FEBRUARY 2015 Table of Contents
Message from the CEO
Leadership Luncheon 2015
2015 Honorees: Spotlight on Melissa Smith
Spotlight on Board of Directors: Noreen Patient
Donor Profile: Melinda Shain
Grantee Spotlight: ILAP
Grantee News
Events, Resources & Opportunities
Read the 2013-14 Report to the Community

Dear Friends,

This month, as part of our efforts to communicate the impact of our mission to improve the lives of women and girls in Maine, we are excited launch a new website for the Fund. We will announce when it is live and do hope you will take time to visit, explore and enjoy. We are so grateful for the guidance and expertise of iBec Creative and all of the great input from our staff and Marketing Committee to make this as informative, engaging and inspiring virtual presence as possible for the Fund.


As the date of our Leadership Luncheon approaches, we are pleased to share more about the inspiring people who will be recognized and celebrated at the Leadership Luncheon that day, and you can read all about our "TWIN" recipient, Melissa Smith, CEO of WEX in this issue. Also inspiring are the stories about our dedicated board members and generous donors, and we feature two of them here: board president Melinda Shain, Esq., Corporate Counsel at Diversified Communications, and Noreen Patient, Esq., attorney at Eaton Peabody in Brunswick.


Our Grants Committee and other board members and friends of the Fund visited the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) in January; we learned about the work being supported by the Fund, and the plight of a vulnerable Maine population: immigrant women and girls. Read more about that site visit below. Monthly site visits by the Fund are some of the most inspiring and compelling engagement activities for our supporters and volunteers. In February, we will visit Family Crisis Services in Portland. 


Thank you for taking the time to read our Enews this month, and we look forward to sharing more in upcoming issues about the Luncheon, including when tickets will be available, and soon our newest round of grants after the board meets in April.


Many thanks for all you do for Maine women and girls.


Sarah Ruef-Lindquist 



WHEN: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
WHERE: Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland 

Honorees: Melissa Smith, Nicole Maines, Judy Kahrl, and Lamey Wellehan
Grantee speakers and networking
Emcee: Suzanne Nance

Lead Sponsor:  

Cornerstone Sponsors: 
iBec Creative

Maine Magazine

Benefactor Sponsors:

For Sponorship information, please contact Kelly at 207-774-5513 or via email

American Sign Language
ASL Interpretation Provided  

Leadership Luncheon 2015 


Tribute to Women in Industry Award (TWIN) recognizes a woman who is a leader in her field and has achieved significant accomplishments as a business owner, business executive or nonprofit organizational leader.

2015 Honoree: Melissa Smith, President and CEO of WEX, co-founder of sheJAMS. 


After progressively gaining greater responsibilities and participating in WEX's dramatic growth, Melissa Smith rose to her current position as CEO of the global corporate payments company, which maintains operations in five countries and more than 1,900 employees (many of whom are based in Maine). Melissa is passionate about growing WEX to create challenging and rewarding careers where employees are able to develop, contribute and advance within the company. She played a key part in helping take the South Portland-based company public. 


Melissa also co-founded sheJAMS in 2010, an all-women training club, which allows women to train together in a non-competitive spirit and to share each other's achievements. "Women individually accomplish wonderful things, but when you put them together, it can be magical," she says. Melissa also serves on the Center for Grieving Children's Board of Directors and participates in the Executive Women's Forum, which she co-founded to provide a support network for female executives in the local community.

Read a few inspiring words about Melissa's community and corporate leadership here: 

Maine magazine


Join us at the 2015 Leadership Luncheon to hear Melissa speak. 

May 19, 2015

Tickets on sale soon. 




Noreen Alvarado Patient holds a BA from Haverford College and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a partner with the firm of Eaton Peabody in Brunswick. She was previously chair of the board of the Susan Komen Foundation of Maine. She joined the Maine Women's Fund Board of Directors in 2014.  

Why do you support the Maine Women's Fund? 
I believe in the Fund's mission, which is to improve the lives of Maine women and girls. I have been very fortunate to have strong female role models and mentors at every stage of my life and its important to give back. As the mother of two young daughters, I want young girls to grow up with self-confidence and with the support they need to succeed.  


What do you enjoy about board service?  

