Meet the Team
“When one thinks of a land trust, woods and beaches might come to mind. But someone standing in line to get their weekly bag of groceries from a food pantry might not. Sometimes the impact we make can be difficult to measure, but when I help deliver boxes of produce to Come Spring Food Pantry the impact of MCHT's work is undeniable.”
Joelle helps manage events and programming at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields preserves, which are home to several youth agricultural programs, including the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club and the Teen Ag Program. Every year more than 15,000 pounds of produce from Erickson goes to local food pantries.
“There are so many ways to talk about this work, from economic benefits to ecological benefits. But I come back to how the beauty of this coast is just so endlessly overwhelming. To be on the water in a thunderstorm, or to happen upon a perfect cove lined with smooth granite shoreline—for a lot of us, those are the moments that fill us up. Doing this work, knowing that these places, and these experiences, will be available for the long haul is about as good as it gets.”
Jane has been MCHT’s Director of Stewardship for over 20 years. She oversees a team of 16 year-round staff, including regional land stewards, plus many seasonal assistants and crew members in the warmer warms. This team takes care of conserved land from Kittery to Lubec, including over 120 public preserves.
“The longer I am here, the more stories I am told, the more I realize how much Aldermere means to my midcoast community. When I watch kids working with the animals, when I smell the ocean breeze through the barnyard and hear the bellowing of cows, I try to stop, take a deep breath, and quietly give thanks that Aldermere Farm is conserved and here to stay.”
Heidi supports the staff at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields, two agricultural-based preserves in Rockport, as they care for the land, grow food, and run youth agricultural programming and events to connect people to the natural world. She fosters deeper engagement between community members and the preserves, ensuring MCHT’s lands and programs continue to benefit the midcoast community for generations to come.
“As a kid, the Maine coast was my sanctuary, my escape, the place where I could be who I really was. I’m a grandparent now, and I see much of the natural world starting to fade away. I’m so grateful organizations like MCHT have had the forethought to put protections in place to curtail that loss. It’s a privilege to spend my working hours supporting this and other organizations that keep our natural world intact for future generations.”
As Land Trust Program Coordinator, Donna spends much of her time gathering information that will be useful to Maine’s land trust community. She also plans events, learning opportunities, and gatherings for peer exchange for the wonderful staff and volunteers who keep Maine’s 80+ land trust vital and relevant to our changing world.
“Whether I am next to the ocean or deep in the woods, I always feel the same sense of relief, peace, and clarity from being connected to the natural landscape. I couldn’t imagine not having these special places to go when life feels complex and I need the space to breath and think clearly. This is part of why I feel so proud and lucky to work for Maine Coast Heritage Trust.”
Nicky works with a team of volunteers and dedicated development professionals to raise the funds necessary to protect and care for Maine’s coast as well as run the programs that connect people to these lands. Thanks to support from more than 3,000 people MCHT raises more than $8 million annually for operations, capital expenses and endowment.
“My earliest, and fondest memories are of walking and paddling with my family and friends in Vermont and Maine, and learning how the hillside farms, mountain streams, deep lakes, and coastal islands were being managed or returning to the wild. I have been sharing my appreciation of these conserved places with my daughter as she balances engaging digital experiences with a sense of being physically connected to the land and water here in our region.”
Jay is responsible for stewarding and expanding MCHT’s digital channels—websites, e-mail campaigns, and social media—to help constituents engage more deeply with our mission, programs, and activities.
“I grew up in the Rocky Mountain West, so I understand how undeveloped landscapes can feed a person’s soul. In a state like Maine, where much of the land is privately owned, those landscapes don’t remain intact by accident. MCHT’s hard work, in collaboration with many partners, is part of Maine’s answer to the human need for green spaces, places to play, and the beauty that makes it a joy to live here.”
Martie spends a lot of her time creating maps of MCHT properties and of potential new projects for conservation. She assists five project managers, covering an area from Rockport to Perry. On a good day, she is out in the field collecting GPS data to use in her maps.
