50 Mainers Charting the State’s Future
Maine is full of natural resources and resourceful people. But without planning, resources can be depleted or left untapped, an opportunity to move the state forward wasted. The following pages are filled with Mainers improving upon strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses, building upon the state’s numerous assets and finding ways to leverage them to improve the lives of others. They continuously ask themselves what they can do to make Maine a better place, and they go out and do it, investing their time, energy, and talents to advance the state they love. They’re developing and promoting new technologies to harness that state’s natural resources. They’re educating and training the next generation of workers, including a growing immigrant population. They’re inventing industries, shining a national light on Maine’s best. Most of all, they’re looking ahead.
Nancy E. Smith
Executive director of GrowSmart Maine
Before joining GrowSmart Maine six years ago, Nancy E. Smith served as a state representative, a forester, and a farmer at Snafu Acres Farm in Monmouth. She says those experiences- from chairing the legislature’s economic development committee to overseeing timber harvests to raising livestock and poultry -all inform her work at GrowSmart Maine, where she works with communities as they seek economic growth that doesn’t sacrifice quality of life. “We share a vision for Maine as a place with lively downtowns from villages to cities, healthy open space, and productive farms, fisheries, and forest, bound together by strong communities,” Smith says. “In my work at GrowSmart Maine, I am part of bringing that vision to life.” In 2012, GrowSmart Maine published an update to the influential report “Charting Maine’s Future,” written in collaboration with the Brookings institution. One of the lessons learned since the original report is that the government is not always the most effective leader of change. Instead, initiatives with grassroots community support are most likely to be successful, the report says. GrowSmart Maine is now advancing that idea with its community engagement program, Making Headway in Your Community, a series of community events focusing on single easy, visible projects designed to draw support for those things that matter most to a particular community.
Ronald L. Phillips
Founder and former president and CEO of Coastal Enterprises, Inc.r
Ronald L. Phillips helped create Coastal Enterprises, Inc., a community-based development and financial organization in 1977 to support ventures that benefit people and regions at the margins of society. For CEI’s first major investment project in 1979, Phillips secured $300,000 as part of the financing to rebuild, modernize, and expand the community- and fisherman-owned Boothbay Region Fish and Cold Storage plant after a fire. The organization, including its subsidiaries, now employs over 80 people. As of the start of 2016, it has provided $1.19 billion in loans and investments to 2,555 businesses, created or retained over 33,000 full-time jobs, and created or preserved 1,882 units of affordable housing, and over 5,500 child care slots. Last year CEI consolidated its Portland and Wiscasset offices into newly built, pending LEED Platinum $5 million headquarters in downtown Brunswick. This summer Phillips, after leading the organization for over 38 years, stepped down as president and CEO. He says one of his proudest accomplishments is the coalition of employees, board members, and investors from the public and private sectors who carry out CEI’s work to secure triple-bottom-line returns on investment: economy, equity, and ecology. “We are part of an international field of development that addresses both the safety of the environment and the planet, and also, the sharing and distribution of ownership and prosperity for low-income individuals, children, and families,” he says.
Executive director of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assocation
“Advocating on behalf of good, organic food and small family farms, is central to my life,” says Ted Quaday, executive director at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). Quaday took over the position in 2013, after spending the previous 15 years working for family farms and sustainable agriculture. He spent a decade as program director at Farm Aid, where he managed the organization’s Farm Aid Grants program and worked with family farm and food advocacy organizations around the country. Following that, he worked for three years as the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s communication director. “MOFGA’s reputation as a national leader in the organic farm and food movement is unparalleled,” Quaday says. “I am simply honored to be a part of the team.” Since starting at MOFGA, he says he’s particularly proud of the work the organization’s development group has done to rebuild increased financial stability. In less than three years, the organization has increased endowment by more than $3 million. MOFGA, based in Unity, has 11,000 members, and certifies nearly 500 organic farms and processors. “Many of these businesses are focused on trading locally, adding employees, and helping to build rural communities in Maine,” Quaday says.
Dr. Charles H. Norchi
Professor of Law and University Trustee Professor
Dr. Charles Norchi is a professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, where he teaches and writes about international law, law of the sea, and international human rights. Norchi was recently appointed university trustee to support his work on the Arctic for the 2016-2017 academic year. He founded and serves as the director for the school’s Center for Oceans and Coastal Law, a teaching and interdisciplinary research center devoted to law and policy of the oceans. “Maine Law is local, but it is also global. Our students study abroad, and foreign students and scholars come to us,” Norchi says. “When the foreigners return to their countries they take with them endearing and enduring connections to Maine. That is why I do what I do in Maine.” Norchi’s work often takes him overseas, lecturing and advising on his subjects of expertise in Europe, the middle East, and Asia. One of his proudest experiences was serving on the faculty of a Department of Defense training program called the Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace Program, which entailed briefing service personnel at United States military bases just prior to their deployments to Afghanistan. The program provides graduate-level education on regional, geopolitical, and cultural issues. He says he often hears from former students, now veterans, who say they found the training helpful while deployed. Norchi is currently on the board of directors for the Harvard Club of Maine, the world Affairs Council of Maine, and Super-Max Inc., and is a fellow at the Explorers Club in New York City.
Founder of Moody’s Collision Centers
Going into his senior year of high school at the age of 17, Shawn Moody opened a three-bay garage in his hometown of Gorham. Now, nearly 40 years later, Moody’s Collision Centers, with nine locations around the state, is the largest independent collision repairer in the Northeast. Moody, who ran for governor as an independent in 2010, has remained dedicated to Gorham, raising four children there with his wife, Chrissi. As a child, Moody and his two siblings faced adversity early. When Moody was 13, his mother, Ann, was hospitalized, forcing the family to move out of its home and into a trailer park. “That humbling experience motivated me to provide a better life for her and our family,” Moody says. As the business grew, Moody and his siblings saved up enough money to buy their mother a home and move her back to Gorham. Moody shares the company’s success with his co-workers. He established a profit-sharing program in the 1990s that gives 10 percent of the company’s after-tax profit to its workers. Through the company’s employee stock ownership plan, established in 2003, co-workers own 34 percent of the business. “Whether it’s your family, friends, or community,” Moody says, “when you put others ahead of yourself, work hard, and are willing to sacrifice, you will be successful beyond your dreams.”
