Dr. Jono Anzalone has been hired as the executive director of the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative. Courtesy photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – The southern Maine region is uniquely positioned to be a beacon of hope for climate change mitigation and action, say the folks at the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative.

To help achieve that goal, the organization, formed in early 2020, has hired an executive director, Dr. Jono Anzalone.

“Having roots in Maine, I was intrigued by the recently launched Kennebunkport Climate Initiative and its Gulf of Maine Field Studies partnerships with the longstanding Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, Gulf of Maine Institute, University of New England and Regional School Unit 21,” said Anzalone, whose spouse is from Maine. “Within minutes of my conversation with the KCI board and staff, I was convinced that the bold nonpartisan vision to educate, empower, and activate 10 million youth by 2025 was not only doable but essential for us to ensure the future health of our planet.“

Anzalone was previously Head of Disaster and Crisis, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for the Americas and Caribbean region, according to a KCI news release.

According to the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative, the Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate that is 99 percent faster than any body of water its size in the world, and the Northeast is the fastest-warming region in the contiguous United States. The warming ocean is pushing Maine’s largest export, lobsters, farther north and the threat of sea level rise looms heavy, the news release stated.

The nonprofit receives support from individual donors, foundations and corporations, according to the initiative’s director of communications, Meagan Cooper.

“We have an ambitious goal of investing $100 million in educating, empowering, and activating youth both here in Maine as well as across the U.S., and continue to seek public support to fuel the KCI mission,” Cooper said.

Anzalone joined the initiative in November.

“I could not be more humbled by the work and dedication of the KCI team, youth ambassadors, advisory council, donors, and board to create the foundation for mobilizing the KCI mission in its first full year of operation,” he said. “The progress made in 2020 allows KCI to expand the mission reach, where great focus will be on ensuring that those most impacted by the effects of climate change are part of our youth movement.”

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