2018 40 Under 40 Honorees

View the 2018 40 Under 40 Video Showcases

Videos by Praxis Motion Pictures | Headshots by Emmie Jones Photography

Building LA

Allie Smith

Building LA

Director of Education at Healthy Homeworks and Education Specialist at New Beginnings

As Director of Education at Healthy Homeworks, Allie Smith designed the Build-a-Bed program that works with folks across all ages who do not have a bed. The program guides and teaches them how to make their own bed frames; which they can keep for free alongside a mattress and mattress encasement. As an Education Specialist at New Beginnings, Allie works with at-risk youth that are out of school in their Educational Support Program.

For Healthy Homeworks she also handles marketing, communications and grant-writing. Allie discovered her love of small-group teaching through peer tutoring in college and after graduation moved to Thailand and taught kindergarten and designed English as a Second Language educational programming for an organization that supported women and girl survivors of human trafficking. She also spent some time in DC working in the creative and tech industries. In her words, “The most rewarding part of my career to date has been bringing what I’ve learned across these experiences to support my mother as she launched Healthy Homeworks. I feel so grateful to have found a position where I can support my family, do what I love, and contribute meaningfully of my own experience to grow an organization that is doing good in the LA community.”

Allie grew up in Maine, and had no intention of permanently making Maine her home. But, she says, “Lewiston caught me off guard. I fell in love with its diversity, youth, energy, and the passion of its residents to make their city better. I felt like Lewiston was a place where even with my few resources I could make an impact, where I could know my neighbors, be near my family, and do work that I love.” She hopes to be part of the continued growth of Lewiston and collaborate with others to create new avenues for recreation, local business, and access to affordable housing.

Look for Allie at Pure Thai, The Ark, Bear Bones Beer and Forage Market.

Hunter Steele

Building LA

Student at Lewiston High School

Lewiston High School student Hunter Steele enjoys challenging himself and getting to know others. He likes trying to make things better and creating more opportunities for students to be involved in the school and the community.

Born in Lewiston, Hunter values the strong sense of community here, he says, “Despite our differences.” The challenges he sees the area facing are a lack of skilled jobs locally and the community’s reputation. Hunter notes, “We need to work on a campaign that will show how great the community is and make people want to come and live here. More importantly we need to target young professionals and families.”

As a full-time high school student, Hunter focuses his time on his classes but also likes to read and play sports and encourages younger students to play lacrosse. He values the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council, which he says, “Helps to promote the city of Lewiston.”

Hunter’s ten-year goal is to finish graduate school. Meanwhile, out and about town he can be found at Gippers, Boba, Jade Garden and Tripps.

Jennie Malloy

Building LA

Principal + Director of Story at The Brand Collective

As co-founder and co-owner of The Brand Collective, Jennie Malloy works with fellow co-owner, Aimee Goodwin and a team to develop strategic branding, marketing, and advertising programs for businesses and nonprofits of all sizes throughout Maine, New England and the US. Jennie has a particular focus on business development, management of the writing side of the shop, and brand messaging/positioning.

A career opportunity for her husband brought Jennie to the LA area, which she says was an “incredible opportunity for me professionally.” Jenny credits her degree in French for helping her land her first marketing job at The French Cultural Center in Boston where she handled a variety of assignments and spoke French every day. She continues to be passionate about the arts and notes, “I see the arts as a vehicle to build community and vitality and an invitation to experience our world in different ways. I also see the arts as a critical economic engine.”

Jenny serves as president of the board of The Public Theatre, the secretary of Fairview Elementary School’s PTO and assists with communications for the Taylor Pond Yacht Club. Also passionate about education, she supports organizations like Tree Street Youth and Promise Early Education Center that, she says, “Truly stand up for education, and in my opinion are critically important for society.” Her hope for LA is, “To see the fruits of the collective labor of so many in Auburn and Lewiston come to fruition through completely revitalized downtowns and outdoor spaces, community and organizational collaborations, and continued economic development.”

Catch her out at Val’s Drive In, Mother India, Fishbones, DaVinci’s, 84 Court, and Guthries.

Benjamin Gray

Building LA

General Manager of Twin City Thunder

As General manager for the Twin City Thunder, Benjamin Gray gets to recruit the nation’s top hockey players, work with them to become better student athletes and help move them on to college. Hockey has been part of Ben’s life since a young age and he always wanted to stay involved with the game. He notes, “I was fortunate enough to play professional hockey so when I moved back home I wanted to make sure I got involved with our local kids.” Best parts of his job so far have been winning a National Championship at the 16U level with a team he coached and helping players commit to a college.

Ben sees the LA area as perfect for the Twin City Thunder, saying, “LA has always been a big hockey community and we knew bringing a team of this caliber was an ideal fit. I was lucky enough to play high school hockey at St.Doms and I understand the passion for hockey in this community.” In 10 years, he hopes to still be involved with the Twin City Thunder, helping the team become known not only for being a successful program but also one that continuously moves kids on to college hockey. His vision for LA is for the community to maintain balanced business and residential growth.

He serves or has served on the boards of the Maine Tourism Association, Skating Association of Maine, the Rotary Club, and the Maine Amateur Hockey Association. Outside of the hockey rinks, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter Madison taking advantage of the many things to do in the LA area.

Creative Geniuses

Sheri Withers-Hollenbeck

Creative Geniuses

Founder of The Hive Artisan Co-op, Co-Owner of Downtown Handmade, Co-Founder of Sunday Indie Market and Co-Owner of The Curio

Sheri Withers-Hollenbeck is an artist and founder of The Hive Artisan Co op, co-owner of Downtown Handmade, and co-founder of the Sunday Indie Market. She says, “All of my current endeavors are connected to the arts and community in Downtown Lewiston. With The Hive we give a space to area artists to create and showcase their art, teach workshops and host artisan talks.” Sheri states, “As a member of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, my passion lies with creating art-related and buy local events that draw people to our growing art and beer scene.”

For Sheri, “It is all about community.” She says, “We moved back to Lewiston in 2012 after helping to open Forage Market. Within the first year of the market being open we opened Downtown Handmade & Vintage. The whole family fell in love with the very strong community ties we quickly developed.”

Her vision for the community’s future includes more personal investment. Sheri says, “Stanley Hollenbeck, Corey Dufour and I recently acquired the old Lamey Wellehan Building on Lisbon Street.” This fall they will open the Curio- Art & Alehouse, adding, “This building and I have had a love affair for years and am beyond excited to call it my forever home.”

Sheri hopes that the community can overcome a fear of change, noting, “People like to hold on to how things used to be instead of what they can be. We are only going to be able to do this if we welcome all of our community members and their cultures. My hope is art can help create the path to open discussions on how we can change and continue to grow.”

Benjamin Santos

Creative Geniuses

Co-founder of Tea & Lobster Productions

As co-founder of Tea & Lobster Productions, Benjamin Santos focuses on networking and promotions. Whether it is promoting events like The Great Falls Comic Expo or contributing as a member of Uplift LA, he says, “Making people aware of the amazing opportunities in the Lewiston Auburn region is key.”

Never quite sure what to answer when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Ben has found the way to keep the kid alive in his professional career. Running conventions came from attending many through his website, Cosplay Convention Center and he is grateful for the community support he has received for producing two comic expos locally.

Ben notes, “I’ve lived here or around here my whole life. I like the area, the people, the history. Being here over that much time I’ve also seen opportunities pass us by or not even be considered for the area. So I decided to be a piece of the change I wanted to see.” He enjoys the resolve of LA residents and says, “LA’s strength has always been from the people that make up our diverse community. I enjoy their innovations, commitment to their history, and their openness to support and encourage their neighbors.”

He sees improving cyber infrastructure as a key issue in order to attract larger companies as well as start-up companies as they expand and to provide the backbone for the up and coming company we haven’t heard of yet.

When Ben isn’t riding Optimus you can find him at Simone’s or Forage Market or playing games at one of the local gaming shops.

Katy Labbe

Creative Geniuses

Hair Stylist at Hair Station

A hairstylist at the Hair Station, Katy Labbe features cutting, styling, coloring, waxing, beard trims, and nails. She notes, “Being a hairstylist is the only thing I have ever wanted to be. I went to hair school straight out of high school and was able to start my career at 19 years old.” Katy says that some of the favorite parts of her career are continuing to grow as a stylist and, “Helping people feel great about themselves.”

Looking for a change, she moved to the LA area to challenge herself as a stylist. The move also brought her closer to family in Turner and Auburn. Katy enjoys the balance of city and close community found in the LA area and the business growth in the downtown

She is passionate about the mission of the SPCA and animal welfare and each year at the holidays, she and friends select an organization or family to support, saying, “I like being able to help out others that are in need.”

Her future personal vision is to, “See myself married, having a family of my own, maybe a dog or two and working as a stylist at the Hair Station.” And her hope for the LA area is to erase the stigma that Lewiston Auburn has been given and have more people realize it is a great community. Katy notes, “It would be good to encourage more young people to move to the area and start working and opening businesses.”

When you don’t find Katy at the Hair Station, look for her at Grittys, House of Bacon, Orchid, Fire House Grill, and 84 Court.

Tom Deschenes

Creative Geniuses

Creator of Quest for the Antidote(Upper Deck), Shakespeare Scholar, and Regional Director of Strategic Partnerships for Purdue University Global

Tom Deschenes works for Upper Deck for the game, Quest for the Antidote; is a Shakespeare scholar; and by day Regional Director of Strategic Partnerships for Purdue University Global. He says, “When I’m working on behalf of Upper Deck, I am the creator, designer, and developer of everything related to Quest for the Antidote, the board game/intellectual property that was launched globally in the summer of 2017.” He also serves as brand ambassador for Upper Deck, travelling the world to attend pop-culture/gaming conventions where he gives speeches, signs autographs, and demos the game with fans and expands the IP into different forms of media.

He says, “In my spare time, I am also self-employed as an author and Shakespeare scholar, and I have my first books being released later this year through Amazon.” Tom credits the ability to pursue his creative endeavors to the flexibility of Purdue University Global.

Born and raised in Lewiston, Tom returned to work at then Kaplan University after four years as an English teacher in Massachusetts. Tom says, “Lewiston will always be my hometown. The people and community are the best part of the city. It was a wonderful place to be raised, and it is a great place to call home.” He credits, “The number of artisans and business owners and young professionals that are investing in Lewiston and Auburn and helping our cities grow.”

His causes include Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice, Strive, The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, Extra Life, Camp Sunshine, Habitat for Humanity and the Dempsey Challenge, Tri for a Cure, and the March of Dimes.

Economic Development

Michael Dostie

Economic Development

Jeweler at J. Dostie Jewelers

Michael Dostie, Jeweler at J. Dostie Jewelers says he, “Wanted to drop out of college” before finishing his degree. With some support from his father who responded, “I’m coming into my busy season so, you’ll work for me,” Mike started with J. Dostie Jewelers 15 years ago and immediately fell in love with the jewelry industry. He notes, “I work with people on their most precious possessions, for their most memorable experiences. The other side of the jewelry industry is vast, technical, and ever evolving. You marry technologies that are hundreds of years old with new ones that are still in development.”

Mike made the transition from his father’s Portland location to the flagship store in Lewiston and says, “Every time I would visit Lewiston I could see the potential for a great downtown.” After getting involved in YPLAA he adds, “Community development became my new jam. I love the downtown and I love seeing it grow and evolve. One person can open a business, start a festival, coordinate an event, affect change. In a larger or more developed metropolitan city an individual is lost in the noise. Here it’s different.”

Mike’s community involvement echoes his passion. He was the founder of Art Walk Lewiston Auburn, served on the board of L/A Arts and initiated Icefest L/A; worked with the City on business friendly snow maintenance; serves on the Chamber’s board and recently started the Downtown Lewiston Association.

Ten years out he sees himself, “Standing in a economically thriving, prosperous, active, and fun downtown Lewiston. Hopefully doing what someone did for me–helping cultivate and inspire a new generation of leaders in this community.”

Kaitlin Gallagher

Economic Development

Owner + Photographer of KaitLavin Photography and PhotoBooth Owner of GingerSnap Rentals

Kaitlin Gallagher is the Owner and Photographer of KaitLavin Photography where she specializes in child and family portraits. She also provides event photography, executive portraits, dance competition photography, photo restoration and design projects. Additionally, through GingerSnap Rentals, she offers fun and unique ways to incorporate a Photo Booth into many different events from weddings, parties, galas and fundraisers.

Kaitlin says, “I have a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Crime Law & Deviance, and I thought I wanted to be an FBI Profiler.” Once she realized her personality would likely lead to either teaching or research, she rethought her career path. Inspiration came, she notes, “When I spotted a sign at Sears Portrait Studio that said ‘Now Hiring’. I walked in and was hired on the spot.” Advancing in her profession, Kaitlin says the “kick in the pants to go out on my own,” came when Sears closed all of its portrait studios.

Originally from Belfast, an old boyfriend led her to Auburn where she says she “loves living.” Kaitlin takes advantage of all four seasons and in the warm weather you will find her golfing at Apple Valley, where she is in two leagues and also drives the beverage cart or works in the pro shop and teaches at the Junior Golf Camp. She also coaches Junior Varsity High School Golf for Gardiner High School. When the snow flies, find her skiing or tending bar at Lost Valley or bowling in a league at Sparetime.

Kaitlin volunteers by doing and has jumped into a frozen lake, twice, for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. She has also donated her photography expertise to several community programs.

