Laura Thompson, director of sustainable development and policy initiatives at Sappi North America, has been named the 2018 Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of Maine.

Thompson was given the award Dec. 7 at the Women of Distinction Gala, an annual event that celebrates women whose individual excellence and high levels of achievement distinguish them as outstanding members of their communities and exemplary role models for today’s girls, according to a news release from the company.

“I am so proud to be recognized as the 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Maine,” Thompson said in the release. “I hope that as an honoree I’m able to inspire girls to pursue activities and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — STEM — fields, and to think outside the box when it comes to which industries can fulfill those interests.

“The Girl Scouts is a fantastic organization that shapes young women into future leaders, and I could not be happier to work with them. It’s an honor to be recognized alongside so many accomplished women, and I hope that I can provide a similar impact on my community and peers.”

Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of New Hampshire, and a master of science and a doctorate in paper science from the Institute of Paper Science and Technology. Since 1995, she has worked in a variety of departments in the paper industry, including research, mill environmental, product development, marketing, and for the past 10 years, sustainable development.

At Sappi, Thompson has played a key role in building an industry-leading sustainability brand for the company. Over the past decade, her work has created a competitive advantage for Sappi by establishing goals that drove unnecessary costs and waste out of corporate operations while lowering the company’s environmental footprint and providing Sappi with a sound scientific foundation and business-driven direction, according to the company.

Thompson’s leadership of Sappi’s Sustainability Ambassador Program has supported strong employee engagement at all Sappi locations and levels.

Thompson participates on boards and committees for the American Forest and Paper Association, Two Sides Sustainability Committee and the environmental non-profits GreenBlue and The Recycling Partnership. She also was part of a team at Sappi that worked with the Girl Scouts of Maine to develop a papermaking patch, which was unveiled during the Women of Distinction Gala.

Outside of work, Thompson volunteers in the local community with educational outreach and mentoring for various programs including the Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, supporting the Living Land and Waters mission to clean up the nation’s rivers, and the ongoing partnership with the Green Neighbor Family Fest and Urban Runoff 5K in Portland.

“For 105 years, Girl Scouts has helped shape girls aspirations and confidence in areas that need more female leadership,” said Joanne Crepeau, CEO, Girl Scouts of Maine. “Women are particularly underrepresented in STEM fields, and Girl Scouts has programs committed to increasing girls’ interests and abilities in these disciplines. Exposure to STEM professionals has real impact on girls especially when they see women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“This is why we are thrilled to honor Laura Thompson, whose professional pursuit and many accomplishments make her a perfect role model for women, of any age, today. Girl Scouts encourages girls to make a difference in the world and Laura is certainly doing that.”

Thompson joins other notable honorees, including Eileen Skinner, Gena Canning, Meredith Strang Burgess, Melissa Smith, Pamela Hurley-Moser, Betsey Timm, Brenda Garrand, Sen. Olympia Snowe, Erin Hoeflinger, Dr. Sandra Featherman, Meg Baxter, Beth Newlands Campbell, Judith Magyar Isaacson, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Sara Burns, Carol Mitchell, Maddy Corson, Eleanor Baker, and Jana Lapoint.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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