I was a huge fan of the Fund and wanted to become more involved with it. And I have been amazed by the incredible group of women both on the Board and on the staff of the Fund. They are passionate, driven and focused and it is so rewarding to work with them.


What do you know about the Fund that you think most people don't, and should?

Our amazing grantees. The Fund supports many small non-profit organizations that are making a huge impact on the lives of Maine women and girls. I have attended two grantee site visits since joining the Board and I have been blown away by our grantees' dedication and hard work. Many people are not aware of these organizations and the tremendous work they are doing in our communities-and everyone should.


What is your vision for Maine women and girls?  

I think the most important thing for Maine women and girls is economic security.  With economic security, every aspect of a woman's life improves and, in turn, the lives of her children. 





Melinda Shain, Esq., current president of the Maine Women's Fund board of directors and corporate counsel at Diversified Communications, ran her first marathon three years ago. This fall she finished her sixth nearly an hour faster than her first. She credits the "strong, generous and wise spirits" of the Maine Women's Fund community for inspiring her to push her limits in this and many other ways that have enriched her life. 


She supports the Fund because she knows that when women and girls prosper, entire communities thrive. Her estate plans include the Maine Women's Fund to help ensure that the Fund continues to be a highly efficient, effective way to lift up challenged populations for generations to come. She says, "My heart is intertwined in the Fund's work because I have witnessed what a substantial difference it makes. As a part of the Fund community, I have found that through my giving I have received more than I ever imagined." 


Photos, from left to right: Melinda running just past the 20-mile mark during the 2014 Mount Desert Island Marathon; Melinda celebrates post-race.  


On January 7, representatives from the Maine Women's Fund visited the offices of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP), located in downtown Portland. 


ILAP's mission is to help low income immigrants improve their legal status and work towards more just and humane laws affecting immigrants. The nonprofit is Maine's only provider of comprehensive immigration legal aid, assisting the state's most vulnerable populations. Domestic violence cases are its highest priority. Staff has extensive experience handling immigration matters, including visas and permanent resident status and citizenship and employment authorization. In 2013, the organization served 1,508 women in their immigration matters. 


The Maine Women's Fund grant supports the threshold needs of immigrant survivors of domestic violence and trafficking on their path towards economic security, community engagement and obtaining legal status. The grant also helps support ILAP's efforts to: provide accurate information on legal rights to survivors and service providers through outreach; advocate for policies that affect the legal rights of immigrant survivors; and maintain the progress that has already been made.  


Volunteer lawyers provide significant assistance to their client base: ILAP has one staff person who manages a caseload of 120 asylum cases with 125 pro bono attorneys representing clients. These lawyers donate more than 5,000 hours of work a year valued at over $1.2 M. ILAP also makes referrals to and collaborates with the University of Maine law clinic which has six student attorneys each semester working on asylum issues.  


Executive Director Sue Roche reports that over the past 15 years, Maine's immigrant population has swelled to approximately 50,000 people (roughly 5,000 of whom are undocumented) and ILAP has had to focus and prioritize their work. Whereas the organization previously would handle just a handful of asylum cases, they now see significantly many more people per year applying for their asylum services. "Our highest priorities are cases that involve domestic violence, cases that keep families together, and cases that involve economic security for our clients," said Sue.  


Notably, the organization has recently focused on board development and appointed several former clients to the board of directors; Sue has found that these individuals provide an important perspective on the work. During the site visit, Fund representatives had the opportunity to hear from Marie Umurange, a newly-appointed board member who had come to ILAP as a client and refugee from the Congo. She recounted to the group that she brought her five children with her, all of whom escaped a series of crises in 2003 and 2006. Her mother and other relatives remain in refugee camps where they have been for three years. 


Marie spoke of the danger her family faced in the Congo and about how her family--including her husband, who had been briefly captured--escaped safely to Maine. She did not know a soul when she arrived to Maine and spoke only a few words in English. ILAP assisted her in filling out asylum papers for her and her family, as well as referred her to other resources available to new Americans here in Portland including medical and social supports. As a result, Marie took English classes, which in turn helped her to find employment. 


In talking to the Fund group about her experience, she seemed most excited to share the importance of the cultural orientation classes that she took where she learned how to support her children as they grow up in America. She and her husband now have legal status here and they are working. All their children are in school, including their eldest daughter who is attending college.