“I grew up in southern California and remember dairy farms, orange groves, strawberry fields, the smell of sage, and seasonally dry riverbeds filled with wildlife. Precious open land goes in a moment when no one cares.”
Valerie is responsible for the operations, administration, and physical plant of MCHT with specific oversight of Human Resources, Finance, and Information Systems.
“I spent a lot of time outdoors when I was growing up and I’m raising my kids the same way. To me, land conservation means sharing and preserving our outdoor spaces. Whether you find tranquility and solitude there or make your living on the coast, we all have to work to protect the clean and uncluttered places.”
During the summer, Ceci plans and leads field trips to MCHT preserves. In the winter, she works in the Development Department writing descriptive copy for donor solicitations. She says her greatest challenge is finding endless synonyms for “magical,” “breathtaking,” and “rocky.”
“I’ve seen how experiences in nature change people's perspectives, how it humbles them. We don’t know what’s on the horizon, but having these conserved places will be important.”
Bob has been partnering with Acadia National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local land trusts in Eastern Hancock County for the past 15 years to preserve lands that are vital to communities of humans and critters alike. He is elated that his job involves spending time on the water and in the woods with people who share a love the coast of Maine.
“I was drawn to this work out of a love for wildlife and native plants, and while that’s still crucial, I’m also motivated by inviting people to love MCHT land. Building trails, putting up a welcome sign, restoring degraded landscapes—these are all aspects of my job that I love.”
Amanda stewards MCHT properties in Midcoast Maine, including Muscongus and western Penobscot Bays. A botanist by training, her specialties include invasive terrestrial plant management. She drafts MCHT’s preserve management plans, and has become fairly handy at demolishing structures on islands.
“I’m a Maine girl! I grew up in Ellsworth, close to Acadia National Park, and spent most of childhood on Deer Isle with my family. I know how spectacular this coast is and am grateful to be able to call it home. I enjoy playing outside with my family and friends every chance I get and love that my work helps ensure everyone can do the same.”
Kristen is the Donor Relations Manager at MCHT. She strongly believes in conserving our coast, and keeping it open to all. She fosters meaningful engagement between the organization and donors and showcases the work they make possible, as well as introducing new audiences to the work we do along the Maine coast.
“Working with young people, I see the impact of MCHT’s work on a daily basis—when a teenager asks why something grows a certain way, or how a bee finds a flower. My hope is that this engagement with nature is the beginning of a life-long respect for the earth.”
Through MCHT’s Kids Can Grow program, Aaron works with local families to teach gardening and nutritional skills. The Teen Ag Program gets high school students onto conserved lands—planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables for local pantries and restaurants.
“I grew up in a suburb with an astounding lack of parkland. Thorny woods and an often-smelly crick were the best places for us kids to play, but those early encounters with nature stayed with me. I want to make sure southern Maine develops in such a way that we still have amazing places for kids and adults to visit, and also room for the moose, bear, and bobcat.”
Keith gets to work with landowners, local land trusts, and towns in southern Maine, to protect the best remaining coastal land, wildlife habitat, and farms through purchase and easements.
“I do this work for my kids. Postcard cheesy, but true. Jed’s Island in Blue Hill is the first island I ever visited. I remember swimming in the bay with seals all around us, and helping my grandfather free a baby seal from a fishing net on the beach. Conservation makes sure my kids—and all kids—can have these experiences, too.”
Jeremy works with MCHT’s Project Managers and Stewards to develop strategies for conserving land that balance the needs of Maine’s people, plants, and animals. Jeremy meets with people up and down the coast to better understand what’s important to Maine’s coastal community.
“If it hadn’t been conserved, Aldermere Farm would have been subdivided and the landscape permanently transformed. Now people in the community enjoy the expansive views and the opportunity to be part of a working farm. Plus lots of people don’t realize that we harvest and sell hay and provide educational and other resources to local farmers!”
Ryan is responsible for managing hay operations and taking care of the equipment and buildings/grounds at Aldermere Farm. “I could be fencing one day, working on a tractor the next and working on a barn the day after that,” says Ryan—and he likes it that way.
