Emerge Maine Class of 2018

Emerge Maine Class of 2018

The Emerge Maine Class of 2018 with AG Janet Mills (Trainer & Advisory Board), Sen. Shenna Bellows (Alumna), Sen. Cathy Breen (Advisory Board)

Class of 2018 Biographies

Kara Auclair - South Portland

Kara currently serves as the Justice Project Coordinator for the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project. She has been passionate about social justice and community service since she was in High School, and has a BA in Sociology from Smith College. She recently graduated with her Masters in Social Work from the University of New England. Kara hopes to one day hold the position of state representative, where she can support the creation of legislation that addresses the many barriers that vulnerable populations face in today's society.

 Loren Ballestos - Bangor

Born in Colombia, South America. Came to the United States around age 5. Raised in Miami Beach, FL. Went to College and Medical School in Philadelphia. Married a physician from Venezuela and moved to Bangor in 2003 to practice medicine at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

 Beth Bisson - Brunswick

 Beth Bisson grew up in a small town in rural southern Vermont, and she has lived in Maine since 2006. She holds an undergraduate degree in visual art from Brown University, and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is currently the Acting Director of the Maine Sea Grant Program at the University of Maine. Part of a network of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states and territories, Maine Sea Grant supports integrated scientific research, outreach, and education programs relevant to the issues and needs of coastal communities in Maine and the northern Gulf of Maine region. Maine Sea Grant's mission is to support the responsible use and conservation of coastal resources in order to sustain thriving coastal communities and ecosystems. In her personal and professional life, Beth is committed to the interconnected goals of advancing social equity in education and opportunity, environmental science and stewardship, and economic development for Maine’s communities. Beth lives in Brunswick with her husband and three young children, and she enjoys gardening, making art, and exploring Maine’s beautiful outdoor public spaces in her free time.

 Jennifer Brewer - Kittery

Jennifer Brewer lives in Kittery and is a professor at the University of New Hampshire. Having lifelong ties to Maine, she has held positions in government, non-profit organizations, and business.

Jennie Butler - Windham (Running for House District 25 in 2018!)

 Although I was born in Detroit, Michigan, my family came to Maine every summer to visit family in South Bristol/Damariscotta until we moved to Bath when I was eight years old. I chuckle when I say I “lived in exile” for three years when I put my husband through graduate school in southern Indiana. I taught high school mathematics for 31 years until my retirement in 2014. My retirement from teaching full time enabled me to better help my elderly mother after her stroke. She lives with us in an in-law aprartment. I am fortunate to be starting my third year teaching part time at USM. Over the years I have volunteered with several organizations which include Alpha Xi Delta Fraternity, Boy Scouts of America, Windham Alpine Ski Teams, the Downeast Ski Club, and Maine State Music Theater. I have been an active member of a Church community my whole life. St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham has been my home for 20 years. I love to tap dance and performed in many local theater productions. Typically in the winter you will find me on a ski slope either taking some runs or teaching skiing. 

Sarah DeCato - Bethel (Running for School Board in 2018!)

Sarah DeCato’s professional career has been spent assisting families and children in reaching optimum levels of health. She has served as a Public Health Nurse for the State of Maine, been the Director of Health at Gould Academy, and held the role of Statewide Child Care Health Coordinator while at the Muskie School at USM. In addition to being a nurse, Sarah is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a steering committee member of the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition. Sarah’s volunteer experience includes serving on the Mahoosuc Kids Association Board, the Mahoosuc Land Trust Education Committee, and serving as a board member on the Bethel District Exchange and Food Pantry, and co-leader of Daisy Girl Scout Troop 2100. She holds a graduate degree in Community/Public Health Nursing from New Mexico State University and two undergrad degrees, one in Nursing and the other in Therapeutic Recreation, from the University of Southern Maine (USM). Sarah and her husband Chris reside in Bethel with their two daughter’s Isla and Lucy and their dog Charlie. Together they enjoy gardening, the great outdoors, and raising chickens.

