PORTLAND – Anna Eleanor Roosevelt has many memories of her grandmother, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

One stands out.

“My favorite thing to remember was how she listened,” Roosevelt said. “Here’s a person who was incredibly busy, but she still conveyed to (kids) that what they had to say was important.”

Roosevelt, 63, was recently named the new CEO of Portland-based Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

She brings to the job family lessons, years of corporate and political experience, and a desire to return to community work.

“I learned a great deal in various jobs, but felt like I wanted to be working in the company of people who were changing lives,” said Roosevelt, a former executive at The Boeing Co.

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England has 1,500 staffers and reported revenue of $57.5 million in the fiscal year ending in June 2010.

The group’s 25 retail stores — in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont — help fund job training and job placement services and career counseling. Goodwill’s programs are targeted to disadvantaged people.

The 78-year-old group also offers home-based family counseling and operates brain injury rehabilitation centers in Portland and Lewiston.

Judith Stone, chairwoman of Goodwill’s board, said she “couldn’t help but be surprised” to learn Roosevelt was interested in the job.

“We feel blessed,” Stone said. “She is one of the most unpretentious people I have had the pleasure of knowing. She has the right personal characteristics for moving us forward.”

The Roosevelts aren’t new to the region.

Anna has a camp in central Maine, and her daughter Margi and 17-month-old granddaughter Eleanor live in the state.

Anna’s grandfather, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had a summer home on Campobello Island, which is in Canada but is connected by bridge to Lubec.

FDR died three years before Anna was born; first lady Eleanor died in 1962, when Anna was 13.

Anna was raised in Santa Monica, Calif., and attended Stanford University, where she graduated with a degree in art and art history.

She later earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Roosevelt took a job at Western Kentucky University, teaching museum studies and working at the school’s Kentucky Museum. She then moved to Chicago, where she became director of the Center for Scandinavian Studies at North Park University.

Roosevelt also worked for the Democratic National Committee, managed the office of U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and was director of the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Program Development. She was also executive director of the Brain Research Foundation, an affiliate of the University of Chicago.

Ten years ago, Roosevelt joined Boeing as director of community and education relations. She later become Boeing’s vice president of global corporate citizenship.

Roosevelt said the job allowed her to advance Boeing’s involvement in the community. She said more companies have realized in recent years that they should be positive community forces, just like good citizens.

Stone said Roosevelt was chosen from about 70 applicants for the Goodwill post, which was left vacant by the September 2010 departure of Michael Coughlin.

She said Roosevelt impressed the board with her business experience and corporate citizenship work.

Although Goodwill is a nonprofit group, Roosevelt said it operates like any business, earning revenue and providing services.

She added that she was ready to switch from a corporate job to grass-roots, community work, which her parents taught her was important.

“My mother taught us … we could become special by what we contributed to the community,” Roosevelt said. “It wasn’t about having wealth, it was about having a meaningful life.”

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or at:

[email protected]