Board and Staff
Chief Executive Officer
Nancy E. Smith has lived and worked in Maine since 1981 and joined GrowSmart Maine in April 2010. Nancy maintains the fiscal health of the organization while overseeing programming at the local level, statewide convenings, and leading advocacy for smart growth outcomes at the state, local, and federal levels. In addition, she secured for GrowSmart Maine the USDA: Rural Development designation as Maine’s State Rural Development Council and is an active board member for Partners for Rural America.
She served four terms in the Maine State House of Representatives while farming on her family’s diversified livestock farm in Monmouth. She was appointed House Chair of the Legislative Committee on Business, Research, and Economic Development and as a member of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. In addition, Nancy worked as a forester for over twenty years for a large industrial landowner in northern and central Maine and for a consulting firm serving woodlot owners in central Maine.
EMAIL NANCY | (207) 250-0220
Thought Leadership Program Director
Harald Bredesen joined GrowSmart in February 2023 as Thought Leadership Program Director. Bredersen will support communities navigating change by convening to action, sharing thought leadership, and advocating in line with smart growth principles. His work will include leading community outreach to integrate smart growth principles in key growth sectors such as broadband and farmland protection. A priority will be Planning for Ag, an initiative in partnership with American Farmland Trust, to make information and tools available to municipalities and organizations to plan and implement long-term, sustainable solutions supporting farmland protection and farm viability.
Bredesen earned his Master’s degree in organizational and social psychology at the London School of Economics and has 15-plus years of experience at the United Nations working with donors, national governments, and local partners to address development needs and build resilient communities. Since moving to Maine in 2018, Bredesen has established a diversified farm serving local markets and is the president of the nonprofit Neighbors Driving Neighbors. Bredesen lives in Mount Vernon with his family.
EMAIL HARALD | (207) 248-8166
Kennebec Broadband Partnership Coordinator
Hildie Lipson joined GrowSmart in February 2023 as the Kennebec Broadband Partnership Coordinator. Lipson will build on existing and establish new relationships to build and lead digital inclusion efforts while providing support for community and regional-scale broadband infrastructure solutions and investments as part of GrowSmart’s Regional & Tribal Broadband Partnership, an initiative of the Maine Connectivity Authority. This initiative supports community-driven broadband solutions that ensure universal connectivity by strengthening and growing the number of partners thinking about digital equity and inclusion and creating alignment and coordination between communities, regions, and the state.
Lipson lives in Wayne and has spent her professional career leading nonprofits working to increase economic, racial, and environmental justice such as Maine Equal Justice, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (The Maine Monitor), and MaineShare.
EMAIL HILDIE | (207) 705-3306
Development & Operations Associate
Sheri Leahan is originally from Westbrook, Maine. Passionate about preserving Maine’s heritage, she brings over 25 years experience working in the philanthropic and museum fields. She has worked as a capital campaign associate for a fundraising consulting firm, assisting all types of non-profits throughout New England. After attending graduate school in Cooperstown, New York and earning a Master of Arts degree in History Museum Studies from SUNY-Oneonta, she returned to Maine to serve as Curator of Collections for the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan and most recently as Director of the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. She studied history and economics at the University of Southern Maine. Sheri lives in the foothills of Western Maine and enjoys frame drumming, camping, and exploring the trails with her husband and dog, a great-pyrenees mix named Amos.
Development & Operations Associate
Amanda Vermillion is a West Gardiner, Maine native. She is a certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, and a recent college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. With her experience in the healthcare field, she also brings organization, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Amanda came to GrowSmart Maine because she believes that Maine is a beautiful place to live. She enjoys camping with her family, swimming at the alluring beaches, and visiting the stunning lighthouses that Maine has to offer and she wants to improve and maintain Maine’s beauty for future generations.
Outreach & Communications Director
Aqeel “AJ” Mohialdeen is originally from Baghdad, Iraq. In 2010, he came to the United States with a special immigrant visa for his outstanding international development work USAID in Iraq. Since earning his bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Baghdad, he has worked as a graphic designer, a photographer, a journalist, a documentary filmmaker, marketing specialist, campaign strategist, cross-cultural consultant, and an outreach and multimedia expert.
