Architect, Platz Associates
Gabrielle was encouraged by her parents to pursue architecture from a young age. Though it was a tough program, she persevered and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Tulane University. Before she went to work for Platz & Associates as an architect in 2014, Gabrielle was a founding member and President of the Board of Directors for Grow L+A, a local organization with a mission to promote a vibrant urban landscape and access to sustainable living resources throughout the L/A area. Through Grow L+A the idea for the Bates Mill No. 5 project was born: studies were conducted and plans were made to utilize the space to create access to good, local food. As an architect for Platz & Associates, Gabrielle feels fortunate to be involved in the final execution of the project.
Previous projects that Gabrielle was involved in through Grow L+A include the “Art Walk Window,” with Grow L+A sponsoring a space during the final Friday Art Walk each year where children can go to make art during the event. Grow L+A also contributed to the Downtown Auburn Transportation Center project as well as a project known as “Friends of Pettingill,” which worked to create a two acre park in the place of the old Pettingill School in Lewiston.
Growing up in downtown Auburn, Gabrielle has always appreciated the people, the history, and the accessibility that L/A has to offer. When she returned to Maine after college, she was happy to find a local internship that offered an opportunity to get involved in her community and to make a positive impact. In her spare time she enjoys many of L/A’s excellent restaurants, with some favorites including Fuel, Rails, Marche, Davinci’s, Guthrie’s, and many more. She likes to spend time with her family and friends and travels whenever she can. Gabrielle remains active with Grow L+A, and is also involved with the YMCA and the Auburn Business Development Corporation. Other passions of hers include building preservation and urban space integration, animals, the arts, and healthy living. Currently, Gabrielle’s primary focus and interest lie with the Bates Mill No. 5 project.
In the next ten years, Gabrielle plans to continue her efforts to preserve history and architecture in L/A while still working to bring more activity and liveliness to the area. She hopes to see Bates Mill No. 5 become a regional destination and for the L/A community as a whole to thrive. In order to achieve these goals, Gabrielle feels it is important for those working to better L/A to improve communication and learn to collaborate more effectively to avoid the challenges of disconnect. Through her work at Platz & Associates, Grow L+A and other local organizations, Gabrielle will continue to be an integral part of building L/A.
General Manager, Norway Savings Bank Arena
Executive Director of Sport Tourism, City of Auburn
Marc’s career in sports business began with the Lewiston Maineiacs hockey team, where he worked for four seasons. After the Maineiacs, Marc moved on first to the Portland Pirates, and then for the Maine Red Claws, while also doing development work for Central Maine Community College. Two of his fondest memories from that time are planning and managing the 2010 AHL All-Star Game and being a part of the Lewiston Maineiacs team that won the 2007 President’s Cup. Last summer, Marc was hired by the City of Auburn as General Manager of the Norway Savings Bank Arena and Executive Director of Sports Tourism for the City of Auburn. As general manager, Marc is in charge of the overall operation of the Arena. In his role as Executive Director of Sports Tourism, he assists the City of Auburn and surrounding areas with marketing and development efforts aimed at making L/A a choice destination for recreational and sporting events.
Born and raised in L/A, Marc moved away for short periods in the past but always seemed to find his way back here. He is drawn to the L/A community because of its people, who he feels truly value the opportunities that the area has to offer. In a smaller and more tight-knit community like L/A, Marc appreciates the relative ease with which a positive impact can be made. He is blessed to have a job he loves and to live and work in the community where he grew up. When he is not working, Marc enjoys attending sporting events, playing golf and hockey, and visiting some of his favorite L/A eateries which include Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, Wei-Li Restaurant, Gritty’s and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Beyond the world of sports, Marc is passionate about helping children. He participates in the Camp Sunshine Annual Benefit Golf Tournament to support the Camp Sunshine mission of providing a retreat for children with life threatening illnesses and their families. When time allows, he volunteers at various local functions and events and enjoys offering his professional skills to friends and colleagues in a combined effort to make positive impacts on the L/A community.
According to Marc, one of the greatest challenges facing L/A today is the need for community revitalization. He would like to see a wider range of revitalization initiatives, including more programs, events and functions designed to promote economic development and improve the physical, social and service environments in Lewiston and Auburn. Marc plans to utilize his position as Executive Director of Sports Tourism to attract more business and prosperity to L/A.
Owner, Pettengill Academy
It was her own struggle to find childcare that aligned with her philosophies about early childhood development that led Chantel to start her own early learning child care business in her home three years ago. Today, Chantel is the proud founder and owner of Pettengill Academy with her husband, Zachary. Chantel’s family has a long history of living and doing business in Lewiston, and opening Pettengill Academy was her way of carrying on the tradition. As a business owner, Chantel is responsible for daily operations, increasing enrollment, managing employees, and other administrative duties for the Academy. She loves her job because it allows her to interact with many different families, help children grow and learn, mentor her teachers and, most importantly, soak up the daily baby cuddles.
Chantel’s favorite thing about L/A is the sense of community. She loves living in Lewiston, with the local grocery store nearby and many things to do with her children; Chantel feels Lewiston is a safe and diverse place to raise her family. Some of her favorite places to eat in L/A include Mac’s Grill, Gritty’s and Davinci’s for family date nights and Fishbones and Marche for date nights with her husband. Her favorite breakfast spots include Forage Market and Hurricane’s Café & Deli. During her free time, Chantel loves spending time with her family walking and snowshoeing on the numerous trails that L/A has to offer and enjoying the festivals and art walks in Lewiston.
Chantel is a member of the Joint City Charter Commission, an organization looking to combine L/A in efforts to strengthen both cities. She also participates on the board of directors for the Maine Association of Educating Young Children. Apart from her board activities, Chantel does her best to give back through her business whenever possible. One of the biggest challenges Chantel sees facing L/A is what she calls the “it always has been” attitude. She hopes to see changes in city ordinances to better attract and facilitate growth in business. Another important piece to the puzzle for Chantel is to get rid of negative attitudes in our community and encourage our youth to find their voice and get involved.
In ten years, Chantel will be the parent of two teenagers. She and her husband hope to have established five or more locations for Pettengill Academy in both Maine and in other states. They also aspire to diversify their business and to continue creating and executing new development projects. Chantel plans to work together with her husband to make Lewiston more business friendly and to encourage growth for L/A.
Executive Director, Trinity Jubilee Center
Erin’s official title at the Trinity Jubilee Center is Executive Director and Food Pantry Coordinator, but if you ask her, she will tell you that everyone at the Center carries several job titles. She describes her daily work as a “whirlwind” of various different tasks, from handing out food to helping people with job applications, in addition to her administrative duties. Serving more than 1,000 people every week through its meals program, food pantry, day shelter, resource center, and refugee integration program, the Center is always busy.
Erin began volunteering at the Jubilee Center when she was a teenager. In 2010, she found an opportunity to return to the Center working through AmeriCorps. At the end of her year with AmeriCorps, Erin was hired for her current position when another staff member retired. Her favorite part about her job is that it is always changing. One day she may be running food pantry distribution, the next she could be writing a grant, or helping someone apply for their green card. Erin also loves hearing from people who have gotten jobs or found places to live with the assistance of the Center, people she describes as “determined and grateful.”
Growing up in a suburb just outside of Boston, Erin saw people move in, raise their children, and move out. There was no sense of a collective history or of community. Her favorite thing about L/A is that it is a real community where many people come to, raise their families, and stay. She loves that people in L/A have a sense of responsibility to their neighbors, like the Lewiston police officer who taught her how to shoot, her mechanic who volunteers to hang up posters for the Center fundraisers, or the friendly strangers who help unload her truck at the Center after hours. She is proud to have a job that is all about giving back to the wonderful community she lives in. Beyond her work at the Center, Erin serves on the board of directors for Community Concepts, another local organization that provides a myriad of services to our citizens who need it.
One of the biggest challenges Chantel sees facing L/A is the need for more jobs. Through the Jubilee Center, Erin has helped more than two hundred people apply for work over the last six months. A lot of people were hired, she says, but many still need work. Many of the people who rely on the Center for their meals and other necessities would much rather be working and providing for themselves, and Erin wants to help them realize their goals. The Career Center and Adult Education programs have done a great job providing job training and the Center is seeing more manufacturing and agricultural jobs opening up. She has her fingers crossed that the job climate in L/A will continue to improve.
Director/Choreographer, Community Little Theatre
As artistic director for Community Little Theatre in Auburn, Vincent works closely with other theater leaders to create a “main stage season” with three musicals and two plays, as well as fundraising events and a one-act play festival submission. Once the upcoming season has been established, he plays a supportive role to his fellow directors in their production efforts. He acts as a sounding board, resource, and liaison. Being part of the artistic team involves working with the Director’s Apprentice Program, a training opportunity for local citizens who are interested in theater leadership roles. Vincent also directs the Summer Youth Theatre Project and Teen Musical Theater Showcase, serving young artists throughout the State of Maine. Some of the high points of his career have been performing for famous composer, Alan Menken, performing at the Kennedy Center, and winning first place at the Boston NATS Song Festival. He is also proud to be a two-time Irene Ryan nominee and semi-finalist.
Vincent began his artistic journey as a ballet dancer, spending a few years with The Maine State Ballet as well as the Portland Ballet. After graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a dance major, he went on to dance with The Philadelphia Ballet. When it came time to launch his career in musical theater, it made sense for him to return to Community Little Theatre and give back to the place that ignited his passion as a child. He loves the sense of community in L/A, and feels humbled watching local citizens from all walks of life work together to create art they can be proud of. Much like our community itself, the success of the Theatre is driven by the investments of each of its members.
A traveler in his free time, Vincent feels that so much of his work is based on studying people and their behaviors. Exploring different places around the world enables him to do just that. Locally, he may be found enjoying a meal at his favorite L/A eateries including Fuel, Fishbones, Sea40 and Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli. Beyond his work with the Theatre, Vincent gives back to L/A by volunteering as much of his time as possible with local organizations. He views any time devoted to community outreach and volunteerism as time well spent. Some of the causes he is most passionate about include the Make a Wish Foundation, the Children’s Miracle Network and the AIDS Foundation.