Jared Golden

Economic Development

State Representative, Maine State House of Representatives

Lewiston State Representative and Congressional District II candidate Jared Golden at one point wanted to become a school teacher, but felt the need to serve his country after 9/11. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, and served for four years. Returning home with a deeper desire to serve his community, he has been representing Lewiston in the legislature for the last four years. “The best part,” he says, “is being able to make such a big difference in so many different types of peoples’ lives. Whether it’s passing a new law to protect children in this community from lead poisoning, helping veterans transition their military skills to civilian work, or working to help people struggling with mental illness, knowing you are making a difference is what gives the work real meaning.”

Growing up in Leeds, Jared has always considered LA his community. Jared notes, “I enjoy being part of a community that is overcoming challenges of the past, that is redeveloping and redefining itself. This is a tight knit community where you can really commit, throw in, and work together with people to build the home we want to live in.”

He sees, “Slow, steady growth and downtown redevelopment as the key to our future. Sticking with a tough plan, that might not move us forward as quickly as some would like. And above all else, working together as a community is the key.”

He likes to run, hike and spend time with his wife, and says, “If I’m really blessed with time I like Game of Thrones, a good book, and mowing lawns.” Look for Jared out and about at George’s Pizza, Bear Bones Brewing, and Ben’s Burritos.

Sasha Vurnakes

Economic Development

Owner of Sasha Lee’s Romance Boutique

Owner of Sasha Lee’s Romance Boutique, Sasha Vurnakes’ job is to provide a welcoming atmosphere where every customer who walks through the door feels comfortable, whether they seek a certain product or get properly fitted for lingerie. Sasha notes, “Like most small business owners, I work on everything from our social media marketing to ordering inventory. I hand pick every item sold at Sasha Lee’s to ensure that every customer who visits us leaves with a positive experience start to finish.”

Sasha moved to the LA area over a decade ago when her husband was stationed in the United States Navy in Brunswick, Maine. She says, “We originally were drawn to LA because it was the perfect compromise between the coast and the mountains.” She likes that LA is large enough to maintain diversity in entertainment, dining, and recreational options but small enough that she can run into friends and family while out and about in town.

She says she is extremely passionate about Pride LA Maine, which is a Lewiston Auburn LGBTQ+ led grassroots organization that fights for the liberation of all people by building a community to protest injustice and fight indifference. Sasha Lee’s sets up a booth at the LA Pride festival to show support as well as donating to the cause. Sasha also gives back through an Annual Lingerie Fashion Show, which, she says, ”Is different than most runway shows because the models showcasing the garments are everyday local community members of LA.” The show helps spread her shop’s message of body positivity to the local community helping all citizens feel more confident and empowered.

Her goal is to see an increased amount of pride for living in LA.


Jaci Peterson


Educational Director at Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services

Jaci Peterson, the Educational Director at Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services since 2015, oversees all educational program requirements for the agency, including curriculum, treatment plans, staff requirements, meetings with Child Development Services, classroom observations, and most importantly advocating for families and children to receive access to the educational and clinical services for which they are eligible

Jaci began at Sandcastle as an Education Technician in 2011 and finished her degree while working as a lead teacher, and then moving into a lead special educator position. Jaci says, “The best parts of my career would be that I am honored to support families and children to gain access to developmental and clinical supports, allowing the child and the family to grow together.”

Born in Lewiston and currently residing in Lewiston, Jaci grew up in New Auburn where she learned to love local businesses, lakes and walking trails. Although she moved to Litchfield for high school, she returned to Lewiston with the intent to buy a home and to begin her career, and now, she says, “I am back in my favorite place to work, live, and play!”

She is passionate about access to quality food resources, education, mental health services, medical care, and basic housing needs, and states, “I feel strongly that all members within our community should have programs that support these basic needs to cultivate strong families, healthy children, and a compassionate future generation. The more we work together as professionals, the stronger our community will grow.”

Although she enjoys restaurants all over town, her favorite spots are Auburn’s Rolly’s Diner, Gritty’s, 84 Court St, Heathco’s, Top it Frozen Yogurt, and House of Bacon.

Andrew Bard


Principal of Washburn Elementary at Auburn School Department

Lewiston native Andrew Bard knew he wanted to be a teacher when he was in the 4th grade. Now principal of Washburn School in Auburn, he strives to be a role model to students and maintain a climate and culture that promotes lifelong learning. Leading 45 staff members and 268 students, he says, “I drank the administrator Kool-aid and love my job, my school and my students.” Favorite parts of his day include seeing the students smile as they walk through the door, helping students and staff make positive choices and working with everyone to see the direction the school needs to go.

Andrew sees many advantages of living and working in the LA area and believes it is, “Important to give back to the community that gave you your start and provided me an education.” He is passionate about school partnerships and has built strong connections with Community Credit Union, the local Elks Lodge, Horace Mann Insurance and the Lewiston Auburn Rotary Lunch Club. His work brings into focus the community’s changing diversity that extends beyond Washburn’s walls and he suggests, “Keeping communication open and having community events that promote inclusion and tolerance.”

Andrew recently applied for the Doctoral program at the University of New England, so he envisions teaching at the college level some day. Until then, find Andrew spending time with family and friends, cooking, visiting local restaurants, and enjoying the LA area year-round.

Stephannie Couture


Teacher at ACADIA Academy

Stephannie Couture teaches 4th grade at ACADIA Academy. She started teaching right after graduating from college in 2005. She notes, “I have journeyed through a few different schools and types of teaching jobs. I have spent the largest chunk of my teaching time working with students with behavioral and/or emotional challenges. My favorite parts of my career are the lasting relationships I have built with students and their parents.”

She says that teaching in Lewiston Auburn, “Offered a lot of extra opportunities for teachers compared to my former location. As populations were declining in my area, they were growing and thriving in Lewiston and Auburn.” Stephannie adds, “My husband has worked in Lewiston for over a decade as an Advanced EMT, and the stability of his job was enticing.” Though they have since moved north of the community, she says, “We both choose to travel the distance to work here despite the additional miles because we feel connected to these cities.”

Stephannie notes, “There is no monotony in Lewiston and Auburn. I also love how the local communities support their schools and students. The community has a definite vested interest in the future of LA.”

She supports the ASPCA and all of her pets are rescued animals. She adds, “Also, I believe in supporting and praising those who work in public service. I feel that Firefighters, EMS providers and Police Officers deserve everyone’s respect. I give blood regularly. I also mentor young women outside of my job, offering them a person who will not judge them.”

Her future holds a Masters in Education and she hopes to one day publish a novel.

Tara Moore


Special Education Teacher at McMahon Elementary of Lewiston Public Schools

Tara Moore is a special education teacher and part of “Team Smada” in the Lewiston Day Treatment Program for 5th and 6th grade students in all academic areas. Tara notes, “Our team is a place where everyone belongs. We accept each other, encourage each other, and support each other.” Students in her class have a variety of diagnoses which range from emotional disturbance to autism and struggle with self regulation skills and have limited coping strategies. She adds, “We coach students through difficult situations in a manner that keeps them and others safe as well as teaching them more appropriate ways to manage their emotions.”

