Board Chairman Steve Ryan announced that the Board of Trustees of Friends of Midcoast Maine has voted unanimously to close the organization over the coming months. Ryan said the conditions appear right for this transition. He acknowledged that a major consideration was the many fine community development organizations working throughout the state which are competing for increasingly scarce philanthropic dollars.

At the same time, Jane Lafleur, executive director of Friends of Midcoast Maine, has announced her acceptance of a new position as Senior Consultant with Lift 360 in Portland. Lafleur will continue her work with communities throughout Maine in community development, community building and community engagement. Based in Portland, Lift360 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening leaders, organizations, and communities throughout New England. Lift 360 was formerly merged from the Institute for Civic Leadership and Common Good Ventures.

Ryan says that the FMM Board is confident that their work to build strong communities, places and leaders will continue with Jane Lafleur’s transition to Lift 360. Lift 360 has worked closely with the FMM board in the past and will assist with this transition.

Ryan explains: "FMM has received high praise for the educational and consensus-building work we have accomplished over the past sixteen years and with Jane as our director for 13 years. Dozens of towns in the midcoast and beyond can point to their work with FMM in improving community engagement for better decision-making in planning activities.”

Over the past three years, Friends of Midcoast Maine had conducted The Community Institute, a series of one- or two-day integrated sessions that offered national experts while showcasing local efforts on a variety of important challenges facing the Midcoast. These training sessions addressed topics from building the infrastructure that supports multi-generational communities ("aging in place") to attracting and retaining millennials in our region. “The goal has been to bring communities together and provide information and useful tools for them to address current challenges” said Ryan.

Executive Director Jane Lafleur of Camden, well-respected across the Midcoast as well as nationwide for her knowledge and skills in planning and convening, will leave the organization as of Sept. 1. In late 2015, Lafleur was awarded both the Maine Association of Planners Professional Planner of the Year and the Northern New England Professional Planner of the Year. Lafleur noted, “I am thrilled to have this new opportunity to continue the work of community engagement, community building and community development as a member of the talented and dedicated Team of Lift 360.”

For more information, visit friendsmidcoast.org, communityinstitute.org and lift360.org.