“I love it when someone comes up to me and tells me about something they observed or enjoyed on a preserve. I mean, not only do we protect incredibly beautiful, serene places for mushrooms and slime molds—we do it for people, too!”
Kirk takes care of MCHT conserved land on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands. That means taking care of trail and forestry needs and monitoring easements. He also connects with island residents through environmental education, volunteering, and outreach programs.
“Land conservation protects what people love and enjoy about Maine—and sometimes they don’t even realize it. The happiness, fulfillment, and peace that comes with taking a trip out to an island or walking a coastal trail is essential. I see it first-hand: time in nature brings out the kindness in people.”
Working with a variety of partners and volunteers, Caitlin cares for MCHT's popular island preserves in Casco Bay. She also manages the Land Conservation Internship Program—providing Maine college students work at land trusts—and helps manage MCHT’s volunteer program.
“Conservation isn’t about protecting a nostalgic idea of the past but creating a vibrant future where more people have better access to the inspirational and life-sustaining gifts of the natural world. It’s an honor to be entrusted with guiding this effort forward. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, building on the work of the visionaries who started Maine Coast Heritage Trust and extending their legacy into the future.”
Tim looks out for MCHT staff, making certain his colleagues have the skills and tools needed to do their work to the best of their abilities. He also spends a lot of time planning for tomorrow, to ensure MCHT’s strength and effectiveness into the future. Guided by the belief that all who love Maine have a stake in its natural heritage, Tim considers how MCHT fits into the bigger picture of Maine culture and society.
“My well-being arises from my connections to people and the natural world. Walking at Thorne Head, swimming to Crow Island, paddling with my partner, boogie boarding with my kids—all wake me up to the preciousness of life. Land trusts in Maine create opportunities for these connections to thrive and for qualities like wonder, awe, humility and compassion to inform the way I move through the world.”
Sarah creates opportunities for charitable foundations and corporations to become partners in our statewide land conservation and community engagement efforts. She finds the connections between MCHT’s work and the philanthropic interests of potential donors and shares the stories and information that will invite and inspire their participation and support.
“Before I started at MCHT I tried my hand at conservation through regional planning, transportation planning, advocating, and education. Each approach has value but your hard work can be undone overnight. I love the permanent nature of what we do. When we acquire land it’s there for people to enjoy forever.”
Betsy is a native Mainer who has had the privilege of working to conserve land for MCHT since 2002. She works on land protection coast-wide with an 11-person land protection team.
“I grew up in a house surrounded by undeveloped forest. By the time I graduated high school the road was three lanes wide and there were shoddily built houses up and down the street. It is sad to see a thriving landscape get flattened and chewed up by sprawl. I want to work against that trend.”
Caleb tends to MCHT’s island and mainland conserved lands on the Blue Hill Peninsula, Deer Isle, and Northern Penobscot Bay. He thinks when you steward land well, people can’t tell that you’ve done anything at all.
“I have always loved outdoor activities, natural sciences and our environment. I grow up in the Berkshire Hills where people are connected to the land. I first came to Maine on Outward Bound and fell in love with the coast navigating the Maine waters and archipelagos. Preserving these lands in perpetuity for generations to come is worth the hard work we do.”
Chris provides mapping, geo-data management, and spatial analysis for the Topsham Office, covering Vinalhaven south and west to York County. He is working to improve data quality, launch web-mapping capabilities, and assists with mapping projects for MCHT partners.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors—drawing energy, inspiration and perspective from time spent playing in nature. Sometimes I’ve taken that for granted, which is a big mistake. We’ve got to save as much as we can, while we still can.”
Rich has been MCHT’s Director of Communications since 2002. He's ever grateful for the wonderful stories and subject matter the Maine coast provides.
“I used to believe that the natural limits of the land would dictate how the land got used. But I have learned that people can work around them. Land and silence and the peace of the woods and the water are healing and restorative in an ever-crazier world. Conserved lands help us help ourselves.”
