Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

August 2, 2023

CEO of Bangor nonprofit Penquis receives national LBJ award

Kara Hay has been CEO of Penquis since 2014.

Kara Hay, president and CEO of Bangor nonprofit Penquis, has received the national Lyndon Baines Johnson Leadership Award from the National Community Action Partnership.

The award, according to the partnership, recognizes community action practitioners whose expertise in promoting economic opportunity for children and families is known and respected at the national, state, and local level.

Penquis works to increase economic security through more than 75 programs that promote affordable housing, financial stability, reliable transportation, school readiness and healthy lives. Each day, the organization serves as many as 5,000 people, primarily with low or moderate incomes, in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties.

The organization was founded in 1967. Hay has been CEO since 2014. 

“I am deeply thankful to have been selected for this award and also for the recognition that it brings to Penquis, highlighting this amazing organization and the vital work we accomplish. We feel incredibly honored,” she said. “I hope this remarkable recognition allows us to garner more support for the Mainers who still need our help.”

Hay was nominated by Mark Leonard, chair of the Penquis board of directors, who describes her as a “fierce advocate and exceptional leader.” 

“It has been my privilege to work with Kara,” said Leonard. “Her advocacy has helped garner funding for such critical needs as housing, heating assistance, assisted living services, community schools, substance use disorder treatment and support, and anti-poverty programs.”

This is not Hay’s first professional honor. In 2017, she received the National NeighborWorks Association Emerging Leader award and a Practitioner of the Year Award in 2019. 

“Hay is a true visionary in the field of community action, and her commitment to improving the lives of Maine's low-income population is truly inspiring,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice.

Hay has recently presented at several national conferences, highlighting BioHome3D, a collaborative project with the University of Maine and MaineHousing to establish the world’s first 100% bio-based, 3D-printed home and neighborhood. The project aims to provide an affordable and sustainable solution to Maine’s housing crisis.

“Hay is the personification of this award, which honors practitioners who have led their Community Action Agency in connecting a significant number of children and families to greater opportunity, transforming their lives and making their communities a better place to live,”  said Denise Harlow, CEO of NCAP.

Penquis ranks No. 14 among Maine's largest social service nonprofits, based on assets for the most recent fiscal year available, according to the 2023 Mainebiz Book of Lists.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF