to give that feeling of breaking down barriers to other folks, too,” she says. Gardner is now the director of the New England Warriors Sled Hockey Program, which offers the sport to disabled veterans throughout New England. She is also the assistant captain of the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team, and in 2013 she was named USA Hockey’s Disabled Athlete of the Year. “My body and spirit were badly broken, but with the help of other disabled veterans, I’ve learned that there’s still so much I’m capable of,” Gardner says. “I learned to believe in myself again and that I could actu- ally do, and have done, all of the things the medical team said I never would. Now no one can tell me what I can’t do.”
Laura Freid | President of Maine College of Art
Laura Freid says what drew her to Maine College of Art (MECA) was the opportunity to work with artists and creative entrepreneurs and to give students “everything they need to achieve the most success in life.” Freid, who became the eighteenth president of the 136-year-old institution in 2017, spent the previous decade as executive director and CEO of Silkroad, a nonprofit arts organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma based at Harvard University. She also served as executive vice president of Brown University and publisher of Harvard Magazine. Freid said she feels fortunate to be leading the college at a time when Portland is “just realizing its true potential.” Design is also becoming more and more integral to everyday life. “I think de- sign is everything. We’re living in a world that’s becoming increasingly visual. Everything we do, even conversations we’re having, is based on how we see things,” Freid says. “Whether we’re using an app or texting on our phone or using Bitmoji, everything we’re surrounded with has been touched by an artist or designer.” Freid says about half of MECA’s graduates start their own businesses in Maine or bring their creative skills to local employers. “Whether students are at MECA for four years in the bachelor of fine arts program or for four weeks in a continuing studies class,” she says, “MECA prepares our students to be part of the new innovation economy in Maine.”
Bill Ryan. Jr. | Chairman + Principal Owner of Maine Red Claws
When Bill Ryan, Jr., makes an investment, one of his top considerations is how the project will impact Maine’s growth and development. “My family loves Maine, and we want to continue to develop a prosperous economy in the place we call home,” he says. Along with being the principal owner of Maine Red Claws, Ryan is a co-owner of Port- land Pie Company and a former owner of the Oxford Plains Speedway. Ryan was also a principal in the early stages of the Thompson’s Point development project in Portland. When he founded the Maine Red Claws in 2007, he says, not everyone believed in the project, because they didn’t think a basketball team was necessary. Seeing the effect of the team on Maine’s entertainment industry has changed minds, he says, and has proven to Ryan that it was worth the risk. Further proof can be found on the faces of fans. “It is gratifying to see people having a great time with their families and leaving with smiles,” Ryan says. “We all have responsibilities that can drag us down. Fun experiences with our family and friends can pick us back up.” Getting up during tough times is a lesson Ryan learned through sports. Facing problems on the field as a college athlete taught him how to better handle issues in other aspects of life. “If you can stand toe to toe with an opponent on a football field, it makes a tough business negotiation seem a little less intimidating,” he says.
Matthew O’Malia, AIA | Principal at GO Logic + Partner at GO Lab
When Matthew O’Malia started GO Logic in 2008, he and his business partner, Alan Gibson, weren’t sure if a sustainable de- sign and construction company would be financially feasible, but they were driven by a “personal commitment” to the envi- ronment. “In architecture and construction, there is no neutral position in relation to the environment,” O’Malia says. “The buildings we create will either contribute positively to solving our environmental problems or worsen them.” With this in mind, he works to protect natural resources and construct buildings that work within their landscape. With each project, he looks at the community, the environment, and the local economy to build things that will be sustainable over time. “It is my responsibility as an architect to create buildings that not only meet current performance standards, but also anticipate future standards and contribute to the well-being of future generations,” he says. Last year O’Malia and Gibson partnered with Joshua Henry to start GO Lab, a research and development company that develops sustainable building materials. GO Lab will be using locally sourced wood residuals to manufacture low-density wood fiber insulation boards to be used when building homes and other buildings. O’Malia plans to open a plant in Maine to produce of this material, which would bring a new industry sector to the state. He says the wood fiber insulation will save people money on heating costs and “is locally made, healthy, fully renewable and recyclable, and supports our local economies.”
Jonathan Borofsky | Artist
Jonathan Borofsky’s towering public sculptures are located in cities around the world, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the Ogunquit artist had an exhibition in Maine. A solo show of Borofsky’s work marked the openings of Rockland’s Center for Maine Contemporary Art, where a 24-foot-tall sculpture from his Human Structures series is installed in the courtyard. The structure of 12 colorful steel figures, bolted together and stacked on top of each other, signify a common theme in his work: humanity uniting together. “The title kind of seeps out of it—Human Structure— that seems to be what we’re all doing. We’re all connecting to each other. We’re all building our world,” he says. The unveiling last year of similar sculpture by Borofsky marked the opening of a new sculpture garden at the Portland Muse- um of Art, and in 2008 he created a 64-foot-tall sculpture of his inter- connected, colorful figures for the Beijing Olympics. As a child, Borofsky had visited Ogunquit in the summer with his parents, and his first painting lesson was in Ogunquit. After college and graduate school, Borofsky lived, taught, and worked in New York City and Los Angeles for more 20 years before moving to Ogunquit in 1990 to “get away from a lot of activity and kind of hide out.” His work at his Ogunquit studio has been largely focused on sculptures for public locations around the globe. “For me, art has always been my way of understanding my world and the world around me,” Borofsky says.
Evelyn King | Founder of Maine Women Flyfishers
When Evelyn King first started fly-fishing, she felt self-conscious about participating in a traditionally male sport. As her passion grew, she wanted to show other women how powerful and enjoyable fly-fishing is. A member of the Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited, King founded the chapter’s Maine Women Flyfishers group. “Fly-fishing has long been a passion of mine, and my goal is to share this passion with other women and encourage them to spend time outdoors in Maine’s beautiful countryside,” King says. One of her proudest accomplishments was passing the Federation of Fly Fishers certified casting instructor exam in 2015, which took two years of practice and studying. King leads annual fly-fishing trips with other women to go deep into nature and disconnect from the outside world. “We will spend the weekend fly-fishing completely off the grid with no one within miles of the camp,” King says. “It was something I have done with my husband numerous times, but it felt so rewarding to be able to share this with other women.” King, who is a paralegal by day, is also a volunteer guide and casting instructor with Casting for Recovery, a fly-fishing weekend retreat program for women who have breast cancer. “It is a rewarding experience for both the participants and the volunteers,” she says, “and I am continually amazed at how therapeutic fly-fishing can be for these brave survivors.”