Looking to the future, Vincent hopes to be directing a major equity company and ensuring that the local artistic community continues to flourish for future generations.
Vice President of Creative Services, Rinck Advertising
As Vice President of Creative Services for Rinck Advertising in Auburn, Karly is responsible for “all things creative” at the agency. She collaborates with her amazing team to conceptualize methods for effectively communicating brand messages for their clients. Her work requires exploration of the optimal ways to engage with a brand’s audience as well as how to best inspire, entice and intrigue them. Karly believes the most important part of her job is figuring out new ways to make people think. She is excited to be part of a business that is “moving, shaking, growing and making things happen.”
Prior to Joining Rinck Advertising in 2003, Karly majored in advertising design at the Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts. With access to professors working full-time in the industry as owners, creative directors, and the like, she credits her time at Syracuse with teaching her how to truly think. She stresses the importance of not only learning how to design and create art, but also cultivating a strong focus on strategy in messaging, communication effectiveness and audience perceptions. Karly’s vision is to use her work to reach people in Maine and beyond.
Among Karly’s favorite aspects of L/A are its strong sense of community and the opportunity living here affords to strike a balance between work, family, health and fun. She is motivated by the respect, loyalty, compassion, commitment, and drive of local citizens and businesses alike. With its close proximity to many of Maine’s beautiful mountains and beaches, and to the City of Portland, living in L/A provides Karly with access to all the things she loves. One of her favorite L/A restaurants is Fishbones, where she wrote her vows and did the majority of her wedding planning. Other top spots include local family-friendly restaurants like Pat’s Pizza, Gipper’s Sports Grill and Mac’s Grill, who always welcome her, her husband and their boisterous two-year-old daughter with a smile.
Though most of her free time nowadays is spent running around after her daughter, Stella, Karly loves to go skiing whenever she can. She participated in a weekly ski racing league at Lost Valley this season and hopes to return to the mountains next winter. In the summertime, Karly and her family enjoy camping, canoeing, hiking, and simply hanging out by the water. Local causes she is passionate about include the Maine Cancer Foundation and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, Museum L/A, The Public Theatre, Auburn Firefighters Local 797 and the Androscoggin Humane Society. She has served on the boards of directors for various L/A nonprofits and played a role in the creation of Young Professionals of Lewiston Auburn (YPLAA).
In the future, Karly plans to continue living and working here in L/A and hopes to make a greater impact on the community. Her main career goal is to “put L/A on the map” by showing the world that it is a creative place filled with energy and talent.
President & CCO, Praxis Production Studios
Colby co-founded Praxis Production Studios in 2010 with then-partner, Chad Sylvester. The original vision for the company was to start a real estate reality TV series, however, the two partners soon realized that they could use their love of video production to promote the many different opportunities and services the L/A community has to offer. Last year, Colby assumed full ownership of Praxis and Chad moved on to pursue a new business endeavor. Today, the Studio “exists to help companies promote themselves by giving life to their stories and brands through high quality corporate and promotional videos.” Beyond the pride and joy he takes in running his own company, Colby enjoys the meaningful relationships his work has enabled him to forge as well as the satisfaction of his clients when he delivers a video that successfully captures the stories and emotions that bring their own companies to life.
Born at Loring Air Force Base in Northern Maine, Colby spent much of his childhood living in different places. His family’s lifestyle exposed him to various new cultural experiences as well as a few “once in a lifetime” opportunities. After his father retired from the Air Force, the family resettled in Maine to be near other relatives. As an adult, Colby chose to stay in Maine because of its people, its beautiful scenery and its diverse recreational opportunities. His favorite thing about the L/A community is its tremendous sense of community. Like the two bridges that connect our cities, Colby finds that a collective sense of pride and ownership bring the people of Lewiston and Auburn together. As a local business owner, a strong community is key in his efforts to build deep and meaningful relationships and to make positive impacts that go beyond the clients he serves directly.
In his free time, Colby enjoys writing, watching movies and composing music. He loves outdoor activities, and can be found skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating in the wintertime or visiting one of Maine’s many beautiful state parks when the weather is warm. Some of his local restaurants of choice include Davinci’s, Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli and Jasmine Café. Colby has always maintained an interest in culture and the arts and is particularly passionate about The Public Theatre in Lewiston, an organization which he feels brings truly outstanding art to our community. He proudly serves on the board of directors for the Theatre and supports its mission through marketing and aiming to bridge the gap between young professionals and professional theater here in L/A. He is also involved with the L/A community through the Young Professionals of Lewiston Auburn (YPLAA) and the LA Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
In the future, Colby sees himself creating jobs and job security for the people of L/A, promoting great local businesses and strengthening our artistic community through professional and creative video production.
Owner/Operator, Wicked Illustrations Studio and Gallery
As owner and operator of Wicked Illustrations Studio & Gallery in Lewiston, Melanie consistently finds herself doing something different. She creates lesson plans for art classes and paintings for art parties, works on commissions and illustrations for clients, represents various featured artists in her gallery and plans events like local art and sewing camps. In her managerial role, she maintains an inventory of art supplies and works on marketing, advertising and accounting for the business. Apart from getting to do what she loves each day, Melanie’s favorite thing about her career is the opportunity it provides to share her passion for art with others and to use that passion to make a positive impact on the L/A community.
Melanie’s career in the arts began when she acquired an interest in creating murals at the age of fifteen. Wicked Illustrations was born in 2007 when she began illustrating the award-winning children’s book series known as “ElsBeth Adventures,” and grew into the studio and art gallery it is today beginning in 2010. Melanie continues to illustrate for the “ElsBeth” series, among others, and takes commissions for her murals and other projects. To date, her portfolio boasts over one hundred paintings. Some of her main influences are Frida Kahlo and Dahlov Ipcar, as well as the Surrealist and Art Nouveau Movements.
Born and raised in Lewiston, the history and sense of community in L/A are among the top reasons Melanie and her husband decided to build a life here. She loves her neighbors, and presently resides in the very same neighborhood where she and her husband grew up. Some of her favorite local places to eat include Mac’s Grill, Fishbones, Simones’ Hot Dog Stand, and Orchid. In her free time, Melanie enjoys painting and reading for fun, hanging out with her husband, family and friends, and snuggling with her pets. In the summertime, she loves sitting by the fire outdoors and playing in her garden. Melanie is passionate about using her interest in the arts to help local causes, donating paintings, gift certificates, time and money whenever she can. She is also involved with L/A Arts, an organization dedicated to “engaging and inspiring a vibrant community through arts and culture,” as well as the Union of Maine Visual Artists.
Melanie is very happy and appreciative to be where she is today. Looking ahead, she plans to continue serving her community through her love of art and helping to make a difference for years to come.
Director, Marketing & Communications, Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Jenny Ziebart, a familiar and friendly face to many in the L/A community, began her career at the LA Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce as an intern in 2003. She was just half a dozen credits away from earning her degree in Public Administration when she was offered a full-time, paid position with the Chamber. For Jenny, there was no question that she had found the right fit.
Today, as Director of Marketing and Communications, Jenny generates press releases, plans and executes social media strategies, manages advertising and email marketing, and more, all in the interest of promoting the Chamber and connecting its members to the valuable resources and opportunities they need. She also assists local efforts to coordinate job fairs and facilitate scholarships for high school students and adults alike. Jenny attributes much of her success with the Chamber to her coworkers and peers, whom she admires for their motivation and strong work ethic.
Jenny’s efforts to improve the L/A community are heavily supported by its citizens, whom she refers to as “wonderful people devoted to making the LA Metro area a great place.” Her own devotion to L/A extends beyond office hours, as Jenny and her family patronize the many local restaurants and businesses that are members of the Chamber. When she isn’t working, Jenny loves spending time outdoors. Some of her favorite outdoor activities include hiking, swimming, skiing and snowshoeing. As a parent, her primary personal goal is “to raise two well-adjusted future adults.” She particularly enjoys volunteering at her daughter’s school whenever she can.
Jenny’s daughter suffers from Alopecia, an auto-immune disorder that leads to extensive hair loss. Accordingly, Jenny finds herself most passionate about a nonprofit organization known as the Children’s Alopecia Project, which she says has been a huge help to her family. With no cure for Alopecia to date, the organization focuses on supporting children and their families with building confidence. For Jenny and her family, the Children’s Alopecia Project has been “a lifesaver.”
Our community has Jenny to thank for the well-known local institution known as “Young Professionals of the Lewiston Auburn Area,” better known as “YPLAA.” As its founder and first member, Jenny laid the groundwork for an organization dedicated to supporting L/A’s young professionals. Today, YPLAA is responsible for numerous networking events, education opportunities, and activities designed to better connect our young professionals to their community. Jenny’s efforts through YPLAA are an invaluable asset to our economic development, particularly at a time when the L/A area is striving to attract and retain young professionals.
Looking to the future, Jenny sees herself continuing her efforts to improve upon the greatness of the L/A area. As many members of our community are aware, local citizens and business owners alike are working to improve upon the perception of Lewiston/Auburn. Jenny believes the first step is to change our negative perceptions from within and show the world outside L/A what a wonderful place it is to live, work and play.
Owner, Downtown Handmade & Vintage
Sheri and her family returned to L/A after being away for a number of years. She presently resides on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, which is also the newest location of her business, Downtown Homemade & Vintage. Sheri describes her work as “creating concepts for tee shirts for a city that [she] loves.” She considers herself lucky to be able to create, sew and draw for her business while also spending time at home with her children. In addition to her design work, Sheri spends her time planning social events around town that allow L/A citizens to practice arts and crafts and display their work in local venues.
