Maine 2017 fellows

Meet the 2017 Maine Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)

Nicole Benham, BCBA, Margaret Murphy Centers for Children-Saco

Nicole_Benham__Hamlin.JPGNicole Benham is a Maine native, born and raised in northern Aroostook County. Nicole attended the University of Maine where she served as President of the Sociology Club and Vice President of Psi Chi. She graduated with Bachelor's Degrees in Sociology and Psychology in 2009. Nicole moved to Portland, where she received her Master's in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern Maine in 2012. Since graduation, she has served the public and private school sectors employed as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Special Education Teacher. Currently working as a BCBA in Saco for the Margaret Murphy Centers for Children serving students Pre-K through grade 12, Nicole believes every child has the right to develop their fullest potential through high quality educational services.


Jeremy Brown, Outpatient Clinician & Adjunct Professor, Self & UNE

Jeremy_Brown.jpg Jeremy Brown is a father, husband and, in his spare time, a licensed clinical social worker in the Greater Portland area. In his private practice, he works clinically with children, adolescents, families and adults with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, Jeremy is an adjunct professor at the University of New Englandís School of Social Work's graduate program. When he is not fulfilling one of these primary roles, he spends his time playing strategy board games and drinking loose leaf tea. Jeremy brings a passion for advocacy, menís issues, and community.




Christopher Cayer, Organizer, Agape Inc.

Chris_Cayer.jpgA graduate of the University of Southern Maine (USM), Chris received a B.S. in Business Management with a focus in Sustainable Business. Having a strong passion for environmental protection, Chris took a job as a Field Manager with Environment Maine. He soon discovered that he deeply enjoyed organizing and had a desire to make political change. Since his summer with Environment Maine, Chris has worked for several campaigns and nonprofit organizations. He was a Canvasser for Maine Citizen's for Clean Elections, the Deputy Canvass Director for Stand Up For Students, a Field Organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the Cumberland County Field Organizer for FairVote Maine. Chris is currently the Project Manager for Dignity for Opiate Users, a nonprofit project that is working to address the opiate crisis in Maine. As a person in long-term recovery, Chris would like to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector that will allow him to work with other people in recovery.

Betsy Critchfield, Project Manager, Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement

Betsy_Critchfeild.pngA graduate of Amherst College (MA), Betsy Critchfield received a B.A. in Art History and a certificate in Culture, Health and Science in 2012. As a student she worked in the Mississippi Delta studying social determinants of health, education and the roots of the civil rights movement. She has volunteered for four years with Habitat for Humanity rebuilding homes along the Gulf Coast. Since graduating Betsy has served as Program Director on a project through the Maine Centers for Disease Control, Directed events at the Portland Museum of Art, and more recently as a project manager at a national membership organization focused on Healthcare systems improvement. A Texas native and Longhorn at Heart, Betsy loves living, working and volunteering in Maine in her current position which combines her passions for population health, education, driving change and is excited to explore new opportunities to engage with the local community.

Nathan Cutting, English Teacher, Schenck High School

Nate_Cutting.JPGNathan Cutting has taught English in public high schools for more than ten years. Currently, he is in the process of developing a network of teachers that will expand the place-based learning opportunities for students in the Katahdin region.






Kirsten Dargis, Coach, Success For All Foundation

KirstenDargis.jpg A Vermont native, Kirsten recently moved to Maine with her husband and couldn't be happier to call Portland home. Kirsten graduated from Barnard College in 2010, majoring in Political Science and Human Rights. During her senior year, she worked for the New York City Department of Education on an innovative classroom model called School of One. This launched her career in education, and led Kirsten to join Teach For America upon graduating. She taught in a 1st grade bilingual classroom for three years in Richmond, California and earned a Masters Degree in Reading Instruction from Loyola Marymount University. Kirsten stayed in the classroom for two more years as a K-4 reading intervention teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has also spent summers training and coaching new teachers at Teach For America's Institute in New York City and Philadelphia. Kirsten currently works as a Coach for the Success For All Foundation, where she supports teachers, instructional coaches and principals to implement SFAís whole-school reform model at schools around the country.

