On Friday, February 8, 2019, the Island Institute hosted the third annual Waypoints Forum, an afternoon of discussions focused on the future of our coastal and island communities and the challenges facing Maine's rapidly changing coast. The theme—"Intersections and Impacts—Collaborating for Maine's Changing Coast"—highlighted the defining issues impacting our working waterfronts, our workforce and economy, and our coastal communities preparing for threats from sea level rise and climate shifts. Presentations and discussions helped provide a better understanding of what we can do to build a more resilient coast.

Speakers included: Xavier Botana, Superintendent of the Portland Public Schools; Marci Train, Teacher at Long Island Elementary School in Casco Bay; Jason Mitchell, President and Chief Operating Officer of Whole Oceans; Chris Thompson, Principal at Thompson's Point Development Company; Sandra Stone, Chair Emerita of Maine Angels; and Alton Ballance, Community Leader and Author from Ocracoke Island, NC.

The event also featured a special conversation between Hannah Pingree, Director of the Maine Office of Policy Management, and Robert Snyder, President of the Island Institute, which looked at the challenges and opportunities faced by Maine's coastal communities.

Other highlights included the presentation of the 2019 Community Champion Award, the premiere of "Sea Level Rise in Maine"—an animated short by O'Chang Comics of Rockland, Maine, and "Voices from the Waterfront"—an audio collage by Galen Koch of The First Coast Project which offered emotionally compelling and evocative perspectives on work, community, change, resilience, and hope for the future from Maine’s coastal communities.

View videos from the event and details below, and check out a photo gallery of the afternoon here.


Event Highlights

A conversation with Hannah Pingree
Director, Maine Office of Policy Management

Hannah Pingree, former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, was recently appointed by Governor Janet Mills to lead the state’s Office of Policy Management with the specific charge of developing a framework to transition it into the Office of Innovation and the Future. In a special conversation with Island Institute President Rob Snyder, Hannah discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by Maine's coastal communities and how we can chart a course for a better future.

View the video of the conversation with Hannah Pingree and audience Q&A here

Featured panelists

View video of the speaker presentations here
View video of the panel discussion and Q&A here

Xavier Botana
Superintendent, Portland Public Schools (Portland, ME)

Xavier Botana is the superintendent of the Portland Public Schools since July of 2016. During his tenure, Mr. Botana has spearheaded a successful update of the district’s Comprehensive Plan, The Portland Promise; worked with school and city officials, families and the community to obtain council approval for a proposal for critical renovations at four elementary schools; and aided in the process of developing a new family partnership policy for the district. Prior to coming to Portland, Mr. Botana served as Associate Superintendent of the Michigan City Area Schools in Indiana for six years. He held a variety of educational positions before that time, including serving as Chief Academic Officer for the Portland Public Schools in Oregon, and working as an administrator and teacher in the Chicago area.

Marci Train
Teacher, Long Island Elementary School, ME

Marci teaches Grades 3-4-5 and is lead teacher at Long Island Elementary School on Long Island in Casco Bay. She has been teaching in Long Island’s two-room school for 25 years and is a highly skilled place-based educator who incorporates real world environmental and community work into the curriculum. She is an invaluable resource to teachers on other islands and often partners with education organizations. In 2016, with the help of an Island Institute fellow, she co-developed the Kelp ME ASAP curriculum guide as part of an after school program to introduce and engage the students and community in kelp aquaculture. Among other things, she is a swimmer, runner, and firefighter. She graduated from the University of Maine and has a master's from the University of Southern Maine. She lives on Long Island with her husband and has two daughters.

Jason Mitchell
President and Chief Operating Officer, Whole Oceans 

Jason Mitchell is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Whole Oceans, a Maine company on track to become America’s premier, land-based producer of sustainable farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Before finding a passion for Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) with Whole Oceans, Jason had an extensive career as a defense contractor working for General Dynamics. He has more than 15 years of experience in shipbuilding operations management, most recently serving as the Director of Ground Assembly at Bath Iron Works. Entrepreneurial at heart, Jason has lead multiple startup companies, including real estate investment, breweries, and an art studio. Jason also serves on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit called One Summit, out of Boston, to benefit children with cancer and their families. He is a seasoned leader in operations and manufacturing, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point and a Master of Science in Business from San Diego State University.

Chris Thompson
Principal, Thompson's Point Development Company

Chris Thompson is a principal, together with his partner Jed Troubh, of the development company that owns and operates Thompson’s Point, a 30 acre mixed-use project in Portland, ME. He has nearly fifteen years of experience developing complex mixed-use real estate projects, all with a focus on energy efficiency, sustainability, creative place-making, and community building. He is also president of Northern Hospitality, a management company that provides oversight management for real estate assets focusing on hospitality, events, mixed-use and multi-tenanted spaces.

Sandra Stone
Chair Emerita, Maine Angels

Sandra Stone is Chair Emerita of Maine Angels, Maine’s angel investor network of local accredited investors, providing  capital, expertise and guidance to early stage entrepreneurs in Maine and New England, and a co-founder of the Northern New England Women’s Investor Network, a collaboration between Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to activate more financially accredited women as angel investors in our tristate area through training, networking, and mentoring. In addition, Sandra serves on the Board of Directors of CEI Ventures, Inc, a socially responsible venture capital fund, and on the advisory board of MxG (Maine Accelerates Growth). She was also a founding member of the MaineCanDo.org coalition, propelling a public pledge of workplace actions and policies to foster inclusive harassment-free workplaces, and offering an informative collated website resource for Maine’s new businesses, investors, nonprofits, volunteers, and boards. 

Alton Ballance
Community Leader and Author, Ocracoke Island, NC 

Alton Ballance grew up on the North Carolina Outer Banks island of Ocracoke, and his island ancestors on both sides of the family stretch back to the 1700s. Alton began his career as a teacher, teaching off the island for two years before returning home to teach English and journalism at the island’s K-12 school, where he was also the assistant principal. From 1984-1992, he served as Ocracoke’s representative on the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, where he introduced the island’s first building ordinance, created a hurricane response plan involving federal, state, and local partners, and helped secure funding for a school/community library. Alton also served on the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission between 1996 and 2002. In 2003, he started working at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), where he designed and conducted programs for North Carolina public school teachers. Since retiring from NCCAT in 2018, Alton continues to lead seminars and is also the owner of Crews Inn Bed & Breakfast on Ocracoke, an old island home that has been hosting guests to the island since 1985.