MDF Recognizes Outstanding Leadership During the Pandemic and the Drive for Systemic Change Toward Equity and Inclusion

Hallowell, Maine October 12, 2021 — The Maine Development Foundation (MDF), is thrilled to announce our 2021 Champion Award winners. These awards recognize outstanding, innovative leadership toward economic improvement and recovery during the ongoing pandemic, and in the drive for systemic change toward equity and inclusion.

“These awards honor individuals, organizations, and businesses who are involved day in and day out in innovative and critical work that is helping Mainers adapt, respond, and rise above the challenges of the ongoing pandemic while also driving the necessary systemic change to bring about an equitable, inclusive Maine economy,” says Yellow Light Breen, MDF’s President and CEO. “These efforts led by our awardees represent actionable and scalable methods to ensure Maine continues to be a great place to live and work for all.”

MDF proudly bestowed the following awards before a virtual audience of 200 during “Maine Rising: MDF’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Champion Award Celebration” held virtually via Livestream on September 24, 2021:

2021 Champion of Education and Workforce Development to Strengthen LA for their commitment to supporting professional and educational attainment goals of working age Mainers, helping meet the workforce development needs of employers, and for creating safe space to discuss and act on systemic change toward equity and inclusion. Strengthen LA is an initiative of the Lewiston-Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded by Chamber President and CEO Shanna Cox, and Workforce Program Manager Delan Fulgham.

2021 Champion of Rural Economic Development to Andy Hamilton, Economic Development Attorney with  Eaton Peabody and a member of the FOR/Maine Coalition Steering Committee, for his three decades of work with municipal governments, state and federal policymakers, community organizations, businesses, and individuals to stabilize local economies in times of crisis and to provide legal and technical assistance so they can diversify and grow.

2021 William F. King, Jr., Downtown Champion Award to Greg Paxton, Retired Executive Director of Maine Preservation for his decades-long guidance, technical assistance, and unabashed enthusiasm for preservation-based economic development and community investment in Maine downtowns. Greg has helped dozens of Maine downtown communities turn a vision of a vibrant, prosperous, and socially connected historic downtown into a reality.

2021 ICL Distinguished Alum Award to Shenna Bellows, Maine Secretary of State and a member of ICL’s Xi Class, for her career of service to protecting human rights, working tirelessly for multi-partisan solutions to longstanding issues, and dedication to an equitable, inclusive Maine culture and economy.

2021 Kenneth M. Curtis Leadership Award to Kevin Hancock, Chairman & CEO of Hancock Lumber and a member of Leadership Maine’s Lambda Class, for his career-long dedication to an employee-led, “inside-out” culture for the company, and helping non-profits, communities, and Maine establish a shared leadership approach to economic development.

2021 President’s Award to the MDF Staff for their unwavering dedication and support of individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities as they navigated the challenges and trauma of the pandemic, and for their ongoing commitment to build an equitable, inclusive Maine economy.

The event also featured stirring, inspirational, and action-oriented Keynote Speeches by Lisa Sockabasin, Director of Wabanaki Public Health, and a member of the Passamaquoddy Nation, and Tae Chong, Director of Multicultural Markets and Strategies for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Watch Lisa’s Keynote Speech. Watch Tae’s Keynote Speech.