Third-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School
Since being named the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, Talya Edlund, a third-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth, has been doubly fired up about education. “This whole experience has reminded me just how powerful education is and how transformative it is, especially in those times that you think nobody is really looking,” says Edlund. “Those are the times that really count.” As Teacher of the Year, Edlund has been able to attend education conferences around the country. But the most eye-opening experience for her has been hearing from other teachers about challenges in more rural and impoverished districts in the state. “When you’ve got a classroom where half of the kids are unsure if they’re going to have dinner or not, that’s a big hurdle to deal with when helping them toward proficiency,” she says. She’s also learned that many business and policy leaders want to hear from classroom teachers about issues that impact education. This spring, the commissioner of education appointed Edlund to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Education, which has goals to evaluate the equity of funding for public education as well as current trends in student achievement.
CEO at Axiom Technologies
Susan Corbett, CEO at Axiom Technologies in Machias, has led the expansion of broadband internet in Washington County over the last decade, while advocating for rural broadband throughout Maine and the country. Starting with one wireless connection in 2005, the company has grown to cover over 2,500 square miles of the state’s poorest county with high-speed wireless internet. “A broadband connection has the power to change a person’s life, but it can also change the economic status of a region,” Corbett says. With the help of a $1.4 million federal grant from 2010 to 2013, Axiom worked with the nursing, fishing, and farming industries to expand internet adoption and computer training. In 2014, Corbett started the nonprofit side of Axiom, Axiom Education and Training Center, to teach people how to use the internet. Since then, the organization has assisted nearly 400 businesses and over 4,000 individuals. Axiom and its nonprofit now employ nearly 50 people, all from Washington County. This spring Axiom received
a $72,800 grant from Microsoft to provide internet access to over three dozen homes in Washington County. “We will not stop until every home is served with a broadband connection, opening new doors for both businesses and individuals,” Corbett says. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished to connect people to the internet.”
Linden Frederick is sometimes described as a landscape painter, but instead of mountains and seas, Frederick paints human-made environments. His scenes are set at dusk or at night, capturing the moments after public spaces have emptied and people have retreated into their homes. “I’m really not a landscape painter. I’m a narrative painter,” he says. He wants his scenes to trigger memories or emotions in viewers and to serve as starting points for larger stories. One of his paintings, Night After, shows a sagging snowman in the front yard of a modest, one-story home, with yellow Christmas lights framing one window and part of the door, a scene that’s a familiar anticlimax to many. “It’s something that everybody experiences, so I think that’s why people respond to my work,” Frederick says. Frederick grew up in upstate New York, but he is now based in Belfast, and Maine towns and cities from Kittery to Houlton provide much of his subject matter. Since moving to Maine 27 years ago, he has had over 15 one-person shows. His current project, Night Stories, has been seven years in the making, and he considers it the most important of his career. The show, which will be a collaboration with 15 nationally known writers, is scheduled for May of next year at Forum Gallery in New York City. Later that summer, it will move to the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland.
Founder and executive director at Tree Street Youth
Julia Sleeper founded Tree Street Youth as a summer youth program in 2011 with a fellow Bates College graduate, Kim Sullivan. While helping out at local public schools and other community organizations, Sleeper was inspired by young students who told her they wanted a place to call their own and where they could learn new things. Five years later, the organization is open year-round, has served 800 young people, and is planning for a major expansion to double the size of its space. “The youth of downtown Lewiston are unlike any others I have ever met,” Sleeper says. “I am privileged to spend the days being inspired by their dreams, talents, and ambitions.” Tree Street Youth serves between 120 and 150 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade daily, offering afterschool education, arts, and athletic programs, a summer youth program, and leadership training for high-schoolers. Its college readiness program works to increase the graduation, college acceptance, and college retention rates of at-risk first-generation immigrant students in Lewiston and Auburn. “Downtown Lewiston is one of the only municipal areas demonstrating population growth in the entire state of Maine, which makes the youth we serve a huge force in the future of the state,” Sleepers says. “I do what I do to ensure our youth have as many opportunities as possible to succeed as the future leaders of Maine.”
Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic
Professor Jay Friedlander founded the sustainable business program at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor after working as chief operating officer at O’Naturals, a natural and organic fast-food restaurant group. He says he discovered the power of business as a lever for positive social and environmental change as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania. In that country, slave owners used business as a tool of oppression, but he saw that it could be liberating as well. Women’s cooperatives used commerce to improve their education, health, and social standing, he says. As the inaugural chair of the sustainable business program, Friedlander developed a curriculum that focuses on how building social, economic, and environmental capital can help businesses innovate and gain competitive advantages. “Ten years ago the sharing economy, organic food, and renewable energy were tiny blips or didn’t exist at all,” he says. “Today, sustainable companies are eclipsing established players across industries by reducing risk, cutting costs, and opening new markets.” Friedlander serves on the advisory board of the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies at University of Maine, which is establishing an interdisciplinary graduate center combining business, law, and policy.
Executive director at the Maine Women’s Lobby and Maine Women’s Policy Center
Eliza Townsend, a Maine native, leads the only statewide organization working on the full range of issues affecting women and their families. “I want Maine to be a place where everyone can succeed, but we’ve got work to do to make that a reality,” says Townsend, executive director at the Maine Women’s Lobby and Maine Women’s Policy Center. “So many issues have a disproportionate or unique impact on women, and it’s vital that we have a voice when the policies that affect our lives are being made.” Maine Women’s Lobby recently worked with the Southern Maine Workers’ Center and other organizations to help raise the minimum wage in Portland to $10.10 per hour. Townsend is also proud of her organizations for twice convening the Maine Women’s Summit on Economic Security to identify the issues that keep women from meeting their full potential. They also published a policy guide to help lawmakers and others understand issues affecting women. To improve Maine’s economy, the state needs to ensure that the majority of its people have the tools to succeed, she says. “Let’s invest in education, paid family leave, quality child care. Let’s make sure everyone has access to healthcare and can earn a paid day off when they’re sick,” she says. “That’s how we’ll build a twenty-first century economy.”