Alyssa Dean-Littlefield, Senior Asset Manager, Northern New England Housing Investment Fund

Alyssa_Dean-Littlefield.jpgAlyssa Dean-Littlefield has worked at Northern New England Housing Investment Fund (NNEHIF) in Portland ME, since 2013. As Senior Asset Manager, she focuses on regulatory compliance, accounting oversight of individual partnerships, and technical assistance for property management. NNEHIF is a private, non-profit that promotes and finances affordable housing and community development in Maine and New Hampshire. Their mission is to provide secure and sustainable housing solutions for individuals and families. Prior to joining NNEHIF, Alyssa worked as the Senior Property Manager for a portfolio of LIHTC/HUD/RD affordable housing complexes in Northern Maine, where she was responsible for maintaining compliance with applicable state/federal programs, rent collection, protecting the physical asset, and financial monitoring. Alyssa has a dual Bachelorís degree in Political Science and Accounting and a Masterís of Business Administration from the University of Maine. While in college she participated in the University of Maine Tutor Program, becoming a leader in the Peer to Peer model of tutoring on campus. She has a passion for education and continues that through her work as an adjunct professor of accounting at Southern Maine Community College and Kaplan University, where she teaches introductory courses in accounting. Alyssa is a resident of Topsham, Maine along with her son, Alex and cat, Dunkin.

Jared Entwistle, Owner, Self Employed

Jared_Entwistle.pngJared graduated from the University of Vermont in 2013 with a BA in psychology and a minor in ecological agriculture. During his time at university, Jared studied abroad in Germany and worked as a farmhand and general help at a small farm in south Germany. Out of college he worked as a mental health rehabilitation technician in Portland area before joining the crew at Shipyard Brewing Company. Jared is currently in the process of opening a brewery in Brunswick, Maine. Jared enjoys the outdoors and continues to explore Maine through hiking, skiing and surfing.




Veronica Gorlovsky, Graduate Assistant, University of Southern Maine

Veronica_Gorlovsky.jpgVeronica Gorlovsky is a first generation American, raised by Russian immigrants. She credits her incredibly hard working, self-sacrificing mother and grandmother for any current or future successes she may have. Beginning her higher education journey in Massachusetts with an interest in pursuing Public Relations & Marketing, Veronica quickly realized that she was destined for a career in public service and switched her focus to Social Work. Upon relocating to Portland, ME three years ago, Veronica began advocacy work and direct care with varied oppressed populations, specifically developing a passion for juvenile justice. In 2016, she began her international service work, traveling to South Africa with the Montagu Project, working on leadership development with local youth. In 2017, Veronica will return to South Africa as a Project Leader and will speak at a Women in Leadership Conference in Singapore under the direction of one of her many mentors, Dr. Tara Grey Coste. Veronica graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Southern Maine, earning a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and receiving special recognition by way of a Service to the Community Award from the university. She is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree and was recently recognized as an Inaugural Scholar at the induction of her University ís president. Veronica serves at the Center for Grieving Children, facilitating groups for young adults, high school age new Americans, and widow(ers). She also volunteers with various other organizations, particularly focusing on advocacy for substance use disorder, education, and human justice. Veronica loves her strong tribe of friends, partaking in random acts of kindness, fitness classes, fashion, and dreaming of ways to facilitate change and better her community.

Ava Gurekian, Senior Consultant, The Beacon Group

Ava_Guerkian_Headshot.jpgAva M. Gurekian is a Senior Consultant at The Beacon Group in Portland, ME where she leads primary research, modeling, analysis, and presentations for major clients in the healthcare, aerospace & defense, technology, and industrial practices. She has experience executing go-to-market strategies, product value proposition analyses, opportunity/acquisition assessments, market sizing, industry benchmarking, and competitor assessments. Ava graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in International Relations and French, and a focus on economics and international peace and security. As a student, Ava served as the president of Mount Holyokeís Model UN team where she managed and trained a team of 50 students, ensuring research and public speaking preparedness for conferences. She also served as the chair of the Mount Holyoke Outing Club, leading day hikes and overnight trips for members of all ability levels and managing the clubís cabin rental business. Ava has a continued interest in promoting genocide awareness, having worked at the Armenian Assembly of America and the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, writing frequent op-eds, and curating exhibits on the topic. In her spare time, Ava enjoys hiking, reading French novels, and interviewing prospective students for her alma mater.

Brian Kilgallen, Regional Manager, Preservation Management

Brian_Kilgallen.jpgBrian Kilgallen is a Regional Manager for Preservation Management INC (PMI), a national property management company specializing in Affordable Housing. Brian currently manages a portfolio of Affordable Housing properties, with an estimated value of more than $115,000,000.00. Prior to working with PMI, Brian worked in Hotel and Real Estate Management in the Greater Boston Area of Massachusetts. A 2005 graduate of Roger Williams University, Brian is a native son of Massachusetts but, in 2010 he accepted an offer to join PMI and moved to Portland. Brian has worked with Maine Housing and Community Housing of Maine, in order to make successful Affordable Housing work throughout the state. Brian was a member of the ìHousing the Homeless Panelî at the 2016 Maine Real Estate Managers Associationís annual conference; where he discussed best practices on how to house some of the most vulnerable populations in the state. Brian has an active love of the outdoors, and when not working, can be found with his remarkable wife and kids on the shores of Popham Beach - knee deep in the surf, or on a paddleboard cruising out to the Islands.

