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Updated: August 8, 2022 On the Record

On the Record: 6 Mainebiz Women to Watch alumni tell us what's new

As Mainebiz inaugurates another group of inspiring Women to Watch in 2022, we checked in with some of last year’s honorees about the biggest changes at their organizations in the past year and their goals for this year. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a common theme.

Krystal Williams, founder, the Providentia Group and the Alpha Legal Foundation

Photo / Tim Greenway
Krystal Williams

Biggest change: After a period of near silent incubation, the Alpha Legal Foundation is relaunching. In the past year, Alpha Legal Foundation received its tax-exempt status, enabling it to operate as an independent 501(c)(3). We also received an AmeriCorps planning grant, which gives us the necessary funding and support to start building our upper elementary to law school programming pipeline. We’ll soon recruit for and launch a community advisory board to help shepherd this work.

Goal: My main goal is to successfully relaunch Alpha Legal Foundation’s fall reading and discussion series, “Legally Racist: How Laws and Legal Norms Perpetuate Systemic Discrimination & What it Takes to Change.” We’ve revamped the structure to provide time for facilitated discussions and have opened participation to all community members.

Heather Blease, founder and CEO, SaviLinx

Photo / Tim Greenway
Heather Blease

Biggest change: We have embraced a hybrid work model. Although we rejoice in the ability to meet face-to-face finally, we also know that we can work very effectively remotely.

Goal: We have lofty goals for continued growth and are continuously refining our processes and investing in our team to support our growing business.

Adilah Muhammad, president and executive director, the Third Place

Photo / Tim Greenway
Adilah Muhammad

Biggest change: Name recognition and network participation. Prior to last year, there were very few people who knew we existed. Now that we have become so visible, our network participation within the BIPOC community has grown exponentially.

Goal: Now that we have spent a year networking and organizing individuals within the BIPOC community, we will be spending the latter half of 2022 and 2023 doing networking events with local industry groups, businesses and other organizations.

Rebecca Hatfield, incoming president and CEO, Avesta Housing

Photo / Tim Greenway
Rebecca Hatfield

Biggest change: Avesta is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and I am stepping into the role as president and CEO in September. Avesta Housing has grown to be one of the most successful and trusted nonprofit affordable housing providers in the nation, and I am honored to carry on that tradition and lead Avesta into the next phase as it continues to provide safe, quality, affordable homes for people in need.

Goal: The need for affordable housing has never been more urgent. My primary goal is to engage and collaborate with the community and a wide range of stakeholders to identify strategic solutions that enable us to make an even greater impact in the housing crisis.

Quincy Hentzel, CEO, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce

Photo / Tim Greenway
Quincy Hentzel

Biggest change: The biggest change the Portland Regional Chamber experienced was reevaluating our priorities and putting a keen focus on our racial equity efforts. Alongside stakeholders and partners, we underwent a business community-wide strategic plan to determine how, as employers, we can support DEI and racial equity efforts, while creating a community that is welcoming for all. It was an immense but necessary undertaking.

Goal: Our primary goal for this next year is to determine where our community is after enduring a multi-year global pandemic and ensuring we provide the needed resources and support to our region to encourage growth and prosperity.

Marie Hansen, dean, College of Business and New England School of Communications, Husson University

Photo / Fred Field
Marie Hansen

Biggest change: In August 2021, Husson University opened Harold Alfond Hall, the new home of the College of Business. The $17.2 million building would not have been possible without a $4 million matching gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation and philanthropic gifts from alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, students, family members and friends of the university.

Goal: Enrollment growth in an era of declining demographics among traditional college-age students. This emphasis will include focusing on an increase in the number of students pursuing technology-based degrees, corporate partnerships and projects in the iEX Center based on funding from the Harold Alfond Foundation for the School of Technology and Innovation. Additionally, finding other new degrees (like our new B.S. in conservation law) and credential pathways (such as certificates in leadership and DEI) for students and partners in order to promote a pipeline for workers who will meet the needs of the Maine economy.

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