Maine’s bold visionaries tell personal stories of triumph that will give you insight into what drives them—and keeps them moving forward.
Architect Rob Whitten was born and raised outside of Boston, and spent summers on the coast of Maine. He is married to Robin F. Whitten, the editor and publisher of AudioFile Magazine. Their son, Denny, is an architect. The Whittens have been residents of Munjoy Hill in Portland since 1976, and their home and gardens are a work in progress. Whitten founded Whitten Architects (now an eight-person office) in 1986. Today, the firm specializes in the design of custom homes and vacation houses. Their sustainably designed, site-specific homes have locations ranging from Martha’s Vineyard to Chester, Nova Scotia. Whitten enjoys drawing, gardens, walking, travel, and sailing.
Dr. Emily Isaacson is not the status quo in classical music. A female conductor in a male-dominated field, a mother, Mainer, and an entrepreneur, Isaacson’s concerts have been praised as “not just music but the full panoply of human creative endeavor.” Isaacson is the Artistic Director of the Oratorio Chorale, a symphonic chorus and professional orchestra in Maine. She is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Portland Bach Experience, a festival that pushes the boundaries of classical music in a modern world through concerts in familiar and progressive formats.
Justin Alfond is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former state legislator. He co-founded Portland's Bayside Bowl and has invested in several real estate and small business projects in the Greater Portland region. During his legislative tenure, he served as Maine Senate President and Senate Minority Leader. His philanthropic work is dedicated to ending child hunger in Maine through Full Plates Full Potential. Raised in Dexter and Waterville, Alfond lives in the West End with his wife and two children.
Brendan Sinclair is the Farm Manager for Turner Farm on North Haven Island, where he and his partner, Liesel, grow organic vegetables and tend to cows, pigs, and chickens. As a first-generation farmer, Sinclair has explored sustainable agriculture production in a variety of challenging environments around the country, and previously worked with Michigan State University Extension to develop multiple educational farms before moving to Maine. He holds a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Food Systems, and views organic farming as the ultimate adventure. He is currently coordinating an inter-island community-supported agriculture program for North Haven and Vinalhaven.
Pamela Florea has been in the nursing profession for more than 40 years and has a thriving private practice in Freeport, Maine. Over the past two decades, she has found her passion as an intuitive energy psychotherapist, integrating sound and color healing with traditional talk therapy. By utilizing these complementary techniques, she offers highly personalized sessions, tailored to the needs of each client. This mind-body approach helps break cycles of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering.
This two-time Grammy nominee’s career has taken Cidny Bullens from singing back-up with Elton John and lead vocals on the “Grease” movie soundtrack, to having eight critically acclaimed solo albums, including the award-winning Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth. Bullens has co-written songs in Nashville, producing several charting singles, and is one-third of “super-group” The Refugees with Wendy Waldman and Deborah Holland. In 2011, Cindy became Cidny, making the daunting decision to transition from female to male. Bullens has written his one-person show, Somewhere Between: Not An Ordinary Life, and is performing it around the country to rave reviews.
Carolann Ouellette joined Maine Huts & Trails as Executive Director in January 2017. Before that, she was director of the Maine Office of Tourism since 2011. Under her leadership, Maine has benefited from multiple years of consistent growth in tourism. A graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Ouellette was chef/owner of an award-winning restaurant in Jackman. She has a strong background in outdoor recreation as a former whitewater guide and was operations manager for New England Outdoor Center. She also managed the Sugarloaf Inn. Ouellette has been involved in many organizations over the years, including as a current board member at Large U.S. Travel Association and a coordinating team member for the Maine Woods Consortium. Past positions include: Board Chair of Discover New England, Board Chair of Maine Tourism Association, and Grant Advisor Western Mountains Fund, Maine Community Foundation. She enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.
Jennifer Hutchins is the Executive Director of the Maine Association of Nonprofits. Prior to joining MANP in July 2016, Hutchins was Executive Director of Creative Portland, where she led the City of Portland’s efforts to strengthen the creative economy. Hutchins is a co-author of the seminal 2004 report published by the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service on Maine’s Creative Economy. She was the Director of Communications and External Affairs at the USM Muskie School for nine years and Marketing Director at Portland Stage Company from 1995-2000. Her career got its start at organizations in Washington, D.C. and abroad before returning to Maine and deciding it was the best place for her to make a difference. She holds a master’s in public policy and management and lives in Portland with her husband and two daughters.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Adele Masengo Ngoy attended fashion school and worked as a professor. After coming to Portland as a refugee and single mother in 2000, she founded Adele Masengo Designs and purchased Antoine’s Tailor Shop and Formal Wear. In 2011, she founded Women United Around the World, which promotes the leadership development of female immigrants.