Central Maine business briefs: Maine Osteopathic Association

Maine Osteopathic Association honors Maine DOs at convention

The Maine Osteopathic Association held its 111th annual convention the weekend of June 10-12 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. The hybrid event allowed osteopathic physicians and guests, in person or virtually, to partake in a continuing medical education sessions. During the convention, the association also held its awards luncheon to honor the contributions of osteopathic physicians in Maine on June 11.

MOA 2022 Award recipients:

John Diefenderfer, D.O., was selected as Young Osteopathic Physician of the Year. This award is conferred upon an osteopathic physician new in practice who has demonstrated the potential to become a major force in osteopathic medicine in the future.

Diefenderfer completed medical training at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and family medicine training at St. Vincent’s Family Medicine Residency in Jacksonville, Florida. He then made his way to Maine, completing both a sports medicine fellowship and ONMM residency at Maine-Dartmouth in Augusta. He now serves as faculty for both the Maine-Dartmouth family medicine residency and the ONMM3 residency. He sees patients for sports medicine consults and osteopathic treatment, precepts residents and has leadership responsibilities within Maine-Dartmouth.

Diefenderfer is known for his kindness and his willingness to step up to the table and do his part. For the past two years he has also volunteered his time as a member of the MOA’s Professional & Public Education Committee, assisting in the planning of MOA’s two annual conferences. He was recently elected to the MOA Board of Directors.

John A. Taylor, D.O., was honored with the 2022 Louis Hanson D.O. Physician of the Year Award, a prestigious award named in honor of the late Dr. Hanson, an icon in the osteopathic community. It is given to an osteopathic physician who demonstrated a high quality of practice, a compassionate interest in patients and a commitment to his or her community in the past year.

Taylor earned his Osteopathic Medicine degree from the University of New England, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford and completed a fellowship in Clinical Neurology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. He then joined Mid Coast-Parkview Health in 2007 and went on to found Maine’s only ALS Association-affiliated clinic, serving as its director since it opened in 2016.

The clinic, which currently serves 35 patients, is a collaboration of Mid Coast Medical Group–Neurology and Mid Coast Hospital Rehabilitation and provides comprehensive services to better the lives of ALS patients, many of which are not covered by insurance. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor and his team adapted policies and procedures to continue providing safe and supportive care.

In addition to his exemplary leadership in the care of patients with ALS, Taylor also serves as medical director of Midcoast’s Stroke Program. In 2012, the program received its first Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers by The Joint Commission — the highest level of stroke certification for a community hospital.

Taylor’s visionary leadership, high quality medical practice and a deep commitment to his patients and greater community won him the title Physician of the Year.

Robert “Rob” Stevens, D.O. of Oakland was recognized with the Roswell P. Bates, D.O. Public Service Award, given for outstanding achievement in public health, political or community service that enhances and demonstrates the osteopathic profession’s commitment to service above and beyond that of direct patient care.

Stevens is a graduate of University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and was a member of the inaugural class of the Maine-Dartmouth Sports Medicine Fellowship, where he still serves as a clinical instructor. He practices both family medicine and sports medicine at MaineGeneral Medical Center.

Stevens is also well known for his commitment to serving his community. He serves as the team physician for Messalonskee High School and volunteers at YMCA summer camps as well at his church.

Some say his work with his patients, MaineGeneral Medical Center and the community has transformed primary care and sports medicine in the greater Augusta/Waterville region and beyond, which made Stevens a clear choice for this year’s Bates Award.

Kenneth Baker, D.O., was chosen as the 2022 recipient for MOA’s highest honor — the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes an osteopathic physician who has made a major impact on the profession and society over the course of their career.

Baker has served his community of Norridgewock as a family physician since he first opened the practice in 1979. He has cared for thousands of Central Maine residents, including five generations of one single family.

A native of Fort Kent, Baker grew up knowing he would pursue a career in medicine. After completing his undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, he went on to earn his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. From there, he worked as a camp physician at Pine Tree Camp in Rome and went on to open his family practice while also serving as part of the medical staff at Redington Fairview Hospital in Skowhegan, the former Waterville Osteopathic Hospital, the Good Will-Hinckley School and the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta over the years.

After a long and rewarding career, Baker plans to close his practice and retire this July. But true to his giving spirit, he plans to pursue volunteer medical service opportunities abroad.

In addition to these awards, Osteopathic Physicians were also recognized for their years of service to the people of Maine, including Lonnie Lauer, D.O., of Bridgton, and John Fearon, D.O. (currently residing in Ohio), who as of 2022 have each been licensed to practice osteopathic medicine in Maine for 50 years.

During the convention weekend the association also held elections for open positions on its Board of Directors. John Diefenderfer, D.O., of Hallowell was elected as a new Director for a three-year term.


SCORE honors central Maine businesses

Two central Maine businesses were recently honored by SCORE Maine, a national nonprofit organization that connects entrepreneurs with mentors to help start and grow their businesses.

Shari Hamilton, founder of Hello, Good Pie Bakery & Cafe, has spent the last eight years growing her business and creating a community gathering place in Belgrade Lakes. She received the Woman-Owned Small Business Award.

Bob Magin, founder of Six Fins Guide Service, provides ice fishing adventures in winter months and guided boat fishing tours in warmer months, winning him the Innovative Small Business Award.

SCORE Maine has a network of 130 certified mentors who helped 224 new business starts and 1,297 new jobs created.

Kendra Baker Submitted photo

United Way of the Tri-Valley Area welcomes new executive director

The Board of Directors of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area is pleased to announce the appointment of Kendra Baker as the next Executive Director of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. Baker, who lives in Jay with her husband Kenneth, has a depth of experience with the organization and passion for the mission.