Deb Soule | Founder, Owner + Herbalist at Avena Botanicals
As an herbalist, Deb Soule believes in the power of plants. The born-and-raised Mainer fell in love with medicinal plants and gardening over 40 years ago. In 1985 she started Avena Botanicals to help people heal using plants. Over the years the company has evolved from a mail-order business to include a small herb shop on a biodynamic farm in Rockport, but Soule’s desire to help people has remained the same. “Having grown up in rural Maine, I wanted to make high-quality medicinal herbs avail- able to women and their families living in rural areas,” she says. Helping others understand and embrace alternatives to traditional Western medicine is important to Soule, and she teaches classes at Avena about different ways of using plants. She says it’s important to proactively care for one’s health. “We need to shift from a reactionary health care model where we only think of healing when we are sick, toward a more life-affirming model of health that includes the well-being of our whole planet,” Soule says. As a place known for its natural resources, Maine is the perfect place to do her work, Soule says. “I am grateful to do this here in Maine, where my roots grow strong.”
Marsha H. Donahue | Artist + Owner of North Light Gallery
Marsha H. Donahue paints to protect. The artist was active in the Campaign for Katahdin Lake that successfully added the lake to Baxter State Park in 2006, and, more recently, in the effort to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. “These two efforts blended the role of artist and conservator for myself and many other artists in being able to educate the public about the unique quality of Maine and in being able to protect and share it,” says Donahue, who owns North Light Gallery in Millinocket. In 2016 she received a leadership award from the Maine Natural Resources Council for work done on the national monument campaign. The painter uses oils and watercolors in her landscapes, which often depict the Katahdin region. “Visual art is a powerful communicator, especially when you are taking people to places few have discovered,” she says. “Many of us who have been away and come back realize the value of the deep green woods and cooling waters and want to share it to create a more peaceful world.” Her hope, Donahue says, is that people will fall in love with Maine’s natural beauty and want to preserve it. Her gallery and studio in Millinocket also displays other artists’ work and hosts classes and community events. “I am proud of North Light Gallery, where I promote the works of others and myself, allowing artists a dignified living and giving the public the opportunity to discover and support them,” she says.
Jean M. Deighan | Founder + CEO of Deighan Wealth Advisors
Two years into her career as a litigator, Jean Deighan married a lawyer from a different firm. Fearing a conflict of interest, the partners at her firm asked her to step down. “Although I was very unhappy at the time, today I could write them a thank-you note,” she says 40 years later. Instead of finding a different job in law, Deighan left criminal defense behind and started a new career in trust banking. From there she became an independent investment advisor and co-founded Deighan Wealth Advisors with Jenifer Butler in 1994. Although “moving out from under the glass ceiling was very satisfying,” Deighan says it was challenging to start her own company. “It was like stepping off a cliff not knowing whether the drop would be three inches or 300 feet,” she says. Today Deighan Wealth Advisors, located in Bangor, man- ages over $160 million for 200 clients. While Deighan is proud of the growth, she’s equally proud that the firm is led by women. She says it’s satisfying to work with a passionate group of women, as well as men, who help clients by giving them thoughtful, constructive financial advice. Although it wasn’t her original plan, she’s found running her own business to be rewarding. “I am constantly surprised that it is so enjoyable and satisfying to work very hard,” Deighan says. “When you have a clear vision and mission that is embraced by all in the firm, life is good.”
George Smith | Writer, Former Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
George Smith has been synonymous with the Maine outdoors for three decades. Smith served as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years, retiring at the end of 2010 to write full-time. His passion for the out- doors dates back to his childhood, when he hunted with his father, and now comes through in his weekly newspaper columns, blog posts, and other writing. “I was born a Maine sportsman, spent much of my youth in the woods and on the waters of our beautiful state, and have worked my entire life to protect and enhance the Maine I love,” Smith says. As head of the sportsmen’s group, Smith sponsored legislation that established protected waters for native trout and created the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, which has given over $20 million to conservation and outdoor recreation projects. Maine Conservation Voters presented him with the 2017 Harrison Richardson Environmental Leadership Award. At the beginning of the year in his weekly Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel column, Smith announced his recent diagnosis of ALS, which has limited the longtime sportsman’s mobility. He’s continued to write using voice-typing software, advocating for conservation and environmental causes. “I was very lucky to have the jobs and opportunities to devote time to do this work, which never seemed like work to me,” Smith says. “I have traveled our nation, learning how very special Maine is, and how important it is to protect our state.”
Sebastian Belle | Executive Director of Maine Aquaculture Association
Sebastian Belle has spent most of his career working to make Maine a national leader in aquaculture. “I have worked all over the world but came back to Maine because I believe that aquaculture can play a critical role in diversifying the economic base of our coastal communities and help increase the resiliency of Maine’s working waterfronts in a rapidly changing world,” he says. As the executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association and a policy analyst for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Belle has helped make aquaculture more common in Maine and more accessible for fishermen. As aquaculture becomes more popular, Belle has seen new challenges arise and has hired more staff to meet the needs of the industry. Major challenges include the changing environment, gentrification in coastal communities, and high competition for the seafood market. Belle and his team at the Maine Aquaculture Association have been working to help established aquaculturists thrive while also helping new farms start up. A large part of Belle’s work has involved working with aquaculturists in Maine to develop best management practices. “Many of those methods are now recognized as some of the most progressive aquatic farming methods out there,” he says. He helped design 14 aquaculture projects in nine different countries and was the winner of the 2017 World Aquaculture Society Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judy Camuso | Director of Wildlife for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries + Wildlife
Protecting Maine’s wildlife is a job Judy Camuso can’t do alone. In addition to relying on her staff, she works to educate and empower the public to protect the state’s animals. As director of wildlife for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), she’s broadened the department’s audience and has encouraged people to engage with wildlife more. “I started my career at Maine Audubon, and one of my core missions always was to connect people to wildlife and nature, knowing that people will protect and conserve the things they love,” she says. After her time at Audubon, Camuso became MDIFW’s only female regional biologist and is now the department’s first female director. It’s important to her to advocate for women in the department and in the wildlife field in general. “I strive to encourage women to excel at this agency and try to be a model for advancing women in a male-dominated industry,” she says. In her position, Camuso directs wildlife research, monitors projects (such as controlling the state’s moose population), and represents the department on policy and legislative issues. Her work also contributes to Maine’s economy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimates residents and visitors spend more than $1 billion on wildlife-related activities in Maine each year. “Mainers are incredibly passionate about wildlife, and to actively oversee, enhance, and protect Maine’s amazing wildlife resources is my dream job,” Camuso says.
