Dedicated, experienced professionals
The MDF staff is a group of dedicated, experienced professionals, many of whom are gifted facilitators and conveners. They oversee programs, research, and training that enable individuals, businesses, communities, and policymakers to drive sustainable economic growth in Maine. Additionally, MDF makes extensive use of volunteers, loaned executives and consultants in delivering its work.
Anne Ball – Senior Program Director, Maine Downtown Center 207.512.4906, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne became Program Director in 2016. She originally joined the Foundation in 2012 as a consultant to coordinate Healthy Maine Streets, a three-year CDC Community Transformation Grant and Grants to Green Maine, a partnership with Maine Community Foundation and Efficiency Maine. Previously Anne was the Cultural and Heritage Tourism Coordinator for DECD and has consulted for many organizations including: Maine Preservation, Maine Humanities Council, Maine State Museum, and private architecture firms and communities. Anne has a BS from St. Lawrence University and an MA in Historic Preservation from Boston University.
Julie Beane – Program & Advancement Specialist – 207-626-3121, email@example.com
Julie joined the Foundation in 2018 to help ensure effective delivery of programs and advancement functions through logistics coordination, outreach activities, and data management. She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of environmental consulting, conservation, and economic development where she focused on business sustainability, forest management, and fundraising. Julie also co-owns a coffee shop in Brunswick where she lives with her family, both human and furry. She holds a joint B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College and an M.E.M. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Born and raised in Maine, with multi-generational roots here, she is happy to be back and helping to make it a better place to live and work.
Laurie Bowie – Director of Finance & Administration – 207.626.3124, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie joined the Foundation in April 2020. A native Mainer, she brings over 30 years of financial, personnel and technology expertise in both for-profit and non-profit settings, including furniture manufacturing and computer systems manufacturing. Most recently Laurie served as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter, where she was actively involved in advocacy, education, fundraising and public relations. She holds a degree in accounting from University of Southern Maine. She lives in Western Maine where she enjoys skiing, kayaking and hiking with her family.
Brianna Bowman – Program Director, Forest Economy Roadmap – 207-626-3119, email@example.com
Brianna joined MDF in August 2019. As Program Director for FOR/Maine she supports a cross-sector collaboration between industry, communities, government, education, and non-profits working together to realize the next generation of Maine’s forest economy. She holds a Master’s in International Development from the University of Denver, and a BA in Peace Studies from Goucher College. Prior to joining the team at MDF, Brianna’s work focused on working lands as an engine for community and economic development. She managed national training and technical assistance networks for beginning farmer training programs at the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, and has consulted with food councils, cooperative businesses and climate organizations throughout Maine. Brianna is active in Portland’s art community and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.
Adam Burk – Program Director, Forest Economy & Maine Downtown Center – 207-626-1287, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam joined MDF in November of 2019 as a program director for economic and community development. He holds a masters degree in education, and bachelor degrees in psychology and history. Adam is the producer of TEDxDirigo which just celebrated 10 years of ideas worth spreading. Previously he founded Treehouse Institute, a social innovation focused nonprofit, and was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a global leader. He maintains a boutique consultancy, Adam Burk + Co, that helps clients focus on what matter most with expertise in storytelling, design thinking, and equity-centered community development. Through Adam Burk + Co, he was the lead consultant on the Katahdin Gazetteer: A roadmap to the future, and the lead trainer to launch Social Innovation Labs in Aruba. Adam lives in Portland with his family and serves on the Portland School Board. Adam is also proud to be the 2019 ICL Distinguished Alum.
Yellow Light Breen – President & CEO – 207.626.3112, email@example.com
Yellow’s passion is promoting economic and educational opportunity for all Mainers regardless of geography or background. He became CEO in August 2015, where he develops strategic direction, integration, and partnerships across MDF’s mission and programs. Yellow is a sought-after public speaker with a diverse background in business, public policy, and law. He spent twelve years as an executive with Bangor Savings Bank, overseeing strategic planning, marketing, online banking, community development, and charitable activities. Prior, he was a senior official at the Maine Department of Education and an advisor to Independent Governor Angus King. Yellow was born and raised in rural, central Maine, a product of Maine public schools, and earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He has been an active volunteer in many education and economic development efforts, including the boards of the Maine Community Foundation and Educate Maine. He previously served on the MDF Board and chaired Realize Maine, an ongoing initiative to attract, retain, and support young professionals. Yellow lives in Holden and loves to hike, swim, and ski with his wife and children.
