Chief Executive Officer Richard Cantz Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

It doesn’t take Rich Cantz long to come up with what he believes is the most positive recent change at Goodwill Northern New England, which he has led for the past five years.

For years, he said, the focus in northern New England and in most Goodwill operations nationwide has been helping people find jobs. But that’s just one piece of assistance the Gorham-based nonprofit social organization now provides, he said.

“We focus on the whole person,” he said, which means not just helping someone find a job, but also determining whether they need child care, transportation or help finding housing. “We care deeply that if you want to work, you deserve to work.”

Broadening the focus beyond helping people find jobs “was a pivot,” Cantz said. “It has really changed how we think about supporting both our own employees as well as the people who come to us looking for employment.”

Cantz, president and CEO at Goodwill Northern New England, announced this week that he will be stepping down from the organization he joined 20 years ago as director of the Goodwill Fund, the group’s fundraising arm.

Most people know Goodwill for its stores, where donated goods – clothes, toys, books and furniture – are sold. The low prices at the 29 stores bring in bargain hunters – and also the money Goodwill uses to underwrite its social services, community, training and job placement programs in Maine, New Hampshire and part of Vermont.


Goodwill Northern New England also runs 18 group homes, two brain injury clinics, support programs for adults with disabilities and a commercial cleaning business that provides jobs for more than 50 people.

Goodwill Northern New England’s retail operations brought in $34.4 million in revenue in 2020, according to its IRS filing for that year. The stores also employed about 1,000 of the organization’s roughly 1,500 permanent employees. Cantz said the IRS filing suggests that Goodwill Northern New England has about 3,000 employees, but that includes a large number hired short term as they transition to other jobs.

Cantz said Wednesday that finding people jobs is central to the organization and particularly critical as Maine deals with a labor shortage. He said Goodwill orients its social programs “through the lens of employment. It’s critical and central to all that.”

Jobs, he said, help build social capital and provide “connective tissue to the community” for those who have had a lot of instability in their lives.

Cantz has provided a solid basis for Goodwill Northern New England to meet its goal of moving 10,000 people into stable situations by 2027, said Pete Groth, the organization’s board chair, in a statement on the organization’s website.

The board, he said, will begin the search for a new leader and hopes to have one in place before Cantz leaves around the end of the year. Cantz earned $206,000 in 2020, according to the IRS filing.

Cantz said he will help the board find his replacement if it asks. At 51, he said, he doesn’t plan to retire, but has no firm idea what he will do next.

“I wouldn’t call it retirement quite yet,” he said. “It’s something I’ve never done – I’ll take a little pause.”

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