Tara credits her mom with her decision to interview for the behavior program at McMahon Elementary School. She notes, “Since the first day of school during the 2001 school year I’ve been there ever since!”

Growing up in Greene led her to stay close to home. Tara adds, “I have lots of family, friends, and a great job that keeps me close to this area. I enjoy the area and all it offers. It’s tied to all of my fondest memories. I learned how to ski when I was young at Lost Valley. I learned how to drive around the side streets by Bates College. And I enjoy time with my friends at all the wonderful restaurants, including Grittys, Gippers, Davinci’s, and lobster from Larochelle’s.”

She supports Maine’s State Parks and beaches and her husband as a USMC reservist. Her concern is lack of funding for public schools and plans to stay with “Team Smada” to encourage her students to, “grow, learn, and believe in themselves.”

Emerging Leaders

Hawo Abdille

Emerging Leaders

Community Relations Coordinator at Lewiston Public Schools

As Community Relations Coordinator for the Lewiston Public Schools, Hawo Abdille notes, “Its a great pleasure to be working for the school that I graduated from and making a difference in the Lewiston Auburn community.” Hawo describes her job as, “Providing cultural understanding formally and informally between schools and the New Mainer Community.” She assists with parent information, education and training and provides advocacy for the community between schools and other agencies. Hawo also translates for school personnel to have effective communication with students and parents.

Hawo moved to Lewiston with her mother to be closer to family. She says, “The first couple of months it was hard to adjust to living in Lewiston, but once we settled in, I fell in love with the Lewiston lifestyle. I love how Lewiston is becoming a more diverse city and moving towards becoming a big city.” She values the networking and business opportunities.

Hawo has a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Southern Maine/LA College. She is passionate about the Maine People’s Alliance, Advocates for Children and Healthy Androscoggin, organizations she sees serving the populations she works with. She likes political events and supporting nonprofit agencies. She says, “I like to contribute or volunteer.”

In her free time, Hawo likes Maine adventures such as hiking, and going to the beach. Favorite restaurants include Mother India, Davinci’s, Fishbones and Guthries and her favorite coffee spot is Forage. She also likes taking on new responsibilities through her career in the public school system. Her hope is for the area to develop more jobs that will keep our youth in Maine and encourage businesses to hire more people of color.

Amy Jose

Emerging Leaders

Integrated Marketing Specialist at Spectrum Healthcare Partners

As an Integrated Marketing Specialist at Spectrum Healthcare Partners, Amy Jose is part of a marketing team of three that is responsible for elevating Spectrum’s brand and strategically positioning the organization as a premiere healthcare provider. A 2016 University of Southern Maine graduate, Amy’s senior internship at the OA Sports Center led to her job, which she describes as providing the opportunity to understand the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, learning to adapt, and working collaboratively with national colleagues.

Amy grew up in Oakland, then lived in Portland before her house search led to LA this past year. She found the perfect newly built home in Auburn. She describes the Lewiston Auburn area as having a nice balance, offering both a rural and small city feel. Amy notes, “I take pride in being a Mainer and it’s really great to see the improvements that this area has made over the past several years.”

Outside of her career, Amy is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Market Research Analytics. Other than that, she says, her favorite place to be is with her Australian Labradoodle, Lilly, hiking, swimming and exploring new trails, parks or beaches, year round. Amy remarks, “I love being surrounded by the silence that Maine’s beautiful woods offer us.” Amy encourages, “Venturing outside of your comfort zone to enjoy all that the area has to offer.”

Find Amy volunteering as a Wish Granter for Make a Wish and supporting the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, the Dempsey Center and Challenge, and several organizations that involve animals.

Nicole Mailhot

Emerging Leaders

VP Marketing & Business Development at Dirigo Federal Credit Union

Nicole Mailhot says she does, “A little of everything,” in her role as VP of Marketing and Business Development at Dirigo Federal Credit Union, splitting her time between advertising, website updates, product campaigns, and community events and managing branch locations including all branch staff and member experience .

Born and raised in Auburn, she is mom to 40 Under 40 entrepreneur Isaiah Washington. Having a son early rooted her in the community to start her career and education path locally and she says, “I love it and would never want to be anywhere else.” Nicole attributes the, “Small town feel with the benefits of a large city,” to why she, “Loves the re-birth of the twin cities that is happening now!”

She supports New Beginnings because she believes, “Everyone deserves a second chance and the help to achieve their goals, because at some point in our lives we have all needed help.” She also appreciates Museum LA and the preservation of the community’s history and the work they are doing to expand for the future.

When she is not outdoors with her family, Nicole can be seen out and about at toddler-friendly community activities like the United Way’s Touch-a-Truck, the Balloon Festival, and Fit Fest or at Gritty’s and Pat’s Pizza.

She hopes to see LA tackle, “Our old reputation.” She is optimistic, “That we are overcoming it every day with all of the great new businesses relocating here and existing business reinvesting into our community.”

Pam Ashby

Emerging Leaders

Editor in Chief at LA Metro Magazine

As Editor in Chief at LA Metro Magazine, Pam Ashby says her job, “Is a little bit (or a lot) of everything,” which includes story content, sales, layout, and coordinating with the editor, writers and photographers. Pam started as a graphic designer, and she worked in a variety of capacities, including digital print shops in Portland, creating marketing materials for beverage distributors, and as a freelancer with various businesses.

Originally from the Lewiston Auburn community, Pam notes that, “What is great about our area is the diversity. You can hike, swim, ski, race, eat, drink, listen to talented musicians, view art, go to the theater, and more, all within a short distance from your home. But what I enjoy most are the number of scenic walks where I can take my dog.”

She is part of the Uncle Andy’s DIgest Make A Wish team and is a huge supporter of that cause, saying, “Having seen first hand what they do and how it benefits the families, I have grown very passionate about raising money for those children.” She adds, “The Heart of Hope is another non-profit that holds a special place in my heart.”.

Her concern for the area are the lingering negative impressions. Pam says, “We are beginning to overcome that issue with the establishment of new and thriving businesses, adding economic value and fostering positive experience for both citizens and visitors to the area. I believe this is the best path to changing long-held, negative views.”

You might see Pam running or golfing, listening to live music or at Fish Bones, Mac’s Grill, or She Doesn’t Like Guthries.


Isaiah Washington


Owner, Blacksmith & Knife Maker of Zay Knives

Blacksmith and knife maker Isaiah Washington owns Zay Knives. Isaiah states, “Craftsmanship and constant improvement drive me to try and make the sharpest and most beautiful knives I can create.” His interest in making knives started when he saw a YouTube series on swordsmiths in Maryland and said he was, “Compelled to try and blacksmith.” and he has been ever since. He discovered the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn and applied to their “’Hammer In’” annual blacksmith’s convention to compete to make a knife in under 2 hours. In addition to coming in second place, he was asked to intern at the school.