Tim Churchill | President + CEO of Western Maine Health, CEO of Franklin Community Health Network
In a state as large as Maine, Tim Churchill knows how challenging it can be to make sure residents in every county have access to quality health care. “Mainers expect and deserve excellent health care,” he says. “Being able to help work towards that goal, particularly in our rural communities, has really been rewarding.” The Maine native spent the first 20 years of his career in Philadelphia and other areas of Pennsylvania before returning home in 1996 to become president and CEO of Western Maine Health and its flagship, Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway. Three years later, Churchill helped make the hospital a member of MaineHealth. “That decision has immensely benefited the hospital and region, in terms of access to health care,” he says. “I think our membership brought added value to the MaineHealth system as well.” Churchill’s efforts to increase rural coverage have also resulted in Stephens Memorial Hospital gaining recognition by The Leapfrog Group as a top rural hospital. The medical professional, who also became CEO of Franklin Community Health Network this year, says, despite strides that have been made, he continues to focus on the “critical shortage” of primary care physicians and nurses in rural Maine. Solving this issue will be difficult, he says, but more than worth it. “Though certainly very challenging, complex, and sometimes frustrating, the opportunity to play a role in helping to try and ensure that access to appropriate, high-quality health care is available for people in the communities we serve is a professionally satisfying experience.”
Ken Walsh | CEO of the Alfond Youth Center
When Ken Walsh moved to Maine 26 years ago to become director of the Waterville Boys and Girls Club, the organization had been running a deficit for the past decade. Its dilapidated 50-year-old building needed to be renovated. Within a few years Walsh had helped the organization get back on its feet and raised $2.1 million to renovate the club. With support from the Harold Alfond Foundation, Walsh later led a pioneering effort to combine the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA to create the Alfond Youth Center (AYC), the only such merged organization in the country. “Partnerships and collaborations between nonprofits are crucial for the success of communities and missions,” Walsh says. “The more we work together, we become more efficient, resulting in better outcomes.” The center now serves over 5,000 youth members from 191 towns and provides over 100,000 free meals to kids per year. Walsh also led efforts to build the only two licensed replicas of Major League Baseball ballparks in the country: a Fenway Park replica at AYC’s Camp Tracy in Oakland and a Wrigley Field replica in Waterville. In the years since the parks were built, central Maine has become a destination for youth baseball tournaments, including the upcoming 2020 Cal Ripken under-12 World Series. “I think what’s kept me here is the people,” Walsh says. “The people who are involved in this community, who really put their hearts and souls into making this community unique, and it’s paid off.”
Luke Holden | Founder + CEO of Luke’s Lobster
Luke Holden’s family has been lobstering in Maine for generations, but his post-college plans took him in a different direction. After graduating from Georgetown University, the Cape Elizabeth native moved to New York City and got a job in the finance industry. Wanting to create a taste of home in New York, Holden and his business partner, Ben Conniff, opened a lobster shack in 2009 in the East Village. Luke’s Lobster has since grown to 39 locations across three countries. Holden says “naïve passion” helped the pair find success. Their commitment to the lobster industry also led to them to create the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, which buys members’ catches at or above market price. Half of the profits from the Luke’s Lobster in Tenants Harbor go back into the co-op. “I want to follow in my father’s footsteps and have a positive impact on the lobster indus- try,” Holden says. “Maine is home, plain and simple. The lobster industry is in my blood.” Earlier this year, Holden got Luke’s Lobster certified as a B Corporation, reflecting the importance of social and environmental standards in the company’s business model. Getting the certification is rare for a restaurant, but Holden says he wanted to show how serious he is about using sustainable seafood.
Peter Ralston | Photographer, Owner of Ralston Gallery, Co-founder of The Island Institute
Described by fellow Island Institute co-founder Philip Conkling as “the most notable Maine coast photographer since Eliot Porter,” Peter Ralston has been capturing the coast and its people for four decades. Ralston moved to Maine at the urging of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, who were his next-door neighbors when he was growing up in Pennsylvania. He has spent his career photographing around the world, but he says Maine is the first place he has felt like he is home. “The Maine coast has two defining characteristics,” Ralston says. “The rugged beauty of the coast is the more obvious, but it’s the fundamental character of the people and working communities here that is, to me, far more compelling. It is particularly the latter which I have sought to understand, honor, and celebrate as best I know how.” His best-known photograph, Pentecost, encapsulates a bit of the character and appeal of the coast. In it, a lobster boat is towing a dory full of sheep bound for Allen Island, heading toward a horizon line barely visible through thick fog. The scene—stunning, thrilling, and a bit bizarre—imparts a sense of Yankee independence and ingenuity, and also of interconnectedness. The idea of communities putting personal differences aside to overcome challenges is a lesson Ralston has learned from the people along the coast and tried to capture in his photographs. “America needs much, much more of that—especially now—and in my own small way as a storyteller,” he says, “I try to share that message.”
Robin Alden | Founding Executive Director of the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries
Robin Alden’s work may be specific to Maine, but she knows it has the opportunity to impact the planet. Her love of fishing and her passion for the industry led her to create the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in 2003. She retired from the organization this year. The nonprofit works to secure the future of fishing by implementing innovative, sustainable programs. “Commercial fishing requires respect for the environment to succeed,” Alden says. “Done right, fishing is an excellent economic activity and feeds the world.” Alden believes small community fisheries have the ability to create lasting change in the industry, because the people involved understand what needs to be done to preserve fishing. She has worked for decades to connect fishermen with decision makers in the scientific and policy communities. In 1976 she cofounded the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, which brings together fishermen, scientists, and government officials. She also served in former governor Angus King’s cabinet, where she led the development of changes to Maine’s lobstering laws. Now that she’s retired, Alden plans to draw on her 45 years of experience to continue making fishing more sustainable, so it can be practiced by generations to come. “Fishing is an interesting business, because its long-term success requires both restraint and excellent environmental practices, and it uses a natural resource in a changing environment,” she says. “It is, in many ways, a metaphor for the human challenge of living from and caring for this planet.”
Ekhlas Ahmed | English Language Learner Teacher at Westbrook Middle School, Co-founder of Darfur Youth of Tomorrow
When Ekhlas Ahmed first came to the United States as a child, she felt alone. Now, 12 years later, she’s become an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher so she can help students become more comfortable as they adjust to life in America. “I couldn’t look to people and resonate with their stories,” she says. “I want to close the gap between ELL students and main- stream students and fully integrate them so they’re not isolated, because this is their home now.” This spring, Ahmed completed her master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages at the University of Southern Maine. Originally from Darfur, Sudan, Ahmed says she turned to writing when she first moved to the U.S. as a way to express herself. “I write a lot of poetry that reflects on struggles of being a black woman in the state of Maine, of being a Muslim woman trying to use my voice,” she says. Ahmed uses her voice not only to express herself but to help others. She is the cofounder of Darfur Youth of Tomorrow, an organization promoting awareness of the Sudanese genocide. Ahmed says Maine has become a more welcoming place over the past several years, but she’d like to see more change. “From person to person, we need to check our biases and not come to conclusions right away,” she says. “Don’t look at refugees or new Mainers as strangers, because this is their home now.”
