Gena Canning. Kristen Miale. Heather Sanborn. Lois Skillings. The grand ballroom at the Westin Portland Harborview hotel was packed on a recent Tuesday night as business leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and professionals from all walks of life gathered to celebrate these four women being honored by Mainebiz as 2015’s Women to Watch.

“Every year, I’m always blown away by reading the profiles of these amazing, passionate leaders,” said Mainebiz Publisher Donna Bressard, welcoming the crowd of over 200. “And every year, a theme presents itself. This year, it’s their gumption, to push through, to bring things to the next level and not be happy with the status quo. That’s why they’re our Women to Watch for 2015.”

Guests mingled over cocktails, shared stories of support and didn’t miss a beat to extend a welcoming hand to colleagues, peers and new faces.

Laura Foye, regional vice president of TD Bank Group, one of the evening’s sponsors, stood with 2015 Women to Watch honoree Gena Canning, managing partner of Pine State Trading Co., and Diane Donaldson, senior vice president, commercial lending, at Bangor Savings Bank.

Fellow honoree Lois Skillings, CEO of Mid Coast-Parkview Health, was surrounded by supporters, including Dr. Susan Woods of Maine VA Healthcare System, Dr. Barbara Crowley, executive vice president of Maine General Health and Dr. Lisa Letourneau, past honoree and executive director of Maine Quality Counts.

Meredith Strang Burgess, CEO of Burgess Advertising chatted with Pat Layman, director of advancement at Hebron Academy, while 2015 honoree Heather Sanborn, director of business operations at Rising Tide Brewing Company, savored the moment with her husband Nathan, owner and head brewer at Rising Tide, their son Gavin, and friends from Bangor Savings Bank Terry Trickey of Westbrook and Susan Snowden of Scarborough.

“Evenings like tonight are about celebrating business leaders who have broken barriers, set new norms and created new standards for all of us,” said Leeann Leahy, newly appointed CEO of The Via Agency in Portland. “The fact that they’re women and they bring so much compassion, vision and empathy to the workplace is a wonderful thing that makes us all better in business.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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