President at Neptune Advantage
Elizabeth Neptune, as president of her consulting service, Neptune Advantage, provides technical assistance to Native American tribes and nonprofit organizations across the country. For more than 13 years, until 2005, Neptune served as director of health and human services for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. In that role, she managed the development of health systems and the delivery of healthcare for the Indian Township community. As a consultant, she helps with program development, grant writing, facilitation, and more, primarily for projects related to health services. She also assists with social welfare projects in Washington County. She’s helping design a mentoring program for Community Caring Collaborative, a network of agencies and providers supporting at-risk individuals and families in the county. In her work, she spends a significant portion of her time illuminating the inequities facing Native Americans and dispelling negative stereotypes. She hopes that advocacy and education will lead to changes that will improve the well-being of native people in Maine and across the country. “Wabanaki people, including the Passamaquoddy, have lived in what is now Maine for more than 10,000 years,” Neptune says. “We have survived genocide, intentional racism, and attempts to extinguish our culture and our traditions. We have endured generations of trauma. Daily I work to ensure that we not only survive but that we thrive.”
Owner of Caron Communications, president of Envision Maine, and founder of GrowSmart Maine
Soon after Alan Caron started GrowSmart Maine in 2004, he persuaded the Brookings Institution to come to Maine to evaluate the state’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend ways to grow the economy. The 2006 report Charting Maine’s Future propelled conversations about the state’s quality of place, helped expand downtown and historic restoration, and focused attention on the value of the Maine brand, Caron says. After leaving GrowSmart Maine in 2009, Caron founded Envision Maine, which is a membership group comprised of individuals, businesses, and organizations from around the state working to create a sustainable economy through entrepreneurship and innovation. Caron also owns a communications company and writes a weekly column for the Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel. He’s the author of Reinventing Maine Government and Maine’s Next Economy. “What I hope to achieve with all of it is to inspire others to do everything they can do and more for Maine, and for Maine people,” Caron says. “I want us to love not only our history but our future as well. And to care about the natural beauty of Maine with as much energy as we do the people of Maine.”
President and CEO at Baskahegan Company
“When your job is forest management, of course you have to live where the forest is, but there’s no place I would rather be than Maine,” says Roger Milliken, president and CEO at the Baskahegan Company, which owns and manages his family’s timberland, totaling 120,000 acres in eastern Maine. “I am drawn to places where people still live their connections to the natural world.” Milliken has been leading the company since 1983, a couple of years after he arrived in the area to write a book about the history of the company. He’s gone on to lead forestry conservation efforts, co- chairing campaigns by The Nature Conservancy to raise $64.5 million to protect 200,000 acres along the Saint John River and the 40,000-acre Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. He served as board chairman of The Nature Conservancy from 2008 to 2011, and he is a trustee of the organization’s Maine chapter. He’s motivated by a lifelong exploration of the “right relationship” with nature. “Even as an infant, I think I bonded deeply to Maine’s natural gifts, the smell of spruce in salt air, the moist enveloping of fog, the crispness of a northwest wind,” Milliken says. “Maine is where my father’s ancestors lived, and the place where the clan has gathered for generations. Maine is my home.”
Anna M. Gould
Cofounder and board chair at Camp Sunshine
Anna M. Gould founded Camp Sunshine with her husband, Lawrence, in 1984, after watching a television program about a summer camp for children with cancer. Gould says from the first pilot program they ran, she’s been in awe of how much families have to bear when they have a child with a life-threatening illness. “Their ability to endure their circumstances and come and share their lives with us at Camp Sunshine, and then in turn Camp Sunshine’s ability to bring joy and hope to families, is still something that amazes me 32 years later,” she says. Camp Sunshine, located in Casco on Sebago Lake, is the only retreat program in the world designed to serve children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The camp’s mission is to provide families, who stay at the retreat free of charge, with respite, recreation, and support. Since its founding, the camp has served about 49,000 family members. Gould says the commitment of the volunteers who help run the camp has astounded her since they first began the program. “No matter how much we have grown, they too have continued to grow,” she says of the volunteers. “I have learned that giving of oneself is in fact the best gift, as the return is immeasurable.”
Executive vice president at Maine Medical Association
Gordon Smith has served as executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the state, since 1993. As a lobbyist for physicians at the Maine State House, Smith has to build collaborative relationships with different stakeholders who can often be at odds with one another, and whose positions change over time. For example, last year the medical community and midwives in the state came together to support a comprehensive bill to license certified professional midwives, after the medical community opposed licensing midwives in 2007. “I have an opportunity every day to be engaged in some of the most challenging issues of our time, to build collaborative relationships,
and to improve both the health and healthcare of Mainers,” Smith says. One of his proudest accomplishments is the work done by Maine Medical Association and its partners in forming the Maine Coalition on Smoking or Health in 1980 and proceeding to pass more than 20 laws over the next three decades, cleaning up the indoor air in the state from second-hand tobacco smoke. The group is now part of the Maine Public Health Association. A Winthrop native, Smith attended the University of Maine in Orono and then Boston College Law School. After graduating from law school, Smith returned to central Maine and now lives in East Winthrop with his wife.
Owner and founder of MaineWorks
Margo Walsh founded MaineWorks in 2011 to provide jobs and stability to people who are in recovery from substance abuse, have previous felonies, or are facing other barriers to employment. While attending substance abuse recovery meetings at Cumberland County Jail’s Pre- Release Center, Walsh saw that inmates planning for their releases were struggling to find jobs. Around the same time she attended a talk in Portland by attorney F. Lee Bailey about the need to provide employment for felons. With a professional background in recruiting, Walsh thought that if companies wouldn’t hire felons, she would. “I was motivated by the needs of my family and what I saw as an incredible opportunity to help change and build lives for people who were ready to work hard and support themselves,” Walsh says.“I would say the operative and guiding principle of this company is empathy.” Construction companies hire MaineWorks to provide workers for projects across the state. It’s a for-profit company, but it also has a social mission. One of Walsh’s proudest success stories is the recent hiring of one of the company’s first-year temporary employees as crew leader for MaineWorks’s new Property Services Division. In March, the U.S. Small Business Administration honored Walsh with the Small Business Person of the Year award for Maine.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt is the CEO of Portland-based Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. Formerly vice president of global corporate citizenship at The Boeing Company, Roosevelt came to Goodwill NNE in 2011. Her reasons for moving to Maine included the natural beauty and a home closer to two of her five grandchildren, but just as important was that she saw a commitment to shared dignity at Goodwill NNE. The organization, with 30 stores in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, delivers a variety of services to help people find stability through work. In 2014, Goodwill NNE’s workforce services helped more than 32,000 individuals. To help with the organization’s ten-year goal of moving 10,000 households into stability, Roosevelt says businesses should think about how to include a diversity of talents in their workplaces and realize that building stability can take practice. “Take a chance on someone and stick with them,” she says. “Commit to making that slight mental shift from being so narrowly focused on getting a particular job done in a particular way, to being more broadly focused on getting the job done by hiring an individual whom we might otherwise overlook.” Roosevelt has a family history of public service: she is the granddaughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and is the chair of the Roosevelt Institute Board of Directors.