Be sure to attend ILAP's annual fundraising event which will be held on March 27th at the Ocean Gate facility in Portland. The circus school will be providing entertainment at the event, and wonderful local food will be served. For more information, go to  http://www.ilapmaine.org/celesoiree2015.html.


Top photo, from left to right, Paula Watson (MWF Board), Mary Nelson (MWF Board and Grants Committee) and Loretta Prescott (ILAP Development Director).


Middle Photo: Art in the ILAP Offices


Bottom photo, from left to right: Melinda Shain (MWF Board President), Susan Roche (ILAP Executive Director) and Marie Umurange (ILAP Board member and former client). 



Coastal Studies for Girls is now accepting applications from current 9th grade girls for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters. The priority application deadline for both semesters is March 15, 2015. Prospective students may apply during their freshman year to attend CSG during the Fall or Spring semester of their sophomore year of high school. Students who submit all application materials by March 15, 2015 will be notified in April.  

>>More info


Girls on the Run is looking for volunteer coaches for the Spring GOTR Season (March 23-June 7). The organization is also accepting inquiries now for new sites for Fall 2015. All interested people should contact Staci Olson or call 207-747-5677. Spring 2015 GOTR Program Registration for girls opens on Feb. 11 at 12:00 PM. A list of spring sites and the link to register can be found here


CeleSoiré2015:  ILAP presents the 11th Annual celebration of immigration through the arts--this year through circus arts-- Friday March 27, 2015. Join the Cirque-style fun at Ocean gateway for high flying fun with Portland's Circus Conservatory of America, live music and a sumptuous international buffet from locally owned ethnic restaurants. Click here  to buy your ticket today!


The Board of Directors at ILAP is running a peer to peer campaign on Crowdrise to raise awareness and funds for the organization's work with immigrants in Maine. It's called #ILAPwhocameB4 and centers on the influential immigrants in each member's life. We have such a rich history of immigration in the US, and all but Native Americans have an immigrant past. This campaign honors that and the people who helped these volunteers live the lives they lead today. This is the work of ILAP: to help low income immigrants access the lives they have sacrificed so much to find here in the US through the threshold issue of legal status. We do it today, but there were no immigration legal aid organizations 100 years ago, so our ancestors' stories are even more amazing because what they built for our generation, they did completely on their own. Read the stories, become a fundraiser yourself and tell yours, share our page, or donate to honor someone in your past or present. Find this inspirational fundraiser online until March 1:

>>More info


Maine NEW Leadership accepting applications for 2015 session

Maine NEW Leadership is a six-day, non-partisan, residential, public leadership training program, provided at no cost to undergraduate college women from a variety of public and private, four- and two-year institutions throughout Maine. To be eligible, undergraduates must either be from Maine or attending college in Maine. Graduating college seniors are eligible to apply. The 2015 session will be held from May 28-June 2, 2015 at the University of Maine. 

>>More info

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and its Maine Action Fund Host January Roe v. Wade Celebration
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and its Maine Action Fund hosted a screening of Obvious Child, a romantic comedy that features an honest portrayal of a woman's decision to end her pregnancy. After the film, we held a panel discussion featuring a physician who offers abortion services to his patients, Dr. Aaron Hoffman, Beth Edmonds, a member of PPNNE's chaplain counseling program and Meagan Lauer. Together, they led an honest conversation about abortion in America today, during which both Meagan and Beth shared their personal abortion stories, discussing the impact of abortion stigma and how it is silencing women. 
Kiera and her son, MJ

Wayfinder Schools' Passages Program Celebrates the First Graduate of 2015 

Kiera Satele enrolled in the Passages Program, a program funded with help from a Maine Women's Fund grant, for teen parents in 2012. At the time, Kiera explained why she enrolled in Passages:

"I wasn't doing well in high school. I thought I would do better in a program that I could do at home. I probably wouldn't have finished high school if I stayed in the public schools because I wouldn't have been able to do it as a young mom... I like having one on one time with my teacher and being able to work at my own pace.  I also like that my teacher comes to my house. That has made my life less stressful in many ways. This program has given me more hope for my future. We work on setting goals. Having goals to work towards has helped me to push myself. If someone has the opportunity to enroll in the Passages Program, I would say, 'do it!'"

