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Every Living Creature Deserves Agency: A profile of Cathleen Maine, Deputy Director



Photograph of Cathleen Maine

Although Cathleen Maine is a recent addition to our staff, having joined us last fall as Deputy Director, she has quickly become an indispensable part of our community. She grew up in Oneonta, where gently rolling hills meet beautiful forests and placid lakes and rivers. Because there were always kids to hang out with, including three brothers, Cathleen spent much of her childhood outdoors playing games like kickball, kick the can, and tag. During the winter, when cold snaps and deep snows made for perfect conditions, she'd bundle up, grab her sled or skates, and scoot outside to make the most of the day. Not surprisingly, she also had a sharp eye for any changes in the landscape.


"I have always been sensitive to human impact on the environment and to wildlife," she says. "When I was young I watched Interstate 88 being built from the back of my father’s business. It was horrifying to me and it made me keenly aware of how progress defined by humans is not necessarily progress for nature. Decisions based solely on economic arguments have vast consequences for nature, and we see this borne out today. Even then, I inherently understood that every living creature deserves agency to live out their lives and spaces in which to do so."


This sensitivity toward nature has served Cathleen well throughout her globe-spanning career. Following high school, she earned her B.A. in Asian Studies at Hawaii Loa College (now part of Hawaii Pacific University), with a minor in Japanese, before eventually moving to Japan for seven years. There, much as she did when she was little, she spent a lot of time outdoors doing exciting things, like learning how to fly fish or snowboard; she even laced up her boots and hiked up some of the country's many incredible volcanoes, an enviable experience for anyone who enjoys spending time in nature. After Japan, she returned to the United States and settled in Vermont, where, most recently, she served at the Northeast Wilderness Trust for nine years


In her role as Deputy Director, Cathleen supports our efforts to be efficient and effective in our mission. She does this by ensuring that we have the right systems, processes, and people in place, and she is clearly passionate about this vitally important work. As she puts it, her goal is to "improve the foundational building blocks so that we can protect more land than ever before." Though she’s only been here a few months, our staff is already seeing positive results. We couldn't be more thrilled to have Cathleen on our team. 


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