Investing in Democracy: A Fundamental Strategy for All Foundations in 2024 & Beyond

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 -
9:00am to 12:00pm EDT
Mechanics' Hall
519 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
Registration Fee: 
Members: $35.00
Non-members: $75.00
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A healthy and vibrant democracy affects all of us, yet many perceive this work as outside their organization’s scope or too close to partisan politics. According to NonprofitVOTES, "active civic engagement, including voting, contributes to local communities' health and economic vitality. Research shows that civic and voter participation comes with a host of benefits. People who vote are more likely to connect with neighbors, talk to elected officials, and engage civically in other ways." A thriving democracy ensures greater inclusion, justice, and accountability, and a failing democracy attacks those ideals. Come join us as we hear from national and local experts on the state of democracy in Maine and explore the following questions:

  • What is the landscape and context of this work in Maine?
  • How can we ensure that the 2024 electorate represents all Maine people?
  • What role does philanthropy have in ensuring robust voter education and engagement?
  • How can our sector advance narratives rooted in truth and that advance civil dialogue?

Join us for this engaging conversation!

Participants will leave with:

  • The context of democracy work and the issues impacting Maine
  • Strategies to strengthen democracy
  • Philanthropy's role in ensuring the health of our democracy for future generations
  • Inspiration to support c3 democratic work happening in Maine. 
  • The commitment to continued conversation to remain up-to-date about opportunities to strengthen our democracy. 

Speakers Bios: 

More bios to come

Secretary Shenna Bellows, Maine Secretary of State

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is Maine’s 50th Secretary of State, and Maine’s first female Secretary of State. Secretary Shenna Bellows is an advocate for democracy, tirelessly working to safeguard the fundamental principles of freedom, fairness, and transparency in our increasingly interconnected world. Raised in Hancock, Maine, Bellows has always been drawn to social justice issues and the power of grassroots activism rooted in collaboration, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to the principles of fairness and equality.

With a background in civil liberties advocacy and community organizing, Shenna Bellows has emerged as a leading voice in the fight to protect democratic institutions. In prior roles as State Senator and Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Bellows demonstrated her commitment to defending civil liberties and promoting social change. She successfully led campaigns to advance voting rights, protect privacy rights, and promote government transparency, earning widespread respect for her strategic leadership and unwavering dedication to justice.

Secretary Bellows has consistently championed policies that promote and strengthen cybersecurity and online privacy. She believes in harnessing the power of technology to enhance civic engagement and promote democratic values, while also advocating for robust regulations to prevent abuses of power and protect the rights of individuals. Currently, Secretary Bellows is serving on the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Elections, Cybersecurity, State Records and Archives, Business Services, and International Relations Committees. She was a member of the bipartisan 2021 NASS Task Force on Vote Verification. She serves as Secretary on the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing & Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) Executive Committee. She is a member of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council. She additionally serves on the Elections Assistance Commission Standards Board.

In her ongoing efforts to safeguard democracy, Shenna Bellows inspires others to join the fight for a more just and resilient democracy. Through her leadership and advocacy, she continues to be a driving force for positive change leaving a lasting impact on the future of democracy for generations to come.

Kristen Cambell, Chief Executive Officer, PACE Funders 

Kristen Cambell is CEO of PACE, a philanthropic laboratory for funders seeking to maximize their impact on democracy and civic life in America. Previously, Kristen ran her own consulting practice focused on civic engagement, education, and leadership. She served the National Conference on Citizenship as its Chief Program Officer, and has held philanthropic roles at the Case Foundation and Points of Light. Kristen is an AmeriCorps Alum and serves on the board of United Philanthropy Forum and Citizen University, as well as the advisory groups of several national groups, including the working group of the Philanthropy Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution.

Sarah Skillin Woodard, Deputy Executive Director, Maine Democracy Collaborative

Sarah has twenty-five years of policy, advocacy, and fundraising experience. She serves as the Deputy Director of the Maine Democracy Collaborative, the only organization in Maine using strategic philanthropy to advance the state’s progressive movement. Before working with MDC, Sarah championed the nonprofit sector while both the Advocacy and Public Affairs Director for the Maine Association of Nonprofits and the Maine Philanthropy Center. As Executive Director of Emerge Maine, she helped elect record numbers of progressive women to office culminating in the first majority of women seated in the state legislature. 
Ask Sarah how to leverage philanthropic dollars to expand civic engagement and democracy protection in Maine and beyond. 


Beth Allen, Director, Maine Votes/Voices Network 

Beth Allen is passionate about advocacy. She has spent her entire career in the public policy arena driving local, state, and federal legislative advocacy and ballot initiative campaigns, grassroots organizing campaigns, and public policy programs. She has been involved in numerous impactful programs and initiatives to reduce gun violence, ensure affordable access to high-quality childcare and create a fair and just society for the LGBTQ community. In her time with Maine Voices Network Beth has led essential coalition work on democracy reform and racial equity advocacy.

Beth and her family live in Wells where they enjoy taking their dog for beach walks and attending community activities. 

Facilitator, Jake Grindle, Program Officer at the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF)

Jake Grindle (he/him) joined the MeHAF staff in September of 2015. He currently oversees MeHAF’s Health Equity Capacity-Building and Advocacy grant programs. Prior to this position, Jake worked at Western Maine Community Action, where he served as the Project Coordinator for the Maine Community Action Health Navigator Project. Jake also served as the Field Director for the Northeast Archaeology Research Center and the University of Maine at Farmington. He has also worked as a Community Organizer for the Maine’s People Alliance and Maine People’s Resource Center, and was a founding member and organizer for Visible Community in Lewiston. Jake is a graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington. He currently lives in Pownal with his partner and their 3 year-old.

Megan Shore, Policy & Strategy Director, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

Megan’s adult life is heavily influenced by her upbringing in the fishing community of Gloucester, MA where she developed a deep love for the ocean, commitment to community, and respect for the role that natural resources play in the overall well-being of people.  After four years in the cornfields of Ohio, where she attended the College of Wooster, Megan returned to New England and has been in Maine ever since. 

Megan has worked in the nonprofit field for over 20 years, primarily focusing on fisheries, land conservation, and organizational capacity building.  Megan joined the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation in 2010 where she currently serves as the Senior Program Officer. Working at the Foundation brings together her diverse interests, skills, and commitment to contributing to the well-being of people, environment, and animals.  Megan also serves on the Board of Directors of the Maine Philanthropy Center and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund.

Hiking, paddling, gardening, attempting to play fiddle, and messing about with two kids and two dogs tends to keep Megan busy when she’s not in the office. After intermittent attempts over the past thirty years, Megan now enjoys going for regular runs (or, at least, the feeling after the fact).

Reese Remington, Inclusive Democracy & Civic Engagement Manager, Maine Votes/Voices Network

Reese Remington brings her dedication to community building and inclusive democracy to her role as the Inclusive Democracy and Civic Engagement Manager (IDCEM) at Maine Votes/Voices Network since 2023. Passionate about fostering community cohesion in Maine, Reese prioritizes efforts to cultivate collective empowerment through civic engagement initiatives. Her focus lies in ensuring equitable access to resources, knowledge, and opportunities for civic participation, particularly within communities of color.
At Maine Votes/Voices Network, Reese leads the Community Power Planning Project (CPPP), a program designed to empower BIPOC-led and serving organizations during electoral cycles. Through CPPP, she provides essential resources, training, and support for civic engagement, while nurturing spaces for connection and collaboration. Reese's work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of holistic community engagement. She explores how investing time and resources in diverse facets of civic participation can ultimately bolster voter turnout and enhance the electoral process through the CPPP program.

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