>>Read more


Women, Work and Community offer online classes

Sign up today for WWC's online classes to move your career, business, and finances forward to reach your goals:

Career Planning: Find Your Place in Today's Job Market 

Registration deadline: February 11
Online class runs March 4 - April 15
Business Basics
Fridays 10:00-11:30 AM
Online webinar meets March 13, 20, 27 (3 sessions)

News from Family Crisis Services' YAAPP (Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program) - The Global Girls Group

The Global Girls Group is up and running at three Portland area High Schools, thanks to the generous support of the Maine Women's Fund Grant! Our group at Casco Bay High School in Portland has 20 young women who are passionate about raising awareness about violence against women and are taking action in their schools and communities. Each week these young women are excited to share their thoughts and ideas and together are creating actual change. Our latest project has been a poster campaign to raise awareness about dating violence for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in February in which the girls created powerful posters of words and images that spread awareness about the epidemic of dating violence in our world. We are using these in a social media campaign to help spread the word. Check them out in February on Instagram at @preventdatingabuse, and on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/YAAPP



Film screening: "She's Beautiful When She's Angry" 

Friday, February 6 at 6:30 PM; Saturday, February 7 at 2:00 PM; and Sunday, February 8 at 2:00 PM
Portland Museum of Art
This timely documentary looks at the women's rights movement of the 1960s and early 1970s-how it came together, who the major founders were, how the various factions and protests operated, how they achieved some of their victories, and how the landscape for women's rights looks today. At times informative, inspiring, and anger-inducing, the film looks at feminism's past, present, and future, and the amount of work the women accomplished along with the amount of scorn they received--all in the name of creating a world where a documentary such as this is not timely.  >>Ticket Info



Getting To Know Us: Short Films from Six Midcoast Maine Non-Profits

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rockland Public Library

Refreshments: 5:30PM | Film: 6:00PM | FREE

The Rockland Public Library will present "Getting to Know Us," a series of documentaries produced by six Midcoast Maine nonprofit organizations, including the Maine Women's Fund. Each organization has created a short documentary film that highlights people making a difference in our community. After the screenings, spokespersons from the nonprofits will facilitate a discussion about the projects depicted in the films and their organizations in general. This series was previously screened at the Strand Theatre in late October.


Justice for Women Lecture Series | Ruchira Gupta

Thursday, March 19, 2015

7:00 PM | FREE and open to the public

Abromson Community Education Center, University of Maine, Portland

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the 2015 annual lecture featuring Ruchira Gupta, Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots organization in India working to end sex trafficking by increasing choices for at-risk girls and women. Ruchira has proven to be a force and a game changer in the arena of human trafficking both in India and around the world. She has striven over her 25 year career to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution laws, and to lobby policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators.

>>Register here


Save the date! April 29, 2015: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will hold an evening soiree at Holiday Inn in Portland to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Northern New England affiliates. Cecile Richards will be speaking. Stay tuned for more information! 


Second Annual Cultural Inclusion Institute: Valuing the Culture of Women

June 29 & 30, 2015
at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort - Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Exchange knowledge, expertise, research, challenges and successes in addressing issues related to women and develop strategies for integrating the cultural values and beliefs of women into healthcare.

>>More info




From the Bangor Daily News:

"MECASA teamed up with the Maine Women's Fund to create the first statewide trafficking-specific volunteer databank, as part of MECASA's program called the Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network. Anti-trafficking work can take many forms. It can look like prevention: mentoring at-risk youth, such as foster care and homeless youth, to build the resilience that prevents trafficking in the first place.

It can look like support for our social safety net: shelters, sexual and domestic violence response agencies, mental health providers and substance abuse providers are engaging with victims of trafficking and those at risk for trafficking daily, and they can desperately use donations of time, goods and financial support."
>>Read more 

CEOs Sign OIWC Pledge to Advance Women's Leadership in the Outdoor Industry
REI CEO Jerry Stritzke Urges Action, Commits Funds to Help Spur Innovation and Opportunity for Women

Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President of REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), was joined by 13 industry CEOs who signed a pledge to accelerate women's leadership in their companies. In addition to the pledge, developed by the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition (OIWC), Stritzke announced a major initiative to spark innovation and mentor women entrepreneurs, supported by a $1.5 million grant.

