WENDY VAN DAMME is the new executive director of the Cathance River Education Alliance.

WENDY VAN DAMME is the new executive director of the Cathance River Education Alliance.


The Cathance River Education Alliance Board of Directors has hired Wendy Van Damme as the organization’s new executive director.

She takes the place of Matt Dubel, who left the organization in July to become the executive director of Portland ConnectEd.

Andrea Stevens was appointed the interim executive director.

Van Damme comes to CREA after more than 12 years in leadership roles with the Peace Corps, most recently as the Country Director of Peace Corps — Lesotho. Program management, building the capacity of volunteers and staff and working with teams to achieve their goals are among her areas of expertise. She has mentored more than 1,300 volunteers, overseen environmental education programming and engaged diverse stakeholders in her work overseas.

After living and working in many different countries, Van Damme has returned to Maine, to her home in Harpswell. Prior to her tenure with the Peace Corps she served on local boards and was a teacher at Mt. Ararat Middle School.

“I was inspired by nature in the amazing countries where I lived,” said Van Damme in a press release. “Having the opportunity to live and work surrounded by a beautiful natural environment is an element of life that cannot be taken for granted. The beauty of the mountains and sunsets in Lesotho, the volcanic lakes in Guatemala, the highlands of Bolivia, and the coastlines of Peru will always be with me. But it is with sincere joy that I am able to return to Maine and live and work in the scenic and vibrant Cathance River Watershed facilitating opportunities for people to connect with nature here.”

“I am delighted that Wendy has joined CREA as our new Executive Director,” said Ed Lovely, President of CREA’s board. “Our ambitious plans for growth in school and community programs, focusing on ecology and awareness of the natural world, will benefit from Wendy’s broad experience in managing and coordinating the skills of talented people.”

The mission of the Cathance River Education Alliance is to use the natural resources of the 230-acre Cathance River Preserve in Topsham to promote ecological awareness and nature-based learning among students, educators, and the public; to foster the wise use of the Preserve; and to prepare future stewards of the Cathance River. An off-grid Ecology Center serves as a laboratory for the study of nature and sustainable energy on the Preserve and welcomes visitors from the community and beyond.

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