Hannah Pingree | Former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Business Manager of NEBO Lodge + Turner Farm, Campaign Director of North Haven Sustainable Housing, Co-host of the Maine Event
“I have always believed that spending my time and energy focused on making good things happen—whether it is at the state level or in my home community—is the most important thing I could be doing,” says Hannah Pingree. The youngest woman ever elected both majority leader of the Maine House of Representatives and speaker of the House at ages 30 and 32, respectively, Pingree served in the Maine Legislature for a decade. In that time she focused on energy efficiency, housing, health care, and passing a bipartisan budget. She co-sponsored legislation that became the Kid-Safe Product Act, a first-in-the-nation law that addressed the problem of toxic chemicals in household products. After terming out of the legislature, Pingree turned her focus to her family and her hometown of North Haven, where she’s served on the school board since 2010. She has led fundraising campaigns to build an island community center, a new public school, and, mostly recently, an elder-care facility that was completed this year. “Growing up in a tiny isolated island community, the concept of being a good neighbor who participates is essential,” she says. “The smaller the town, the more likely it is that you have to pitch in or lead the charge to make good things happen. And I think Maine is much the same way.” She’s stayed connected to statewide issues as co-host of The Maine Event, a weekly Maine Public television program, and says she would eventually like to return to state politics.
Shane Diamond | Founder of Speak About It
Shane Diamond wants more people to speak about sex. The Portland resident is the founder of Speak About It, a program that teaches about consent, pleasure, and communication through performances at high schools and colleges. “We’re shaking up a lot of the belief systems that people have around communication and sexuality by breaking down gender stereotypes and encouraging folks to focus on their own and their partners’ pleasure,” Diamond says. The nonprofit seeks to prevent sexual assault by discussing healthy sexuality and by teaching bystanders to speak up if they see concerning behavior. Diamond says that, in the eight years the nonprofit has existed, he has been proudest when people shared how the performances affected them. He’s also proud of the programming he’s helped create for retirement communities, students with developmental dis- abilities, military academies, LGBTQ+ youth, and parents. Diamond says that, despite the fact that most people have sex in some capacity, a lot of people are afraid to talk about it and for it to be a subject of education. He says people need to be educated and informed about healthy sex instead of being taught fear-based or abstinence-only sex education. “The fear is that, if we give people information about how to have safer sex or healthier relationships, it will be the end of productivity and we’ll all descend into an animalistic sexcapade,” he says. “If we can shift our perspective so that mutual pleasure is the focus of every sexual encounter, our hope is that we change the future of sex education by eliminating fear-based tactics and encouraging communication.”
Fletcher Kittredge | CEO of Great Works Internet
Fletcher Kittredge doesn’t think good inter- net access should be a luxury. The CEO of Great Works Internet (GWI), a Maine-based internet service provider, believes it’s a basic necessity for all. “It is not really possible today, and in the future will be impossible, to participate in society, hold a job, receive quality health care and education, or receive governmental services without a network connection,” he says. Over the past 25 years, GWI has been committed to digital literacy, open access, market competition, network neutrality, and data privacy. He says reliable internet access enriches communities and helps them thrive. “It is not about streaming videos and social media, but rather solving the fundamental community problems—health care, aging in place, workforce development, business attraction, and telecommuting,” he says. Communities won’t grow if they’re stuck in the past, because young people won’t want to live there and companies won’t want to locate there, Kittredge says. The CEO was a principal investor in the Three Ring Binder project, which completed a 1,100-mile fiber network to connect rural areas of Maine to the internet in 2012. Kittredge is also a board member of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs. “The best way to create jobs is to expand entrepreneurship, particularly beyond the traditional, highly educated urban males to women, the less educated, and rural areas,” he says.
Kim Swan | Broker-Owner of the Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty, Owner of Swan Hospitality Group
When Kim Swan sells a house, she does so with care. Not only is she helping a family find a new place in Maine to call home, she’s working to continue the lives of the buildings themselves. “My real estate career has been deeply steeped in working with historic homes,” she says. “The history of Bar Harbor and its rusticator period is most interesting to me, how it evolved to the building of magnificent cottages and how we, as a community, have respected these homes through the years.” Many of these historic buildings have been converted to bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels, businesses that Swan also works with. Her love of history extends beyond homes to her hometown’s storied past. As a board member of the Bar Harbor Historical Society, Swan was the executive producer of the film The Fire of ’47, which tells the story of the historic fire that destroyed the town in 1947. Her work with the historical society and as a business owner won her the 2017 Cadillac Award from Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes individuals who are leaders in public service in the community. Swan was also a Bar Harbor Town Councilor for a decade, and in 2017 she was appointed to the Maine Council of the Humane Society of the United States. “The soul of Maine is driven by people with a passion for giving back,” she says.
Jill Hoy | Artist + Owner of Jill Hoy Gallery
Jill Hoy has never needed to look far for inspiration. The plein air painter spent her summers in Deer Isle starting when she was nine, and is now a part-time resident of Stonington. “There is something deeply authentic, profoundly raw, and beautiful here,” she says. “Maine is a hardworking culture, close to the bone, and that essentiality and struggle is a rich combination for inspiring visual work.” Hoy paints Maine and its people by sweeping bright colors dramatically across the canvas. She considers herself a documentarian who paints places in their natural state, especially “places un-touched by gentrification.” She says, “I am drawn to landscapes that have maintained themselves from the beginning of earth’s existence.” For the past 32 years, Hoy has run her own studio, Jill Hoy Gallery in Stonington, where she displays and sells her work. Recognizing her good fortune to be able to support herself while doing what she loves, Hoy often donates her work to town offices, hospitals, schools, libraries, and other public places. She says it’s important to her that people get to experience art for free.
Shay Stewart-Bouley | Creator of Black Girl in Maine: BGIM Media, Executive Director of Community Change Inc.
When Shay Stewart-Bouley moved to Maine from Chicago, she found the “very white space” to be jarring. To talk about her experience as a person of color in the state, she started a blog, Black Girl in Maine. “In creating a space for myself, it has become something much larger,” she says. “The conversations that my work sparks are well overdue, not just in Maine, but nationally.” Stewart-Bouley splits her time between her home in Maine, where she writes, and her day job in Boston, where she leads Community Change Inc., a nonprofit focused on anti-racism efforts. For Stewart-Bouley, calling out racism and working to end it is what motivates her work. “All of my work is centered on anti-racism, because racism is America’s original sin, and we are still living with it,” she says. “We are only just starting to wake up to the fact that racism is not just about personal feelings; it is woven into the fabric of this nation.” In addition to writing for her blog, Stewart-Bouley writes about race for a number of other publications. She has been named the best Portland blogger by Portland Phoenix readers and has received a New England Newspaper and Press Association award for her work. This year Portland Phoenix readers named her blog the best media publication in Portland. Stewart-Bouley says her work is her life and that the urgency of the issues she fights for keep her engaged. “I believe this state has much to offer as far as quality of life, but it must be safe for all—that is what keeps me in this work.”