On “Shop Local Saturday” in 2012, Sheri and a friend hosted an indie craft fair at Callahan Hall in the Lewiston Public Library. The enthusiasm and positive feedback she received from the event soon motivated her to open Downtown Homemade & Vintage. DH&V started as a place for local artists to sell and promote their work. The following year, Sheri launched her first line of “I Love Lewiston” screen printed tee shirts, with the initial concept designed to support the victims of the Bartlett Street fires. Sheri contributed a portion of her tee shirt sales to the YWCA. Following that project, Sheri began creating numerous new designs for wholesale to local businesses. Presently, DH&V boasts seven different tee shirt lines and is developing a concept for children’s shirts. Last fall, Sheri founded “The Hive-Artisan Collective.” She describes The Hive as “a safe space [for area artists] to create and promote their art in a positive environment.”
Sheri’s favorite thing about L/A is its strong sense of community. She is inspired by the citizens of L/A and their investment in the economic and social growth of the area. Being part of a community where the people are passionate about local creations is key to Sheri’s success. When she is not at work, Sheri can be found enjoying the perks of living in downtown Lewiston. She and her family and friends often engage in “drink and appetizer hops,” traveling from one local restaurant to another to sample all the different types of food and drink. Other times, they will get takeout and head to the tap room at Baxter Brewing Company where Sheri’s husband works.
To give back to her community, Sheri participates in the Union of Maine Visual Artists, L/A Chapter. The organization, much like Sheri herself, works to create opportunities for the promotion of local art. She is currently working with members of Lewiston’s City Council to establish the first “creative crosswalk,” a project which she hopes will ensure public safety and boost our local economy. Sheri hopes her efforts to support the arts in L/A will entice more of our youth to stay in the area when it comes time to start their own careers.
Economic Development Specialist, City of Lewiston
As the Economic Development Specialist for the City of Lewiston, Misty works to attract new businesses to the L/A area and to assist existing businesses with their efforts to grow and improve. She helps local developers and businesses to bring their projects to fruition, often employing her problem solving skills to navigate through the regulatory and permitting processes. Her particular areas of focus presently include the revitalization of downtown Lewiston, development of the riverfront island area and general workforce development in L/A.
Misty recognized from a young age that she had a passion for helping to build and sustain strong communities. Over time she learned she could do so in many ways, whether by strengthening a community’s tax base, assisting local start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, or simply by helping those who want to contribute find their voices. She attributes her success in these efforts in part to her graduate work, which focused on community development, civic engagement and land use planning. Misty was drawn to the L/A community in particular because of its potential for growth and the desire of its people to realize that potential. She felt that L/A was “a community that wanted to grow and a place that would value [her] skill set,” and happily acknowledges that she made the right choice.
Misty believes that the greatest thing about L/A is its people. Our tight-knit community makes L/A a place where people can live, work, and achieve their goals with the support of their fellow citizens. Having previously spent some time working in Midcoast Maine, Misty appreciates that this type of community support for the individual is unique. As she puts it, “[i]t doesn’t matter the cause, if you need help, this community has your back.” Apart from the people, Misty is passionate about supporting the numerous local restaurants that L/A has to offer, with some of her favorites including Marche, Orchid, and Rails in Lewiston and 84 Court and Gritty’s in Auburn. When she isn’t out and about in L/A enjoying the local cuisine, Misty can be found at home working in the garden or tending to one of many farming projects with her husband. She is passionate about food security and the restoration of local fisheries, and feels that any healthy community needs access to healthy food and ecosystems.
Looking forward, Misty envisions herself continuing her work with the City of Lewiston. To Misty, the primary obstacle to future progress and prosperity in L/A is a lack of consensus as to how we might achieve these goals. Through open dialogue and collaboration, Misty believes we can work together to build a strong economy and make L/A a desirable place for all to thrive.
Photographer/Owner, Emmie Jones Photography
Emmie Jones’ professional journey did not begin with photography. As a first semester nursing student, she quickly realized that her true passion was to someday own her own business. A native of Greene, Emmie decided to move out of state after she finished her schooling. It didn’t take long for Emmie to grow homesick, as she missed her family and friends and decided the L/A community was the only place where she could imagine raising a family of her own. Shortly after her children were born, Emmie found herself spending more and more time behind the camera. In 2010, she opened her first photography studio in Lewiston, Maine.
Running her own photography studio requires Emmie to be versatile and to possess a varied set of skills. Like many sole proprietors, Emmie is not only a photographer but is also charged with marketing, community outreach and public relations, bookkeeping and administrative work, as well as staying up-to-date with the wonderful and constantly evolving world of digital photography.
Outside the studio, Emmie spends a large portion of her “free time” with her family. Emmie and her husband, Shawn, can often be found with their children enjoying many of the numerous free community activities and festivals that L/A has to offer. Emmie and her family love that every season in L/A offers new things to do both indoors and outdoors. They enjoy skiing in the winter and hiking, biking and swimming in the summer. Some of Emmie’s favorite local places to eat include Forage Market, Fuel, Rails, and Margaritas, her “ultimate guilty pleasure.”
Emmie’s passion for photography introduced her to the idea of giving back to her community by supporting homeless and at-risk students in their efforts to stay in school. Through the Lewiston STEP Program, Emmie takes senior pictures for students who are on track to graduate but cannot afford professional photos on their own. She is also involved with a national nonprofit called “Now I lay Me Down to Sleep,” taking bereavement photographs for families facing the loss of an infant child. Emmie feels it is important for her to give back to those in her community and beyond to give thanks for the blessings in her life.
In the future, Emmie hopes to still be doing photography and aspires to launch her own photo project designed to boost self-esteem in children. Emmie would like to see continued efforts to improve the image of our community and plans to pitch in however she can. She supports L/A by not only running a thriving local business, but also by investing in its future helping local high school seniors succeed.
Music Teacher, St. Dominic Academy
Derrick’s favorite thing about his work is watching his students experience what he calls “aha” moments, where all the hard work they’ve dedicated to learning to play a new instrument, or to sing a difficult song, comes to fruition. As the music and chorus teacher for St. Dominic Academy, the never ending opportunities to share in the excitement of these accomplishments are Derrick’s primary source of motivation. He is also presently serving as co-moderator to the school’s Drama Club and will be directing its production of James and the Giant Peach this spring.
Derrick grew up in L/A and attended Edward Little High School in Auburn. He headed to New York for college, obtaining his degree in Music Education at SUNY Potsdam. When he graduated, Derrick returned to L/A to be near his family and start his career. When not at work, he may be found delighting in his favorite sushi roll at Bua Thai in Lewiston. In the summertime, he loves to get outdoors and explore local areas like Thorncraig Bird Sanctuary, and is also a fan of playing tennis. Skiing is one of his favorite activities during the winter months. Naturally, his hobbies also include singing and playing the piano.
Beyond his career at St. Dom’s, Derrick utilizes his talents to give back to the L/A community. He works with Community Little Theater, a volunteer organization and one of the oldest continuous community theaters in the State of Maine. The mission of Community Little Theater is to provide education and exposure to the art of live entertainment by putting on both musicals and non-musical productions. As a CLT volunteer, Derrick participates in various shows and often acts as musical director when needed. He started working with CLT when he was in high school and hopes to expand his involvement in the future. He also volunteers with local summer youth theater camps with fellow 40 Under 40 winner, Vincent Ratsavong. For Derrick, witnessing the growth of these summer programs over the last few years has been “an amazing experience.” He is also a private voice coach for local students from many different schools in the L/A area and loves to see his students sharing new musical talents with their peers and motivating them to excel.
Next year, Derrick is headed to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to obtain his master’s degree in Music Therapy at Lesley University. Once he earns his master’s, he plans to begin a career as a music therapist. He’s not sure where he ultimately will land, but he is excited for the journey.
Pre-K Teacher, Auburn School Department
As a Pre-Kindergarten teacher for Walton Elementary School in Auburn, Deanna is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of her students. Learning through play, her classroom is a place for young children to grow academically, socially and emotionally. She originally came to Lewiston in 2007 to teach at Farwell Elementary School and has been living in L/A ever since.
Deanna always wanted to be a teacher. She focused her studies on Early Childhood Education while in college and took a job at a private preschool after graduation. Some of Deanna’s favorite aspects of teaching include playing an instrumental role in the growth and development of her students and working with the diverse families in L/A who have helped her improve both as an educator and as an individual. In addition to the students and their families, Deanna feels fortunate to be surrounded by a group of talented, dedicated, and loving colleagues. She is honored to be part of the work all the wonderful teachers of L/A do each day to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.
Living in L/A allows Deanna to be close to all the people and things that she loves. She is never too far away from her family in Scarborough, or the numerous beaches and snowy mountains of Maine. One of her favorite things about the area is that it provides a “big city” atmosphere with a tight-knit community feel. Some of her preferred places to eat in L/A include Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli and Jasmine Café. She loves to stay active and spends much of her free time working out at WolfPack Fitness in Auburn. At home, Deanna enjoys quality time playing and laughing with her husband and their son. When the weather allows, she likes to spend time near the ocean or going for long walks on Spring Road in Auburn.
Looking to the future, Deanna envisions herself continuing her career in early childhood education. She plans to use her passion in the classroom to make the most positive impact she can on the L/A community.
Interim President/CEO, Community Credit Union
Jen began her career at Community Credit Union as the director of marketing and business development. Finding the culture, people, ethics and energy of CCU to be contagious, she soon realized her passion for working in the world of local banking. She began actively exposing herself to other departments and was promoted to Executive Vice President in May of 2012. As the current President and CEO of CCU, Jen is responsible for directing overall operations, ensuring financial stability, establishing short and long-term objectives, plans and policies and representing CCU in its relationships with members, government agencies, and the local community. Jen’s favorite thing about her work is the opportunity it affords to interact with the people of L/A on a regular basis. She is proud to be part of a local institution that not only deals in money but is actively involved in community projects that truly make a difference.