Lucy McDermott, Community Navigator, Network For Regional Healthcare Improvement

Lucy_McDermott.JPG Lucy McDermott is a recent college graduate who returned home to Maine this summer. Originally from Dover-Foxcroft, Lucy attended the University of Vermont where she studied Economics, Political Science and Community Development. While in school Lucy studied the impact that the Affordable Care Act had on farmers nationally. The purpose of her research was to determine what resources were available to farmers and what could be done to make those resources more accessible. Lucy has always been interested in healthcare reform and currently serves as Community Navigator for the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement's Getting to Affordability Project. In this role she helps different regions of the country calculate and report total cost of care. Additionally, Lucy has worked on political campaigns, most recently as a summer fellow for the Vermont Republican Party and as an intern for Eliot Cutler's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Lucy enjoys visiting presidential libraries, skiing, and reading anything related to the Supreme Court.

Stefanie Millette, Program Manager, STRIVE

Stefanie_Millette_head_shot.jpgStefanie Millette is currently Program Manager for STRIVE, overseeing development and program. She joins New Leaders Council with nine years of Marketing, Leadership Development, and Fundraising experience in the retail, nonprofit and construction sectors. She has a Master's Degree in Business Administration, and undergraduate degrees in English, Education, and Public Health and Communication. She is an Americorps alum and a graduate of Lift360's Emerging Leaders program. She has volunteered as a Guardian Ad Lidem through CASA of Maine, serves on a Disaster Action Team Member for American Red Cross, and as an Advisory Council Member for Portland Arts and Technology HS's Marketing program. She is originally from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and lives in Freeport.


Calen Perkins, Project Manager, Goggin Energy

Calen_Perkins.jpgCalen Perkins is currently Project Manager at Goggin Energy in Portland, ME, where his responsibilities include conducting energy audits, and guiding homeowners through the purchase of solar, heat pumps and insulation. Calen grew up in a small Connecticut town and studied Music at Saint Michael's College. His passion for environmental sustainability, music and youth development have led him to work in each of those fields. He particularly enjoys teaching and empowering both kids and adults to improve their circumstances, and lessen their impact on the planet. He worked with a mentoring organization in Vermont as an AmeriCorps volunteer, connecting youth with caring mentors and helping to publicize their programs. Then while working as Sustainability Manager for Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, he led a 3-year initiative to overhaul their purchasing policy, install solar panels, and reduce energy use while using it as an opportunity to teach the youth members. A desire to create and foster community is evident in the many events he has organized, from small house concerts among friends to large-scale volunteer events. A lover of travel and adventure, he's visited 14 countries and 40 of the 50 U.S. states. In his free time, he enjoys playing the guitar, shopping at farmers markets, skiing and trying not to fall on a yoga mat.

Amy Grommes Pulaski, Principle Owner, Grommes Pulaski Consulting LLC

Amy_Grommes-Pulaski.jpgAmy has dedicated her career to solving community problems through creativity and partnerships. Trained in both engineering and community development, she has the ability to see across disciplines and boundaries to create holistic solutions. For nearly a decade she managed HUD's Community Development Block Grant program for the City of Portland. During this time, she led trainings to educate the stakeholders and the public of the benefits of HUD programs and directed multiple community priority setting processes to focus limited resources. She also developed and managed an annual competitive application process, including the facilitation of a citizen review committee. Prior to working for the City, Amy worked for the United Way of Greater Portland's annual fundraising campaign and later volunteered on their grant evaluation and distribution committee. After graduate school, Amy managed a youth community center in Chimbote Peru where she was responsible for developing programs, managing workers and volunteers, and and reporting to donors. Throughout her career Amy has chosen work that continues to have a positive impact on local communities. Amy has Master's degrees in Community and Economic Development and Architectural Engineering from Penn State University.