After coming to Maine, AJ published Maine’s first Arabic printed paper (The Hanging Gardens of Babylon) to educate newcomers who don’t yet speak English about their new home, customs, and laws to make them aware of their rights and responsibilities. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern Maine and has worked and volunteered for Preble Street, League of Women Voters of Maine, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s office, and the Maine GOP Multicultural Center, as well as a multimedia producer, and a marketing & communication consultant for Microfinance projects overseas.
EMAIL AJ | (207) 766-8753
Ethan Boxer-Macomber, LEED AP, has 18 years’ experience in real estate, housing, and community development. During seven years with Avesta Housing, Ethan successfully led multiple large-scale residential development projects across southern Maine. In 2013, he started Anew Development, LLC, a Portland-based real estate development company dedicated to residential infill that provides highest, best community value by adhering to principles of quality urban design, smart growth, and sustainability.
Ethan formerly held municipal planning positions in Davis, California, and Portland, Maine. He earned a BS in natural resources and ecology from the University of Maine and an MS in community planning and development from the University of California, Davis. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and was formally certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
Ethan is a passionate advocate for smart growth and regularly volunteers his time to programs and policy initiatives related to bicycle/pedestrian, housing, and land use matters.
Jon Boynton is the City Planner for Belfast. As City Planner, Jon works with Developers to help guide them through the Planning Board permitting process. Jon also works with various local and regional organizations on planning issues such as the housing crisis, active transportation, and climate change.
Jon grew up in the Moosehead Lake Region during the permitting review for the controversial Plum Creek Concept Plan. After studying Geography and Economics at the University of Maine at Farmington and working for Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Jon saw how a lack of land use planning plays a detrimental effect on the economic vitality of our rural communities. Jon and his partner split their time between Bangor and Jon’s hometown of Greenville. Jon and his partner like to visit friends, travel, hike, and ski during their free time.
Kirsten Brewer is the Climate Corps Coordinator for Volunteer Maine, working prior to that at Kennebec Land Trust based in Winthrop, where she connected with GrowSmart Maine through the Local Wood WORKS program. She has degrees from the University of Vermont (Natural Resources) and Pitzer College (Environmental Studies/Spanish). Her past experiences include working in nonprofits, state government, and education. She is a board member of the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association and volunteers with Augusta’s pedestrian and bike group, CAPITAL (Cyclists and Pedestrians Invigorating the Augusta Life).
Rebecca Casey, AIA, WELL AP, is a senior architect specializing in health & wellness environments. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Tulane University in New Orleans – one of the first cities to deeply imprint her passions for a sense of place, community, diversity, and food. One of the first WELL AP’s in the region, she is determined to push for healthier buildings and communities.
In addition to her involvement with GrowSmart Maine, Becca is a Maine Licensed Architect, a candidate of the American College of Healthcare Architects, a founding member of the Portland Society for Architecture and alumnus of Lift 360’s Leadership Intensive.
Becca grew up in a small coastal Maine town and a college town in central Florida. She now resides in Falmouth with her husband, two children, a dog, a cat, and chickens. She works as an architect at SMRT in Portland.
Jean Claveau is Vice President, Senior Business Relationship Banker, at Machias Savings Bank. Jean has 20 years of experience working with business owners on their lending needs throughout the state of Maine. Jean moved to Maine in 1994 and started his career in economic development working for not-for-profit agencies (Penquis CAP and Coastal Enterprises, Inc.) involved in non-traditional financing. Jean is the past co-chair of Synergy, the Augusta young professional group and a current Kiwanis member.
Jean obtained a certificate in Political Sciences at Laval University in Canada and his masters in business administration from Thomas College in Maine. Jean enjoys reading, traveling on the East Coast, and spending time with his family. Jean lives in Hallowell with his wife, daughter, and one dog.
Maggie Fleming is an administration analyst at the Town of Falmouth. Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Maggie moved to Maine five years ago to serve as a Jesuit Volunteer at Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project. She then worked as Special Assistant to the Dean at the University of Maine School of Law before joining the Falmouth staff. Maggie is a member of the Junior League of Portland, Maine and a volunteer with Just Love Worldwide, a Portland based anti-trafficking organization. She holds a masters in policy, planning, and management from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine and a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University.
grew up in and around her family’s Maine-based small business, working on all aspects of business growth and management. She has an intimate understanding of the realities and requirements of running a business in Maine. She focuses her professional practice on government relations, lobbying, business advocacy, and environmental and land use policy at Pierce Atwood LLP.
Elizabeth was engaged early with the work of the Maine Climate Council and has worked with clients from diverse sectors of the economy to navigate this emerging policy arena, including real estate and development; industrial and manufacturing processes; municipal land use; and energy infrastructure. As a former staff member of Maine’s First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Elizabeth understands what resonates with Maine policy makers and how to shape a legislative strategy to achieve her client’s objectives.
In her personal life, Elizabeth is active in Maine Democratic politics. She recently joined the Board of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. Elizabeth also serves on the board of Maine’s Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program. Elizabeth resides in the heart of Portland’s Old Port – living and working on the waterfront.
Philip Hussey, currently serves as a Vice President at Chenmark, a Portland based small business acquirer and operator. Philip received his MBA from Georgetown University where he spent much of his time focused on sustainability and rural economic development. That included serving as a Fellow for the Rural Opportunity Initiative, conducting research on small business lending, and interning with i2 Capital, a DC based conservation finance group. Prior to Georgetown, he worked in the marketing department at Harvard Business School and at the Friends School in Ramallah, Palestine. Philip is a member of the seventh generation family manufacturing business, Hussey Seating Company, and received his BA from Colby College in Waterville. Phillip connected with GrowSmart Maine while exploring potential avenues for supporting rural Opportunity Zones in Maine.
Jeff Levine, AICP, is an urban planner who has worked in New England for 25 years. Currently, he is the owner and principle of Levine Planning Strategies. He is a Lecturer in Economic Development & Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jeff also serves on the Greater Portland METRO Board of Directors and was the Director of Planning & Urban Development for the City of Portland.
Prior to working in Portland, Jeff served as the director of Planning & Community Development for the Town of Brookline (MA.). He also worked in the City of Somerville (MA), where he focused on transit-oriented development in the new mixed-use Assembly Square district of the city. Jeff has a masters in planning from the University of Minnesota and a bachelors of arts from Wesleyan University. He lives in Portland, with his wife and two children.
Zoe Miller, MPH, has 20+ years of experience building healthy, equitable communities through inclusive engagement and collaborative strategies. As Principal of Zoe Miller Strategies, she provides planning, engagement, and organizational development services that are grounded in inquiry, trust, and inclusion. Her areas of expertise include transportation and land use planning, community public health improvement, and public involvement. Zoe is Facilitator of the Moving Maine Network, a statewide coalition focused on improving transportation access. She worked for the Greater Portland Council of Governments from 2017-2021 as a Project Manager and then the Director of Community Engagement. Before that, she worked at the Opportunity Alliance as a Healthy Maine Partnerships Coalition Director. Zoe lives in Portland and walks or takes the bus for transportation whenever possible.
Carol Morris is owner and principle of Morris Communications, a communications firm specializing in bringing a clear message to diverse audiences and managing the inevitable conflict around change. The company’s strength is in building strategic outcomes while connecting with a wide range of people. Morris provides a well-developed communications strategy, using the tools that are integral to a good program: understanding of consumer/ business needs and patterns, traditional media and social media, and website and Internet communications.
Carol has an extensive communications background in the transportation and land use arena, working with planning and construction projects for roadways, rail, aviation, and bicycle/pedestrian needs. Over the past 15 years, she has managed communications for a variety of projects where growth, economic development, and quality of life issues were key concerns for the community. Carol also volunteers as an Island Steward skipper for the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and helps out Biddeford’s Engine with communications services on an ad hoc basis. She and her husband have recently built a small, sustainable, green-roofed house on a stream in Kennebunkport, where they live with their two dogs, cat, and assorted chickens.
