PORTLAND – They may be young, but they have already made a mark on their communities and the state.

MaineToday Media Inc. recognized the accomplishments of 40 individuals — all under the age of 40 — Thursday night during a boat tour of Casco Bay and its islands.

The first annual Forty Under 40 honoree event was sponsored by The Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

Richard L. Connor, CEO of MaineToday Media Inc., hosted the event.

“I’m from Bangor and I had to leave Maine to find work,” Connor told the crowd that had boarded the Bay Mist, a Casco Bay Lines cruise ship.

Connor said it was important to recognize young professionals, who because of their age may not have received the accolades they deserve. He said representatives from each of the state’s 16 counties were chosen.

Among those honored was Charlie Longo, a Bangor city councilor, who was elected in November at the age of 21. He became the youngest city councilor in Bangor’s history, breaking the previous record set by former Gov. John Baldacci, who was elected at the age of 23.

“I ran because new people bring new ideas. I believe things need to change every once in a while,” said Longo, who lives in Bangor. He praised MaineToday Media for making the effort to reach out and find young leaders.

“There are plenty of young people out there doing really good things. But, as a group I believe they are not getting credit for what they do,” he said.

Monica Quimby, 25, of Scarborough, had to overcome a physical disablity to achieve her career goals. Quimby suffered a spinal cord injury while downhill skiing a few years ago.

“This is such a huge thing for me because I’ve worked really hard to get my career to where it is,” said Quimby, who is an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College. She earned her B.S. in molecular biology and her M.S. in higher education.

In her role as Ms. Wheelchair Maine, Quimby advocates for disabled people and tries to raise public awareness. She will compete next month in Ms. Wheelchair America.

“I think young people have so much to offer,” said Jenna Vendil, another honoree who is a member of Portland’s School Board and is Grassroots Organizer for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Vendil, who is 26 years old, said she had to overcome people’s reservations about voting for a candidate who was not only young, but who also did not have children in the school system.

“I think it’s important to have the voice of a young person on the School Board,” Vendil said.

Just making the cut, in terms of his age, was Marc Pittman, 39, of Waterville.

Pittman travels around the world teaching non-profit organizations how to raise money. He wrote a book on the topic, “Ask Without Fear, for Librarians.”

“I love asking people for money. It’s really great to know that the work I’m doing is getting recognition,” said Pittman, whose business is called Fundraisingcoach. com.

Michael Carey, 35, of Lewiston, was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2007. He serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee as well as the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform.

After college, he moved to Boston, where he worked for a couple of years. He said the newspapers’ recognition program is important because it shows that talented young people are doing well in Maine.

“There is this perception that everyone who is young is leaving Maine (for jobs in other states), but it’s also true that these people come back,” he said. “I think it’s great the newspaper is recognizing that there are a lot of interesting, talented young people in Maine.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at [email protected]