>>Read more


Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and the Glass Cliff 

The term "glass cliff" was created by two psychologists. In a pioneering study published a decade ago, they found that women were often promoted to board positions after a company had started faltering. Women weren't picked to lead companies on an upswing, in other words. They were promoted to help manage turbulence and decline.

>>Read more 

Transformative Wealth from Women, for Women
How and why women should invest in women and girls
According to a new study commissioned by Women Moving Millions (WMM), today North American women have the capacity to give an estimated $230 billion annually. This expansion of giving potential is due to a growth in women's wealth, both earned and inherited. It is a trend that is forecasted to continue at ever-increasing rates, and presents a tremendous opportunity to transform the lives of women and girls around the world.

Every Day is Election Day: A Woman's Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House," by Rebecca Sive, with an introduction by Maine's very own Anna Roosevelt. Rebecca is hoping to get the book into the hands of as many women leaders (and emerging leaders) as possible, so she has worked with her publisher to create a discount opportunity for participating organizations. For more information about the book, feel free to visit Rebecca's website

2014 Kids Count Report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation
"More than one-third of Maine children live in households where parents lack full-time, year-round employment, while 21 percent of Maine children - or 54,000 - live in poverty."
Read the full report here and the Maine report here.



Hadassah Foundation Invites Applications for Leadership-Building Projects for Women and Girls

The mission of the Hadassah Foundation is to improve the status, health, and well-being of young Jewish women and girls; bring their contributions, issues, and needs from the margins to the center of Jewish concern; and encourage and facilitate their active participation in decision-making and leadership in all spheres of life. The foundation awards one-year grants of up to $40,000 in support of gender-sensitive social-change projects that develop the leadership skills and capabilities of adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 30 in the Jewish community.

Deadline: February 17, 2015 

Intel Corporation has announced a $300 million initiative aimed at boosting workforce diversity at the company and in the technology and gaming industries. Through its Diversity in Technology initiative, Intel will work to build a more robust pipeline of female and minority engineers and computer scientists; actively support the hiring and retention of more women and minorities; and fund efforts to increase the number of positive representations of these groups within the technology and gaming industries. To that end, the chip maker will collaborate with education programs focused on underserved neighborhoods and communities as well as computer science and engineering programs at higher education institutions, including historically black colleges and universities.

Mary Byron Project Announces 2015 Roth Award for Domestic Violence Programs

As part of its annual Celebrating Solutions Awards honoring innovative programs in the United States that demonstrate promise in ending the generational cycle of domestic violence, the

Mary Byron Project created the Roth Award to reward and spotlight domestic violence programs that address the needs of under-served populations. Eligible programs provide services to populations (including those based on age, race, ethnicity, gender, faith, disabilities, low socioeconomic status, sexual preference, and victims from economically comfortable suburban areas) that traditionally do not know how to avail themselves of services or who are too ashamed to find them.

>>Read more

Launched a new global campaign to bring financial inclusion to low-income communities. 

Deadline: Open


American Honda Foundation

Invites applications for STEM programs. 

For individuals working to make their community and the world a better place in the areas of arts and culture, community health and wellness, the environment, and justice.

Deadline: Open  


Kellogg Foundation

Invites applications for programs that engage youth and communities in learning opportunities. 

Deadline: Open





We have another amazing year of successes to report for fiscal year 2013-2014 on behalf of the Fund, all of which were made possible with the generous support of corporate, foundation and individual philanthropists, like you.  


Click here or on the image to the right to read the report.


We thank you for your participation as a donor, volunteer, or for attending the Luncheon or our county conversations. We could not do this work without you. Together, we will make Maine the best it can be for all who live and work here by ensuring that women and girls thrive so our communities prosper. Thank you for your commitment to creating better lives for women, families and communities in Maine.     


Consider giving a gift to the Maine Women's Fund today. 



The Maine Women's Fund thanks MaineShare for its ongoing support. MaineShare makes it easy to donate to more than 30 statewide organizations working every day to make Maine a better place to live. For more information, please visit the website.

On behalf of the staff and board of the Maine Women's Fund, thank you for reading and for all you do to support Maine women and girls.

Office locations:
74 Lunt Road, Suite 100, Falmouth, ME 04105 | 41 Mechanic Street, Suite 328, Camden, ME 04843

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