Lynne Seeley is a community-planning consultant with 30+ years of experience in comprehensive planning, public participation, and land use assessment of transportation projects. Lynne is working on the New Ruralism: We Know it When We See It project, researching rural planning initiatives for the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA). She is involved in community planning work with the Town of Yarmouth, currently leading the efforts to draft a Historic Preservation Ordinance to help protect and strengthen the Town’s historic village area. She recently led the effort to develop a new form-based code for Yarmouth’s Village and Route One corridor. The Character-Based Development code was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Town Council. As a consultant, she provided planning services for community planning and transportation projects for the engineering firm Sebago Technics. For 15+ years Lynne worked for Boston based Wallace, Floyd, Associates (WFA), managing transportation planning projects, conducting Comprehensive Plan projects for communities, and developing and managing multi-dimensional public participation programs. She established and ran a branch WFA office in Maine for 8 years, focusing on community planning and public engagement.
As a past GrowSmart Maine board member, Lynne chaired the former Education Committee that wrote the original Educational Briefs for GrowSmart on a variety of “smart growth” topics. Lynne was awarded Professional Planner of the Year by Maine Association of Planners in 2018. She is currently Vice President of Maine Association of Planners. She was a member of the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) 6 for seven years; she chaired the committee in 1995. She is a graduate of Colby College, has an M.A. from Tufts University in Urban and Environmental Policy, and is an accredited member of the Congress for the New Urbanism. She has lived in Yarmouth for 30 years with her husband, raising two now-grown sons.
Ben Smith (AICP) launched North Star Planning in 2017, following more than a decade as planner in Windham, one of the fastest growing communities in the state. At North Star Planning, Ben works with the public, municipalities and private companies around the state to create and sustain the places that make Maine special. Ben is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners through the American Planning Association. Born and raised in Caribou, Ben loves to explore, fish, bike, hike, kayak, and camp all around northern New England with his family and friends.
Sally Stockwell is a wildlife ecologist with experience in conservation of nongame, rare, and endangered species in freshwater wetlands, coastal beaches and marshes, and northern forests. She has additional experience as an interpretive naturalist, environmental education instructor, and outdoor adventure leader. Sally holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and an M.S. in wildlife management from the University of Maine and a B.S. in biology from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington.
In 2008, Sally was the recipient of the UMaine Department of Wildlife Ecology Award for Professional Excellence for long-term career service to wildlife conservation. Sally serves on numerous state committees and has been actively involved in town planning, open space planning, and forest management and recreation in her hometown of Cumberland.
As Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon, Sally supervises a staff of six professionals who work on programs to restore endangered piping plovers and least terns on Maine’s beaches; engage citizen scientists to collect long-term population data on common loons, calling amphibians, native brook trout, and wildlife crossing roads; community land use planning; aquatic and terrestrial habitat connections; climate impacts to wildlife; conservation of forest birds; and public policy related to wildlife and habitat.
Galen Weibley is a resident of Chapman, Aroostook County where he serves as Economic & Community Development Director for the City of Presque Isle and a Governor-appointed Loring Development Authority Trustee. Prior to him moving to Maine, Galen served multiple professional roles in Pennsylvania state government including Constituent Outreach Director for the Lieutenant Governor and to a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before concluding his state service as Constituent & Legislative Director for the Pennsylvania State Senate. During this time, Galen was involved with multiple projects and conversations to expand broadband efforts to rural communities, develop policy solutions to workforce challenges facing the state, write legislation to preserve the state’s rich agricultural tradition.
Galen became active in understanding smart growth policies as Hellam Township’s youngest elected Township Supervisor and Board Chairman where he led much needed reforms to the township’s Transferable Development Rights Program and local zoning to encourage economic growth where infrastructure existed and preserve the rural character of the community. Galen enjoys gardening, reading, learning languages/history/culture, traveling, and taking in the vast outdoor opportunities with his dog.