Working out of his Auburn garage, he was contacted by the Sun Journal for an article that led to sales but also to the discovery that his residence was not zoned for business so he ceased operations. Again noticed by the newspaper, his situation was taken up on social media with strong support from the arts community across Maine. The owner of Benoit’s Bakery offered him his current studio where he continues to make knives in the same way people have been making knives for thousands of years, by heating steel and hammering it to shape while teaching himself how to market and turn his passion of blacksmithing into a career.

Having lived in the LA area his whole life, Isaiah is concerned that the cities, once booming with industry have declined. He notes, “Many jobs that can be found are food service and customer service at chain stores. But we have so much potential in the old mills, they just need to be used again.”

When he is not keeping the craft of the blacksmith alive, Isaiah enjoys computer games with friends and seeks good pizza at Pizza Market and Pats Pizza.

Meghan Levesque


Owner of Kiddos and Project Manager at TD Bank

Meghan Levesque is the owner of indoor playground, Kiddos and is also a project manager at TD Bank. At Kiddos, she manages the marketing and sales and the employee aspects of the business. She notes, “I collaborate with other organizations, and identify opportunities to incorporate Kiddos into our community.” She balances that with her TD Bank role where she works within the Infrastructure Technology Solutions group on Network related projects.

Meghan says, “Owning Kiddos came in 2015 after giving birth to my second daughter. At that time, after having many years of project management experience, I felt that I wanted to start a project outside of TD Bank and one that would benefit the community. I began to brainstorm ways to bring an indoor playground to LA similar to other facilities that already existed here in Maine. I felt that there was a void that needed to be filled that would cater to the youngest members of our community.”

One word brought her to LA: love. After she met her to-be husband, she moved to be closer to him. A true entrepreneurial couple, he owns his own business in Lewiston and she owns hers in Auburn. Meghan says she also loves, “The undeniable energy circulating in LA that people just want to create awesome things and make this area even better.”

She is a member of the Board of Directors of Common Ties and supports Safe Voices. Through the TD Bank volunteer network, Meghan has also volunteered for the Special Olympics and Good Shepard Food Bank, marched in Pride L/A, and planted trees at Pettingill Park.

Cat Haley


Owner of Cat Haley Cheerleading

As owner of Cat Haley Cheerleading, Cat works with competitive cheer athletes at the recreation, school, all-star and collegiate levels. She teaches tumbling classes through Element Allstars, and also works with several athletes in one-on-one private lesson sessions. Her work takes her from Maine to Australia to perform choreography and clinics.

Cat was a competitive cheerleader for 14 years. Following college in the south and then working at one of the most renowned programs in the world, she returned home with the goal of changing cheerleading in the State of Maine. She credits her entrepreneurial business confidence to experience with the Stingray Allstars of Marietta, Georgia and winning the 2013 World Championships.

Cat says, “I’ve returned home to start my business here because I owe so much of my growth to this area that provided both substantial social and work opportunity.” Her grandfather ran Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce for decades before his passing this past winter. Cat adds, “I was able to witness the positive impact my grandfather had on the community and I am in high hopes of mimicking that.”

Cat’s vision for the area’s future is strong, stating, “Diversity and population growth are new challenges over the past decade. We can overcome these challenges by keeping the values alive that have made LA a place where families desire to grow. Embracing and accepting differences in culture, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and beyond are what’s necessary for keeping LA the place where everyone feels at home.”

Not surprising, Cat’s favorite restaurants are locally-owned: Sam’s Italian, Pat’s Pizza, Gritty’s.and Taber’s.

Corrie Bernatchez


Owner of Top It Frozen Dessert Bar

Corrie Bernatchez helped her mom open her own chocolate shop in 2010. Three years later while on vacation she visited a frozen yogurt shop that also sold desserts. From that visit her shop, Top It Frozen Dessert Bar was born. One of her favorite parts of the business is seeing the expressions kids have when they come in for the first time and realize they get to make their own sundae. Corrie has also added a mobile cart that she hopes to develop as a larger part of her business in the future.

Corrie takes on many rolls at her company from greeting customers, ordering, social media promotion and event coordination. Corrie notes, “Researching is also a big part of my job, we are constantly searching for new flavors, new ideas, and new products.” She is a strong believer in the shop small movement and says, “Purchasing local and frequenting family run establishments is an important step in keeping our community running strong.”

Corrie credits her parents for her return to LA after college. She says, “I always knew I’d find my way back here.” Top It is not Corrie’s only job. She also works as an Ed Tech at Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services in Lewiston. She originally went to school for psychology with a concentration in child and adolescent development and working with kids is still very near and dear to her heart.

When she isn’t traveling to reach her goal of seeing all 50 states before she turns 50, find Corrie at the Great Falls Balloon Festival, Jasmine Cafe, Gippers, Mac’s Grill, 84 Court, and The BBQ Pit.

Health & Wellness

Larissa Brown, MS

Health & Wellness

Founder of EmpowerME

Larissa Brown, MS founded EmpowerME: The Women’s Trauma Recovery & Empowerment Groups of Maine as a way to fight back against the stigma and silence that women who have experienced trauma live with every day. Larissa notes, “At the end of the 35-week program these women walk away having built lasting connections and a new understanding of themselves and their life experience.”

As the sole proprietor, Larissa ensures the longevity of the program from finances to facilitating group meetings. She grew up in New Gloucester and has never wandered far from the LA area. She did all of her education in Maine and graduated from UMass Boston’s distance program in 2014 with a graduate degree in Family Therapy. Now, she says, “After working for several years as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am in the process of transforming my practice into a Life Coaching program.”

She loves about LA, “That you get the best of both worlds, you get much of the resources, amenities, and diversity that you find in bigger cities but there’s still that small community feel about it.” Larissa is very active in the mental health community, and notes, “Members of our community struggle to obtain necessary treatment due to financial and/or insurance barriers and I’d like to see that change.” She is also active in her daughter’s charter school and recently completed the first cohort of Project Tipping Point LA.

Larissa feels that, “One of the biggest challenges that Lewiston Auburn faces is a PR problem,” but, “I believe we can overcome this by finding ways to get people involved and build a greater sense of pride among those who live here.”

Erica L. Dostie

Health & Wellness

Client Relationship Manager at Austin Associates, P.A.

Erica Dostie’s multifaceted job as the Client Relationship manager at Austin Associates, P.A. ensures that clients are satisfied. Achieving the right fit calls on her skills to maintain a strong thematic web presence and manage social media messaging. Her goal is to ensure that Austin Associates is strongly positioned within the community through advertising, sponsorships, attendance at community events and public relations.

Erica’s career at Austin Associates started in 2011 as the Director of First Impression. Coming from the personal training and fitness industry, she notes, “I’m thrilled they took a chance on me.” The favorite part of her career is being given the encouragement to immerse herself into the LA community, including the Central Maine Heart Walk, the Good Food Council of Lewiston Auburn, as co-founder of the Her Heart Luncheon, the Wellness Council of Androscoggin County, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center Soiree, amd CMMC’s Annual Gala and Golf Tournament. She serves on the Advisory Board for Healthy Androscoggin, the United Way Marketing Campaign committee and was recently named Co-Chair of the Maine Women’s Network- Androscoggin Chapter.

It was always Erica’s goal to return to where she was born and raised and the community confirms her choice. She enjoys, “The innovation and excitement of our professionals. All you have to do is listen to any conversation and hear the vibrant nature of these exchanges. It’s wonderful to be a part of a group of people that want to see change and that will work hard and tirelessly to achieve it.”

Look for Erica playing what she describes as, “The exhilarating and stimulating game of golf,” or dining out at Orchid, Fishbones, Tripps Primal Cafe and E.Claire & Pastries.

Lauren Breau

Health & Wellness

Founder & Executive Director of L/A Community Acupuncture

Acupuncturist and Herbalist, Founder & Executive Director of L/A Community Acupuncture, Lauren Breau provides affordable acupuncture and herbal medicine. Lauren notes, “I had always wanted to be a doctor until one winter I became increasingly unwell and found myself immersed in the medical system that I had glorified my entire childhood. Because nothing was showing up in terms of objective measurements of sickness, almost every doctor that I saw raised an eyebrow at what I was reporting. A few of them went beyond the arched brow and told me they thought my very real and very disruptive physical symptoms were entirely psychosomatic and wrote prescriptions accordingly.” She found her way to Diane Ford, another Lewiston acupuncturist who, “Had me back in working order in under a month,” and “From that point on, my romance with Traditional Chinese Medicine has been hot, sweaty, and undying.”

Born and raised in Lewiston, Lauren, “Swore that I would never return, but with some geographical space and time, I realized that I wanted to relearn my hometown.” She now enjoys, “The history. The grit. The ‘tude. The people. The changes.” You can catch Lauren with her family and, “Walking around Lewiston with no destination, or “Shagging. Sleeping. I really love to sleep.”

Her special causes are, “The YWCA, The Center for Wisdom’s Women, and Outright L-A.” Lauren is also politically active and recommends Quiet City Books, The Hive, and The Vault for gift-giving.

Future hopes are a nonprofit herbal apothecary and for the community to, ”Get a little more comfortable with discomfort, and have real conversations about issues that affect our city, including racism.”

Dr. Cory St. Denis

Health & Wellness

Traveling Doctor of Chiropractic of Dr. Cory House Calls, LLC

Dr. Cory St. Denis travels the state of Maine to provide his brain-based wellness and chiropractic services to people in their homes and offices through his company, Dr. Cory House Calls, LLC. He specializes in working with school-aged children, busy professionals, and families who want care without leaving the comfort of home.

Cory’s journey to becoming a neurologically based chiropractor has been one of personal transformation. Chiropractic care and lifestyle changes proved to him that anyone can create a healthier brain with the right support, and watching and helping his patients do this every day pushed him to succeed by spending more time with patients for more specialized care to achieve better results, faster.

Cory lives in Jay but takes full advantage of LA’s networking groups and was immediately drawn to the community. He says, “Being someone ‘from away’ who has transplanted to this amazing place, my perspective is probably different than most. I can see the struggles. But, from my understanding, every town or city in almost the entire state of Maine has had some good times and some bad times. There are SO many good things happening in this area and that is something to be proud of.”

Cory also has a digital media company and has donated services to help start a nonprofit called Duffles of Love, which provides duffle bags full of necessities for children in foster care. You can also find Cory teaching skiing at Lost Valley, rafting with his wife, and on the search for great salads at Tripp’s, Axis, Forage, Guthrie’s, and Mac’s.

Local Government & Civic Leaders

Safiya Said Khalid

Local Government & Civic Leaders

Field Organizer at Maine Democratic Party

Safiya Said Khalid served as a summer intern at the Department of Labor working in vocational rehabilitation. Her specific project was helping young teens with disabilities transition into the workforce. She recently graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and minor in Business Administration. Safiya says, “I’m passionate about helping others and putting a smile on faces, which continues to motivate me further to support people.”

Safiya moved to Lewiston 13 years ago because of the community’s diversity and welcoming hands. She notes, “Lewiston is the only home I know and wouldn’t change it for the world. Lewiston is a beautiful city that takes care of its residents, not to mention it is a socially and politically progressive city.” She says that she loves how Lewiston Auburn challenges current issues, whether locally or nationally such as racism, hatred, ignorance and bigotry towards minorities. She says, “I love how beautiful Lewiston is during the summer with it’s gorgeous blue skies, and seeing kids from various walks of life playing basketball or soccer together.”

A volunteer at Tree Street Youth and the Lewiston Public Library, she is also Vice Chair of the Lewiston Democratic Party, encouraging young people to register to vote. Safiya has also helped organize peaceful gatherings to create solutions for a better, safer community for all residents. She says, “I know that through the quiet power of optimism, Lewiston Auburn can strengthen cross-cultural friendships and build a vibrant and exciting future together.”

Look for Safiya at the gym, George’s Pizza, Davinci’s Eatery or Mother India. Her future plans include living with her family in a big house with a cat and becoming a criminal defense attorney.

Zack Pettengill

Local Government & Civic Leaders

Owner + School Manager at Pettengill Academy

Zack Pettengill co-owns Pettengill Academy with his wife where he says, “I do a little bit of everything from payroll and covering in classrooms to janitorial and some light repair work.” The favorite part of his career is the impact the school has on the students’ lives as they grow from infants to school agers.

Zack also serves on the Lewiston City Council and tries, in his words, “To be an outspoken advocate for moving the city away from the ‘it’s always been done this way’ attitude.” He says, “I think the largest challenge facing the area is our perception of ourselves and how we take that next step. We’ve been ready to grow for so long now but we haven’t had a cohesive vision on what that looks like and it’s holding us back to the point now that it hinders.. .And art is a fantastic way to start!”

Born and raised in Lewiston, Zack says, “I love Lewiston! From bringing my family to Simard Payne Park or taking the dog for a walk on the Bates campus and the river walk. I also love the newest addition in the mural downtown.”

Free time sees him as a, “dance dad, baseball dad, and softball dad.” Zack adds, If I can read a good book or hang out at the beach with my kids and wife I’m pretty happy.” You can also find Zack out at Fishbones, Pinky D’s, Forage, Gritty’s, House of Bacon, Pedro O’Hara’s, Mac’s Grill, Gipper’s, or Rolly’s. His future holds managing multiple locations for Pettengill Academy and continuing his political work locally.

