From pencil to paper, and paper to spoken word, children craft their stories on a summer afternoon at The Telling Room in Portland.

“The most important thing for kids to realize, is that everyone has a story,” said Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, who has been director of the nonprofit community writing center in Portland for five years.

Fay LeBlanc is stepping down from the director’s chair this summer in order to finish his novel in the wake of winning the 2011 Vassar Miller Prize for his book of poems “Death of a Ventriloquist.”

Under Fay-LeBlanc’s leadership, The Telling Room has grown from a grassroots group of writers in the schools to a thriving part of the arts and education community in Maine, said Telling Room teacher Patty Hagge, who has worked with Gibson for five years.

“He really grew into the job as exec director with tremendous integrity. Because of his leadership and dedication we grew from 100 kids his first year to nearly 2,000 this year,” Hagge said.

“He’s a gifted teacher, always listening to what everyone had to say, always shining the spotlight on the kids’ work when he is so accomplished himself.”

In addition to his many publications, Fay-LeBlanc is poetry editor of Maine Magazine.

When he isn’t writing or teaching, Fay-LeBlanc likes running, playing ice hockey, biking, hiking and going out to dinner with his wife, Renee, and reading with his two boys, Liam and Emmett.

Intending to go to medical school, he took a poetry class his senior year in college that rerouted his aspirations and made him want to write and teach.

“I came late to writing. Growing up, I never knew being a writer was really a possibility. I love showing kids — especially those who are like I was, who don’t think they have anything noteworthy to share — that they are already storytellers, and that they can be writers if they want to be.”

In the five years that Fay-LeBlanc directed The Telling Room, the organization published five anthologies of kids’ poems and stories and worked with more than 6,000 kids ages 6 to 18 — immigrants and refugees, high-schoolers at risk of dropping out and gifted young writers.

“They all need essentially the same things: the time, space and support to tell stories,” said Fay-LeBlanc.

Although he will be stepping down from directing, Fay-Le- Blanc will continue to teach at the Telling Room.

“But now I have to take my own advice that I give to the kids,” he said.

“Go where the story is.”



Pediatrician, assistant professor

A dynamic doctor, Andrew Tenenbaum, 36, is dedicated to children’s health in Maine and abroad.

Tenenbaum works part-time with pediatric and newborn patients at Maine Medical Center, and is an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and medical director of the UNE-Ghana program.

He was named Maine’s Young Osteopathic Physician of the Year in 2010.

“Becoming so involved in so many families’ and children’s lives is an amazing feeling and honor,” he said. “Children are a joy to work with and never boring. They don’t let you take yourself too seriously.”

Outside of Maine, Tenenbaum has extended his medical practice to Ghana, Belize and Honduras, committed to working abroad once a year.

“It’s a tremendous way to contribute to the welfare of others and it helps to put life into better perspective,” he said.

When he’s not helping children be healthy or teaching medical students at UNE, Tenenbaum likes to spend time with his two children, and his wife, Debra.

He enjoys cooking, dining out, running, swimming, traveling and being outdoors.

Originally from Philadelphia, Tenenbaum said he appreciates Maine for its natural beauty. His favorite indulgences are kayaking in Maine’s lakes and hiking to the summit of Tumbledown Mountain in Weld.


Founder of college film festival

Tired of watching too many student films start in the cutting room and end in the classroom, Corey Norman, 30, created Film Chowdah Maine College Film Festival to showcase student films to the public.

“Students work for months to create a film, pouring their hearts and souls into it,” said Norman, a filmmaker himself, who teaches video production at Southern Maine Community College.

“There is no better feeling than seeing your film on the big screen.”

The festival, which started in 2009, gives students an opportunity to advance their films to venues like The Maine International Film Festival and The Portland Maine Film Festival.

Norman’s love for the silver screen began with exposure from his movie-buff parents and continued with training from high school teacher Jeff Bell and SMCC professor Randy Visser.