“I am excited for this leadership opportunity at United Way of the Tri-Valley Area,” said Baker, according to a news release from the United Way chapter. “This new position not only allows for growth in my career with UWTVA, but also allows me to focus even more on my passion of helping to make our community healthier, stronger, and united. I am eager to continue growing the great successes that Lisa Laflin has brought to this organization, as well as addressing the challenges. I appreciate all the continued and new support during this transition and look forward to this opportunity.”

Baker joined United Way in 2015 and over the past seven years has held multiple positions, including most recently director of operations. She has overseen all aspects of the organization’s financial systems, managing the day-to-day operations and activities; diversified organizational revenue by increasing participation in the Corporate Champion Circle; and created and implemented new events that have increased the organization’s visibility. In addition, she is the brainchild behind new programs at United Way, including the Hope Fund which in the last five years has provided more than $61,000 in support to 474 area youth and two nonprofits in the region.

Baker knows the people and communities she serves. Past employment with Franklin-Somerset FCU, Camden National Bank, Work First Inc. and LEAP provides her  with a wealth of contacts and insight to the opportunities and challenges of the region.

She holds a variety of certifications including financials of banking, medical terminology and ethics in the workplace. She is a graduate of Coastal Carolina Community College and Mt. Blue High School.


BluShift Aerospace secures prize

Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace successfully secured a $25,000 prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank. BluShift is reducing the environmental impact of the space industry by utilizing bio-derived fueled hybrid rockets. In 2021, bluShift launched the first commercial rocket in the world powered by non-toxic, carbon-neutral, bio-derived fuel.

“Being a member of the Dirigo Labs accelerator has been incredibly rewarding,” said Sascha Deri, founder and CEO of bluShift Aerospace,  according to a news release from Dirigo Labs. “With this $25,000 prize, bluShift can now move ahead with a series of critical milestones, including an FAA launch analysis and a rapid-fire sequence of exciting engine tests. We are incredibly grateful to the mentors and advisors at Dirigo who have been critical to our progress.”

Hosted at Colby College, 12 companies competed for the cash prize. The judging criteria included pitch delivery, capital strategy and impact on entrepreneurship in Maine. The 12-week program guided startups through a targeted curriculum to execute their project plans, and each cohort company worked with a curated board of local and national mentors from various industries. Seminar topics included utilizing public-private sector grants and economic incentives, customer acquisition strategies, capital planning and intellectual property evaluation.

“We are proud to support the first Dirigo Labs Accelerator pitch contest and partner with such an amazing group of local makers,” said Skowhegan Savings Bank Senior Vice President of Sales Dan Tilton. “Our mission at Skowhegan Savings is to ‘Make our communities a better place to live and work’. This group of incredible entrepreneurs are doing just that by bringing innovative products and services to market. I look forward to seeing them continue to flourish and drive economic growth throughout Maine and beyond.”

Receiving both the pitch competition prize and the Audience Choice Award, bluShift was provided with a one-year dedicated desk membership to Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space in Waterville. In addition to bluShift’s dedicated desk, each company that participated in the cohort received a two-year floating desk membership to Bricks. Leveraging the coworking space and the organization’s launch space in Brunswick, bluShift will continue to expand its operations within central Maine and beyond.

“I started working with bluShift four years ago as a contractor creating all their videos with the talented team at Knack Factory. It is incredible to see the organization’s continued growth and success,” states Lindsay Becker, operations manager at bluShift Aerospace. “Having the opportunity to enter the company as a full-time employee, along with winning the pitch prize, has shown me that Maine-based tech companies have the ability to grow and prosper in Maine, and I look forward to seeing the company secure the talent it needs to succeed in both the short- and long term.”

New trustees appointed to Maine Community College System board

AUGUSTA — The Maine Community College System welcomed five new members to the MCCS Board of Trustees at the June 22 board meeting.

Margaret Angell of Cape Elizabeth is the head of partnerships and strategic initiatives at The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, based in Portland. She previously was deputy director for the Institute for Digital Engineering and Advanced Life Sciences, and has 20 years of experience in education. Angell serves on the board of directors for The Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Maine & Co.

Jane Gilbert of Augusta retired in 2009 as Maine’s deputy commissioner of labor and returned recently as special assistant to Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. Gilbert is a mediator for the Maine Labor Relations Board and is an active member of the retiree chapters of the AFL-CIO and MSEA. She previously served on the board of directors of the Family Violence Project, the Children’s Center, Maine Children’s Alliance and Equality Maine, and served on the Maine State Civil Service Review Board.

Elizabeth Neptune of Indian Township is an independent consultant and previously worked as interim health director for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point and at the Maine Center for Disease Control. She serves on the Maine Health Access Foundation Community Advisory Committee, the American Public Health Services Association Leadership Council, is a delegate for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee and sits on the tribal advisory committee for the U.S. HHS Administration for Children and Families. She is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township Tribal Council. She has received multiple awards and honors for her leadership in advocating for, improving and providing Indian health care.

Kate Rush of Newport is vice president of corporate development at Tilson and previously held multiple senior leadership positions at Bangor Savings Bank. She is on the board of Good Shepherd Food Bank and serves on the steering committee of Working Communities Challenge. She has served as a mentor with Olympia’s Leadership Institute and is currently chair of the Newport Select Board.

Cherle Wendelken of Portland is director of the Brooks Family Foundation. She previously worked as an associate professor of art and architectural history at Harvard University. She has served on the board of trustees for Waynflete and Mayo Street Arts in Portland as well as Ithaca City of Asylum, Ithaca Waldorf School and Sciencenter of Ithaca, all in New York.

The new trustees were nominated by Gov. Janet Mills and confirmed by the Maine Senate. Their first board meeting was June 22.

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