From bookkeeper to comptroller

Sitting in a laundromat, a mother at age 19, Wendy Ayotte read a newspaper ad for a bookkeeping position at Casco Bay Ford.

She was so proud of herself when she was hired.

Now, at age 39, she is the comptroller at Casco Bay Ford, a position she has held since about 2001.

“I love the community involvement with my job,” Ayotte said.

She is also the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce vice president, and helped persuade Ford Motor Co. to donate a car to the 2011 Yarmouth Clam Festival as a fundraiser. She was part of the senior management team when the dealership won the Beacon Award. She is also a volunteer fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other youth activities.

She lives in Durham with her husband, Craig Ayotte, and her two children, 20-year-old Kyle Masse and 11-year-old daughter Paige Masse-Brooks.


Artist ‘captured our imagination’

Jeff Badger said that he and his wife moved to Maine on a whim in 2000 looking for adventure and change.

They were also attracted to Portland’s arts scene.

He is now a well-known member of the Maine arts community and chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Southern Maine Community College.

Badger began as an adjunct instructor teaching only one drawing class at the school. Since he started there, the program has grown to more than 75 sections with more than 1,500 students.

Badger, 35, has exhibited his work — ranging from music to painting to sculpture — all over the country.

He has released six original albums and been recognized with three Good Idea grants from the Maine Arts Commission. He was also one of Artscope Magazine’s “20 artists who have captured our imagination.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in studio art and English from Skidmore College and his master’s of fine arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. He and his wife, Lydia Badger, live in South Portland with their 3-year-old son, Ernie.


Middlebury, military, management

Josh Broder said he wanted to enter the military to follow his passion to be a leader.

He graduated Middlebury College, and completed its Reserve Officers Training Corps program, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He left as a captain in 2006 after serving at several overseas posts, including in Germany and 13 months in Afghanistan.

“I was psyched about leadership and management,” he said.

That helped Broder, 32, reach his position as president of Tilson Technology Management, an international project management, software development, information security and telecom consulting firm.

He was the third employee hired, when he was 27, and helped the company grow to 55 employees. Broder is an expert in fiber optic network construction and deployment, which was instrumental in Tilson getting involved in two fiber optic network projects that value more than $120 million.

Broder is a member of Nature Conservancy Next, a group of young professionals working on environmental issues; and the board of directors of TechMaine, an advocacy group for Maine’s technology industries.

He was also the youngest recipient of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce President’s Award at age 32. In 2009, he was named TechMaine’s corporate officer of the year.

In May, Broder married Eliza Ginn and they live in Portland.


He has an economic vision of jobs

Rob Brown was the first member of his family to go to college.

A native of Millinocket, he has continued to pave his own way in Maine’s nonprofit world as a co-founder and co-director of Opportunity Maine, a nonprofit organization working to improve Maine’s economy through educating the work force and developing affordable energy resources.

“We have an economic vision rooted in helping create jobs for the future,” Brown said.

At 38, he has also been involved in creating the Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties Pathways Project, a green construction program; and the New Energy Jobs Alliance, which works to unite labor, businesses, educators, young people and environmentalists to promote the importance of energy independence. Brown also volunteers to develop new educational opportunities for Maine people.

Brown lives in Liberty.


Sternman becomes a developer

Kevin Bunker used to be a sternman on a lobster boat in in the Rockland area.

That was six years ago.

Now he is the founding principal for Developers Collaborative, an association of independent real estate developers who believe in smart growth, sustainability and affordable housing.

“I love the challenge of how economics, demographics, politics, law and design all come together in development,” Bunker said.

Through his work in Maine, he has advocated for smart growth, affordable housing and environmental sustainability. At age 37, he has completed $20 million worth of projects, with another $12 million under construction. These projects involve partnerships with nonprofits, hospitals and municipalities — all have a high level of community benefit. An example is Crescent Heights, a 44-bed student housing building for Maine Medical Center and Tufts University — it’s the first multi-family platinum LEED-certified building in Portland. Another is Gilman Place, a 35-unit affordable housing project in Waterville done as a historic rehab of a high school. Gilman Place just won the 2011 Maine Preservation Honor Award.

Bunker grew up in the Rockland area and went to George Washington University.

He later graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s urban planning program, with plans to work in development.

He graduated at the top of his class, moved back to Maine, and with the help of a few others, founded Developers Collaborative.

Bunker lives in Brunswick with his wife, Amanda Bunker, and their two children, Alex, 8, and Natalie, 9 months.


Promoting films and local food

Shannon Haines loves Waterville.

She loves the restaurants, the opera, the people, the affordable housing and the educational opportunities at Colby College.

But what she especially loves is the Railroad Square Cinema, a well-known venue for independent films.

Haines, 35, went to Middlebury, and worked in Rhode Island, but couldn’t stay away from Maine and returned to Waterville.

After working for the state for 4 1/2 years as a planner in waste management and recycling, Haines was ready for a change.

“I had an urge to be more active locally,” Haines said. “I wanted to move from the state level to the community level.”

That change led her to become the festival director of the Maine International Film Festival, a position she has held for nine years.

“I am amazed that a festival like this happens in Waterville,” she said. “It transforms the community like no other time of the year.”

She volunteered with the festival when she worked for the state, and has always loved independent films.

In addition, she has created one of the most successful farmers markets in central Maine, helped found Barrels Community Market, a store selling locally produced foods and goods, and helped found KV Connect, a networks group for young professionals.

She lives close to her family in Waterville.


A career in preserving the outdoors

Dave Herring Jr., a lifelong lover of the outdoors, was committed to finding a career that he connected with and that was meaningful.

“I’ve always been somebody who has had such a strong connection to the outdoors,” Herring said.

The 36-year-old’s passion for nature led him to become executive director for Maine Huts and Trails, a nonprofit organization with three backcountry lodges in western Maine that operate year round. He has secured the rights to more than 100 potential miles of trail, and 1,000 acres for public access. Herring is always working to establish connections and new trails, and said he loves the dynamic nature of his job.

Herring has raised $8.5 million without an existing donor base and has established a great reputation with the government and community in Maine. More than 3,000 young Mainers have used the trails so far. Herring has also been a guest lecturer at several Maine colleges and Maine Huts just won the Governor’s Award for Innovation in Tourism.

Herring lives in South Portland with his wife, London Leland, and his 11-month-old daughter, Lucille Herring.


Sea Dogs intern is now an executive

Geoff Iacuessa has always loved baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox.

He knew that playing after high school wouldn’t be an option, but that wasn’t going to keep him away from the sport.

So he went to the University of Massachusetts to study sports management.

Now he is executive vice president and general manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, a job he describes as “incredible.”

Iacuessa originally wanted to manage a major league team, but learned during college that he could be more involved at the minor league level. He started as an intern with the Sea Dogs in 2001. He worked his way up, becoming executive vice president and general manager in 2010 after working as the team’s assistant general manager/sales and marketing. At 32, he has served as president of the board of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and helped the Sea Dogs raise more than $4 million for the program since its inception in 1995. He also puts on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 5K races for breast cancer and prostate cancer research.

“I couldn’t be happier to be part of such a great community,” Iacuessa said. “Business in Maine and Portland is different. Most of the people you work with are your good friends.”

He lives with his wife Kristie and his 3-year-old-son, Hudson.


A move back to Maine pays off

Megan Williams started out as an economics major at the University of Denver.

But the Rocky Mountain state wasn’t for the 29-year-old Mainer, who wanted to be back home.

It turned out to be a good move.

Williams transferred to Colby College, where she became a sociology major and began her career with Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a national research-based nonprofit dedicated to the health, well-being, and power that girls have at all ages. The program serves 600-800 girls each year in Maine.

Williams began as an intern with the program in Waterville. When she was a senior, she was offered an Americorps Vista at Hardy Girls Healthy Women. The salary, $11,000, or poverty level, wouldn’t have been enough to sustain her.

Then co-founder Karen Heck told Williams that she would teach her everything about the program so that Williams could become executive director.

Williams didn’t believe this would happen, but for the past six years, she has been at the helm of the program.

“I am surrounded by a tremendous network of people and we have huge organizational support,” Williams said.

Williams also held a summer institute at Colby for participants who traveled from as far as Hong Kong and Germany.

Williams lives in Chelsea and has family in Maine.

Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6359 or at:

[email protected]