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Updated: November 14, 2023

On Deer Isle, Island Workforce Housing appoints its first executive director

Island Workforce Housing, a nonprofit housing advocacy group, has appointed Stonington resident and former state rep Genevieve McDonald as its first executive director. 

Courtesy / Island Workforce Housing
Genevieve McDonald

McDonald will support the mission of Island Workforce Housing to create affordable housing in Stonington and on Deer Isle, which has a population of 2,194 in nine villages. Stonington, though geographically located on Deer Isle, is a separate town with a population of 1,037. 

"Statewide, much of the focus on affordable housing has been directed at urban population centers. In order for year-round rural communities to continue to thrive, we need to forge a path to address our critical housing shortage," McDonald said.

"The completion of Oliver's Ridge is proof of concept that small towns like ours can collaborate to achieve effective solutions."

Oliver's Ridge was the nonprofit's first project. It consists of 10 two-bedroom, 930-square-foot apartments arranged in five energy-efficient duplexes.

The other portion of the land was developed for rental housing and the remaining property was put into conservation through partnership with Island Heritage Trust to be enjoyed by the public.

The apartments serve individuals and families with household incomes between 60% and 120% of Hancock County's area median income.

Prior to McDonald's hiring, the Island Workforce Housing had been led by volunteers, said Sue Buxton, a board member at the nonprofit. "We are grateful for what we have been able to accomplish with the support of our community partners and generous donors. We are growing as an organization and looking towards the future by hiring our first executive director." 

Work history

During McDonald's time as a member of the Maine House of Representatives, she served as chair of the Government Oversight Committee. She also was a member of the Marine Resources Committee. She has served on working groups of the Maine Climate Council and is now on the board of advisors for the William S. Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service at the University of Maine.

She is a longtime advocate for sustainable marine fisheries management, climate change resiliency strategies and environmental policy. 

McDonald told Mainebiz that she has sponsored or cosponsored legislation to broaden child protective services, increase access to public health services, ensure the sustainability of island communities and promote environmentally responsible waste management.

Prior to her time in office, she was captain of a commercial fishing boat in Stonington. She was also the first woman appointed to the Lobster Advisory Council, where she served eight years as the Downeast region representative. 

She is a graduate of the University of Maine. 

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November 14, 2023

We must anticipate very good things for the future of this organization with Genevieve at the helm. The "proof-of-concept" manifestation of Oliver's Ridge is a tremendous accomplishment, in no small part due to the visionary leadership of the late Mike Wood. May this be an inspiration to other small towns throughout our state!

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