Deqa Dhalac - South Portland

Deqa Dhalac MA, MSW is a recent graduate of the University of New England where she received her Master’s Degree in Social Work.  She also holds Master’s degree in Development Policy and Practice from the University Of New Hampshire. Deqa came to the U.S. in 1992 from Somalia, East Africa.  She currently lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and  three beautiful children. Her oldest 24-year-old son is student at USM and works at the Multicultural office at the University, her 17-year-old son is a recent high school graduate and will be attend Thomas College in Waterville Maine, and her 16-year-old daughter is sophomore at Deering High School. Both her younger children are part of the Marin Luther King Fellows, a program founded by the NAACP in Portland, Maine Youth Leadership, Seeds of Peace and Youth court. She works as a Community Builder at the Opportunity Alliance, where she connects parents of school-aged children with resources such as health care, food assistance, legal information and case management. She is also involved with the Somali Community Center of Maine, Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition, and many other agencies (see links below) where she serves as board member and advisory board member. She has a wealth of cultural knowledge she’s gleaned in her work with diverse communities that she will contribute to the team as she consults in designing the curriculum for this course. Affiliated Agencies: Friends School of Portland,  Furniture Friends, Maine Health Access Foundation, Maine Women's Fund and YMCA.

April Fournier - Portland (Running for House District 42 in 2018!)

My name is April Fournier and I'm a resident of Portland. My husband and I have been here in Portland for the past 11 years. We have four children (Zevin 16, William 14, Asher 9 and Mya 9). I currently work as an IEP Administrator serving 3-5 year olds who require special education services. I'm also currently in graduate school through the University of Maine for education, with a concentration in special education/early intervention. I'm also a member of the Dine' tribe and have worked to organize the first women's roller derby Team Indigenous who be competing along with 40 other countries at the Roller Derby World Cup in Manchester England early next year. I'm passionate about my family, access to early intervention and health services for children and families and improving access to adequate healthcare and education on tribal lands.

 Melissa Clark Hackett - Belgrade

I grew up in central Maine, traveled and lived away after college, then returned to raise my son near family in a place that feels like home. For many years I worked in the local food system - first in production on several small organic farms, then as the manager of a co op. After the co op closed, I began work that was a return to the roots of my degree in English - at a small publishing house in Waterville, ME, where I still work today. Raising my son, who is now eleven, as a single mom, has been my most important work, though. In my community, I have coached youth sports, advocated for keeping our small, underfunded school open, and have recently become a member of the Planning Board. I am also a very active Democrat, a member of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee and an elected member to the state Platform Committee.

Jessica Harris - Bangor

For the last seven years I have been an active voice in the child welfare system. I have helped create education programs in Maine that assists foster youth with achieving the education goals intil.its completion, or their 27th birthday. The first program that is this comprehensive in the nation. I currently sit as the co-chair on the advising council. Nationally, I have also created change. On the National policy council I helped influence a pilot program that helps foster youth that are homeless get housing vouchers. This pilot program is active in a majority of states including Maine. I hope to become the voice for young people in legislature, no matter their background. Everyone needs a voice to stand up against cruelty and instant to be that voice.

Natasha Irving - Waldoboro (Natasha is currently running for DA!)

Natasha is the mother of one daughter and two stepdaughters. She was born and raised in Waldoboro, where she runs her law practice today. At home, she and her spouse have a small homestead, growing vegetables, flowers and herbs, and raising chickens, goats and pigs with the help and companionship of their cat and three dogs. 

Deb Johnson - Harrison

I live in an old farmhouse with a Siberian husky and two loser cats. I am a teacher for Gifted and Talented kids and we break rules and have fun. I am disgusted by the politics and over testing in Education. I am a widow due to early-onset Alzheimer's and am very active with the Alz Assoc to raise awareness and funding. I love Ruth Bader Ginsberg and hate brussel sprouts.

Natalie Kelliher - Biddeford

I am a stay at home mom to an amazing tiny human who loved history, cooking, arts & crafts, and of course politics! I'm also Regional Director of the York County Young Democrats and a Downtown Development Commissioner in Biddeford.