Lori K. Parham, PHD | State Director of AARP Maine
Lori Parham has been interested in aging issues her entire life. Her childhood felt like growing up with the Golden Girls, she says, because she spent so much time with her grandmothers and their friends. “I work every day to show that age is just a number,” she says. “No one should be limited by age. I try to make the point to lawmakers, nonprofits, businesses, and others that people over 50 bring value to Maine in so many ways.” The state director of AARP Maine has worked for the AARP for over 13 years. Part of working with the aging population has been dealing with end of life issues. Parham previously served as a hospice volunteer and did her doctoral research on hospice care in nursing homes. To help cities and towns prepare for an aging population, she has helped almost 60 Maine communities join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which provides resources so people can stay in their homes. “Across the country people over 50 tell us they want to age in place in their homes and communities,” she says. “Maine is the oldest state, so the need here is greater in the short term.” Parham says supporting people who want to age in place is possible because “Mainers are innovative, and in Maine change happens at the local level.”
Lani Love | Owner of Allagash Canoe Trips
When she was growing up, Lani Love’s family thought being outdoors meant “walking from the house to the car,” she says. In the years since then, she developed a love for Maine’s wilderness and married into a family with a long history of guiding. In 2000 Love and her husband, Chip Cochrane, took ownership of Allagash Canoe Trips, which was founded by her father-in-law, Herb Cochrane, in 1953. “I am so proud to be part of this family, and not just continue the Cochrane legacy but to be able to do this as a woman in a ‘man’s world,’” she says. For Love, guiding others down the Allagash River is a chance to help people disconnect from their lives and become more confident outdoors. “So much of our current existence is consumed by external stimuli and instant gratification,” she says. “In the woods and water, life slows down, and everything is about living in the moment.” Love is energized by her work when she sees people relax, come alive in nature, and connect with the environment. She is also a winter back-country ski guide with Maine Huts and Trails. People learn the most about nature, and themselves, when they face tough conditions head-on, she says. “I believe a bit of adversity makes you stronger and helps you value the importance of life.”
Nanci Boutet | Executive Director of Special Surfers
Special Surfers started in 2003 with Nanci Boutet taking three kids on the autism spectrum out surfing. The effort evolved into a nonprofit organization that now helps more than 300 people with disabilities surf each summer. Hundreds of volunteers descend on Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk on the third Tuesday of June, July, and August for Special Surfers nights. “I would like every kid to feel like they fit in somewhere,” Boutet says. “Society is hard enough when you have special needs, and Maine doesn’t exactly have the best recreation programs for people with special needs. Once you see what having fun does for these people—kids, adults, family, and friends—you’re hooked.” There is no cost, and all the equipment is provided, including boards with chairs for those who have difficulty with mobility. Boutet, who also founded Aquaholics Surf Shop in Kennebunk, says what she loves most about Special Surfers is the joy it brings to people who face hurdles and struggles every day by allowing them to feel limitless for a few hours. “When they are in the water with us, they are all just a bunch of surfers,” Boutet says. “Imagine surfing or seeing your child or friend surf when you never would have dreamed it was possible?”
Leslie B. Otten, Former owner of Sunday River, Founder of Maine Adaptive Sports + Recreation
When Leslie Otten’s friend invited him on a family ski trip in 1956, a whole new world opened up for the seven-year-old. “You could say that those ski trips in the ’50s had more influence on my life than just about anything else,” he says. He fell in love with the sport, and by the age of 23, he was the manager of Sunday River ski resort. In the role, he expanded the ski area into a tourist destination and economic driver for the state. “Building Sunday River from a remote little ski hill to what it is today became the launching pad for many things in my life,” he says. After seven years as manager, Otten purchased the resort in 1980, and in 1995 he founded American Skiing Company, which operated ski resorts around Maine and the country. Growing Sunday River “was key to the growth of Bethel,” he says, and al- lowed him to pursue other ventures in the area. Along with Omar “Chip” Crothers, Otten founded Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation, one of his proudest accomplishments. The organization helps adults and children with disabilities participate in sports. “Maine Adaptive has given opportunity to people whose lives might otherwise have been left short of what the program enabled them to accomplish both personally and professionally,” he says. Otten is also the chairman emeritus of the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness, on the board of trustees of the Portland Museum of Art, and is the former vice chairman and partner of the Boston Red Sox.
Bonnie Rukin | Coordinator of Slow Money Maine
From raising funds to renovate a former jailhouse into a gristmill to pro- viding working capital to an organic dairy farm, Slow Money Maine has boosted Maine’s food system by connecting food businesses with financing and other assistance. The organization, which Bonnie Rukin established in 2010, has helped funnel $14 million into Maine’s food economy through loans, grants, and equity investments. The organization is a chapter of Slow Money, a national nonprofit organization that assists local food businesses acquire capital. The Maine group now has a network of about 1,750 individuals from various industries. “Though Maine has a burgeoning local food movement, it is a state that is primarily rural and poor, with little state government support for agriculture and fisheries,” Rukin says. Slow Money Maine provides connections to food producers who want to grow their business, leveraging human and financial resources to access funding and technical assistance, she says. “Given the risks associated with investments in the food sector, many conventional funders are not supportive of food producers.” Slow Money Maine has also established two investment clubs, No Small Potatoes and Maine Organic Lenders, which bring individuals together to pool funds for loans to local food producers. Collectively, the clubs have made over $350,000 in loans, and the model has been replicated in more than ten states.
Larry Warren | Founder of Maine Huts + Trails
When Larry Warren was at the start of his career in the late 1960s, he was certain of his professional path. He was working at an accounting firm in Boston and was on his way to becoming a certified professional accountant. A trip to Sugarloaf changed everything. He fell in love with Maine and was soon making the trip up every weekend. By the early ’70s, Warren was working as the controller of the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation. “Work was an adventure that focused on converting a backwoods ski area to a viable resort community and in the process attempting to maintain the down-to-earth Sugarloaf attitude and friendliness,” he says. Over the past few decades, Warren has remained focused on development and outdoor recreation. He was one of the founders of the town of Carrabassett Valley and helped propel the development of the region between the ’70s and ’90s. Warren’s crowning achievement came in 1999 when he founded Maine Huts and Trails. Located in Kingfield, the nonprofit operates a system of multiuse trails and lodges and takes people on guided adventures, such as canoeing, skiing, and hiking. Warren says he’s always believed in the importance of finding adventure through outdoor activities. “It broadens one’s appreciation of our natural environment and provides exposure to wild and scenic places,” he says. For Warren, the most meaningful part of his work is the “significant land conservation and public access it provides for existing and future generations.”