Melissa has been a steward for Maine Coast Heritage Trust since 1999, living in the middle of her Washington County region. All told, she takes care of about 7,000 acres! She finds the Bold Coast, where she works and lives, an inspiration every day.
“I’m a refugee from Boston, where, as a child, I developed an appreciation of nearby beaches, marshes, dunes, and lakeshores. Even before moving to Maine as a college student, I saw that crowding and development could harm these precious places. Coming to Maine was like being given a reset button. Maine feeds my soul and helping to keep it unspoiled and accessible is a great privilege.”
Karin Marchetti-Ponte is MCHT’s General Counsel, a position she has held since 1985. She graduated University of Maine School of Law in 1978, and was Associate City Attorney for Portland and a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia before coming to MCHT. She is co-author of the Conservation Easement Handbook, 2005, LTA. She serves on the Claims Committee of Terrafirma – the land trust conservation defense insurance carrier. She founded the Maine Land Conservation Attorneys Network at MCHT, and presents frequently on conservation easement law. In addition to MCHT, she has represented land trusts and government as principal of Land Conservation Legal Services since 1992.
“As a child growing up on the coast of Maine, I took its beauty and accessibility for granted. Now I truly appreciate all this wonderful state has to offer, and I want to make sure that my children and grandchildren will have the same opportunities to get outside. I am proud to be part of a team that works so hard to protect our beautiful coast.”
Terri is one of Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s staff accountants, specializing in payables. She helps keep the roof over our heads and the power on at all four Maine Coast Heritage Trust offices.
“I love exploring Maine’s islands and coastline. People have been doing so for hundreds of years, but over the past several decades more private lands are being cut off to the public. Conservation makes sure we’re balancing land development with public use and access, and it’s work I’m proud to be a part of.”
Douglas takes care of conserved lands on Mount Desert Island and islands in MDI towns, and the Cranberry Isles and Frenchboro Long Island preserve. Working in an area that sees millions of visitors every year, Douglas works in close partnership with Friends of Acadia and other local organizations.
“For me, conservation is about fairness and equity. Coastal Maine can be a wonderful place to live with amazing resources. It’s important to me that we make sure these resources are available for everyone.”
You can find Misha on Mount Desert Island, where MCHT got its start and continues to fill the role of the local land trust. Misha works with MDI landowners and partners like Acadia National Park on land projects which enhance the conservation legacy of the region and benefit the local community.
“I’ve always enjoyed the peace and calm you get from being surrounded by nature in all its forms. We spend our lives hustling from place to place, connected to our electronics, not taking the time to just relax and breathe. Being part of an organization that assures the Maine coast will remain a place for all of us to find that peace couldn’t be more fulling.”
Matt oversees the Development database to ensure accuracy and consistency in data entry, as well as making recommendations for better, more efficient usage. He prepares mail lists, provides reports, and supports the other database users.
"Natural beauty brought me to Maine and keeps me here. Before working at MCHT, I knew little of the effort and generosity that goes into protecting every acre of land open to me. Now I know. Conservation makes all of our lives richer.”
Sophie collects and shares stories about the many facets of MCHT's work and people’s passion for the Maine coast.
“Maine is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and scenic outdoor areas, but many lack guaranteed public access – especially along the coast. Expanding opportunities for people to make a living off the land and securing more places where families like mine can enjoy the state’s beauty means healthier and more prosperous communities.”
Working closely with statewide conservation organizations, local land trusts, and other partners, Jeff manages the trust’s public policy initiatives in Augusta and Washington D.C. He represents MCHT in a variety of venues, advocating in favor of policies that support land conservation efforts in Maine.
“I grew up near the coast, in a town with five beaches open to the public. When something was wrong or I wasn’t feeling great, I went to the beach to feel better. That was my safe space. I’ve always been interested in people's relationship to place and the natural world, how natural lands—and our access to them—shape us and vice versa.”
Kaileigh splits her time between Development and Land Protection to help the two departments communicate. She assists Development with donor events and database projects, and provides administrative support to Land Protection staff through the life cycle of a land project.