Founder of Maine Grains, executive director and co-founder of the Maine Grain Alliance and Kneading Conference
Amber Lambke helped start the Kneading Conference in 2007 to bring farmers, millers, bread bakers, and researchers together to reinvigorate Maine’s grain economy. The conference now attracts hundreds of people every year interested in local grain production, milling, and bread making. After seeing a need for processing infrastructure in central Maine, Lambke and her business partner, Michael Scholz, founded Maine Grains. To house the production facility, they purchased and renovated a former jailhouse in downtown Skowhegan, converting it into the Somerset Grist Mill. Maine Grains processes around 650 tons of grain a year, sourcing it from 24 farmers in central and northern Maine and selling to customers
from Maine to New York City. Maine Grains, which has ten employees, will be buying $300,000 worth of equipment over the next year, including oat processing equipment to scale up oat production and additional millstones to diversify the types of grains that can be processed. “I believe that rural areas like Skowhegan need to create their jobs of the future,” Lambke says. “One of our greatest assets in rural central Maine is our land and natural resources. If we use them responsibly to create economic opportunities, we stand to create new jobs, feed people, and steward the beautiful farmland and recreational destinations we have here.”
Arlin Smith, Mike Wiley, Andrew Taylor
Co-owners of Big Tree Hospitality
Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley’s 2012 purchase of Hugo’s restaurant set the stage for what is now a block-long epicurean empire on Portland’s Middle Street. Soon after buying the fine dining institution from chef Rob Evans and his wife, Nancy Pugh, the trio opened Eventide Oyster Co. next door, to immediate acclaim. Last year they opened the Honey Paw, a noodle-focused restaurant that avoids fitting in any culinary category. “We are all just really passionate about creating wonderful experiences for other people,” Taylor says. “Nothing makes me happier than watching someone else enjoying their meal at one of our restaurants.” The three establishments have picked up numerous accolades, particularly Eventide, which netted Taylor and Wiley two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Northeast in 2015 and 2016. Their restaurant group, Big Tree Hospitality, now employs over 120 people and has created a community of workers that they say is one of their proudest achievements. The trio also contributes to charitable causes, including Share Our Strength, which is working to end childhood hunger, and its affiliated Cooking Matters program, which helps families prepare healthy, affordable meals. “Through these programs we hope to help make a significant impact on an issue that affects so many people in our community: hunger,” Smith says.
Founder of Bixby & Co.
Kate McAleer started Bixby & Co. to provide what she felt mainstream candy was lacking: options without preservatives, artificial colors, or corn syrup for consumers who care where their food comes from. The company now supplies over 1,000 stores around the country with Bixby Bars, organic, craft-candy chocolate snack bars, which are all produced in a former ice factory in Rockland. Less than two years after starting the company in upstate New York, McAleer moved with her parents to midcoast Maine. McAleer’s family had been visiting Maine her whole life, and her parents wanted to move to the state when they retired. They moved to Maine for the quality of life, but McAleer tapped into the state’s startup community and discovered that it offers excellent resources for small businesses. McAleer used to hand-dip and hand-wrap all the chocolates, but with the help of several organizations, including Maine Technology Institute and Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun program, the company scaled up production to fulfill larger national orders, largely from Whole Foods Market. In 2014, McAleer won Gorham Savings Bank’s LaunchPad competition and its $30,000 prize. “I think Maine is focused on this concept of small business, and really supporting and wanting small businesses to grow and flourish, which is so refreshing and exciting as a startup,” she says. In 2015, Bixby & Co. was named Maine small business of the year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. McAleer’s most recent accolade came in May when she was named a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, netting a $10,000 grant for education and the opportunity to pitch for a $100,000 grant.
Executive producer and host of Bill Green’s Maine
While growing up in the Bangor area, Bill Green had an inferiority complex about being from Maine. “As I matured, I realized that this is a truly remarkable place to live and raise a family,” he says. Now, Green promotes the state every Saturday evening on his television show, Bill Green’s Maine. Green’s show often covers the outdoors and recreational sports, but it also highlights other topics and individuals from all around the state, including profiles on notable business and cultural leaders and historic landmarks. “I try to make Saturday night at 7 p.m. a time when anyone and maybe even a family can sit down, be entertained, and come away feeling good about the place we live,” he says. Green launched the show in 2000 and has recorded close to 400 episodes. Last year, the show won a Regional Emmy for Best Light Feature and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Feature. Green has been inducted into both the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and Maine Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. “Working on my show has caused me to love Maine even more,” Green says. “I find it fulfilling to be cold, wet, and/or muddy. It amuses me when we’ll go out and do something on a cold day in a clam flat and people will come up to me and say, ‘You have the best job in Maine.’”
Owner of Jim Godbout Plumbing and Heating
Jim Godbout has built his Biddeford- based plumbing and heating business over the last 30 years on relationships with his customers and community, relying on word of mouth from satisfied customers. His sixteen trucks don’t even have his business name on them. Along with his top-notch plumbing and heating work, Godbout is known for his community support, especially youth development. He’s led several youth sports organizations and coached local sports teams. Recently his focus has been stemming the increase of drug addiction and drug abuse in the region. The issue is personal to Godbout; he’s had 43 friends or family members die as a result of substance abuse. He says what’s been hardest is seeing young adults whom he coached or his wife taught die of drug overdoses. “We’re going to lose a whole generation here if we don’t start making a difference,” Godbout says. An active member of the Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club, Godbout challenged the organization to do something about the issue, which led to the establishment of the Rotary Club’s Red Ribbon Committee. The committee has developed educational programming about substance abuse with schools in Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco. Godbout hopes the programming, which focuses on mentoring and discussions, can be used as a model elsewhere in the state and around the country.
