Gray Resident Since 1988
I moved to Gray in 1988 with my husband, Rick Leavitt. He was teaching Physics at Bates College in Lewiston, I was working in Portland, and my parents lived in South Paris.
The bonus was that our family's camp was 10 minutes away in Raymond, on Panther Pond. My great-grandparents built the camp around 1907, and it's been in my family ever since. My mom grew up in East Raymond (some may remember her as Nancy Whitehouse). My parents met when my mom was a counselor at Wohelo and my dad was a counselor at Timanous. I attended my first semester of kindergarten in the Raymond Town Hall.
Gray was the perfect place to build a home and start a family. But we couldn't afford much, so we bought a shell someone else had started and finished it ourselves. It was a lot of work. For the first year or so our best friends in Gray were the employees of Cooks Hardware in the Gray Plaza. But it was a great hands-on education and it turned out to be the perfect house for us.
Our two children, Silas and Emma, were born and raised in Gray. We're fortunate to have such wonderful kids. Silas has an MA in Urban and Environmental Planning from Tufts University, with a focus on climate change mitigation planning. You'd be surprised how helpful it is to have a GIS mapper around! He writes fantasy and science fiction in his free time. Emma graduated from Tufts as an undergraduate and does paintings and murals on commission. She's also a musician, doing solo work and as lead singer for Atlas Lab. The photo below is of Rick, Silas and myself on Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire; Emma is at right working on one of her amazing murals.
✔ Executive Director of the Cumberland County Affordable Housing Venture (CCAHV), 1988-1991. In 1990 I started the Building Materials Exchange (BME), which is like a "Goodwill" for building materials- anyone can shop there, but low-income homeowners get special pricing and assistance. Still going strong after 28 years!
✔ Special Projects Coordinator, Homeownership Division Maine State Housing Authority, 1991-1993. Created a secondary market for home improvement loans made by nonprofit organizations. Ultimately, this program helped thousands of low-income homeowners around Maine get affordable loans to improve and expand their homes.
✔ ABG Consulting LLC, 1993 - present. Started my own business to help nonprofit and government clients create programs that help people in need build stable, productive lives. Among other accomplishments I've helped my clients win over $163 million in federal grants, most of that coming to Maine.
✔ Town of Gray, 1990-91 Comprehensive Plan Committee
✔Town of Gray, Zoning Board of Appeals, 1993-1996
✔ MSAD 15 School Board, 2000 - 2002
✔ MSAD 15 volunteer, including in my kids' classrooms and directed four children's theater productions at Dunn School; Wiley and the Hairy Man; The Wind in the Willows; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and Charlotte's Web.
✔ Gray Community Endowment Board of Directors, 2004 - 2014. I helped lead land conservation efforts on Libby Hill behind the Gray-New Gloucester Middle School, and still participate in trail clearing and maintenance.
✔ Genesis Community Loan Fund, 2006-2012. I served two terms on the board, and as chair for the last two years. The Genesis Fund provides financing and technical assistance to Maine nonprofits for affordable housing and community facilities. My husband and I are still investors in the loan fund.
✔ Gray Bike-Ped Committee, 2012 - present. I founded and still chair Gray's first Bike-Ped Committee, which has worked closely with the Town of Gray to build new bike-ped infrastructure in Gray village. This has been a really exciting and rewarding, and required getting a $31,088 grant from Maine's Recreational Trail Program, trail easements from private landowners, contributions from lots of local supporters, support from the Town of Gray, and tons of volunteer labor.
From 2010-2014 I also helped lead a successful effort to conserve land along the Tenny River in Raymond, working with Loon Echo Land Trust, the Raymond Conservation Commission and the Boy Scouts of America Pine Tree Council's Camp Hinds.
I researched and wrote a book about my great-grandmother's leadership in Maine's suffrage movement a century ago. The book is called Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine's Fight for Woman Suffrage. You can also find out more about her at the website I put together at Florence Brooks Whitehouse.
I regularly do author talks, as well as lectures about women's rights history, for Maine high schools, community colleges, libraries, historical societies, and others.
BA Psychology, Reed College, Portland OR 1982
MA Community Planning, University of Maryland, 1988
In our free time Rick and I love to hike, cross-country ski, and travel.
All of my experiences have shaped my understanding of family, of community, and how we can work together to effect change at the local level.
Check out my Key Issues page for my positions as a candidate.