Joanna Crispe – Program Coordinator, Economic and Community Development, 207-620-1283, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanna joined MDF in January of 2020. She supports the work of the Economic and Community Development team, including the Maine Downtown Center and FOR/Maine. Previously Joanna has managed projects and programs for a variety of organizations including the United Way of Greater Portland, the Maine Association of Nonprofits, the Municipal Art Society of New York, and the South Portland Land Trust. These experiences have given her a strong background in community engagement around land use, coalition building, and organizational capacity building. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Tulane University and a MSc in Urbanization and Development from the London School of Economics. Joanna lives in Portland, and is privileged to be a part of MDF’s Leadership Maine Baskahegan Class.
Michael Higgins – Program & Advancement Manager – 207.520.0427, email@example.com
Mike joined the Foundation in October 2015 as a consultant to assist with Policy Leaders Academy, our experiential learning program for Maine Legislators, and our Adult Learner and Workforce Initiatives. He also helps manage our Advancement efforts. Mike has spent his career working in Maine’s public and nonprofit sectors. He served as nonpartisan staff to the Maine Legislature for 6 years, as a senior official at the Maine Department of Education, and as a senior executive at Spurwink Services in Portland for nearly 15 years. He is an experienced executive, policy analyst and fundraiser. Mike was raised in rural Maine and educated in the University of Maine System, from which he holds an undergraduate degree in English from USM and a graduate degree in Public Policy and Management from the Muskie School of Public Service. Mike has served on a number of local and statewide boards, including the Coalition for Excellence in Education, the Maine Compact for Higher Education, and the Institute for Civic Leadership. Mike lives in Raymond with his wife, Judy Ryan.
Jan Kearce – Senior Team Leader, Leadership & Workforce Development – 207.626.3123, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan joined the Foundation April of 2017. She is a change leader, strategic partner, facilitator and coach who brings deep passion and experience to her work with leaders, teams and organizations. Perhaps equal to Jan’s depth of passion and experience is her commitment to building leadership capacity and operational excellence that leads to sustainable, thriving organizations and communities. Jan has over 30 years of experience working with leaders and teams. She has worked within and across-sectors and geography in her leadership roles with organizations focused on manufacturing, outdoor education, the environment, leadership and consulting. Jan has led organizations and initiatives that have focused on quality, safety and operational excellence; designing great places to work; strategic and fundraising planning; creating an internal training institute; multi-location mergers; developing regional and statewide leadership; and engaging millennial leaders in local communities. Jan has a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia; a Master’s Degree in Human Resource / Organizational Development from American University and NTL;Leadership Coaching certification from Georgetown University; and is both a graduate of and current Program Director of MDF’s Leadership Maine and past Program Director of the ICL and now Lift360’s Leadership Intensive.
Kathy Shannon Nichols – Director of Engagement & Communications – 207.620.1286,email@example.com
Kathy is an award winning storyteller with extensive experience as a broadcast journalist and corporate communicator. She has lead internal and external communications, media relations, and social media outreach for the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, a national member organization, and lead executive and employee communications with Martin’s Point Healthcare, an 800-employee non-profit organization based in Portland, Maine that operates two health insurance programs and seven clinical practices. Kathy is also an investigative reporter who has worked in several markets across the country, most recently in Maine where she also hosted and delivered stories for the evening magazine program, “207”. As a speaker coach for Ted Talks, Kathy helps executives, front line employees, artists and community members weave storytelling and visual aids into presentations to make them engaging and compelling. Kathy lives in the Portland area with her husband, twin sons, and overly affectionate Weimeraner dogs.
