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.
To meet our team members, click below on an individual’s name or the arrow to the left of it to see their photo, bio, and contact information.
Jen Altmiller – Finance & HR Assistant, 207-622-6345, email@example.com
Jen joined MDF in June of 2023 as the Finance/HR Assistant after relocating from Pennsylvania to Maine just as the pandemic was waning. Jennifer has worked in administration and finance for many years and in many fields. She has a BS in Communications from Ohio University and experience in for-profit and non-profit educational and advocacy organizations, as well as many years at construction and architectural service firms. Jennifer is proud to call Hallowell her new home, which she shares with her partner Bob and their cats Romeo and Juliet. When not in service to her feline overlords, Jen enjoys the beauty of Maine, loves to garden and cook, enjoys puzzles and games, and likes to dabble in the fabric arts.
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 Director – 207-626-3121, email@example.com
Julie joined MDF in 2018 to help ensure effective delivery of MDF’s leadership programs and events. She is a Program Director for the Policy Leaders Academy (PLA) and Realize Maine Network (RMN). For PLA she develops programming to provide state legislators with up-to-date information on important policy-related issues and for RMN she leads a statewide collaborative of regional groups creating a sense of community for young professionals as a solution to outmigration. 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 lives in Brunswick 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.
Yellow Light Breen – President & CEO – 207.626.3112, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Sophie Drew – Program Coordinator – 207.770.1369, email@example.com
Sophie joined MDF in May 2023. She grew up in Massachusetts and then worked her way south for school, receiving bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and an MSc in biology from Virginia Tech (go Hokies!). While in grad school she worked for an abortion fund supporting people across Southwest Virginia and Appalachia, and she continues to serve on the board there. She moved to Maine in August 2022, where she lives in Readfield with her partner and cat, Rosie. In her free time she loves running on the roads and trails around her home, cooking with ingredients from nearby farms, and spending time with family and friends across New England.
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.
Kathleen 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 joined the MDF family in late 2017 having led internal and external communications, media relations, and social media outreach for national and statewide organizations. 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 longtime 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 a menagerie of pets. Her passions include yoga, writing historical fiction, and exploring Maine’s outdoor treasures.
Sylvie Piquet – Program Director, Maine Downtown Center – 207.266.2688, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvie joined the Foundation in August 2022. Sylvie first fell in love with Maine while earning her undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College. She went on to embrace so much of what Maine has to offer as a raft guide on the Kennebec River in the Forks, apprentice at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid, volunteer at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, and Camp Director at Camp Beech Cliff on MDI. She is a graduate of Leadership Hancock County from her time living Downeast. Sylvie most recently worked as program director at an arts and culture nonprofit, innovating programs to strengthen the creative industries in Northwest Colorado. She is pursuing a Master of Social Work at UNE and is grateful to call Maine home again. Sylvie lives in Portland with her wife and two dogs. Her passions include building vibrant communities, making unexpected connections, mindfulness and yoga, art, outdoor adventures and swimming and travel.
Anne Schlitt – Senior Program Director, SEA Maine – 207.332.3577, email@example.com
Anne joined MDF in August 2022. She grew up in Michigan and lived and worked in Japan, Chicago, and New York before arriving to Maine in 2004. Her career has encompassed the public and private sector, including writing and editing for both print and online publishers; editing and managing content and curriculum for Kaplan College (now Kaplan University); immersing herself in sustainable business practices and website development as a Communications Leader at Tom’s of Maine; running statewide programs and grants as the Assistant Director at the Maine Humanities Council; and managing strategic projects at Chewonki. She holds a B.A. in History from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in History from Oxford University, and an M.L.S in Library Science from Syracuse University. In her spare time, Anne facilitates discussion groups for the Maine Humanities Council, sails out of Robinhood Marina with her husband, and hits the road for travel adventures with her daughter Willow.
Janet Sydnor – Program Coordinator Economic & Community Development – firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet joined MDF in February 2023, almost exactly 3 years after arriving at her new home in Winthrop during a snowstorm and at the cusp of the pandemic. She found comfort, peace and beauty in Maine’s forests and lakes during a challenging time of transition. As cities and towns began to open back up, she began exploring in earnest, finding more to love about Maine every day. Her career as a Director of Development for the University of California campuses in Irvine and Santa Cruz as well as her alma mater, the University of Delaware, segued into freelance grant writing and volunteer leadership roles. She is proud to have started a successful business helping seniors to downsize and move and to have mentored her successor. An avid reader, hiker, dog lover, travel enthusiast, and nearly-empty nester, she looks forward to new adventures with her husband, Alex, a Leadership Maine alumnus.
Charles Tumushabe – Finance Director – 207.626.3124, email@example.com
Charles joined MDF in the fall of 2023 as a senior executive, responsible for managing financial activities. Previously he worked for over 15 years with the United Nations in Africa and its headquarters in New York in information communication technology, finance, administration, and management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Baruch College in New York City and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Charles was born and raised in Uganda and migrated to the United States from Rwanda. He moved to Cape Elizabeth with his family temporarily during the pandemic, loved it, and decided to stay. He enjoys hiking, socializing, and playing basketball and golf.
Rosie Vanadestine – V.P. Programs & Acting Chief Operating Officer – 207.626.3116, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 – Senior Program Director Education & Workforce – 207.626.3117, email@example.com
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.
Perri Williams – Program Coordinator, Economic & Community Development – 304.531.5735, firstname.lastname@example.org
Perri joined MDF in September of 2021 as a Program Coordinator for Economic and Community Development. Before joining MDF full-time, Perri completed ten months of AmeriCorps service as a Maine Downtown Center Main Street Fellow working with Gardiner Main Street. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) and a B.A. in Political Science from Concord University (Athens, WV). Perri is the recipient of the 2019 John D. Rockefeller IV Award for Leadership in Policy and Politics for her creative placemaking work in Hamlin, WV, and the 2018 McGance Fellow for the WVU Department of Public Administration. In her previous work, she has been involved with WVU Extension Service, the WV Governor’s Internship Program, and lent a hand in the creation of the Concord University branch of Young Democrats where she served as Vice President. Born and raised in West Virginia, Perri is proud to call Gardiner her new home that she shares with her best friend and pup.
“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