Kate McClellan - Rockport

Kate is the Organizing & Outreach Director for the Maine Democratic Party and grew up in the Camden-Rockport area. A progressive organizer with experience mobilizing communities in Iowa, Colorado, Washington, Florida, and D.C., she was thrilled to return home after the 2016 election to work to strengthen the Democratic infrastucture necessary to win in 2018, 2020, and beyond. Prior to joining the 2016 presidential campaign, Kate spent time in Latvia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, learning about her grandparents’ heritage and conducting preliminary research about women’s political participation. Her passion for politics and feminism developed while studying government at Georgetown University. Kate is thrilled to be a part of Emerge Maine and is excited for what’s ahead!

Victoria Morales - South Portland (Victoria is currently running for House District 33!)

As a mother, wife, and attorney, Victoria has been an active member of her community coaching youth sports each season and serving as a nonprofit board member for the Maine Youth Court and One Tree Wholistic Learning Center. In her professional life, Victoria has worked in the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as in state and municipal government. Through these experiences, Victoria understands the challenges facing our businesses and families, and is dedicated to developing solutions that support the needs of our citizens and grow our economy. 

Rachel Nobel - Trenton (Rachel is currently running for Selectboard!)

Rachel Nobel lives with her family in Trenton. She has worked for over two decades in the fields of support for children and adults with disabilities, early education, and access to healthcare resources. She graduated from High School at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln Maine, attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and lived for eight years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She returned to Maine in 2008, and is currently employed as a grants consultant with the EMHS system. Rachel currently serves on the Appeals Board and Solid Waste Committees of the Town of Trenton, and on the Council of Leadership Hancock County. She is an active member of the Downeast Civil Action Alliance and is a past Rotarian of the Noontime Rotary Club of Ellsworth. She looks forward to a time when she can actively join the Rotary again. Rachel recently graduated from the Muskie School of Public Policy, and is honored to be a part of the 2018 Emerge Maine Class.

Laurie Osher - Orono

I am a lover of the Earth, a feminist, a Jew, an environmental scientist, a lesbian, a parent, a daughter/sister/friend, a small business owner, a citizen of the US, a voter, a woman yearning for our country to provide universal healthcare and ensure that none in our extremely wealthy nation live in poverty, and a believer in the power of individuals and groups to make positive change. Laurie became the newest member of the Orono Town Council in 2017!

Alicia Rea - Lewiston

Alicia Rea is an advancement professional and public policy graduate student, running for city council in Lewiston. In addition to her political, professional and academic work, Alicia also serves on the board of directors for the Lewiston Education Fund and on the Young Leadership Team for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. In her spare time, Alicia enjoys spending time with her cats, hiking, snowshoeing and baking. Alicia was elected to the Lewiston City Council in 2017!

Kim Rich - Portland (Kim is running for Portland Water District in 2018!)

Born in Portland, Maine – and a homeowner here for the last 17 years – I am a graduate of Smith College and the University of Delaware-Winterthur Museum Program. I’ve lived in a number of places working for non-profit organizations that reflect my values, including the Peace Corps, DC Street Academy, Smithsonian Institution, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Minnesota Master Gardener Program. For a time, I was a successful Maine real estate broker, too. I’ve served as a Mediator with The Maine Opportunity Alliance helping people in conflict and crisis and volunteered with Restorative Justice projects. At the beginning of this year, I left my full-time job at Maine Medical Center with the goal of increasing my political and democratic involvement. After the 2016 presidential election, I was stirred to action by a mixture of shock, idealism, and determination. I selected three broad political issues that are most important to me to focus on in the coming years; they are women’s rights, social (& racial) justice, and voter rights as just one part of a flourishing democracy. And because I feel a sense of urgency to get involved at a decision-making level of government, I am running for Portland City Council, District 4. 