Austin R. Albert

Local Government & Civic Leaders

Financial Advisor at Twin City Financial Group

Austin Albert loves this community, and the small town feel of this Lewiston Auburn. He says, “I like the grittiness, ambition and diversity of the community and its people.”

A Lewiston native, he is a Financial Advisor at his firm, Twin City Financial Group. In his job, he helps individuals and businesses make informed financial decisions and build sound investment strategies through investment management, client education and advice. Austin began his career in 2006 with Edward Jones Investments. With his partner, he founded Twin City Financial Group in 2012. His profession provides perspective on the area’s challenges, including attracting and retaining quality employers. Austin notes, “We need more higher paying jobs in order to attract and/or retain younger workers. That also ties in to the image of LA. There are a lot of people doing great work to improve the image of this terrific community. We need to embrace the diversity of this community and see it as on opportunity.”

Deeply involved in the LA community, Austin serves or has served on several community boards including: the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Franco Center, the Lewiston Education Fund, the Auburn Business Association, Central Maine Medical Center, Central Maine Healthcare, Community Credit Union and various committees for each.

Austin loves to cycle, but young children keep him closer to home spending time with his family. They all enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, golfing and boating and local favorites, Fishbones, El Pochos and Davincis.

Alicia Rea

Local Government & Civic Leaders

Associate Director of Special Projects for Annual Giving at Bates College

Alicia Rea’s job as Associate Director of Special Projects for Annual Giving at Bates College brought her to the Lewiston Auburn area, which she describes as a welcoming community that feels like home. She notes, “I love the city life aspect of living downtown and the opportunity to participate in the community’s growth.” Alicia can be found enjoying downtown dining at Mother India and Forage Market, and attends many community events and gatherings. Her other interests include hiking and baking.

Her professional life at Bate organizing events and fundraising requires developing relationships with volunteers, performing data analysis, and executing a thoughtful strategy to encourage young alumni to remain engaged with the College. Personally, her own engagement with the LA community can be seen in many places. As Lewiston’s Ward 3 City Councilor, she perceives the biggest challenge to be the reputation of Lewiston Auburn by those outside of the area, stating, “Our community has gone to great lengths to improve the quality of life here, yet folks from out of town hear about Lewiston from years past.” Alicia encourages championing the city to help with this perception.

As a community champion, Alicia is also on the Board of Directors for the Lewiston Education Fund, a member of the campaign cabinet for Sophia’s House, City Council liaison to the Lewiston School Committee, and member of the Lake Auburn Water Protection Commission.

In 10 years Alicia envisions owning a home in Lewiston and still contributing as a community member with the municipal government.

Local Heroes

Rosie Moreau

Local Heroes

Program Coordinator at New Beginnings

Rosie Moreau is a Program Coordinator at New Beginnings where she runs the 24 hour emergency shelter program, which houses homeless or at risk of being homeless youth ages 12-19. She began working for New Beginnings in 2010 shortly after graduating from college and says, “I knew immediately that this was the environment I wanted to work in. The beliefs, mission and models of New Beginnings align so perfectly with my own values.”

Originally from Rangeley, with her job in Lewiston she says it made sense to live here, noting, “I love the community. There are so many amazing people around here who are working together, dedicated to helping others and making our community even better.”

She sees her work as her community passion, stating, “I’m passionate about our youth; particularly youth who lack support and stability. Adolescence is a crucial time and to be able to help provide some of that support and stability and, to be an advocate is so important.” She adds, I try to pay it forward as much as I can. I am always looking to help. They say when you get home to leave your work at the door, but I think when you’re in a helping profession it’s just part of your personality.”

Rosie’s hope is that there can be more education and awareness and most of all more empathy among people with diverse opinions. She says, “At the end of the day you should be able to see and feel your fellow community members’ struggles and perspectives regardless if that’s your experience or if you agree with it or not.”

Courtney Pelletier

Local Heroes

Universal Services Advocate at Veterans Inc

Courtney Pelletier got started in her career as a Universal Services Advocate at Veterans Inc. through her 2013 Bachelors of Social Work from the University of Maine, Orono. From there, she worked with adults with mental health illnesses and discovered her passion for Veteran Advocacy. As a case manager for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Grant, Courtney provides outreach to at-risk and homeless veterans and their families. She is rewarded by building relationships with people, hearing their stories and providing support when needed.

A Lewiston native, Courtney has always had a passion for giving back to her community. She notes, “I enjoy the community presence. I take part in the Lewiston Auburn-Area Alliance of Services to the Homeless and the Maine Military Community Network. Through these committees, I am able to see first hand just how much the community cares about its’ people.” She has also participated in the First Bystander Intervention Instructor Training (also known as Green Dot Training). Courtney believes that the community can overcome the challenges of poverty, transportation and a lack of resources by having more available affordable housing, having better access to resources and having more options for transportation services.

Courtney likes to go on adventures with friends driving around and exploring new areas of Maine and in the summer heads to the ocean, most often in Harpswell or Popham beach. Locally she enjoys Sea 40 and Davinci’s.

Courtney sees her future as an advocate. She hopes to, “Be the voice for the people who think that their voice isn’t heard,’ and says, “There will always be people struggling and I want to be there to help them.”

Shelley Kruszewski

Local Heroes

Executive Director of Androscoggin Land Trust

Shelley Kruszewski is the Executive Director of the Androscoggin Land Trust. As the Executive Director, she carries out most administrative duties and says she is, “Part property manager, part acquisition manager, part volunteer/project coordinator, event organizer, part outreach/development/grants manager and part spokesperson/contact for municipalities, partner businesses, organizations and individuals,” and that she, “Absolutely loves the variety of my work.”

Shelley grew up in Durham and bought a house in Auburn in 2011 while commuting to Portland for work. She notes, “It did not take much time before I fell in love with LA and recognized it as my home, a place we plan to stay, are committed to and excited to be a part of.”

Shelley is a council member of the Good Food Council of LA, and a council member of ReTreeUS. She also supports the Auburn Community Garden Initiative, Tree Street Youth, the Auburn PAL Center, and marine conservation and animal rescue/rehabilitation in general. She volunteers with local races and substitute teaches Cardio Sport classes. Look for her at Orchid, Fish Bones, She Doesn’t Like Guthries, Sonder and Dram, Mother India, 4 Seasons Farm Market, Mac’s, Olive Branch Café, Jasmine Café, Tripps Farmhouse Cafe and Break.

She wants the internal and external community to recognize all that is happening here. Shelley also notes, “Another challenge is in thinking about how to make progress in a sustainable way, with coordinated efforts, without losing the unique character and assets that make LA a place that people love; similarly adapting to and inviting new while maintaining important aspects of the past,” through more community conversations.