Founder and president of Baxter Brewing Co.
“I do what I do because, at the end of the day, I get to make and sell beer for a living,” says Luke Livingston, founder and president of Baxter Brewing Co. “And that’s a pretty special thing. I do it in Maine, not only because it’s home to one of the greatest beer cultures in the country, if not the world, but because I can’t think of a better place to live, love, learn, work, and play.” Livingston opened Baxter Brewing, the first brewery in New England to distribute all its beer in cans, in Lewiston’s Bates Mill in 2011. Baxter Brewing produced 5,000 barrels of beer in its inaugural year of production, leading Forbes Magazine to name Livingston to its “30 Under 30” list that year. Five years later, Baxter Brewing has become the third largest brewery in Maine and tenth largest in New England. Between 2013 and 2014, it underwent a $2 million expansion, increasing brewing capacity by 400 percent to meet growing demand. Environmental sustainability was Baxter Brewing’s founding principle, and Livingston says it should be
a large focus at every company, especially breweries, which can be environmentally taxing. “Not only
are our sustainably driven initiatives better for the world; they simply make better business sense,” he says.
Kathryn A. Foster
President at the University of Maine at Farmington
When Kathryn A. Foster became president of the University of Maine at Farmington in 2012, she was replacing a president, Theodora Kalikow, who had held the position for 18 years. One of Foster’s first projects was to develop a new strategic plan. Part of this plan, which reinforces UMF’s mission as a small, public liberal arts college, includes leveraging the school’s location as the westernmost public university in the state. The school recently reactivated an outdoor recreation business administration program and created an alpine operations certificate for skiing or snowboarding instruction. The school is also taking advantage of its location by operating a biomass heat plant that sources all of its wood chips from within a 50-mile radius. The plant brings the university’s fossil fuel–free heat sourcing to nearly 90 percent. While UMF is a liberal arts college, emphasizing well-rounded learning rather than job training, Foster says it’s important to create pathways to careers through experiences in college. Since Foster arrived, paid internships for UMF students have increased over 300 percent, she says. Foster has a background in urban and regional planning and she says she draws on that mindset as president. “Something we do today, some action we take, will lead to a better tomorrow. As corny as that sounds, that’s what planning is,” Foster says. “It means without deliberate intervention we might not get the future we want.”
President and CEO of Maine Community Foundation
“All people in every Maine community should have access to the opportunity to realize the full potential of their lives,” says Steven Rowe, president and CEO of Maine Community Foundation. “Unfortunately, such access is not universal.” He says systemic inequalities based on factors like education, socioeconomic background, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and immigrant status limit both individual opportunities and the state’s economic potential. “Maine is changing. Our population is aging, increasing numbers of children are living in low-income families, and racial and ethnic diversity are expanding,” Rowe says. “While some may see these changes as challenges, I see them as opportunities for Maine communities and for our state’s economy.” A West Point graduate and former Army officer, Rowe served as the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives before becoming the state’s attorney general. He later became president of Endowment for Health in New Hampshire before joining Maine Community Foundation last year. He says the foundation’s mission of working with donors and others to improve the quality of life of all Maine people drew him to the position. The foundation has $420 million in assets and awarded more than $25 million in grants and scholarships last year.
President of Thomas College
“The education of our people is the single greatest investment we can make in our future,” says Laurie Lachance, president of Thomas College in Waterville. Lachance became president of the college in 2012. She had been a corporate economist for Central Maine Power Co. for ten years; she served as the Maine state economist for 11 years, and was president and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation for eight years. During her tenure at Thomas College, the Dover- Foxcroft native has overseen the completion of the college’s largest capital campaign—a year early and over goal—and the construction of a state-of-the art library and academic center, a residence hall, and two athletic fields. “To be the president of Thomas College is an incredible honor and blessing because Thomas serves the very heart of Maine,” says Lachance. “Our students graduate with degrees in business, technology, education, criminal justice, and psychology, ready to immediately contribute to the businesses or organizations they serve.” To make education more affordable, the college launched a three-year bachelor’s degree program so students can finish early, or they can stay for a ten-month accelerated master’s degree in business administration and graduate in four years. A collaboration with Maranacook Community School provides local students with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school.
Director of lifestyle and entertainment branding at Shipyard Brewing Company, and radio host at WCYY
A few years into his time at Portland rock station WCYY, Mark Curdo had the urge to create a unique fundraiser. His idea: lock himself in the radio studio for 102 hours straight and take requests on the air for 21 hours a day. Curdo starts at noon on a Monday and ends at 6 p.m. Friday, sleeping or resting only three hours a night. Called Markathon, the benefit raises money for the Center for Grieving Children. Since December 2008, the annual event has raised close to $300,000 for the organization, which provides support to bereaved children and families. “People call in and request anything they want to hear. Anything at all,” says Curdo. “Slayer to Sinatra to Snoop to Sade to the theme to Scooby Doo,” he says. “Anything, as long as they make a donation to the Center for Grieving Children.” During the marathon, Curdo talks about the organization and interviews families who use or have used its services. “The work they do to help folks in the worst times of their lives, to give them the strength to begin moving forward—I don’t know how someone can be so strong and magical to do that kind of work,” he says. Earlier this year, Curdo left the full-time job at WCYY to lead lifestyle and entertainment branding at Shipyard Brewing Company.
“People often ask me what medium I use,” says artist Eric Hopkins. “Recently I’ve realized ideas are my main medium. I’m interested in ideas of art, science, history, air, space, light, flight, color, and action as I awake to the wonder of each new morning.” Hopkins, who has a studio in Rockland, lives on North Haven, where he grew up, and spent his early years exploring the island’s shores and woods. “North Haven is my personal Cape Canaveral—a place to launch from and return to—expressing the awe and wonder of the natural scenes I’ve seen.” His work often depicts where the land, ocean, and sky meet in stylized paintings or mixed media pieces, showing the movement and energy of nature. “There’s a very rich, pure, elemental energy and force at work here in Maine,” Hopkins says. “Flying over the coast and inland, it’s very obvious how connected everything is. Humans tend to isolate and separate everything. Land, water, sky, and their inhabitants are inseparable.” Hopkins graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Pilchuck Glass School. His work has been exhibited at national galleries and Maine museums including the Farnsworth Art Museum, Portland Museum of Art, and Center for Maine Contemporary Art.
