Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM - 5 PM - Phone (207) 725-8797


2023 Director's Award: Charleen Foley

April 13, 2023

Director’s Award- Charleen Foley

The Director’s Award is given at the discretion of the Executive Director of the Chamber and there is no set criteria.  This year, I’m using the award to recognize a salt of the earth service-minded community leader who is the best partner I’ve ever worked with in my 16-year Chamber career on any collaborative project.  This year I get to honor my friend, Charleen Foley. 

The thing about Charleen is, her contributions to the community make her eligible for several of our award categories on their merit alone.  She is a key figure in our region and someone many people rely on.

After moving their house up to Maine in 2008…. repeating that statement again so you don’t think you misread it… after Charleen’s husband Paul finished building their home in their backyard in Plymouth, MA and moved it to a plot of land they had bought in Maine, Charleen soon realized a very obvious truth- she didn’t know anyone up here.  Paul had gotten a job with a contractor after completing the Big Dig in Boston, and the family- having been active parishioners in Plymouth- began going to church at St. Patrick’s in Newcastle.  That led to Charleen enrolling as a faith formation catechist- better known to many as a Sunday School teacher- while daughter Sarah (8) and son Aidan (5) got involved in many church activities.  Charleen also got very involved in the PTA at the primary, junior high and high school levels, eventually becoming chair in 2010. 

Once the kids were off and running in their schooling, Charleen began working for Branches, a home healthcare service.  Through that she became a Rotarian in the Damariscotta Rotary Club, and through Rotary she got involved with Karl’s Kids.  Karl’s Kids is a non-profit that supports youth in Lincoln County communities with sports equipment and related needs. Charleen volunteered as their Applications Evaluator which helped her hone new skills including processing grants and helping with fundraisers. 

In 2015, a Business Coordinator role opened up at All Saints Parish, and Paul urged Charleen to apply.  Charleen didn’t think she could do the job, but Paul did, and after 8 years we can all agree, that Paul was right.  Her first project was to help finish raising $4.7M for the vision that would become the St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick. 

That community center is why and where I met Charleen, because of the Chamber Awards Night.  In 2019, we needed a new venue for sit down meal and Kevin Clark from Sitelines had done some work on the community center and connected me with Charleen.  In fact, our Chamber Awards Dinner in March of 2019 was the first community event at the center.  

A month after that, Stephanie Hanner of Spectrum Generations had a coffee with me. She wanted to know if there were organizations in town that may be interested in partnering on a fundraising tree festival, and I knew our chamber had room for a large event in November.  When she asked about a venue, I told Stephanie that I’d just done an event at this great new space, and that Charleen was wonderful to work with.  And thus, the Midcoast Tree Festival was born. 

The MTF has been a joint partnership between All Saints Parish, Spectrum Generations and our Chamber since day one, and it has grown into one of the premier events in the region in just four short years.  In that time, we’ve worked with several different outstanding leaders at Spectrum Generations, but for our chamber and All Saints, it’s been Charleen and I.

From building Beddy McTreeface, in a garage out behind St. Mary’s, and then racing that bed with Charleen and her son Aidan during the first year.  To the late nights counting and setting up the trees.  To sharing closing duties so we can each have some regular hours with spouses at least one or two nights during the six-day festival.  To knowing if one of us told the other we would be there, or get a part of a project done, there was no question that it would be done. 

Our work styles meshed almost immediately, and the things I’m not great with, she is, and vice versa.  The festival has had its share of ups and downs, from state regulation changes, to having to go all virtual in our second year, but we handled each frustration with a little bit of humor, and we always supported each other. 

In some ways we are very different people, but we view community, service, and supporting others in similar ways, and that binds our partnership.  I’m thrilled to call her a colleague and proud to call her a friend. 

Congratulations to Charleen Foley, the 2023 Director’s Award Recipient. 

Watch Charleen's award video here! Video credit to Sturdy Production

RSS Feed RSS Feed

Post Archive

Linkedin Facebook   8 Venture Ave. Brunswick, ME 04011
Linkedin Facebook
Website by Aptuitiv | Powered by BranchCMS