Justin Starbird

Local Heroes

CEO, President of The Aebli Group

CEO and President at The Aebli Group, Justin Starbird oversees the direction of the company and helps set clear goals. Following his first job in timeshare sales, and combined with his experience at the Wharton School of Economics, his knowledge of marketing and sales led to his business philosophy of focusing on efficient and effective results.

From Poland, Justin was one of the last non-Auburn residents to graduate from Edward Little and after moving to Florida thought he would never return to Maine. He credits his wife for encouraging their return to raise children near his family, and notes, “Since planting roots in Mechanic Falls, we reinvented our business and have invested in living here, working here, and contributing to the ability to play here.”

Justin sees a strong sense of community in LA and says, “Having lived in New York City, Orlando, and California, community means something,” and he credits, “happenstance interactions every day as deepening relationships and creating experiences, which in turn strengthens the fabric of the community.”

Justin supports many causes but is a keen proponent of youth recreation and serves as the Director of the Mechanic Falls Recreation Committee. He says, “The hope that I have about the time I have invested in the recreation department is that the investment will come back in the form of kids that have grown up to be positive contributors to society.”

On LA’s future, Justin adds, ”To be here now is to be at the ground floor of a company that has all of the market winds at its back. There still needs execution, but all of the conditions are ripe for something great to happen!”


Heidi Bisson


Student Finance Advisor at Purdue University Global

Heidi Bisson is the Student Finance Advisor at Purdue University Global where she works with students to help finance their education. Her career at Purdue began when it was Andover College. Heidi worked and completed her degree and moved to the Finance Office in 2011.

Marrying a Lewiston native brought Heidi to the area as she says her husband, “Couldn’t see himself living anywhere else.” Heidi found the small town sense of community she was used to in LA even though it is a larger community than where she grew up. For the future, her hope is that our youth will return after they go away to college and start a fulfilling life here. And personally, Heidi notes, “I see myself not far from where I am now. I hope to still be involved in the community, making a difference in someone’s life.”

Heidi currently makes that difference many ways, and says, “I am passionate about every cause that I am involved in. But my favorite is Junior Achievement. I have been a volunteer for JA for 5 years and really enjoy getting in the classroom and providing financial literacy to students, some of whom don’t receive any type of financial literacy outside of what JA has to offer. It is really rewarding to know that you may be making a difference in a child’s life just by teaching them the importance of making good financial choices.”

In her free time, Heidi coaches girls youth lacrosse for Lewiston Recreation and volunteers with Lewiston High School Football Boosters. See her out at lunch at El Pocho’s or with her kids at Gridiron or KP’s Place.

Kristine Kittridge


Clinical Dietitian at St. Mary’s Hospital for Metz Culinary Management

As Clinical Dietitian with Metz Culinary Management, Kristine Kittridge works with St. Mary’s patients to assess their nutritional status and needs, provide education, and facilitate interventions to help them recover. She also teaches group classes and offers wellness presentations.

Kristine looked for a job specifically in this area so she could move to LA for the great energy around creating a positive future for the community. She also thought it was ideally central to the ocean, mountains, the river, and Portland with both urban and rural environments. She says, “Once I moved here, I got connected by getting involved in a variety of ways, started exploring the city, and showing up to events and meeting people. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else!”

When Kristine is not training for a triathlon or a running race, she is trying new restaurants and new recipes, and seeing live music as often as she can. She notes, “Volunteering my time for organizations and causes that are important to me is also something I love spending my time doing.” Her current passion is the mission of the YWCA to: to eliminate racism by empowering women and girls. She has been on the board of the YWCA for three years and is currently the board president. She is also a member of the Lewiston Planning Board and the Lewiston Area Public Health Committee. Kristine’s call to action for the community is to, “Work on racism and other forms of oppression, by making sure that all feel welcome, safe and supported.”

Follow Kristine to find great vegetarian food at Mother India, She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s, Ben’s Burritos, and Forage Market.

Jaime-Lyn Allie


Office Administrator at DeBlois Electric, Inc

In Jaime-Lyn Allie’ s capacity as the office administrator for DeBlois Electric, she contributes to the day to day operations and fosters relationships among management and the employees as well as with customers and the general public. She has worked in the accounting and construction industry for nearly 20 years, developing skills in social media and marketing, project management, and event planning.

Jaime-Lyn moved to the LA area from Southern Maine at the beginning of high school and was immediately taken with the sense of inclusiveness and community. She made the decision to stay based on the overall feeling of togetherness and the wide variety of interesting organizations and fun places to recreate.

She notes, “I enjoy the wide variety of venues that cater to the performing arts. From stand-up comedy to live theater, to dance, the LA area offers everything that larger cities like Portland or Bangor have, but on a more intimate scale that guarantees you’ll always run into a friend. She also credits the community for always trying to do better. “Whether we’re working to revitalize downtown or taking the time to embrace those who we perceive as different from ourselves, LA is moving ever forward on a path of progressiveness and inclusivity.”

Jaimie-Lyn says, “The project I’m most passionate about is volunteering for ‘Sasha Lee’s Annual Lingerie Fashion Show.’ For the past four years, we have empowered models, both male and female, with an opportunity to feel comfortable in their own skin.” She can be spotted in local dance classes, acting with Thread Theater and at the comedy nights at House of Bacon as well as the burlesque shows at LAVA Fondue Restaurant & Show Lounge.

Marcus T. Talarico


Administrator at Albert & Burpee Funeral Home

Marcus T. Talarico is the Administrator at Albert & Burpee Funeral Home where his job varies from assisting with paperwork and permits, providing transportation services, bookkeeping, supporting families with insurance and VA claims, preparing memorial materials and, in his words, “Helping families through one of the toughest times they will have in their lives.”

Born and raised in Lewiston, Marcus, “Does not plan to leave because it is such a diverse community, and I believe that’s a huge asset. There’s just so much going on with the arts, and businesses around here, it’s a great place to live, work and play!”

He is passionate about organizations that promote human rights, equality, and racial justice as well as the Center for Grieving Children, the Great Falls Balloon Festival and the Lewiston Auburn Liberty Festival where he currently serves on the board of directors. Every year he coordinates the placement of flags on the graves of thousands of veterans at Mt Hope Cemetery & Clough Cemetery in Lewiston. When he is not working you will find him spending time with friends and family. Or as a boating enthusiast, Marcus says, “There’s a good chance you can find me at the lake as well.” He also frequents Boba, Mac’s Grill, Simones’ Hot Dog Stand and Luiggi’s.

In 10 years, he says, “I would want to see myself here in Lewiston, as a small business owner, raising a family.” And, he hopes that people will, “Stop focusing on the negatives,” and, “Give Lewiston Auburn a chance.”

View the 2018 40 Under 40 Video Showcases

Videos by Praxis Motion Pictures | Headshots by Emmie Jones Photography