Stepping into a 40-year-old organization is a tremendous responsibility and an extraordinary opportunity, especially at this critical inflection point for Island Institute and our region.
Maine’s island and coastal communities are facing unprecedented challenges: sea level rise and a warming ocean, a lobster fishery under threat, and increasing pressure on the working waterfront. All of this is wrapped in a global economy that seems unpredictable, unfair, and unforgiving. These forces are already shaping Maine’s marine economy and the communities that depend on it. They’re also spurring new innovations that build on our heritage and creating novel pathways for good jobs and community prosperity. Even in these most challenging of times, we’re seeing ingenuity prevail.
This is why hope and staying power are central to our approach at Island Institute. Over the past 40 years, we’ve seen collaboration, inclusion, and partnership build community assets and cultivate new economic opportunities. We’ve seen surprising coalitions of people who want to build thriving island and coastal communities commit their own time, resources, and talent. We’ve also been around long enough to see the passing of the baton from one generation of community leaders to the next. We’ve seen ingenuity win.
This hope-filled history informs our vision. It means that our talent, relationships, and funding combined with deep local knowledge will continue to uplift the places we all call home. And we’ll continue to share these stories to inform others tackling equally formidable challenges.
I believe deeply in Island Institute’s mission and approach. I come to this belief as a Mainer with deep family roots on Chebeague Island. I also share this as the daughter of a dockworker. It is not lost on me that the working waterfront helped put me through college. Lastly, I come to Island Institute as someone who believes that more people than we know have a stake in our collective success and want to help. They just need to be asked.
That’s why, when an opportunity comes along that so perfectly aligns with your head and heart, you’ll change your life plans, as I did to carry on Island Institute’s profound legacy. I am honored to build on this extraordinary tradition of hope and staying power, ingenuity and community.
Kim Hamilton, Ph.D., is Island Institute’s newest president. She has served as the Institute’s interim chief programs officer and is the former president of FocusMaine, where she led efforts to accelerate job creation in the agriculture, aquaculture, and biopharmaceutical sectors. Hamilton also served as the chief impact officer at Feeding America and director of strategy planning and management at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She received her Ph.D. in demography from Brown University. She currently lives on Chebeague Island.