Lyn Mikel Brown
Professor of education at Colby College, co-founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Lyn Mikel Brown, a professor of education at Colby College, helped found the program-based Hardy Girls Healthy Women to put her research on girls’ strengths into practice. Brown is passionate about girl-led social change efforts and has published several books on the subject. Her most recent work is Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists. “I want girls to know how to advocate for themselves in their schools and communities, how to speak up and work with others to address injustices they witness and experience,” says Brown. She also founded poweredbygirl.org, a blog for young feminists, and co-founded the SPARK Movement activist organization, which organized a petition of Seventeen magazine against altering girls’ faces and bodies in photos. Brown, who grew up in Vanceboro and Calais, is on the board of the Cobscook Community Learning Center in the township of Trescott, near Maine’s northeastern edge. As part of CCLC’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education project, Brown is committed to working with schools and communities facing the challenges that arise from poverty. “I know how much potential there is in such communities, and I know how few resources there are,” she says. “I think we have underestimated the creative power of Maine youth- we can do so much more to enable their participation as partners in our school and community efforts.”
Former executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development
Don Gooding has been on the frontline of entrepreneurship in Maine, leading the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and its Top Gun startup accelerator program for the past five years. Gooding left his position in June, but says he’ll continue to work with the organization and mentor entrepreneurs. Gooding also served as vice chair of the Maine Angels, a group of individuals who pool their resources to invest in and mentor early-stage companies, from 2011 to 2015. A report from the Angel Resource Institute at Willamette University last year found that Maine Angels was the third most active angel investment group in New England between 2010 and 2015. Before joining MCED, Gooding founded the world’s first a cappella music catalog and expanded it to three divisions: a sheet music publishing company, an online source for a cappella music, and Varsity Vocals, which later ran the college singing competition in the movie Pitch Perfect. Innovative entrepreneurship, Gooding says, is key for the United States to maintain its standard of living and for Maine to reinvent its economy. He says economic and infrastructure struggles in rural Maine are challenges, but Maine has great resources, like an inventive population and its brand of authenticity. “As an entrepreneur, I see Maine’s challenges as opportunities for innovation,” Gooding says. “We have nowhere to go but up.”
Founder of The ROPES Maine
One winter six years ago, Shana Aldrich Ready found herself fooling around with her husband’s lobster gear. She had recently returned to Maine after working in the fashion industry in Boston and New York City, in search of a different lifestyle. She started making bracelets for herself out of lobstering rope and hooks. Her friends loved the bracelets and pushed her to approach local stores about selling them. Her business, The ROPES, was born. Ready says the popularity of her designs snowballed after someone from Elle saw Ready’s friend from New York City wearing one and featured the bracelet on the style magazine’s website. Now, the bracelets are sold by retailers all over the country and as far away as Japan. “Something I love is I’ve created an opportunity for myself here in Maine, and it’s something I never fathomed I could do,” she says. Ready, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, still makes most of the bracelets, including all of the most complicated design, the Portland. Staying true to what brought her back to Maine, she’s dismissed suggestions to grow the business more aggressively. “It’s about my life. Bigger isn’t always better,” Ready says. “I’d like to keep it about my life and create a quality product that people can rely on and come back to year after year.”
President of the University of New England
Danielle N. Ripich, Ph. D., has been president of the University of New England since 2006. Under her tenure, enrollment has doubled, and UNE has added a College of Pharmacy, a College of Dental Medicine, and a College of Graduate and Professional Studies. Ripich has also overseen the university’s expansion of global education; it now has campuses in Biddeford, Portland, and Tangier, Morocco. Students can study abroad at UNE’s campus in Morocco and at campuses in Spain and France at no additional cost. Still, UNE’s greatest impact is felt back home, as it is the largest educator of healthcare professionals for Maine. “Healthcare and education are both critically important to our world and both need fresh ideas and new approaches to longstanding challenges,” she says. “Working at the University of New England allows me to positively influence both.” Along with the university’s growth, Ripich says she’s most proud of the quality education UNE provides to its students in return for their tuition. UNE’s student loan default rate is expected to be 2.5 percent, substantially lower than the national average of over 11 percent. And within six months of graduation, 92 percent of UNE students are in graduate school or working in jobs related to their area of study. “This is our most important job and we do it very well,” she says. “They leave us well prepared for the next step in life.”
Dr. Habib Joseph Dagher
Director of the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center
“Whether it is an iPhone or a Tesla car, we live in a knowledge-based economy where wealth is created through higher education, by new ideas and new products coming out of world-class laboratories,” says Dr. Habib Joseph Dagher, founding director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, where he is a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Since opening 20 years ago, the research lab has brought in $120 million in competitive research funding to the state and provided paid job training to nearly 2,000 UMaine students. The 100,000-square-foot lab is now the state’s largest university-based research and development center, seeking innovative ways to harness Maine’s largest natural resources: wood, wind, water, and the ocean. Last year, the White House honored Dagher as a Transportation Champion of Change for his work inventing an award-winning composite arch bridge system, known as the Bridge-in-a-Backpack. The lab has also developed a technology that provides soldiers with enhanced ballistic protection in their tents, and most recently, it partnered with NASA to develop technologies to land humans on Mars. One of its most notable projects is a floating offshore wind turbine, the first of its kind in the United States. The New England Aqua Ventus Project, led by Dagher, plans to build two full-scale floating offshore turbines and test them off Monhegan Island in hopes of developing commercial farms in the 2020s.
Dr. Hector Tarraza
Chairman of the OB/GYN department at Maine Medical Center
Dr. Hector Tarraza leads a nationally ranked obstetrics and gynecology department at Maine Medical Center in Portland, while frequently traveling on medical missions to developing countries. He’s participated in or led over 100 medical surgical missions in the past 20 years. During the trips, which are organized through his family’s NGO, Medical Missions Work, he provides direct patient care and works with medical teams there to improve future healthcare delivery. “I consider my work in developing countries as a transformative process not only for myself but for my family, friends, our teams, partners, our country hosts, and most of all our patients,” Tarraza says. “We immerse ourselves within the community and learn from them where the gaps exist. We embrace their culture, with respect, and build on their knowledge.” He finds the poor practices of some of the operating rooms he’s seen painful to describe, but he works with the surgical teams on simple changes that can have a lasting impact. OB/GYN chief residents at Maine Medical Center have the opportunity to attend medical missions under Tarraza’s direct supervision. “They return enlightened, empowered, and confident of their skills in the absence of resources,” he says.