Amy Roeder - Bangor

Amy Roeder is the Director of Education at Penobscot Theatre Company. She has been a theatre professional for 22 years, distinguishing herself as an actor, director, writer, teacher, and producer. Before coming to Maine, Amy was a faculty member at Chicago’s famed Second City Training Center and also served as a freelance trainer in improvisational techniques for business with such clients as Starcom Mediavest and Archer Grey Consulting. Locally, she has been a company member of Bar Harbor’s Improv Acadia for thirteen seasons and has continued to train businesses in applied improvisation. Previously, Amy was a drama therapist in New York City, ran an after school youth literacy program in Boston and has taught theatre all across the United States and in Rio de Janeiro. In the fall, Amy will be teaching improvisation at the University of Maine, Orono. She received her BFA in theatre from the University of Evansville, an MFA in theatre from the University of Georgia and is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA (performer's unions). Amy and her husband Eric are raising their two boys in the Little City neighborhood of Bangor. She might be from away, but she got here as soon as she could.

Sara Salley - Liberty

I'm "temporarily retired" after a career in public policy research and analysis, first at the Muskie School of Public Service Health Policy Institute and then as a consultant. Before working in health policy I practiced law for several years in California and then at Legal Services for the Elderly in Augusta. I grew up in Kansas and went to school in Missouri and Oklahoma before moving to Maine in 1994 and getting my masters at the Muskie School. I left Maine when my husband's job took us overseas for several years. We returned to settle in Liberty in 2013.

Liz Smith - Camden

Liz Smith is currently the Director & COO of Conservation Media Group, a Camden-based non-profit that builds capacity and connections through grant funding, workshops and consultation, so environmental leaders can create compelling call-to-action campaigns with measurable impacts. She holds an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University and an undergraduate degree in Astronomy from Whitman College. Prior to CMG, Liz worked on projects ranging from exploring shipwrecks off the coast of Albania to filming climate change activists in Washington, DC. She's worked for almost a decade in science, exploration & conservation and has been a science communications director aboard research vessels in the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mediterranean. She has explored 2,000-year-old Greek and Roman shipwrecks, searched for Amelia Earhart’s lost airplane and assisted with search and recovery operations off the coast of Syria. Liz has also been a TV Producer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; produced documentary work for the National Park Service; and worked as a science reporter for NBC in Montana. She is a Fulbright Specialist and member of American MENSA. She is also certified as an Advanced and Rescue Scuba Diver, a single-engine private pilot and a wilderness EMT.

Megan Stewart - Veazie

A native of Veazie, Maine, Megan has been always been interested in both local and international political affairs. Upon graduating from John Bapst Memorial High School, Megan earned her BA in Anthopology from Texas A&M University and her MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. She currently works as a Constituent Services Representative for U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. and hopes to one day serve as United States Secretary of State.

April Turner - Freedom (April is currently running for House!)

April Turner is a recent graduate of University of Maine where she attained her BSW. She currently is attending the University of Maine, Graduate School of Social Work with an expected graduation date of May 2018. April realized her passion and purpose in social work after becoming a foster parent in 2012. Initially April intended to become a child protective worker; however, as she continued her journey she became more aware that her interest lied in macro social work. In 2016 April ran for the House of Representatives. April continues to be active in her community by volunteering with her local fire department and schools. While an undergraduate student April facilitated the development of a mentoring program between experienced social workers and undergraduate students. April currently works for Maine Families and has worked with families experiencing mental health crises. April lives in Freedom with her family, dogs, and stray cat.

Sarah Ward - Lisbon Falls

Mother to two curious and empathetic little people. I am currently working on my BA in Sociology. I love being outside and exploring with my littles and seeing life anew through their eyes. I spend my free-time sewing, knitting and reading.

Kelli Whitlock Burton - Waldoboro

I've been a science and medical writer and editor for nearly 25 years, working for newspapers, magazines, universities and a children's hospital. I currently am a freelancer and write for a number of science news sites and university and specialty magazines. My husband and I live in Waldoboro and our kids attend Colby College in Waterville and Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. I am a co-leader of Suit Up Maine, a grassroots progressive action group, and a volunteer with New Hope for Women, an advocacy center for survivors of domestic violence.




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