Growing up, Jen lived in several different states along the East Coast, moving with her family every two or three years each time her father was transferred to a new station by the Navy. Ultimately settling in Lisbon Falls, she attended college in Bangor and moved back to L/A after graduation. Today, Jen and her husband share a home in Turner and spend their free time having fun in the L/A area. She devotes as much time as possible to her husband and daughter, often engaging in activities like mini golf, going to the movies and enjoying local cuisine. Some of her favorite places to eat in L/A include Davinci’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-a-Dee of Lewiston and Wei Li.
What Jen loves most about our community is the plethora of opportunities it offers. She has seen incredible growth in L/A over the last fifteen years and believes that our very best days lie ahead. With a passion for volunteering, some of the most important causes to Jen involve education. She serves as co-chair of the LA Metro Education and Workforce Development Committee and teaches classes for Junior Achievement of Maine as well as literary courses through CMCC. Whenever possible, she includes her daughter in her volunteer work in an effort to teach her valuable life lessons about helping those in need and giving back to her community. Jen is also a passionate supporter of the LA Chamber, Androscoggin United Way and the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society.
Ten years from now, Jen hopes to be exactly where she is today—living in a community that she believes in, working for an organization she loves and giving back to those who have given so much to her.
Olin Arts Center Operations Supervisor, Bates College
While working toward her undergraduate degree, Alexandra knew that she wanted to be part of the fields of art and higher education. When she was offered a job as operations supervisor for the Olin Arts Center at Bates College, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to be involved with an esteemed liberal arts college, surround herself with creative students, and take a leadership role in the arts. She manages staff, security and communications for the Center and plays a key role in the development and support of Center programs and procedures in collaboration with the Departments of Art and Visual Culture and Music, as well as the Bates College Museum. Alexandra loves to see passionate students working to further their own art careers each and every day.
A Lewiston native, Alexandra returned to L/A after attending college in New York. She wanted to give back to her home community by helping it grow and encouraging its youth to do the same. Her favorite thing about the L/A community is the strength, perseverance and diversity of its people. She feels honored to be part of a group of strong individuals who work hard to make L/A a better place, and to witness the growth that results from their efforts. In particular, Alexandra is passionate about developing the L/A art scene, which she says has “a passionate spark that you can’t find just anywhere.” She utilizes her interests to give back to her community by assisting the Gypsy Lew Theater with graphic design projects, supporting the Union of Maine Visual Artists, Lewiston Auburn Chapter, displaying art and acting as a live artist for L/A Art Walks in the summer, and offering private art lessons to local adults of all ages.
Alexandra is a big fan of Mother India, where the food is delicious, the service is beyond exceptional and the proprietor is a local family that is passionate about both the food and the customers. Other local favorites include Forage Market, Marché and Wei-Li. She spends most of her free time creating new works of art, with a focus on realistic oil paintings and graphite portraits, as well as exploring the subjects of lust, human connection, emotional transparency, and expressions of power and love.
In the next ten years, Alexandra hopes to be teaching art professionally, either by expanding her private lesson offerings or as a professor in higher education. She believes that one of the biggest challenges facing L/A today is the need to attract more ambitious youth to the community and plans to help meet the challenge by increasing the availability of traditional art education for young adults in the area.
Political Director, Maine People’s Alliance
When Ben came to L/A to attend college at Bates, he planned to complete his studies and move on to a seminary to become a pastor. Plans changed when a construction project known as the “Heritage Initiative” threatened to displace hundreds of families in the L/A area. Ben joined the efforts of The Visible Community to stop the project and quickly discovered his passion for community organizing. As Political Engagement Director for Maine People’s Alliance, Ben presently leads a team of community organizers and volunteers to raise Maine’s minimum wage and to fully fund public education in our state from Pre-K through Grade 12.
A love of community organizing work was not all Ben discovered while in college. He also learned the joys of living in a “real community” like Lewiston, where neighbors know one another and you can never go too long without running into a familiar face around town. While the world around us is continuously dividing along lines of race, class, religion, and the like, Ben appreciates that L/A is a diverse but tight-knit community where working class families can successfully coexist. Some of his favorite places to grab a bite in L/A include Guthrie’s or Gridiron for a quick stop or to wind down from the week, and Mother India, Marche or Fuel for date nights with his wife, Nicola. He spends much of his free time running and biking and is currently training to participate in the Ironman Triathlon later this year. He also takes part in swimming workouts hosted by fellow Bates grad, Vanessa Williamson, whose weekly classes he characterizes as “one of the secret gems of L/A.” Most importantly, Ben devotes as much time as possible to his wife and their adorable baby girl, Anjali.
Beyond his work with Maine People’s Alliance, Ben gives back to his community by serving on the boards of directors for Trinity Church and the Jubilee Center, as well as running for office in an effort to craft a vision for L/A based on the aspirations of his neighbors. No matter what he is doing for his community, Ben’s goal is always the same: “to create a world where everyone has what they need, contributes what they can, and no one gets left out.” Through the Jubilee Center, he works to prevent hunger and homelessness and to help recent immigrants integrate into the L/A community. With Maine People’s Alliance, he works against the root causes of issues facing local people in need. When the work gets tough, and it often does, Ben finds his faith restored each Sunday at Trinity Church.
Ben plans to continue his life in L/A with his wife and daughter, where he can do the work he believes in for a community that he loves.
Student Navigator, Central Maine Community College
Emily joined the L/A community as a freshman living on campus at Central Maine Community College in 2008. Through her studies and extracurricular activities Emily became a strong leader, a key trait for her present occupation as Student Navigator for the “Maine is IT!” grant at CMCC. As Student Navigator, Emily focuses on recruitment and success by assisting with college and career fairs, providing academic support, and helping students plan their futures beyond the classroom.
Apart from her career at CMCC, Emily is a proud volunteer firefighter for the Town of Turner, Maine. She attributes her interest in volunteer firefighting to the large number of firefighters in her family. For Emily, fire service is about honor, integrity, family, duty, courage, leadership, and strength. She hopes to continue volunteering and finding more ways to serve and support her community in the future. Currently, Emily gives back to her community by supporting local charity events like “Stuff the Bus” and the “Rancourt 5k Run,” teaching fire prevention and awareness in our schools, and volunteering at her church, Pathway Vineyard in Lewiston, among others. One day, you may even find Emily representing the City of Auburn in the world of local politics.
Emily presently resides in Auburn with her fiancé, Lance Robinson. The two thoroughly enjoy outdoor activities, particularly on the Androscoggin River, which Emily affectionately calls “Androscoggin’s hidden secret.” She loves swimming, kayaking and boating on the River and hopes someday to see new activities like white water rafting, as well as shops, introduced to the area. When she isn’t being active with her fiancé outdoors or in the gym, Emily loves spending time with her family and with her dogs. For fun, she likes to visit some of her favorite L/A restaurants, which include Firehouse Grille, Mac’s Grill, DaVinci’s, and Jasmine Café. In the wintertime, she can be found snowboarding at Lost Valley, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or ice fishing.
A lifelong learner, Emily is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Leadership at the University of Southern Maine L/A, an accolade that she hopes will prepare her to take on new and challenging leadership roles in the future. In ten years, Emily sees herself married and raising a family here in L/A with Lance, advancing her career at CMCC, and maintaining her passion for physical activity by participating in local sports and recreational programs. She plans to continue serving as a volunteer firefighter and aims to complete her Firefighter I & II Certifications. Emily wants to help improve the L/A community’s image by fostering support for our local police and fire departments in their efforts to improve safety and quality of life and increasing the presence of local businesses to provide more jobs and combat poverty in Lewiston and Auburn.
Policy Director, Maine Senate President’s Office
Melissa has worked in federal and state government offices for most of her career. She began her journey handling administrative and legislative work for Senator Susan Collins in Washington, DC. After several years on Capitol Hill, she returned to Maine to work for an Augusta law firm as its government relations liaison. Just one year later, she was asked to join the staff of then newly elected Senate President Michael Thibodeau. As Policy Director for Senator Thibodeau, Melissa provides legislative research on bills, attends various meetings, public hearings and work sessions, answers committee questions about legislation, and monitors the budgeting process. She loves her work for its challenging, fast-paced, social and demanding nature.
A native of Lewiston, there was never a question for Melissa that she would return to L/A after college. She loves the people here, which include her family and many friends, as well as all the activities available. Some of her favorite things to do in L/A include participating in trivia nights at Pedro O’Hara’s, attending art walks in the summer, enjoying the numerous walking trails in the area and attending events at Bates College. She is also a fan of golfing and kayaking when the weather is nice.
When it comes to local cuisine, Melissa loves the food and the atmosphere at Fuel, where she can often be found enjoying conversations with the “regulars” on Friday nights. Rails, Mother India, Orchid, and Sea 40 are among other favorites. Last but certainly not least, some of Melissa’s favorite food adventures involve “socializing over a chili dog” at her family’s restaurant, Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston.
Outside her work in Senator Thibodeau’s office, Melissa is passionate about her home parish, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, presently serving on the Parish Council and the Ladies Society. Through these groups, Melissa and fellow members work to develop ways to support the Church, which includes assisting with various spiritual needs and organizing fundraisers. She also enjoys participating in functions that benefit L/A whenever she can.
Looking to the future, Melissa sees herself working on economic development projects for the L/A area. She believes that the number one challenge facing L/A today is its stigma and the negative impact it has on our community. According to Melissa, this challenge can be overcome by continuing to promote the positive and showcasing our local assets, working on the areas where we struggle, and speaking up when others speak negatively about L/A. With this type of devotion, she says, “our best days are ahead.”
Manager of Special Events & Development, The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing
Aimee’s career in fundraising for nonprofits began by accident. Needing part-time work to support herself in college, Aimee took a job with the Student Union, a meeting and event venue for student groups on campus. After participating in planning for several student events and activities through the Student Union, she spent nearly four years working for Bates College in the Alumni and Parent Programs Department. Through her experience in college and working at Bates, Aimee built a solid foundation in the areas of fundraising and event planning. Today, she is the Manager of Special Events and Development for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing.