Andrea Cianchette Maker
Attorney and government relations practice group leader at Pierce Atwood LLP and cochair of FocusMaine
Andrea Cianchette Maker leads Maine law firm Pierce Atwood LLP’s government relations group. She represents the Maine Pulp and Paper Association as well as the Maine Real Estate and Development Association. Maker’s father is Chuck Cianchette, one of the founders of Cianbro, Inc., and at an early age, she was immersed in business and politics and has spent her career advocating for responsible business growth in the state. She was an architect of Project Login, a computer science workforce development action. Her capstone project is FocusMaine, which was launched publicly this year to boost the state’s economy over the next decade. The private- sector led initiative brings together leaders from Maine’s business, academic, government world, to identify and develop strategies to boost three industries identified by the group as having high potential for growth: agriculture, aquaculture, and biopharmaceuticals. Maker says the leadership team is committed to overseeing the project for ten years. “The resources committed to FocusMaine to strengthen and grow Maine’s economy speaks volumes to the hope FocusMaine offers our state,” says Maker. “This initiative is powered by passion and I am inspired every day by the belief people have that Maine can and will do better.”
Phil Coupe and Fortunat Mueller
Co-founders of ReVision Energy
ReVision Energy cofounders Phil Coupe and Fortunat Mueller share the philosophy that a successful business can be used to create positive social change. The renewable energy contracting company became a Certified B Corporation last year, after meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. “This was a powerful recognition of our very deliberate efforts to build a company that reflects our values,” Mueller says. “B Corporations compete to be not just the best in the world, but also the best for the world.” Last year, Revision Energy built the state’s first net-positive office building, which will generate more energy than it uses annually, and installed the solar array on Friends School of Portland in Cumberland, which is the first net-zero school in northern New England. As costs for solar technology have declined in recent years, Revision Energy has sought to make solar energy more accessible in Maine and New Hampshire, with power-purchase agreement projects for municipalities and organizations and community solar farms for groups of residential users. In 2015, the Natural Resources Council of Maine honored Coupe and Mueller with its Conservation Leadership Award. “I’m in the solar industry because I want to keep Maine economically and environmentally sustainable so my kids and their kids can enjoy this special place,” Coupe says.
“There is a natural empathy fiber and empathy gene that exists in Maine, and I don’t know of other places where it exists,” says Jonathan Bush, CEO and president of athenahealth. The company, based in Massachusetts, provides internet-based services for hospitals and doctors. In 2008 Bush oversaw the opening of a Belfast office with eight employees. Now, the company employs about 900 people at the Belfast operations headquarters, which expanded last year with the opening of the Athena Operations Lodge in a former MBNA warehouse. Bush says one of his proudest accomplishments is the culture at the Belfast operations center, where workers with “the perfect cross section of ingenuity and empathy” help resolve conflicts for clients. Bush, the cousin of former president George W. Bush, has Maine connections himself. He vacationed in Kennebunkport when growing up, and now his family spends part of its summers in North Haven. He’ll be biking in the American Lung Association’s Trek Across Maine this summer, going from Sunday River to Belfast. In 2013, the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council named Bush the CEO of the Year. Earlier this year, Tufts Medical Center presented Bush with its Ellen M. Zane Award for Visionary Leadership. In the announcement Michael Wagner, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center, applauded Bush’s “enthusiasm to drive change in healthcare for the greater good.”
Deborah Carey Johnson
President and CEO of Eastern Maine Medical Center
Deborah Carey Johnson, RN, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Medical Center, has been with
the hospital for over four decades, beginning as a nurse and working her way up to president and CEO
in 2004. A lifelong resident of the region, she also serves as senior vice president of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, the hospital’s parent organization. “From helping to bring new life into the world to supporting patients and families in their greatest times of need, EMMC is a special place that touches the lives of people throughout the region,” Johnson says. “I come to work every day knowing that the EMMC team makes a difference for the people we serve.” Johnson has overseen what she calls the hospital’s most significant project in generations, an expansion and modernization of the facility, since planning began 10 years ago. The project, which broke ground in 2013, includes adding new space for neonatal intensive care, cardiovascular services, two floors of adult patient rooms, new surgical suites, a renovated obstetrics unit, and a new entrance that will serve as the front door to the hospital. Johnson has helped improve coordination of healthcare services in the region, working with hospitals and other healthcare organizations to ensure care is available close to home.
Justin and Danielle Walker
Executive chef and general manager at Earth at Hidden Pond
“It is no secret that Justin and I are passionate about food,” says Danielle Walker, general manager at Earth at Hidden Pond, where her husband, Justin, is executive chef. “We pride ourselves on our attention to detail, our ability to execute the food and create an experience for our guests at a high level.” Justin, who was named a Rising Star Chef by StarChefs in 2014, took over at Earth in 2013, after 15 years at the acclaimed Ogunquit restaurant Arrows. When Justin and Danielle aren’t running the Kennebunkport restaurant, they work on their 17-acre farm in Cape Neddick, which has two dozen dairy goats as well as horses, ducks, chickens, bees, and large gardens. The farm, and the farmhouse they’ve been restoring, has been in Danielle’s family for over a century. Their son, Jackson, is the sixth generation to live at the farm. “We are choosing to raise our son in Maine and on our farm, hoping we can instill in him the same values that were instilled in us, through working the land, raising animals, and knowing the value of your work,” says Danielle. The couple has taken part in events that support Share Our Strength and its related programs that work to end childhood hunger. This summer Justin is cycling 300 miles from Carmel to Santa Barbara, California, for a chefs’ ride that raises money and awareness for No Kid Hungry.
Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine, adviser to Muslim Student Association at Bowdoin College
“As a human rights and civil rights activist, I find advocating for Maine’s newest immigrants a natural role, and a calling,” says Reza Jalali, an author and the coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine. “After coming to Maine, a state with a large white population, as a displaced person, I fully understand the significance of educating the public not only to get rid of false information and popular stereotypes, but to re-humanize our new neighbors, who have arrived in Maine in search of safety, security, economic opportunities, and human dignity.” Jalali, who has lived in Maine since 1985, says he serves as a cultural broker, bridging the gap between the native-born Mainers and those who have arrived in recent years. He hopes his advocacy on behalf of new Mainers will help them feel recognized for their contributions and accepted in their new life in Maine. He co-authored the 2009 book New Mainers: Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors, which told stories of recent immigrants. He is also the author of The Poets and the Assassin, a play about women in Iran; Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle, a children’s book; and Homesick Mosque, a collection of short stories. “New Mainers are already adding to the richness of life and the economic scene of the state,” Jalali says. “The question being asked is whether we, as a community, choose to support them to overcome some of the challenges they face, or let them fail as a group.”
President of the New England Outdoor Center
“I’m fortunate to wake up every morning looking across Millinocket Lake at Maine’s most iconic mountain, Katahdin,” says Matthew Polstein, president at the New England Outdoor Center. He founded the resort in 1982 as a whitewater rafting center. Like the region, the center has evolved over the years. The company purchased nearby land and cabins in 1995 and now offers visitors a restaurant and lodging options, including a campground, along with recreational opportunities like canoeing as well as rafting. On any given night, there could be 300 people staying with the New England Outdoor Center, Polstein says. He’s become a champion of efforts to revitalize the economically distressed Katahdin region, which has been dependent on the forest products industry for decades. Polstein supports efforts to designate the 87,500-acre parcel east of Baxter State Park, currently owned by Roxanne Quimby, as a national monument or national park, saying it would jumpstart future growth in the area. “Whether a park or a monument, it brings a level of branding that no one of us, or even the state of Maine, could achieve on our own,” he says. Polstein is also president of the Twin Pines Snowmobile Club and executive director of the Maine Outdoor Education Program and Maine River Trails, both initiatives of the Butler Conservation Fund. He serves on several boards, including the Maine Community Foundation, CEI Capital Management, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation, and the Maine 4-H Foundation.
CEO and former president at Dead River Company
After 21 years with Dead River, Bob Moore is retiring as CEO of the heating fuel company. Moore says he stayed at the South Portland- based Dead River for more than two decades because the company and its 1,200 employees believe in core values of integrity, caring, and excellence. “This is a dynamic business that is constantly affected by outside forces over which we have no control,” he says. “With the help of an exemplary team, I’m proud of keeping the company strong and allowing it to grow and meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers.” Moore, who grew up in Portland and Cumberland, spent four years as a jet pilot in the U.S. Navy before going to the University of Maine School of Law. Moore worked as a partner at Verrill Dana and Pierce Atwood. He also served as counsel to former Governor John R. McKernan. “Serving in state government was a privilege,” he says. “Knowing that I worked every day for the people of Maine meant a great deal.” In 2013, Good Shepherd Food Bank honored Moore and Dead River with the JoAnn Pike Humanitarian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America’s Pine Tree Council presented Moore with its Distinguished Citizen Award. Last year, Junior Achievement of Maine elected Moore to the Maine Business Hall of Fame. “I love this state, so everything I’ve done and continue to do stems from that,” he says.
Community leader, certified nursing assistant at Central Maine Medical Center
ZamZam Mohamud, the first Somali immigrant to be on the Lewiston School Committee, has served a prodigious role in her adopted hometown since arriving in 2001. She’s a certified nursing assistant at Central Maine Medical Center, where she also works as a translator when needed. Out in the community, she serves as a liaison between other immigrants and the city. If the police want something explained to the community, they call Mohamud. If other immigrants have questions about the school or the city hall, they call Mohamud. “If anybody needs help, I’m there for them,” she says. Mohamud found her way into the role as community leader by being visible, she says, but the motivation came from a desire to give back. “I really feel like this community has raised me and made me become who I am,” she says. It also provided an education to her daughter and son, Hanan, 24, and Jama, 22. Besides resettling in Lewiston and raising her two children, Mohamud says one of her proudest accomplishments was becoming an American citizen in 2005. “I was so excited to do it. It’s just one of those things, the dream comes true,” she says. “Now I’m in this wonderful country, and I can be whatever I want to be. The sky’s my limit.”
President and COO at Vineland Farms Naturally Potatoes
In the late 1990s Rodney McCrum, a fourth-generation potato farmer, teamed up with a group of other farmers to open a potato processing plant in Mars Hill. Now, 20 years later, the company employs 200 people and has added more than 85 jobs over the last year and a half. Pineland Farms Naturally Potatoes, which sells refrigerated mashed and cut potatoes to restaurants and retailers, has spent $25 million in the last five years upgrading its Aroostook County facility to take on more volume. Increased sales have followed, up 25 percent this year after growing by 38 percent in 2015 and 25 percent in 2014. McCrum credits the company’s growth to expanding markets for refrigerated potato products and the quality and breadth of the company’s offerings. “It’s a team effort,” he says. “You don’t get here because of one person. You get here as a team.” Pineland Farms grows some of the potatoes used, but local potato farmers supply over 90 percent. The company contracts with the farmers in the spring before they plant their crops, allowing the company and farmers to plan for the season. “That was one of the main purposes of the company: keep a market for the family farms in northern Maine,” McCrum says. “We started at ground level and today we’re a $50 million business.”
Lindsay (Gifford) Skilling
Chief Executive Officer at Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream
Lindsay (Gifford) Skilling, part of a fifth generation of ice cream makers, has led the family company as general manager since 2011 and now as CEO, as of this year. Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream recently completed the most significant expansion in its history, doubling production capacity at its Skowhegan factory from one million to two million quarts of ice cream per year. She says the expansion will allow the company to expand sales into new regions and hire more employees. Skilling was born and raised in Maine, leaving only for college before rejoining the family company. “When I was growing up, I always thought I wanted to live somewhere else, but when I did, I discovered that Maine and Gifford’s was where I really wanted to be,” she says. “Leaving here actually sealed the deal for me. I came home with a degree and a strong commitment to my family’s business and the state.” Skilling is a board member of the Maine-based Institute for Family-Owned Business. Besides graduating from college and working her way up to CEO, Skilling says her proudest achievement is becoming a mother to a daughter and son. “I work hard at being the best mom I can be and providing a positive role model for my daughter Ava,” she says. “I am trying to lay the groundwork for her, so she knows she can be anything she wants to be. And, of course, I want the same for her little brother Jacoby.”