Ex Officio Members
Rhiannon Hampson is the Biden-Harris Administration’s appointed State Director for Maine, USDA Rural Development. She is also the Co-Owner of Grace Pond Farm, an organic (MOFGA certified) pasture based livestock and dairy farm in Thomaston, Maine on Wawenock Tribal Land. For several years Rhiannon has enjoyed working on, and supporting, policy relating to processing and financial support for Maine’s small farms, and continues to advocate for assisting in the sustainability of Maine’s farming community via thoughtful legislation.
Through previous volunteer opportunities, such as creating summer programming for children, facilitating performing arts events for rural residents, and coordinating the use of an historic building in downtown Machias, Maine, Rhiannon has been fortunate to create connections with people from diverse backgrounds, allowing her to deepen her commitment to facilitating cooperation among all of Maine’s citizens, new and old, regardless of socio-economic status. Equity and Inclusion are values that she holds at the center of the work she does.
Rhiannon is a former District Representative for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree with a focus on Agriculture, the Environment, Health Care, and the Arts. She is a graduate of the University of Maine at Machias where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Community Studies and was a Public Policy Scholar through the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.
Mark C. Wiesendanger has been the Director of Development for the Maine State Housing Authority since 2016. Before returning to his home state, Mark worked for several years at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Multifamily Programs, both in Seattle, WA, and Washington, DC. Previously, Mark also worked in the residential and commercial construction industry in Southern Maine and Washington State.
Mark received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern Maine, an MBA from Seattle University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) Program. He is a member of the Maine Development Foundation’s latest Leadership Maine cohort, and is currently serving on the Board of Row House Inc., Hallowell, Maine’s historic society, and on the City of South Portland’s Arts and Historic Preservation Committee.
Mark is a 12th generation Mainer and lives with his wife and their Bernese Mountain Dog in South Portland. He greatly enjoys hiking, skiing, fishing, sailing, camping, canoeing, and eating his way through every nook and cranny of the Great State of Maine, visiting many friends and family members along the way.
Emeritus Board Members
Daniel Hildreth, Emeritus Board Member, is Board Chair of Diversified Communications, a family-owned trade media company based in Portland, with operations in North America, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Daniel became involved with GrowSmart Maine when it was publishing the Brookings Report, and served on the advisory board of that effort. He is a former member and chair of GrowSmart’s board, and has also served on the boards of Maine Audubon and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
One of the founding board members of GrowSmart Maine, Evan Richert began his professional planning career at GPCOG. Working with South Portland, he eventually left GPCOG to work full-time for the City. In 1981, he formed Portland Research and Communications and, shortly thereafter, joined with Mark Eyerman to form Market Decisions, Inc. (MDI). Together the team grew MDI into a premier consulting practice that bridged the gap between public planning and the development community. Anchoring planning, development, and public policy with direct market research and analysis, Evan demonstrated the importance of data in analyzing planning problems and identifying appropriate policies and strategies to address them.
In 1996, Evan became Director of the State Planning Office and led the State and its professional planners in developing a framework to understand and plan for Maine communities, regions and the state. Under his tutelage and using the that bully pulpit, Evan lead the State in a discussion and focus on the cost of sprawl, the importance and unique stresses of service center communities, and the importance of merging lines between land use, the environment, and the economy, He helped precipitate ongoing conversations about planning issues throughout the State from the Capitol to City Halls and neighborhood assemblies. Collaboration among the various sectors of the state — government organizations, chambers, NGOs, and professional associations – came together in unique ways that continue to affect how planners do business in Maine.
Reaching out to and inspiring professionals, as well as college and graduate students, Evan taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School for many years.
Over the years, Evan has received multiple awards that recognize his contribution to planning. To Maine’s planning community, Evan has been the “mind” of planning in Maine. He represents the analytical side of planning, reminding all that planning is immersed in facts, both hard statistics and scientific assessment, as well as in an understanding of cultural and social values. Evan’s gift is also the ability to translate complicated analysis in a way that not only informs, but touches the reader’s spirit.