Robert O’Brien – Program Director, Forest Economy Communities – 207.939.7703, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert O’Brien joined Maine Development Foundation in 2017, and is the Program Director for our Forest Economy work. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy & Management from the Muskie School of Public Service, and a BA from Bates College. A native Mainer with deep roots here, Mr. O’Brien has served on three public boards: the Portland school board, the Portland Charter Commission, and Portland’s historic preservation (development review) board. Prior to MDF, Mr. O’Brien acted as assistant director at the nonprofit Maine Preservation, which seeks to repurpose Maine’s historic buildings. As a consultant, Mr. O’Brien worked in the Town of Freeport’s planning office and also assisted in drafting Newcastle’s comprehensive plan. Mr. O’Brien is restoring a historic home in Portland with his wife Stephanie and two children, Caroline and James.
Michele Roy – Program Associate & Technology Coordinator – 207.626.3122, email@example.com
Michele joined MDF in August 2017. She has worked in various support positions at a number of Maine non-profits for many years, including the Friends of the Maine State Museum, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Initiatives, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Maine State Bar Association. She also owned and operated MOFGA-certified Long Meadow Farm in West Gardiner for 10 years. She lives in Augusta, spends a lot of time in the garden, and plays fiddle in a traditional Irish music duo called Twisted Strings.
Lisa Upton – Finance and Administrative Support – 207.626.3120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa joined MDF in July of 2019 to provide Finance and Administrative support. She comes to MDF all the way from her home state of Washington, where she and her husband migrated from to live near her family. She brings many years of experience from her background in Accounting and Finance support within the commercial construction and manufacturing fields. She started a group called “Threads of Freedom” for the purpose of increasing awareness of what human trafficking looks like. She coordinated local annual events to support stemming the tide of human trafficking specifically in Pattaya, Thailand. She also enjoys gardening and crafting.
Rosie Vanadestine – Senior Team Leader, Economic & Community Development – 207.626.3116, email@example.com
Rosie joined MDF in June of 2019 as a Program Director focusing mostly on the Maine Downtown Center. She has extensive experience in economic and community development and nonprofit management. She has served as the Executive Director of Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG), Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Bangor, and similar roles for the towns of Lisbon and Fairfield. Before moving to Central Maine, Rosie was the Director of one of the State of Maine Applied Technology Centers. She was also the Director of a 10-town regional Growth Council as well as the Director of a regional Chamber of Commerce, both in Western Maine. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Maine at Augusta and is a graduate of MDF’s Leadership Maine program, Sigma Class.
Rosie is passionate about reducing toxic chemical use and educates people through her small business as a Norwex Independent Consultant. She is married and has 4 children, 3 stepchildren and 10 granddaughters. In her spare time you will find Rosie on her 100 acre farm riding horses and gardening or motorcycling, kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, hunting or anything outdoors.
Erica Watson – Program Director, Workforce & Education – 207.626.3117, firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica focuses on the implementation of MDF’s collaborative Adult Promise work – ensuring 60% of Mainers have credentials of value by 2025 and that we have a strong Navigator Network to help adult learners succeed. She was born in Maine and raised in Richmond, has worked professionally in Maine since graduating from Trinity College of Vermont with a degree in sociology/criminal justice and political science. Erica’s career has focused on working with and on behalf of adults and families in Maine, starting as Hotline Coordinator with Spruce Run Association in Bangor. While working with individuals and families experiencing domestic abuse, Erica realized the impact she could have by helping to increase access to education and training programs. Erica has been working in higher education for thirteen years, after completing her M.Ed. from UMaine. Her work within Maine Community College System, University of Maine System, Maine College of Health Professionals, and volunteer work with College for ME-Androscoggin has allowed her to help build institutional and regional initiatives to improve access, retention, support services, and graduation rates for primarily adult students. Most recently, Erica worked as the Executive Director of Oxford Hills Community Education Exchange focused on raising aspirations of K-12 students and building school business partnerships.
“MDF is a special creature of state law enabled to bring private sector thinking and experience to state government planning and program implementation. There is no other entity like it.”Kay Rand, Managing Director, Bernstein Shur Government Solutions LLC