Fenna Robbins, Manager, Registration Systems, CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange

Fenna_Robbins.JPGFenna Robbins is a native Mainer with a penchant for travel and bringing different communities together. These passions are well-served in her current work as Manager, Registration Systems at CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange, where she works on academic affairs for study abroad programs worldwide. Following a year abroad in the west of Ireland during high school, Fenna knew that she wanted to work in the international education field and sought out opportunities that furthered this plan. She earned her bachelors in English and linguistics from Northeastern University, where she took advantage of the co-op program and worked for several of the university's international programs, both inbound and outbound. Fenna has since been working in the international education field for the past six years. This has afforded her wonderful and challenging experiences, ranging from planning and running pre-departure orientations to serving as site staff in Greece for U.S. college freshmen to overseeing a team of coordinators responsible for the day-to-day policy, grade, and credit processes for programs in 32 countries. Though she lives in Portland, Maine, Fenna recently received her masters in global studies and international relations with a concentration in global student mobility from Northeastern University. She completed this degree online full-time while working at CIEE, allowing her to merge her passion for international education with personal learning while applying the knowledge gained in the classroom immediately an incredibly rewarding process for someone who thrives on experiential learning. Now that she has some free time again, Fenna loves to take advantage of all that Maine has to offer! She enjoys anything to do with the ocean, hiking, live music, reading, and building community wherever she goes.

Abbie Ryder

Abbie_Ryder.jpgAbbie Ryder is a more recent transplant to Maine. Having spent most of her life in the Adirondack Park region of upstate New York, she developed a love for the outdoors. She studied Ecological Forest Management at Paul Smiths college and became naturally drawn to the great state of Maine for the mountains, forest preserves and land trusts. She stepped into political activism after spending the summer of 2015 working for Environment Maine trying to get Senators Collins and King to back the Clean Water Rule. After that summer she worked on the clean elections campaign with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, then she gathered signatures for the Stand up for Students referendum. Her most recent campaign was working for FairVote to get Ranked Choice Voting implemented in statewide elections. She will be waiting to get involved in the next campaign that she feels passionately about, in the meantime she is focused on developing more skill sets to further this career in social action.

Zachary Thompson, Associate Scientist, IDEXX Laboratories

Zachary_Thompson.jpgZack Thompson is a Maine native (Newry, ME), though he has lived all across the United States, including Massachusetts, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. Zack did his undergraduate studies at UCLA and the University of Vermont, graduating in 2011 with a degree in biology (specializing in cell, molecular, and developmental biology). During college, Zack worked in a variety of laboratory settings, including studying mammalian taste cells, creating an evolutionary tree for red fire ants, and looking at controlling the inflammation process observed with spinal cord injuries to better aid the healing process (this research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2013). After graduating, Zack worked as a research technician studying HIV, veterinary technician, and is now employed by IDEXX Laboratories in Westbrook where he helps create medical diagnostic equipment for companion and farm animals. Currently, he is working on a device that will enable the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in cats and dogs, enabling a much faster diagnosis for this disease than what is currently available. Zack's interests include structured social violence and social equality, improving our current healthcare system, anything science related, hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, dogs (in particular, his golden retriever, Callie), and anything that involves being outdoors.

Jacob Verhey, Analytical Chemist, IDEXX Laboratories Inc

Jacob_Verney.jpgJacob Verhey works as an analytical chemist for IDEXX Laboratories. He provides support in reagent design and development for the companion animal group. He is a passionate outdoorsman who would like to become more involved with policy in aquaculture and increasing accessibility for everyone. He currently resides in his hometown of Brunswick Maine on the shores of Maquoit bay.





Sam Underwood

Samuel_Underwood_headshot.jpgSam Underwood is a student at Southern Maine Community College and a seasoned campaign staffer. Initially apolitical, he cut his teeth working as a persuasion canvasser for marriage equality in 2011 and 2012, then returned to politics in 2014 to work on the Maine Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign. In 2015 he served as deputy canvass director on a successful ballot initiative launched by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, and immediately after joined Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, helping stand up a provisional volunteer export program between Maine and New Hampshire. In February of 2016 he was recruited onto the national advance team, where he had the privilege of directing rallies ranging from a few hundred to over ten thousand attendees. During the general election he again worked for the Maine Democratic Party as a researcher and fundraiser, finishing out a seventeen-month run of campaigning across nineteen states. Through his five years in professional politics Sam has developed a diverse array of skills and filled many roles, but is happiest when he is managing a small team on a critical project. A Maine native, Sam graduated from Portland's Casco Bay High School in 2009 and has accomplished much without a college degree. He is now continuing his education with an eye toward other career paths, possibly in law, government administration, or foreign policy. He believes in public service and the value of real-world experience, and as a manager makes it his focus to provide his people with whatever they need to get the job done. He is a member of the Portland Democratic City Committee and lives in the West End.