“I’ve lived many places around the country, but I’ve always been captivated by the coast, the woods, the marshes, and the people of Maine, which is why I moved here from Brooklyn, NY in 2015. I believe we need to protect coastal land for ecological and biological habitat, public access, and community well-being.”
Charlene is responsible for providing administrative support, meeting coordination and communications for the President, the Director of Development, and the Board of Directors.
“My family and I have been fortunate to call the Maine coast home for 24 years. Living in such a magical place I consider it an obligation to do what I can to protect and provide access to this corner of the planet for generations to come.“
Chris is responsible for the care and feeding of MCHT’s Information Technology platforms and services.
“To me, conservation is one of the most tangible ways to have an impact on the environment and on quality of life. Our work will last for generations—few can say that. We can make sure that land stays available to those who love it, that wildlife have enough natural habitat to live, and that some of Maine’s natural beauty lasts.”
In mainland and island communities from Rockport to Ellsworth, including Isle au Haut and Islesboro, Ciona works with landowners who wish to restrict development on, donate, or sell their land for conservation. She also serves as a resource to local land trusts and towns on conservation-related projects or issues, and represents MCHT on multiple coalitions and larger efforts.
“I love where I live. Here in Washington County we have a unique opportunity to conserve and restore a landscape and its connection to the north Atlantic that can be more productive, more beautiful, and support more a more vibrant and sustainable economy and communities.”
Jacob works with landowners, communities, and conservation partners to identify and buy land that has exemplary ecological, scenic, cultural and recreational values, and whose conservation benefits the people and ecosystems of Washington County.
“I started working on a dairy farm when I was 14. It’s great to see kids at Aldermere learning about hard work and how to do things around a farm. So many don’t know where their meat comes from, or their milk; it’s very helpful for people in the area to come here and see how it all works.”
In addition to mowing, bailing, and seeding the extensive fields, and chopping wood, Kevin fixes machines and helps look after the herd. He worked for Mr. Chatfield before MCHT acquired the farm in 1999. He’s been back working at Aldermere Farm preserve since 2004.
“Feeling so fortunate for having grown up with a small piece of the Maine coast in my family, I love helping ensure that people will have places where they can experience the beauty and restorative nature of this magical spot on the planet.”
As MCHT’s Planned Giving and Major Gift Officer since 2014, David enjoys meeting people and developing relations that combine fulfillment of donor’s philanthropic goals with achieving the organization’s mission.
“Through conservation we can take an actual physical place—maybe a waterfront meadow that could become a community garden, or a scenic peninsula rich in archaeological resources and sacred to the Passamaquoddy Tribe—and keep it safe from subdivision and exploitation, and make it accessible for many more people to enjoy.”
When he’s not in the office attending meetings or writing grants, Patrick visits properties and islands along the downeast coast to assess their conservation potential. He meets with families, community members, and many partner organizations who are looking for MCHT’s help to conserve these special places.
“Many of the preserves I manage are places that were once important to the Passamaquoddy Tribe. To hear from a young Passamaquoddy Tribal member that to be on the land allows the Tribal legends and stories from that place to be alive in the 21st century is very meaningful. I go to sleep at night knowing that this will be so for the future generations.”
Deirdre takes care of conserved land on the north side of Cobscook Bay along the Washington County coast, including islands. Water access and other community work is especially important in this Passamaquoddy homeland because of a natural resource-based economy as well as many archaeological and cultural resources.
“I love that Maine’s outdoors is such an important part of the culture and identity of this state. Being involved with statewide efforts to connect people and places provides great satisfaction. Land conservation is about more than just conserving wild lands—it is about reconnecting our increasingly indoor species to the outdoors. Land trusts and others will play an important part in making those connections in the years to come.”
Whit directs MCHT’s Land Trust Program, which includes coordination of the Maine Land Trust Network. Whit works with Donna Bissett and Jeff Romano in their efforts to make Maine’s 80+ local land trusts ever stronger and more effective.