Taylor Allen | Co-owner of Rockport Marine, Partner at Front Street Shipyard
Taylor Allen got his start building boats as a teenager at Rockport Marine, which his father founded in 1962. After college, he returned to Maine and eventually became president of the boatyard, which specializes in designing, building, and restoring wooden yachts. The company now employs around 50 people and is largely run by Allen’s stepson, Sam Temple. While at the helm of the company, Allen shifted its work toward new construction and restoration, as well as increasing winter storage capacity. In 2011 Allen helped open Front Street Boatyard in Belfast with three other well-known boatbuilders: JB Turner, now president of Front Street Boatyard; Steve White, owner of Brooklin Boat Yard; and Kenneth Priest II, former CEO of Kenway Corp. The shipyard, which employs around 100, has brought new energy to Belfast’s waterfront. It began construction this year on a new facility that will allow it to work on larger vessels and add 40 more jobs. Allen says the growth at Front Street Boatyard furthers Maine’s reputation as a quality place to keep boats and have boats repaired. “I grew up here. It’s my home and turned out to be a great place to do work,” he says. “The state of Maine is known for high-quality boatbuilding and motivated, hard-working employees who dedicated to delivering the best product and value for our customers.”
Emily Isaacson | Founder + Artistic Director of Portland Bach Experience, Artistic Director of Oratorio Chorale + Maine Chamber Ensemble
Since Emily Isaacson was 15, her dream was to become a conductor. She grew up in Maine, but she left the state for college, two master’s in music, and a doctorate in conducting. Between degrees she taught music at a public charter school in Washington, D.C., and then again in Boston. Isaacson also helped launch Roomful of Teeth, a Grammy-winning vocal music ensemble. She always wanted to return to Maine, though, and she got her wish in 2013 when she became the artistic director for the Oratorio Chorale and Maine Chamber Ensemble. Since then, Isaacson has launched the Portland Bach Experience, a nonprofit that presents world-class classical music events throughout the city through a series of festivals. The June festival included classical music performances in unexpected locations, such as a concert at Bayside Bowl and the playing of all six of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cello suites in different public locations throughout the Portland area. Those events were part of Isaacson’s goal to make classical music feel more approachable and less elitist. “I resist the sterile way in which we experience classical music in the twentieth and twenty-first century. I want to return classical music to its natural habitat, which is social and weaved in to people’s everyday life,” Isaacson says. Another goal of the festival is to draw people to Portland who will boost the local economy. “Entrepreneurship is a core part of the Maine spirit, and it’s in the arts, too,” she says. “You just need to work really hard and have a great idea.”
Tom Bradbury | Executive Director of Kennebunkport Conservation Trust
Tom Bradbury’s roots in Maine run deep, with his first ancestor having come to the state in the early 1600s. For the past 40 years he has dedicated himself to protecting the land his family has called home. “Working with the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust has allowed me to forever preserve some of those wonderful properties around which the history, beauty, and character of our community has been formed,” he says. In Bradbury’s time at the trust, the organization has preserved 12 islands in Cape Porpoise Harbor and has protected 2,400 acres of land on which 20 miles of trails have been built. Volunteers started the trust and have driven the work. “We had a passion for wanting to save those properties on which we had played as children, but no actual knowledge about how to accomplish it,” he says. “We used our community to create a network of protected lands; now we are using those protected lands to build a stronger community.” To ensure people know how to care for and protect the lands around them, Bradbury has helped develop a nation- ally recognized education program. Being good stewards is important if people want to continue enjoying Maine’s natural beauty. “It is our responsibility to pass on the best of this state, to pass on that same gift that we have been given,” Bradbury says. “I wanted to pass that on to our children and our children’s children, so they could come to love this special place as we now do.”
Merle Hallett | Co-founder of MS Harborfest, Former Owner of Handy Boat
For Merle Hallett, sailing is more than a hobby or passion—it’s a way to give back. In 1982 he cofounded the MS Regatta, now the MS Harborfest, to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The event, which includes a race around Casco Bay, has raised more than $3 million over the past three decades. “I feel an obligation to pay back for all of my good fortune, and Maine is the natural place for me to contribute,” Hallett says. The Portland native grew up on Munjoy Hill and learned to sail at East End Beach, where he would launch a sailboat he built himself. At age 23, he started working at Handy Boat, a boatyard in Falmouth. In 1966 he bought the business and expanded it continually until he retired in 2008. Handy Boat allowed Hallett to introduce boating to new generations. “This led to being able to give many young people the opportunity to work on the water, learning to appreciate boats, sailing, and sailboat racing,” he says. Hallett has always had a passion for racing and competed in his first boat race when he was 16 years old. Since then, he’s competed in and won races all over the country and world.
Geo Soctomah Neptune | Master Basketmaker, Educator + Drag Performer
Geo Soctomah Neptune’s life is a series of opposing ideas: traditionalism and modernism, Western and Native cultures, masculine and feminine spirits. Neptune’s life and work as a Passamaquoddy basketmaker and drag performer embody these oppositions. “I hope that others can see that my basketmaking is an important part of cultural preservation as well as evolution, that my drag is a challenge to Western patriarchal societal norms, and that these two things are not separate, because these art forms are who I am as a two-spirit,” says Neptune, who uses the pronoun they. A two-spirit, Neptune says, is “both male and female, yet neither female nor male.” Neptune’s basketmaking, which has won numerous national awards, allows them to express their identity through a traditional indigenous art form. “I am proud to be able to speak my language and to practice the traditions that my ancestors practiced,” Neptune says. “Every effort was made by the colonizers to kill our language, erase our traditions, and make us forget who we are.” Neptune also works to keep indigenous culture alive as a teacher in a Passamaquoddy language immersion program. Neptune hopes that the effect of their art and drag performances will be “that future generations will experience less racism, less homophobia, and less transphobia than myself and others have, and gain a stronger sense of identity and community as a result.”
Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. | Maine State Historian
Earle Shettleworth was only 11 years old when he had his first meeting with Percival P. Baxter, who served as Maine’s governor from 1921 to 1925. It was 1960, and Shettleworth was developing an interest in historic preservation. “Governor Baxter inspired my belief in public service as a worthy pursuit that provided opportunities for creating a better Maine,” he says. As a teenager, Shettleworth was interested in the history of art and architecture and how historical preservation requires both a knowledge of old buildings and the ability to develop strategies to protect them. Now the state historian in Augusta, Shettleworth spent most of his career with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, first as a board member and then as director from 1976 to 2015. While Shettleworth served as director, the commission nominated nearly 1,600 Maine properties to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985 he helped secure voter approval of a $2 million bond to improve historic buildings in Maine. Shettleworth says Maine’s history, including its architecture and artifacts, defines the state as much as its natural elements do. It’s important for history to be preserved and made accessible so more people can understand where Maine has been, he says. “A knowledge of local, state, and national history is essential in defining the truth of who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go.”