Born and raised in Lewiston, like many of her peers Aimee wanted to go away for college and make a life for herself in one of the “big cities.” Attending college in downtown Boston, it didn’t take long for her to grow homesick. She missed the strong sense of self and the feeling of belonging that she so enjoyed in L/A. Once she graduated from college, Aimee returned home and has remained in the area ever since. When she isn’t working, she frequents many of L/A’s popular food establishments like Marche, Fuel, Davinci’s, and more. She loves the outdoors, whether she is snowshoeing in the winter or hiking and kayaking in the summer. Aimee and her husband share a passion for good food and drink and spend much of their free time exploring local breweries and restaurants. At home, Aimee’s hobbies include spending time with her two dogs, Molly and Jack, as well as cooking, writing and binge-watching her favorite TV shows.
What Aimee likes most about L/A is its history. She loves to connect with family and friends by sharing stories of the local people and places from her childhood. Like many others, Aimee is excited by all the positive energy around her and loves to see the progress it brings to our community. She is an ardent supporter of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society and is also involved with the Hope Haven Gospel Mission and Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice. Aimee believes that with good fortune comes a responsibility to help those in need.
In the future, Aimee envisions herself raising a family in L/A while continuing the work she is most passionate about. She finds her work with the Dempsey Center to be extremely rewarding and is motivated by being part of a collaborative effort to improve the lives of people in the L/A area who have been affected by cancer. Aimee believes that the positive energy and hard work of our citizens will continue to bring progress and success to the L/A community.
Owner, Benoits Bakery
Owner, Benoit Orchard
Owner, Pretentious Pie Co
Owner/Founder, American Pie Guys
Members of the Benoit family have proudly owned and operated businesses in the L/A area since the opening of US Steam Laundry in the 1930s. For Nick, becoming an entrepreneur in L/A was in his blood. Returning to Lewiston after prep school, he had no idea what he wanted to do. He tested the waters with various different jobs but couldn’t find work that excited him. His true career began when he opened a small farm stand in Lisbon that soon transformed into a full baking facility boasting up to twenty employees.
Benoit’s Farm Stand came about by happenstance—not yet knowing what he would do with the space, Nick formed a habit of leaving apples from his family’s orchard outside the building for convenient pick-up by local markets and farm stands. When passers-by began taking the apples and leaving money in their place, he was inspired to open his own stand and quickly got to work. After just three years, he opened Benoit’s Bakery and Wine Cellar in the same location. Today, as the owner and operator of multiple businesses in L/A, Nick is always facing new challenges and views himself primarily as a creator of solutions.
Naturally, one of Nick’s favorite things about the L/A area is its plethora of restaurants. He also enjoys access to local sporting events and loves interacting with the “amazing” people of L/A. It is important to Nick to patronize L/A area restaurants and businesses to return the support he receives for his own. In his free time, he likes playing golf and being out on the water whenever possible. He also maintains a hobby collecting antique automobiles, but finds his greatest pleasure derives from helping others in the L/A community to thrive and live their dreams. A big fan of supporting our youth, some of the causes Nick is most passionate about include the Special Olympics, the Ronald McDonald House and Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. He does a lot of mentoring and working with children in local schools. Having been given many chances to succeed in his own life, Nick feels strongly about providing L/A youth with opportunities to show the world what they can do.
Nick is a firm believer that tomorrow is never promised to anyone and focuses on living for today. He sets personal goals for himself in both the long and short-term, but ultimately just wants to be happy in his life and in his work and contributing to the growing success of L/A.
Founder, Baxter Brewing Company
Luke has maintained a passion for craft beer and brewing since his twenty-first birthday, when he received his first homebrewing kit as a gift. Shortly after graduating college, he created a beer blog and learned about “west coast styles” of beer and marketing as well as the then-revolutionary idea of canning craft beer. After losing his mother to breast cancer in January, 2009, Luke quit his day job to write a business plan for his own canned craft brewery. As founder and CEO of Baxter Brewing Company, he is most heavily involved in sales and marketing and is particularly focused on building and maintaining the brewery’s chain sales channel. His favorite part of his job is having the privilege every day of getting to make and sell beer for a living. Also, he says, “it’s always great to see your friends at the bar!”
A 2003 graduate of Edward Little High School in Auburn, Luke traveled away for college and ultimately settled in South Portland with his wife and their two-year-old son, Everett. When it came to a location for the brewery, however, he says there was no other option than L/A. Having grown up locally, most of his business connections were here and he was excited at the idea of breathing some life back into the mills he watched sit vacant for many years before. There was also a competitive advantage to doing business in L/A, as for some time Baxter Brewing Company was the only production brewery in the area.
Luke’s favorite thing about L/A is its small town vibe. He enjoys enormous support from the L/A community and especially the municipality itself, which he says has always far exceeded the support he could get in a larger, more crowded market. He loves his “mill-mates,” Davinci’s and Fishbones, as well as the restaurants on Lisbon Street like Forage, Marche and Orchid. Though most of his time off work is spent chasing his two-year-old around, when he can Luke likes to play disc sports. He also juggles, is a huge baseball fan, and spends as much time as possible outside exploring Maine.
The two causes Luke is most passionate about relate to animals and the environment. He gives back to his community through his involvement with the Androscoggin Hospice House and the Androscoggin Humane Society.
In the future, Luke plans to still be living and working in Maine, making beer and continuing to learn new things in his business.
Human Resource Director/Co-founder/Community Organizer, Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services
Abdikadir always knew he wanted to be a teacher, a social worker, and a leader. In the past, he served as a local youth soccer coach, taught English as a second language, and worked for LL Bean as a learning specialist. He was also employed with the Lewiston school system as a language facilitator, all the while working toward his degree in Social and Behavioral Science through the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn. In 2008, he co-founded Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services (MIRS) and currently serves as its human resources director. His responsibilities include regularly interacting with employees, clients and community members and attracting and retaining talent for the organization, as well as doing case management and closely collaborating with fellow award winner and executive director, Rilwan Osman.
Born in Somalia, Abdikadir lived in two different refugee camps for roughly fourteen years before he and his family were relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. Like many others who share a similar history of immigration, he loves living in L/A primarily because it is a safe community with a “small town” atmosphere where he feels comfortable raising a family of his own. For Abdikadir, living in L/A is a privilege after enduring the difficulty, violence and hardships of both his home country and the refugee camps. His favorite thing about L/A is its sense of community—he is amazed by the accessibility of our teachers, government leaders, and the like. He is also a huge fan of the annual L/A festival and frequently enjoys meals with his family at local restaurants like Applebee’s, Margaritas, Denny’s and Mother India. The family consciously chooses to eat at places that are known for supporting L/A by participating in fundraising for local nonprofits and schools.
In his free time, Abdikadir enjoys being with his family, reading, playing soccer and running. He is passionate about local organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, as well as both the elder and youth populations. He serves on the boards of directors for some local nonprofits and lends a hand to his community as a volunteer whenever he can.
Abdikadir is proud of all he has accomplished in his career. He feels fortunate to meet great people through his work and is motivated by the love and support he receives from them. One of his most treasured achievements was witnessing the Lewiston High School soccer team win the State Championship, having coached and mentored nearly half of the players through a community sports program sponsored by MIRS. He hopes to continue his service to our community through MIRS and his personal efforts and to maintain a happy and sustainable life in L/A with his family.
Owner/Cosmetologist, Hair Station
Marlo is a third generation hairstylist, growing up with a mother and grandmother who both worked cutting and styling hair in their home-based salons. As a highly artistic person, she quickly realized her natural talent for hairstyling and decided to begin her journey by pursuing a business degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine. During her first semester as an MBA student, Marlo decided she could no longer sit behind a desk and set out to make her passion for hairdressing a reality. Last year, she opened Hair Station Hair Salon on Turner Street in Auburn. She is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the salon, but her primary focus is customer satisfaction. Marlo describes her work “behind the chair” as “transforming art onto living canvases, making people look and feel their very best.”
Growing up in Mechanic Falls, Marlo and her family frequently traveled to L/A for shopping, dining, and most other activities. When it came time to buy her first home, she found Auburn to be the perfect fit with its close proximity to her family and potential to support her new business venture. She feels she has “the best of both worlds” living on a dead-end street in Auburn where she enjoys a private backyard and is just minutes away from the city. Her favorite things about L/A are its sense of community and its size. As she says, “the cities are large enough to serve you but small enough to know you!” You may find her at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli enjoying a quick meal. For a night out, she frequents Mac’s Grill, Gritty’s, Orchid, and more.
Marlo loves spending time with her family and friends. She’s fond of relaxing nights at home with her many “fur babies,” and is just as happy going out on the town to dance, dine and enjoy life. Beyond her work at the Salon, she explores her passions for interior decorating and the arts. As a vegetarian and an animal lover, Marlo supports the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Another cause close to her heart is breast cancer awareness, as the disease took her grandmother a short time ago. To give back to her community, Marlo works through her business to raise money to help L/A families in need during the holidays and is an avid supporter of local animal charities.
Marlo is extremely happy with the life she’s building for herself and plans to continue her work in L/A. She aspires to eventually expand her business and hopes one day to settle down with a family of her own.
Owner, Renew You! Massage and Yoga
As a self-employed massage therapist and instructor of yoga and meditation, Sara’s job is to help people who are sore and stressed and who want to improve upon their physical and emotional wellbeing. She discovered her interest in massage therapy while working in an office that offered massage to its employees as part of a generous health benefit program. Bored and unmotivated in her work, the therapeutic office massages started Sara on the path to her present profession. She would later incorporate yoga and meditation, a decision she says was largely driven by her love for Kundalini Yoga, commonly known as the “Yoga of Awareness.”
Sara is fond of the challenges of self-employment, which she finds often test her and keep her on her toes. She has learned a lot over the years and has seen herself grow strong and confident in areas where she was felt weak. Her passion lies in helping people. A self-identified idealist, she believes we all share a responsibility to make the world a better place. For Sara, it all begins with improving your own mind, body and life. Her goal is to employ massage therapy, yoga and meditation to support local individuals in their efforts to heal themselves and the world around them. A strong proponent of integrity, Sara feels fortunate to have the power to run her own business in a fashion that best reflects her own personal values.
