Esther Anne, Passamaquoddy from Sipayik, holds an MSW from the University of Maine. She came to the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine over ten years ago to work with young people in their transition out of foster care. For seven years prior, she worked for the Penobscot Nation Department of Human Services, providing family support and community program development services. She was part of the original group that created and convened the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She now co-directs Maine-Wabanaki REACH.
Penthea Burns, Senior Associate at the Muskie School of Public Service. Penthea co-directs Maine-Wabanaki REACH. Since 1999 she has worked with the Wabanaki tribal child welfare programs and the State of Maine DHHS to improve Maine’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). She was involved in the development of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also works with the Capacity Building Center for Tribes developing distance learning materials to support tribal child welfare programs. She developed the nationally recognized Youth Leadership Advisory Team, engaging older youth in foster care as leaders for change and child welfare system’s improvement. Penthea is a poet and lives with Chinook dogs on a farm in southern Maine.
Maria Girouard of Penobscot Nation is an historian with particular expertise in the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Maine. Maria is a longstanding community organizer and activist of environmental and social justice. She is a founder of The Peoples' Garden community garden at Penobscot Nation and dedicates many volunteer hours to community gardening. Maria is a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Maryann Hartman Award for her advocacy work on preserving the rights and cultural heritage of Penobscot Nation. She serves Maine-Wabanaki REACH as coordinator of health, wellness, and self-determination.
Maine Community Organizer Barbara Kates has over 25 years’ experience providing professional and community education, and facilitating community meetings. She performs outreach and education and organizing in Maine communities. Barbara designs and delivers community presentations and workshops to increase understanding of our shared history with Wabanaki people and how to undertake actions in support of Wabanaki self-determination. She has wide experience working with grandparents who are raising their grandchildren and with foster parents including directing statewide programs.
As a Maine Community Organizer, Tom Reynolds focuses on outreach and engagement in the non-Native communities in southern Maine. Tom has a strong background in organizing and advocacy on behalf of civil and human rights causes and campaigns, including marriage equality, protecting voter rights and health care access. His community outreach, education and advocacy have laid a strong foundation for improved outcomes in relation to laws and policies that impact people’s day-to-day lives. Tom lives in Lewiston has been the chair of a county political committee and a member of the statewide committee since 2010.
Erlene Paul, a Penobscot tribal citizen, holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maine. She has over 35 years of management and administrative experience working in various capacities for the Penobscot Nation. For 20 of those years, she was the Human Services Director and was responsible for social services programming. Also during her tenure as Human Services Director, she was part of the original group that created and convened the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In her capacity as Administrative Director for REACH, she is helping to build the administrative structure, including the development of a grant management system and compilation of tribal data and other baseline information needed for submission of grants.
Sandra Bassett, Passamaquoddy, lives in Southern Maine and facilitates healing circles with native men and women in the prisons. She is a longtime volunteer in the corrections system, working with men, women and youth in prison and in re-entry programs; she feels it is an honor and a privilege to serve in this way. Sandra has been employed as a Direct Support Professional for Goodwill Industries for over fifteen years and graduated in May 2016 with an Associate’s degree in Business Administration.
Katie Tomer, Penobscot/Maliseet, facilitates healing circles with native men and women in the prisons. With her deep desire to serve the community, Katie's focus is on promoting health for people on the levels of the mind, body, and spirit. She is a full-time student at the University of Southern Maine pursuing a B.S. in Health Sciences. In addition to her responsibilities as a student, she facilitates the mindfulness group that is coordinated with the university's Health and Counseling Center. She is one of 100 students from all over the world chosen to attend an International Peace Conference in India in March, 2016.
Roger Paul, Passamaquoddy/Maliseet, facilitates healing circles with native men in the prisons. Roger grew up on various tribal communities throughout Maine and New Brunswick, speaking the local Wabanaki dialects and began learning English around the age of five. As a teacher of Wabanaki Languages at tribal schools and the University, he takes an active and diligent role towards the preservation, continuing growth, and prosperity of the Wabanaki language, culture, and people.