Clayton Rose | President of Bowdoin College
Clayton Rose believes education is an opportunity everyone should have, and at Bowdoin College he helps make this a reality. “At Bowdoin, I am deeply proud of our bedrock commitment to ensuring that the best students can come here regardless of their financial situation,” the college president says. Having strong endowment support allows the school to have need-blind admission, no loan requirement in financial aid packages, and a commitment to meet students’ full demonstrated need for all four years. Rose says Bowdoin’s connection to Brunswick and to Maine as a whole makes it a stronger school. “It is quite special to be tied so deeply to our local community and to do this work in Maine, where integrity, authenticity, and a respect for the natural world align with the values of the college,” he says. These values are ones Rose hopes students take with them when they graduate. He believes students leave Bowdoin prepared to understand the global world they’re entering and to engage with it thoughtfully. He also believes the college prepares students for any occupation, although he realizes many young people choose to leave Maine. The key to changing this is to create support that will make people want to stay as well as draw in new people. “We need to support education at every level and in every part of our state, from pre-K through graduate programs,” Rose says. “This commitment to education is what will create the kind of workforce that draws employers to the state and encourages entrepreneurial activity.”
Lois Lowry | Author
“Writing is my passion, as are young people,” says author Lois Lowry. “To be able to combine the two in a career has brought me enormous satisfaction.” Lowry, author of classics such as The Giver and Number the Stars, has been publishing young adult novels for decades. She has a simple secret to keeping her books relevant: she avoids trends. “I try instead to address more pervasive themes that resonate with all ages, to raise questions that can provoke discussion and thought among 12-year-olds, and then the same people 10 years later, and 10 years after that,” she says. Although her work has won many awards, including two Newbery Medals, Lowry says her proudest accomplishments have been moments. “Nothing is more gratifying than hearing that a kid and a grandparent are together reading—and talking about— an issue that I have raised in a book,” Lowry says. The part-time Maine resident and University of Southern Maine graduate recalls a time when a teacher told her a student used Number the Stars to teach his mother to read. To keep books in children’s hands, the author has spent a lot of her time fighting against book banning. Literacy and artistic freedom are both very important to her. “My book The Giver depicts a society which, under the guise of protecting its citizens, has lost all art, music, and literature,” Lowry says. “It really is a manifesto for a free society.”
David Evans Shaw | Founder + Former CEO of Idexx Laboratories, Managing Partner at Black Point Group
After starting his career working in Governor James Longley’s administration, David Evans Shaw realized he preferred the world of business. He liked the idea of helping others, though, and has focused his career on that goal. “While motivated by public service, I discovered that the framework of entrepreneurial business was especially fulfilling,” he says. “Over the past 35 years, I have come to love building and supporting organizations that create exceptional value through innovative thinking and game-changing technology.” Shaw has founded some of Maine’s largest companies, including Idexx Laboratories and Vets First Choice. He has also been chairman of the board at the Jackson Laboratory. His endeavors have been driven by “restless dissatisfaction with the status quo” and a desire to find new, creative solutions. “Their success is a result of impassioned discovery of novel ways to tackle important opportunities in the world,” Shaw says. The business leader is now a managing partner of Black Point Group, an investment partnership based in Portland. He says it’s important to him to be involved in work that creates jobs in Maine and adds to the state’s technology industry, especially as it relates to health care. “We are all beneficiaries of stunning advances in modern healthcare, and I’m proud to be a contributor,” Shaw says. Looking to the future, Shaw envisions entrepreneurs leading the state forward. “Entrepreneurship thrives on a sense of taking responsibility in life, and this resonates with an element of Maine’s culture,” he says.
Leigh Kellis | Founder + Owner of the Holy Donut
It started with a craving. Seven years ago Leigh Kellis wanted a homemade doughnut. But she didn’t like any options around her, so she started making doughnuts in her kitchen on Munjoy Hill in Portland. Once she came up with a recipe she liked (using Maine potatoes), she started supplying them to Coffee by Design on Washington Avenue. At first, she sold the coffee shop 12 doughnuts a day. Less than a year later, Kellis opened the first Holy Donut retail location on Park Avenue with the help of her father, Allan, who co-owned the business and died in 2017. The following year she opened another store in the Old Port, and in 2017 she expanded to Scarborough, both with her brother-in-law, Jeff Buckwalter, along with support from other family and staff. “I never imagined the three shops. I never imagined the Scarborough location with a drive-through. That’s kind of a dream come true,” Kellis says. “I was thinking a little hole-in-the-wall on Munjoy Hill, making doughnuts, and it just kind of took on a life of its own.” The business now has about 75 employees, and gives back to the community by providing paid time off for workers who do specific charitable work and making a donation to a community nonprofit each year. “I absolutely love doughnuts. And I love the nostalgia of a doughnut shop,” Kellis says. “I think it is comforting and a must-have in the community. There are lots of things in life that are not so pleasant. A doughnut shop should bring sweet relief in a busy world.”
Joshua Broder | CEO of Tilson
The workplace environment Joshua Broder has created at Tilson didn’t come about by accident. After serving in the United States Army, he wanted to recreate the strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie felt in the armed services. “Our mission has been to find people who are both good and effective at working with each other,” Broder says. “To make it worth their while we had to find a meaningful mission, bigger than us, and bigger than Maine.” Tilson, an information technology professional services and network deployment business based in Portland, has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the country for the past eight years. Broder started at Tilson as one of three employees in 2006 and became CEO in 2009. Since then Tilson has grown to 400 employees and has installed thousands of miles of fiber optic networks throughout the United States, consulted on local and national projects, and opened offices in 17 states. Half of Tilson’s employees are veterans. “We think vets like to transition home here at Tilson because it’s a place where pushing each other to be better is comfortable, expected, and appreciated,” Broder says. His goal has always been to make a culture focused on taking risks that encourages growth for both individuals and the company.
Sandra Stone | Chair Emerita of Maine Angels, Founder of Sea Cove Solutions
Sandra Stone believes in empowering and supporting women. From 2011 to 2015 she led Maine Angels, a private investor network. As chair-woman, Stone encouraged more entrepreneurs, especially women, to apply for investments, and helped add more female members to the investors group. When she first became a member in 2008, she was one of very few women. There are now 15 female members out of 64 total, and Stone stays involved with Maine Angels as chair emerita. “I like being part of creating new approaches, products, services, and collaborations,” she says. “Being an angel investor often provides interaction with inquisitive minds and problem solvers.” When she was leading Maine Angels, Stone helped expand the organization’s resources by having it join the New England Angel Capital Association regional network. Maine Angels is now considered one of the most active angel groups in the country; it has invested $24 million in 82 companies since it was founded in 2003. One of Stone’s proudest accomplishments has been co-launching the Northern New England Women’s Investor Network, a collaboration between Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to activate more financially accredited women as angel investors. The goal is to increase startup investments, especially in female-led companies. Stone also has her own consulting business, Sea Cove Solutions, which provides resources and mentorships for female entrepreneurs. “I thrive on collaborating with my colleagues in investor, mentor, and advisor roles as I enjoy learning with and from them, sharing our stories, and building off each other’s energy and ideation,” she says.