Sara moved to L/A when her husband got a job making furniture in the area. She loves that the L/A community boasts a unique combination of an “urban feel” in the downtown area and easy access to natural resources both in the mountains and along the coast. She also finds a wealth of opportunity in L/A for a young person to “make their mark.” Sara believes that if you “roll up your sleeves and dig in,” you’ll see that your work is appreciated and find enormous potential to make a positive impact. With a strong interest in urban development, Sara was part of the group that started Grow L+A, a volunteer organization that has been a driving force behind the redevelopment of Bates Mill No. 5 in Lewiston. She ascribes to a philosophy known as “New Urbanism,” which examines the history of a community with downtown areas and neighborhoods that were once prosperous, connected and lively and asks the question, “what were they doing right?”
Outside her career and community work, Sara enjoys gardening, hiking, reading and traveling. Some of her favorite local eateries include Marche, Boba, Thai Dish and Forage Market. Looking to the future, she plans to continue working to fully develop her business so it can flourish. Beyond that, she finds it important to leave a little room for serendipity.
Owner/Instructor, Pelletier’s Karate
As a sensei at Pelletier’s Karate in Lewiston, Sadie teaches a variety of classes including yoga, “yogalates,” cardio kickboxing, and self-defense. As an owner, she focuses on marketing, community involvement and special events for the dojo. It is Sadie’s philosophy that the most important part of her role as a teacher is her duty to act as a positive role model to all of her students and to provide them with the necessary tools to be successful members of society.
Sadie started practicing karate when she was thirteen years old as a means of exercise. Over the years she grew to love the art of the sport, developing a passion for teaching and competition. She is proud to have been the number one female competitor in the State of Maine in her late teens, but her favorite moment in her karate career was earning her black belt. Now that she has been teaching karate in the L/A community for over fifteen years, one of the most rewarding aspects of her work is seeing former students return to the dojo to enroll their children and grandchildren. She loves to see her students become more confident, stronger and happier in their lives through the practice of martial arts, yoga and general fitness.
Sadie has grown to love the State of Maine since she moved here from the Midwest with her family as a child. Her favorite things about L/A include the diversity of its people, the widespread energy to improve and grow, and the strong sense of community. She spends much of her free time with her family and friends playing indoor and outdoor activities. She enjoys camping and white water rafting and is a proud “hockey mom.” Local places where Sadie likes to grab a bite to eat include Dubois Café and Rolly’s Diner for breakfast, Pure Thai, Guthrie’s and Forage for lunch and Pat’s Pizza, Jasmine Café, and Fishbones for dinner.
To support her community, Sadie is actively involved in Montello and Geiger Elementary Schools by teaching karate, going on field trips and planning local festivals and events. She also serves as President of the Auburn Lewiston Exchange Club, an organization she feels provides many great opportunities to give back to the L/A area. Other causes she supports include the local Boys and Girls Club, Tree Street Youth and the Community Little Theater. In general, Sadie and her family are very active in a wide variety of community events.
Looking to the future, Sadie plans to remain active in teaching health and wellness. She hopes to become more involved in the L/A community, which she calls “the world’s best kept secret,” and to be a role model for all.
Doctor of Audiology, L/A Hearing Center
As an audiologist for L/A Hearing Center, Ashlee evaluates, diagnoses and treats people with hearing loss and balance disorders. She sees a wide range of people, from newborns to geriatrics, helping patients and their families better understand the nature and impact of hearing loss and providing custom treatment options to suit individual listening needs. For the children she treats, Ashlee collaborates with early intervention providers, educators and other school professionals to ensure access to language in the classroom. She is honored to have the opportunity to witness so many life-changing moments and is passionate about helping her patients regain their hearing independence so they can play a part in important conversations with family, friends and colleagues.
Midway through her undergraduate career, Ashlee decided she wanted to pursue a specialty in the medical field. She was studying biology and enrolled in pre-med when she enrolled in an “Intro to Audiology” course by chance. Ashlee knew audiology was her calling and hasn’t looked back since. She often recalls a special moment from the beginning of her professional career when she witnessed a child she’d fit with hearing aids hear her own footsteps for the first time. It is the connection to her patients and their families that drives Ashlee in her work each day.
Ashlee and her family love living in the L/A community because it is close to so many important people and things in their lives. The family visits with nearby relatives, enjoys trips to Maine beaches and mountains, and spends time exploring local cuisine. Some favorite places to grab a bite include Fuel, Fishbones, Orchid and Gritty’s.
Ashlee is an ardent supporter of hearing loss education and often joins forces with different local and national agencies to provide educational seminars for those who could benefit from a greater understanding of ear and hearing disorders. She particularly enjoys collaborating with SeniorsPlus in Lewiston, tapping into some of the tremendous educational opportunities for our community’s elders. Over the past three years, Ashlee has been heavily involved with Young Professionals of Lewiston Auburn (YPLAA) and presently serves as chair of the organization as well as co-chair of the Y-Not Committee. She feels lucky to be able to work with local young professionals and learning why they have chosen the L/A area as their home. With a family history of heart disease, Ashlee also supports The American Heart Association as a member of the executive leadership team for the annual Central Maine Heart Walk.
Ten years from now, Ashlee plans to be living in the L/A community continuing to do the work she loves. She cannot imagine living or practicing anywhere else!
Dentist, Center Street Dental
Commonly known in the L/A community as “Dr. Rose,” Dr. Rosemarie Sheline, DDS, is a dentist and owner of Center Street Dental in Auburn. A native of the Philippines, Dr. Rose graduated from the University of Baguio in 2001. When she met her husband, Carl, she decided to immigrate and continue pursuing her dental career in the United States. After passing her dental exams, she attended Loma Linda University in California and graduated in 2005. Her current services include treating cavities and oral infections as well as providing cosmetic and family services with implants, veneers, crowns and routine wellness checkups. She is passionate about helping her patients feel good about themselves so they can start smiling and enjoying their lives again.
Dr. Rose and her husband wanted to live in Maine because of its natural beauty and sense of community. They were happy to find a practice in Auburn and a place to live in Lewiston that they enjoy. Her favorite things about living in L/A are all the great local people and the availability of a wide variety of activities. She truly appreciates the opportunity to work with her wonderful staff that plays a key role in her efforts to improve the lives of her patients. Dr. Rose feels that by providing great oral health care for our community, she can contribute to the overall wellbeing and happiness of its people.
When she isn’t working at Center Street Dental, Dr. Rose can be found spending time with her husband and their two beautiful children, John and Danika. A big music fan, she is currently taking piano lessons as well as voice lessons to improve upon her skills. She also loves to exercise, with a particular passion for hiking. She supports the L/A community through her business, providing numerous dental health bags to local elementary schools and at various community events. Center Street Dental also supports several events and nonprofits in the L/A area through sponsorships and participation in fundraisers. Through its own wellness program, Center Street Dental staff often take part in local 5K races and do their best to promote overall health and wellness in L/A. Dr. Rose is particularly interested in the efforts of The Auburn PAL Center, The Dempsey Center and Tree Street Youth, all local organizations that provide valuable services and resources to those who need support and compassion.
Looking ahead, Dr. Rose plans to continue her life and her practice in L/A and has no doubt that the place she calls “home” will continue to grow and thrive in the future.
Senator, Maine State Senate
Nate credits his time at Bates College with playing a significant role in shaping his career. Through the study of history and economics, he refined his skills in research, communication, organization and critical thinking. Whether he is working on securing financing for a start-up company or shepherding a major piece of legislation through the public process, the experience he gained in college plays an important part in his success. As a representative of the City of Lewiston in the Maine State Senate, Nate works on enacting public policy, providing oversight for the activities and spending of the State government, and assisting Lewiston residents in accessing programs and services. In his second job as an economic development consultant, he focuses on helping local governments connect with businesses to establish, grow and create jobs. His favorite thing about the work he does is that it requires taking a complex problem and collaborating with others to work out a solution.
Growing up in a small town just outside of Waterville, Maine, Nate was the first in his family to attend college. He moved to Lewiston at the age of eighteen when he was offered a substantial needs-based scholarship to attend Bates College. He immediately fell in love with the community because of its welcoming and diverse citizenry. Deciding to remain in Lewiston after earning his degree, he has been living and working in the L/A area ever since. When he has the time, Nate engages in hobbies like carpentry, gardening and landscaping, and enjoys going on outdoor excursions with his wife, Andrea, their son and two dogs.
As a state senator, Nate is an ardent supporter of the vast array of nonprofit organizations that serve the L/A community. He is especially passionate about early education and services for children with special needs, serving on the board of directors for Androscoggin Head Start and as chairman of Lewiston’s Universally Accessible Playground Committee. Through the Playground Committee, he supports ongoing efforts to raise funds to build the first playground in Maine where children can play together regardless of their cognitive and developmental abilities. Nate also serves on the board of the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council (LAEGC).
In the long term, Nate hopes to be working in economic development on a professional level and giving of his time for public service. He is motivated by the progress he sees in L/A and enjoys taking part in the continuous growth and redevelopment happening here. He is excited to see what the future holds for our community.
Program Director, Maine Immigrant Refugee Services
When they were relocated to the United States, Jama and many fellow Somali Bantu refugees first lived in larger cities like Denver and Chicago. These locations proved to be quite an adjustment from the small villages Jama and his peers grew up in. Many decided to move to L/A, viewing it as a smaller community and a safe place to raise their families. When Jama and his family arrived in Lewiston, however, they soon discovered a gap in services to support assimilation into the local culture and saw many Somali Bantu youth dropping out of school as a result. To address this urgent need, he co-founded the Somali Bantu Youth Association. Today, Jama works with Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services (MIRS) as Program Director for Youth Literacy and Citizenship Services. His job responsibilities include program development, education and management of the organization’s numerous volunteers. He finds his career most rewarding because it enables him to help others build promising futures for themselves and their families.
