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March 28, 2023

Goodwill's regional CEO stepping down after 20 years at the nonprofit

Rich Cantz Courtesy / Goodwill Northern New England Rich Cantz was promoted to president and CEO of Goodwill Northern New England in July 2018, succeeding Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the granddaughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Goodwill Northern New England is a nonprofit social enterprise in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with more than 1,500 employees on the payroll.
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Rich Cantz is stepping down as president and CEO of Goodwill Northern New England after 20 years with the regional nonprofit.

Cantz joined Goodwill in 2003 as the director of the Goodwill Fund, and served in various roles before being promoted to president and CEO in July 2018, succeeding Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (the granddaughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt). 

“Working for such an impactful organization has been a dream, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done," Cantz said. "After two decades with Goodwill, it’s time for a change. It’s time to write my life’s next chapter."

In a phone interview with Mainebiz on Tuesday, Cantz said that while the decision to leave Goodwill is "bittersweet," he does so knowing that the organization is "really strong" in terms of its people, finances and culture, "and all the things that make this social enterprise strong."

Goodwill Northern New England, which is headquartered in Gorham, employs more than 1,500 individuals in three states, runs 29 stores and 18 group homes for adults with disabilities; two brain injury clinics; workforce programs; LifeWorks, a support and life skills program for adults with disabilities; and a commercial cleaning business. 

Goodwill’s board of directors will begin a search for its next leader before Cantz leaves to ensure a smooth transition. 

Pete Groth, who chairs the board, said the organization will be looking “for a leader just as strong as Rich to continue our work," but has "big shoes to fill" when Cantz moves on.
"As CEO, he has led this organization with great care, and is leaving Goodwill in great shape to move forward in our goal of moving 10,000 people into stability by 2027,” he said.  

Cantz, who lives in Portland but has not yet decided what he will do next professionally, aims to stay at Goodwill through Labor Day weekend. Cantz said he would be willing to stay on longer if a successor is not yet in place.

The Glens Falls, N.Y., native said he also hopes to remain in Maine, "the place I know and love," while exploring other parts of the country.

"I love Maine, I love being here, and I want to find all the opportunities," said Cantz, who has participated in Mainebiz events from an On the Road roundtable to last fall's CEO forum "60 ideas in 60 minutes."

One of the professional tips Cantz shared during his presentation was about pausing before responding to any emotionally charged email. Better yet, he said, "pick up the phone or just go see the person and have a conversation." While that's sometimes hard to do, taking the time to do that "will serve you well, beyond that particular interaction."

During his time at Goodwill, Cantz helped introduce a new model of holistic workforce services, including “life navigators” to help clients, as well as Goodwill employees, overcome challenges concerning mental health and child care that can stand in the way of a stable career.

"We're seeing great results in terms of retention of employees who have had access to life navigators," Cantz said.

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