When he was young, Norman said, he dreamed about seeing his own films on the big screen.

“There was something magical about the experience. When that day finally came, I wanted to share that same excitement with others, teaching them how to bring their own visions and stories to reality.”

Norman spends his spare time making narrative films for competition and running a small production company. He also hikes, kayaks and plays disc golf.


Leader in sustainable architecture

Jesse Thompson’s motto is “Make it beautiful, sustainable, attainable.”

Designing homes along the East Coast, Thompson, 39, and his firm Kaplan Thompson Architects are considered a national leader in green design.

“Maine has been a great place to be part of something larger than just our office,” said Thompson of his firm, which has received a number of awards and had its projects appear in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, National Public Radio and HGTV.

“I hope in 10 years, green isn’t a niche, and everyone is building the way we do right now. We’re confident we’re designing beautiful buildings that will keep our clients healthy and keep their hard-earned money in their pockets instead of spending it on climate destroying fossil fuels,” Thompson said.

Thompson studied sustainable architecture at University of Oregon and put his skills to action in Portland, Ore., with Scott Simons Architects before partnering with Phil Kaplan to start their own firm.

The move from West Cost to East was a big one, but Thompson said he thinks New England is at the forefront of home innovation and efficiency, a necessity due to harsh winters.

When he isn’t at work or serving as co-chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Portland Society of Architects, Thompson enjoys spending his spare time with his wife and children in their own beautiful, sustainable, attainable home.


Third-term state representative

In his eighth-grade history report, Michael Carey, Democratic state representative for Lewiston, remembers writing about Civil War hero and 32nd Maine Gov. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

“Stories of his bravery and dedication to improving our state have had a lasting impact on me,” said Carey, 35, who was elected to the Maine State Legislature in 2007 and is now in his third term.

“The desire to make a difference in my community has been a key goal behind my volunteer activities on local development boards and community public service agencies, my work in the legislature, and ultimately my goal to practice law,” Carey said.

From working on the redevelopment of the Bates Mill to efforts to help low-income families gain access to housing and economic security, Carey said he tries to help ensure basic rights and services to people in Maine.

Expecting to graduate from the University of Maine School of Law in 2012, Carey said he plans to use his degree to serve the community.

He spends his free time biking, hiking, running and reading and wants to eventually coach soccer for his child-to-be. He and his wife are expecting their first baby.


Manager of community market

David Gulak, 30, manages Barrels Community Market in Waterville, where everything from vegetables to seafood, to maple syrup, cribbage boards and lip balm, are produced locally.

The nonprofit market that opened in 2009 sells locally produced goods at affordable prices and hosts events and classes on health, traditional arts and skills unique to the community and land.

“I have always had a deep love for farming, and have more recently become thoroughly convinced that farming, food and eating done right can solve most social, societal and environmental problems,” Gulak said.

“I also really enjoy bringing people together in a fun, spirited, meaningful, motivating and noncontroversial way.”

While working with Waterville Main Street, he began to explore the idea of starting a local foods co-op and became official project manager when the idea took flight.

He went to work researching, interviewing potential suppliers, raising money, drafting a budget and business plan and renovating the location.

The resulting market is a lively and fruitful model that benefits the buyers while supporting local farmers and artisans.

Eventually, Gulak plans on building a community farm, a model of land-based living without electricity or gasoline; or starting a caravan of people that traverses the state connecting people through movement, local food, shared bounties and the creation of music and art.


Fundraising coach for nonprofits

International speaking, pastoring a church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, writing books, teaching at the college level and raising millions of dollars for charity all come second on Marc Pitman’s list of achievements.

“First is my family,” he said of his wife of 16 years and three children.

Most people know Pitman, 39, founder of, for his writings and lectures on nonprofit fundraising and how to use social media in Internet marketing.

“As a people-loving extrovert, fundraising allows me to build relationships with people around what they value,” Pitman said. “There are so many amazing causes that are struggling simply because well-meaning volunteers don’t know how to fundraise effectively.”

As a certified Franklin Covey coach, Pitman said he enjoys helping people discover their potential and fund their cause and passion.

Pitman’s own passions include social media, brewing beer, reading up to 75 books a year, doing some cooking and driving around in his car “singing ’80s tunes loud enough to embarrass my family,” he said.

Outside of his business, Pitman, of Waterville, helps manage political campaigns, serves on local boards like United Way of Mid-Maine, and serves local libraries.


Co-owner of design business

What started as designing posters and albums for local musicians while working to pay the bills has led to a successful freelance design career for Sean Wilkinson, 33.

In 2010, he and two colleagues formed Forge, a small branding and design firm tied to the local arts and music scene.

Forge has helped SPACE Gallery and other art organizations promote their events, and also helped launch The Bollard and start Picnic Music & Arts Festival through their designs.

Wilkinson, 33, said he was first encouraged to pursue art by his high school art teacher, Mary Dyer. “She was a designer. I didn’t know what it meant, but I understood it as a way that I could be creative and make money doing it.”

A graduate of Maine College of Art, he said his experience at the school shaped his business and design skills.

“As I studied at MECA I grew to appreciate the intricacies of design both as a beautiful craft, and as a unique profession that allows someone to really change the world for the better,” Wilkinson said.

Although he once desired to move to a big city, Wilkinson said he has stayed in Maine for a deep love of the state and the city of Portland especially, where he lives with his partner, Meghan.

He plans on building Forge, which will soon take on the name Might & Main, working with companies in the state, but also expanding nationally.

Wilkinson said he is happiest when near the ocean.

“There’s a power in the ocean all around us in Maine that keeps me feeling so rooted.”


Libra Foundation philanthropist

Newly graduated from Yale, Erik Hayward came to Maine in 2004 to work for the Libra Foundation, which he had previously interned for.

The Libra Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation that contributes to causes throughout Maine, giving small grants to many organizations as opposed to large grants to only a few, ranging from arts, culture and humanities to education, environment, health, human services, justice and religion.

“Maine is fortunate in that it is a small enough place for one person to make a significant contribution to the community,” Hayward said.

“I want to contribute here both professionally and on a volunteer basis.”

Hayward, 28, helped found the Libra Future Fund, established to keep young entrepreneurs in Maine, and Libra’s “Summer In Maine” program, which has 100 interns in high-profile Maine companies.

A believer in what young people can do, Hayward was influenced early on when his parents allowed him to visit a friend in Munich at age 13.

Hayward said he is grateful to them, his mentor Owen Wells, and his wife, Carrie, for all of his accomplishments.

He been designated executive manager of Pineland Farms Produce division in New Gloucester; and elected a director of Pineland Farms Potato Co. in Mars Hill.

A lifelong sailor, he is proud to have been elected a trustee of the Maine Maritime Museum.


Downtown revitalization activist

When Shirar Patterson walks past an empty window in downtown Bangor, she said she feels a sense of hope and excitement.

“Downtowns are the heart of our communities, they have an energy and excitement all their own, while preserving the historic character of our past,” Patterson said.

“It is exciting to see old buildings repurposed and new businesses take root.”

Patterson, 32, has helped transform and revitalize downtown Bangor with the skills she deems most important: relationship building and problem solving.

“I bring this approach to my day to day work as well as the numerous boards and community organizations I am part of. I take a collaborative approach in all that I do,” she said.

Since her grad school days at University of Maine, Patterson said she knew she wanted to work in downtown revitalization.

She said there is no place she would rather be than the Bangor region.

“We have such a strong community and I think we will see big changes in the next 10 years. I am excited to be a part of the momentum,” she said.

When she isn’t busy working on ways to improve the city’s walkability or signage, or planning events, Patterson enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her husband outdoors, especially in their backyard on the banks of the Penobscot River.

Staff Writer Colleen Stewart can be contacted at 791-6355 or at:

[email protected]