Reverend Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr. | Senior Pastor at Green Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Senior Director of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence
In the days after a white supremacist murdered nine African Americans during prayer service at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Reverend Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr., helped organize a memorial 1,000 miles away in Portland. More than 1,300 people turned out for the tribute at Merrill Auditorium. Lewis saw it as “an opportunity for some collective mourning, a memorializing of what transpired to encourage us to remain vigilant as to what our community ethics are and to declare our intolerance for racial hatred.” Lewis has been pastor of the historic Green Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church since 2003 and also serves as the director of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence. “The wonderful thing about the Green Memorial Church is it is a historic African American institution that is wonderfully diverse,” he says. “For years the statement was made that Sunday is the most segregated day in the United States. But not at the corner of Monument and Sheridan.” Lewis, like Green Memorial, is rooted in the community. He has developed relationships with elected officials, business leaders, law enforcement, and community organizers to address issues of equity in health, education, and economic opportunity. “Our church represents what can be and what must be if our city, state, and nation ever expect to actualize the dream of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Lewis says, “to have a beloved community, where race and class distinctions give way to the ties that bind us all: faith, hope, and love.”
Elizabeth Strout | Author
As a child who spent much of her time in Harpswell, Elizabeth Strout knew she wanted to write. She spent her days studying people and reading books, both of which prepared her be- come an author. “I don’t really have memories of wanting to be anything else,” she says. Strout, who splits her time between Maine and New York City, has written six books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The novel, like many of Strout’s books, is set in Maine. The author says she writes what she knows, and for her, that’s Maine; her family has lived in the state since 1603. “That’s an enormous ancestry from a particular kind of culture,” she says. “That has very much influenced my work.” The hardworking grit of Mainers that comes through in her characters has guided Strout herself. Before becoming a successful author, she left Maine and pursued law. The need to be a writer pulled at her, though, and she worked to realize her dream. “I always knew I could do it as long as I stuck with it,” she says. “It’s been striking that I’ve actually done it.” Strout has won a number of awards, including the Story Prize for her recent collection of stories, Anything Is Possible. The honors are important to her, but, Strout says, they don’t “really enter me.” Her Maine upbringing taught her not to draw atten- tion to herself, so she keeps her head down. She’s currently at work on her next project: a novel set in Maine.
Kerry Gallivan | CEO + Founder of Chimani
When Kerry Gallivan created Chimani, an app that helps people explore national parks, he knew combining technology and the outdoors looked like an odd match. He views technology as a powerful tool, though, and wanted to use it to help others get out of their comfort zones. “I am driven by the concept of social entrepreneurship, and in my case, the potential for technology to have a positive impact on people,” he says. Gallivan sees information as a way of empowering people and helping them feel more confident outdoors. Chimani includes maps, guides, and tips for exploring all 417 national parks in the United States. Gallivan came up with the idea because he thought not enough people knew what was out there to discover. The app includes many ways to explore and enjoy national parks, depending on the person’s comfort level, interest, and wilderness skills. He says Maine could become the “ultimate outdoor destination” on the East Coast because of the variety of landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities, and tools like Chimani make the outdoors more accessible to more people. “America’s relationship to the outdoors is changing—less backcountry and more front country—so there needs to be better alignment with the various groups to create more complete experiences,” he says. Making the outdoors more accessible is key to boosting Maine’s economy and bringing more people to the state, Gallivan says.
Chris Brownawell | Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum
Chris Brownawell joined the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland as director in 2010 after working as CEO at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland, for more than two decades. Since its founding in 1948, the Farnsworth has been a focal point for the arts in Rockland, and in recent years the midcoast town has gained national exposure as an arts destination. In 2015, Brownawell helped secure $17 million in state and federal tax credit financing for significant improvements to the Farnsworth’s Rockland campus and work on the Olson House in Cushing, the setting of Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting Christina’s World. “Maine continues to play a significant role in the discourse of American art,” he says. “For generations artists have been attracted to the state for its beauty, its people, and its inspiration. It is an important story to tell.” With a mission of celebrating Maine’s role in American arts and 15,000 objects in its collection, “the Farnsworth is uniquely equipped to tell this story,” Brownawell says. The museum’s works reflect its location, focusing on artists with connections to Maine or the midcoast region. It is home to one of the largest collections of paintings by the Wyeth family and the second largest collection in the country of Louise Nevelson’s work. “The Farnsworth Art Museum is a very special place,” Brownawell says. “It has deep connections to its midcoast community; at the same time it has a national reputation and audience.”
Susan J. Hunter | President Emerita of the University of Maine
Besides a ten-month stint as a vice chancellor for the University of Maine System, Susan J. Hunter spent her entire professional career on the University of Maine’s Orono campus. Hunter, who became the flagship university’s first woman president in 2014, retired this summer after a 30-year career that began with a part-time faculty position at UMaine’s Department of Zoology. “Day in, day out, you’re on the campus, that campus,” Hunter says. “To suddenly be absent, it may seem like a bit of an amputation for me. But time marches on.” In her time as president, the university recruited its largest incoming class, boosted out-of-state enrollment, and had record fundraising. But Hunter says she saw her role as making other people’s jobs successful. “As an administrator, the job is not about us. It’s not about me. It’s about what can we do to make the institution successful, which is really what can we do to make the faculty successful because that’s really the talent. They’re the ones teaching. They’re the ones doing the research and working with the students.” The university serves as a major research and development hub and leverages its resources to assist businesses, schools, cultural institutions, government entities, and communities. “Today more than ever, UMaine is an innovator, a partner, a resource that can help make things happen in this region, state- wide and beyond,” Hunter says. “That ability to partner to get results is particularly refreshing. I’ve said more than once: There’s no greater job than being a president of a university with this kind of mission and impact, working for the people of Maine.”
Tom Moser | Co-founder + Former President of Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers
Before Tom Moser pursued wood-working full time, he was teaching speech and communications at Bates College. He and his wife, Mary, had been refinishing and selling antique furniture from their home workshop when he took a year-long sabbatical to see if he could make it as a craftsman, risking the economic security he had as a tenured professor. “I was going to be either a fool or successful, and I guess it turns out I was successful,” Moser says. His eponymous furniture company (although he’s fond of saying that he’s just Tom—the brand is Thomas Moser) has since made chairs for presidents and popes and has outfitted homes and institutions all over the world. “What we create has universality that transcends time and space,” Moser says. “If it’s good in Brunswick, Maine, it ought to also be good in some place in India.” The company’s Auburn workshop employs more than 60 craftspeople, and there are showrooms in Freeport, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Although the company’s pieces are considered heirloom-quality, Moser is emphatic that they are not art. “Art doesn’t require function,” he says. “Craft does.” Still, he sees the company as providing something with more significance than just places to sit. “It takes an American hardwood tree 75 to 125 years to mature and provide what we call lumber,” Moser says. “Whatever we do with that tree should provide meaning and support and utility for at least as long as it took for the tree to grow.”