Jama’s favorite thing about living in L/A is the wealth of friendship he has found here—friends who support him in achieving his goals through teaching and encouragement. He is a big fan of local cuisine, often stopping at 84 Court Pizza & Restaurante for some “amazing” bruschetta or enjoying a family meal at Applebee’s. He spends most of his free time with his lovely wife and their children and often hosts large get-togethers with extended family members. Some of the local organizations he is most passionate about include the Trinity Jubilee Center, Lewiston Public Schools and the Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization (SLRO). The SLRO uses farming as a means of helping immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers alike build sustainable livelihoods by growing and selling produce.
Having served on the Lewiston School Committee, Jama is honored to be the first African-born elected official in Lewiston. With the Committee, he helped establish new policies in efforts to ensure that our local schools are providing the best education possible to their students. He gives back to L/A through his work with MIRS, helping immigrants gain their citizenships and teaching them the importance of being involved in the community. While he prefers to focus on what he can do to help L/A thrive in the present, Jama plans to continue building relationships within the community in the future and hopes to see more of its people coming together across lines of diversity and enjoying each other’s company. With more communal conversations, he believes the people of L/A can work and learn together to build something great.
State Representative, Maine State House of Representatives
Jared’s started his career in politics working for Senator Susan Collins on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He has a passion for finding solutions for the issues and challenges that face the City of Lewiston and the State of Maine, and loves attending community events to meet new people and learn about the great work they are doing. Today, he represents the City of Lewiston in the Maine State Legislature and serves on the Transportation Committee and the Committee for Veterans and Legal Affairs.
Moving back to Maine after four years of active duty with the U.S. Marines, Jared attended Bates College and earned his degree in politics. He is happy to be living in L/A, where exciting and inspiring revitalization efforts are being made all the time. He also likes being close to his friends and family and met his wife, Isobel, in Lewiston. Some of his favorite things about L/A include the character of its people, the strong architecture and the beautiful skyline. Access to entertainment and other downtown activities, coupled with close proximity to great locations for hiking, fishing and exploring the coast, are among others.
When it comes to local cuisine, you may find Jared enjoying a meal at Fuel, Marche, George’s Pizza, or Bear Bones. In his free time he enjoys hanging out with his wife and their cats, as well as hiking, exercising, brewing beer and reading. This coming summer, the couple is looking forward to working in their garden and completing a variety of home improvement projects. With his background in the military, which included deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq, Jared is most passionate about supporting his fellow veterans through his legislative work. He also maintains an interest in working to increase access to multiple different forms of transportation for the L/A community. Dedicated to improving the lives of his constituents, he participates in numerous meetings at both the local and state levels and has served on the boards of several neighborhood organizations.
Jared and his wife are excited to build a life together in L/A. Although he believes that life has a way of leading you in unexpected directions, Jared envisions himself continuing his work as an activist for our community far into the future.
Senator, Maine State Senate
As a State Senator, Eric is an impassioned servant of Maine’s people. Believing that our citizens prosper most when they are free to make their own life choices, too often he saw “big government” treating adults like children by encouraging dependency, strangling innovation and dictating personal decisions. In 2014, Eric decided to run for office to advocate for personal freedom and responsibility. In his role as a Maine senator, he is responsible for fostering an environment where companies can grow and thrive. As chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, he oversees over $3 billion in funding each year. Eric is grateful for the opportunity to lead growing efforts for welfare reform, saving money for Maine workers while still providing services for those who need it most. His favorite things about being a Maine senator are using his own perspective to solve the statewide challenges and passing major reform to decrease the role of the government in the lives of individuals.
Born and raised in New Gloucester, Eric worked for several years as a professional actor in New York City. He eventually returned home to Maine to be closer to his relatives and to work in the family business. Wanting to live in an area with a tight-knit community that offered the accessibility of a larger city, he chose to settle in Auburn. When thinking about what he most enjoys about the L/A area, Eric feels that the little things make the biggest difference. Some examples of the “little things” he loves about L/A include: seeing citizens work to transform a giant snowbank into a sled hill for local children, enjoying a first-rate musical production at the volunteer-driven Community Little Theater, and witnessing community members picking up litter along the side of the road in efforts to beautify our neighborhoods. He can often be found enjoying breakfast at Rolly’s Diner, enjoying conversation with a friendly face.
In the past, Eric spent a lot of his free time performing through Community Little Theatre, playing various roles including Felix Unger from “The Odd Couple,” Mortimer Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace” and several small parts in a production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” His work as a senator prevents him from having the time to participate on stage, so he remains active with the Theatre as a member of its board of directors. In addition to the Theatre, he is passionate about “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” an organization that enables local adults to make a positive impact on youth facing adversity in Maine through community and school-based mentoring programs. As a “Big Brother,” Eric most enjoys outdoor activities with his “Little Brother” like hiking Mount Appetite and walking the L/A Riverwalk. The two also enjoy the occasional movie at Flagship Cinemas in Auburn.
Eric hopes to continue making his efforts, whether through the public or private sector, to strengthen the liberties of Maine’s people and empower them to create their own opportunities to live, work and play.
Community Resource Officer, Lewiston Police Department
Joe joined the Lewiston Police Department in the summer of 2005 after graduating from the University of Maine in Augusta with his bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice. Raised in Lewiston, he stayed connected to L/A during college through his work as a security officer for St. Mary’s Hospital and Bates. Joe has always found L/A to be welcoming, safe, and rich with history, which is why he decided to stay here with his wife, Katie, to raise their growing family. The couple resides in Lewiston together with Joe’s stepson, Isaha, and their exciting new addition due to arrive in the fall.
As a Community Resource Officer for Lewiston PD, Joe focuses on outreach by participating in community meetings and developing positive relationships with L/A citizens. He is responsible for education, recruitment, and grant management, as well as developing initiatives for long-term solutions to community problems and emphasizing the importance of community policing and relationship building. Joe also oversees the Lewiston Project Lifesaver Program, a program that aims to provide timely responses for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions that cause them to wander. Individuals enrolled in the Program wear a transmitter and can be found more quickly, which means more lives are saved and many potential injuries may be avoided.
Outside of his career, Joe has a passion for all things relating to education. He gives back to his community by serving on the board of directors for the Androscoggin Head Start Program, and is signed up to be an assistant coach for the upcoming eighth grade Lewiston Middle School baseball team. In the past, he served as President of the Elliott Ave. Little League and has been an assistant coach for several little league teams in the area. Based on his life experiences, Joe believes that an accessible and quality education plays a significant part in ensuring success for the future of L/A’s youth.
Joe’s favorite thing about L/A is its sense of community. He is motivated by growing local efforts to effect positive change and continued development in the area. When he is not at work or volunteering his time, Joe can be found enjoying a bite to eat at Fuel Restaurant, where his wife is general manager. He enjoys traveling, eating out, playing hockey, and watching his stepson’s baseball and hockey games.
Looking forward, Joe hopes to play a more significant role in the continued growth and development of the L/A community through public service. He believes that we all must advocate for the community where we live, work, and raise our families.
Director, The Root Cellar | Lewiston
As Director of The Root Cellar, Joel’s job carries with it numerous responsibilities. On a typical day, he may be writing or designing a newsletter, leading a teen group, updating the Cellar’s website, working alongside volunteers in the various programs offered to adults, teens and children by the organization, or planning a fundraising event. The Root Cellar boasts programs for local citizens of all ages, from “Project Rooted,” a program designed to engage at-risk youth and get them on the right path by equipping them with the life skills for a successful future, to the Friends and Neighbors Network (“FANN”), a collective designed to facilitate and promote L/A neighbors in need providing food for one another. Joel feels honored to be able to work alongside the “small army” of volunteers at The Cellar. He characterizes those he works with as a diverse group of people, all sharing a common goal of engaging, equipping and empowering L/A citizens in need through high quality programs and services. Joel feels humbled by the love, dedication, and faith of those he works with.
Joel’s work is motivated primarily by his faith in God. During college, he became interested in learning to live out the teachings of Jesus—“to love our neighbor, love our enemies, care for the needy and welcome the stranger.” His pursuit led him to work with refugees in Jordan and Atlanta, before spending nearly five years in Boston working with at-risk youth. When he was offered his current position at The Root Cellar in 2012, Joel saw it as a new and exciting opportunity to learn how to engage, equip and empower others to be better neighbors. The job offer came just before he and his wife, Hilary, welcomed their first daughter, and they both felt that the time was right to “put down some roots” and see what God had planned for them in L/A.
One of Joel’s favorite things about L/A is its central location in the State of Maine; he and his family love being close to both the mountains and the coast. When he isn’t working, Joel spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife and their two adorable daughters, Annaleigh and Jane. The family is fond of outdoor activities, spending time at local lakes whenever possible. Joel also enjoys fishing, playing basketball, and watching the Red Sox. For a bite to eat, his favorites include The Italian Bakery, Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream, Forage Market, and Boba.
Joel is excited to continue discovering how L/A has grown through the efforts of the staff and volunteers at The Root Cellar. He hopes to see L/A citizens learning to be better neighbors to one another by welcoming differences of culture and diversity as valuable assets to our community.
State of Maine Regional Manager, Veterans Inc.
Alley began her career in veterans’ advocacy after serving ten years’ active duty in the military, which service included being deployed to combat in Afghanistan. Her love for working with the service members and their families led her to her current position at Veterans, Inc., an organization dedicated to ending homelessness among veterans. At Veterans, Inc., Alley is responsible for grant programs like “Supportive Services for Military Veterans and their Families” and the “Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program.” She also supervises the day-to-day operations and works together with her incredible team to assist homeless, at-risk and transitioning veterans with housing, employment, training and benefits assistance. As a Marine, Alley was taught to know her fellow Marines and to look out for their welfare. Her work with Veterans, Inc. is her way of maintaining that spirit as a civilian.
Apart from her work with Veterans, Inc., Alley gives back to her community through her work with the Maine Military & Community Network Regional Committee, Healthy Androscoggin, Catholic Charities of Maine’s Path Program and the Lewiston Career Center, among others. She also volunteers her time to local food pantries and churches, and is part of both the American Legion and Maine Army National Guard as a Chaplain and Chaplain’s Assistant, respectively. Causes she is most passionate about include AmeriCorps, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, IAVA: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Maine Team RWB, Internity, and Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services. In her free time, Alley likes to stop at Guthrie’s and Pop Shoppe Diner for a good bite to eat. She is a big fan of staying active, often working out at Orange Circuit Fitness or going for a run at Thorncraig Bird Sanctuary.
In the future, Alley sees herself continuing her work with Veterans, Inc. and completing her Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling. In ten years, she hopes to retire from the military reserve. She believes the greatest challenge facing the L/A community today is the need to build resilience. To Alley, this challenge can be overcome by boosting personal accountability and responsibility, positive mentoring and role modeling, peer to peer support and individual enthusiasm.
Executive Director, Tree Street Youth
Julia found her passion working with Lewiston’s youth population while she was an undergraduate at Bates College. She fell in love with the L/A community and decided to stay in Lewiston after graduation to continue her work with L/A youth by cultivating opportunities through the development and creation of the Tree Street Youth Center. As Executive Director, she oversees the daily operations of Tree Street, supervises its staff, collaborates with the board of directors and maintains the ever-growing vision of the agency. Her favorite thing about her work with Tree Street is seeing local youth and their families challenging themselves to try new things. To Julia, it is a privilege to witness these powerful moments.
Some of the projects Julia is involved in through Tree Street include the “StreetLeaders” program, through which high-achieving L/A high school students serve as role models and tutors for younger children, and the “B.R.A.N.C.H.E.S.” program that focuses on increasing overall graduation, college acceptance and college retention rates for at-risk youth in L/A. Tree Street further offers after school programs and summer youth programming, as well as arts and athletics.
Julia is highly motivated by the L/A youth population and finds their energy, pride, and drive to lead improvement efforts in their community to be “very unique and powerful.” She is passionate about all the L/A area agencies that work so hard to support our youth and families in need. She is proud to be a part of the “huge web of support” these agencies provide. For Julia, the greatest challenge facing L/A today is the need for its citizens to come together and cross all lines drawn by their differences. With time, patience, and a collective willingness to learn, listen and keep an open mind, she believes this challenge can be overcome.
In her free time, Julia is happy to stay home and watch a movie, enjoy the outdoors by camping or going for a hike, and engaging in the various fun activities L/A has to offer with her family. For a bite to eat, Julia favors many of the delicious restaurants that downtown Lewiston has to offer. She has a special interest in supporting local youth sports programs, particularly the teams her children play for. Julia plans to continue raising her family in L/A while working to make The Tree Street Youth Center even greater and more sustainable.
Executive Director, Safe Voices
Elise believes the path to leadership is not a straight line, but rather a winding road that, if you are willing, open and positive, will be worth every twist and turn. She avoids limiting her aspirations and keeps an open mind when it comes to trying new methods of achieving her goals. It was her positive “just say yes” attitude that led Elise to her current position as Executive Director of Safe Voices. By being clear about her vision and not afraid to ask for help, she was able to turn a department of three staff members into a robust program that boasts up to twenty-four staff members with numerous new sources of funding. She views her primary duty as carrying out the mission of Safe Voices in working to end domestic violence. Her regular responsibilities include serving as spokesperson, setting the leadership model for the agency and ensuring that all agency activities are held to the highest possible standards.
Apart from her work with Safe Voices, Elise’s favorite thing about L/A is enjoying the view on her daily commute to work. Seeing birds of prey and turkeys, along with other wildlife along the river is a wonderful way to begin her day. A huge coffee fan, she often sets meetings at Forage Market so she can indulge in their delicious brews. For lunches and other events at Safe Voices, Lewiston House of Pizza is always a hit. Personally, she favors Marche and Davinci’s and recently became a fan of Margarita’s after enjoying their food at a benefit for Safe Voices. Elise is a lover of animals and nature, and often spends the weekends hiking, gardening, or exploring the tidal pools at the beach with her wife. Indoors, she is a self-proclaimed “major book nerd” and enjoys watching reality TV. Elise and her wife are also committed to supporting local businesses, purchasing many goods from local farmers and artisans.
In the next ten years, Elise envisions herself running a large, successful non-profit, being a best-selling author, or both! Causes she is most passionate about include fighting for the rights of women, animals, the LGBTQ community, and the environment. She has worked hard throughout her career to collaborate with community stakeholders to create new services and enhance existing ones and to ensure that all people are treated fairly and holistically. She plans to continue her efforts to create a culture of kindness and empowerment in the L/A area. For Elise, the keys to success are to dream big and say “yes.”
Public Relations Coordinator, Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council
Maura began her academic career in Auburn and quickly returned to L/A after college. A self-proclaimed “true and through ‘Mainah,’” her favorite thing about L/A is the plethora of community events that are always going on. It is inspiring for Maura to live in a city that is constantly working to get more citizens involved on all different levels. Almost a year ago, she was hired by the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council as its Office Manager and Public Relations Coordinator. She characterizes her job as a fast-paced, multi-faceted position. She is responsible for marketing L/A and the efforts of the Council locally and nationally, planning and organizing local events like the Business to Business Trade Show, and supporting efforts to publicize new and existing businesses in the area.
Opportunities for community involvement and consistent exposure to new endeavors and challenges are Maura’s favorite aspects of her work with the LAEGC. She also feels fortunate to live and work in an environment where familiar faces are found almost everywhere she goes. Maura finds marketing L/A to be a fun venture, motivating her peers to see the growth and development in the area by encouraging them to attend local events.
Outside of her job, Maura loves to experience new places. She spends much of her free time exploring, whether it be hiking, traveling someplace new in Maine, or searching for undiscovered “mom and pop” restaurants to enjoy. She believes it is important not to get so caught up in her career that she forgets to enjoy all the rest that life has to offer. To give back to her community, Maura volunteers her time helping those in need. Her greatest passion lies with the local homeless community and she commends the New Beginnings Youth Shelter for its efforts to lead our youth down the path of positivity and determination. Volunteerism is extremely important to Maura, whose basic philosophy is “you can never go wrong being nice.”
For the future, Maura sees herself working hands-on in the L/A community to advocate for our youth, and is presently in the process of applying to get her master’s degree in Social Work. Whether it be in the school systems or through our local shelters, she wants to be reaching out and making a difference.
Executive Director, Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services
Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services was built upon a shared vision to educate, support and empower immigrant and refugee youth in the L/A area. The first step that Rilwan, co-founder and executive director of MIRS, and his colleagues took was to establish monthly meetings for local youth to discuss problems they were facing and work together to generate positive solutions. The monthly meetings became so popular that MIRS expanded its services to include soccer programs, academic support, cultural programs and tradition counseling. Today, MIRS not only serves immigrant and refugee youth in L/A, but also offers a myriad of services to their parents. The Citizenship Program, which helps immigrant and refugee parents study for the literacy portion of their naturalization exams, boasts an impressive success rate and has become so popular that people are traveling from other parts of the State to be a part of it. Other services for parents include courses on job searching, parenting and advanced reading, writing and oral skills.
As Executive Director, Rilwan oversees all day-to-day activities of the agency. He helps facilitate English as a Second Language courses, juvenile justice programs, after school programming, mental health services, and more. He started MIRS as a group of volunteers and has seen it quickly grow into an agency that employs over thirty people.
Born in Somalia and raised in a refugee camp, Rilwan had never lived in a big city when he and his family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. Not finding Atlanta to be a great fit, Rilwan and his family moved to L/A after hearing from other family and friends that it was a small and safe place to live and raise children. His favorite thing about the L/A community is the availability of a support system for those who need it. Some of his favorite places to eat include Dunkin’ Donuts and local Somali restaurants. When he isn’t working, Rilwan enjoys being with his family and volunteering his time and money to help others when he can. Looking to the future, he plans to work toward more integration, offering increased multicultural activities to connect Maine citizens, old and new.
Business Development Officer, Community Credit Union
Guest Services Agent|Manager On Duty, Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch
As the Business Development Officer for Community Credit Union, Matt’s job is to improve the Credit Union’s competitive position through business development functions and working closely with local dealers and realtors to help secure lending for various projects in L/A. He is also closely involved with L/A area schools, facilitating financial literacy courses for students of all ages, and serves as a representative of CCU at local fundraisers and community events.
Born and raised in Lewiston, Matt enrolled in accounting and technology courses in high school and worked for a local bank while attending college at St. Joseph’s. Envisioning a future for himself helping others and giving back to his community, he built a strong foundation in marketing and business ethics and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Prior to joining CCU, Matt worked with United Way of Androscoggin County as Director of Campaign and Marketing. When he was offered the job at CCU, Matt saw an ideal opportunity to combine his commitment to and admiration for our community with his passion for building relationships. He feels fortunate to live and work in L/A with its rich history and beautiful architecture.
Beyond his career with CCU, Matt works for the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn as a guest services agent, banquet bartender and manager on duty. When he’s not at work, he loves to be out and about in the community. Whether he’s attending Business After Hours around town, tasting new foods at locally owned restaurants, volunteering for events or participating in local fundraising efforts, Matt finds it “engaging and rewarding” to be a part of building L/A by helping his fellow citizens whenever possible. He is an active presence in both the LA Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Uplift LA and loves that so many local businesses are members of the Chamber and consistently contribute to efforts to draw more people to the L/A area to live, work and play.
Some of Matt’s favorite places to eat in L/A include Marche, Jasmine Café, Sea40 and Davinci’s. Outside his community work, he has an interest in taking scenic photographs, traveling and sitting by the ocean, and spending time on Sebago Lake with family and friends. In the future, he sees himself continuing to build the L/A community as well as the surrounding area. He hopes to be able to make lasting positive impacts and maintains an attitude that “when you help one, you help everyone.”