2022 Award Winners

2022 Award Winners

See all the videos, produced by Sutherland-Weston Marketing Communications, by clicking here. 

Norbert X. Dowd Award – Steve Schley

“A tireless champion of Maine’s forest products industry.”  is how Steve Schley was described by a nominator for the Dowd Award.  He oversaw the management of approximately 1 million acres of Maine timberland during his 32 year career with Pingree Associates and Seven Islands Land Company.  During that time he was responsible for helping the company become the largest landowner to achieve forest management sustainability certification according to internationally recognized standards.  He also helped the ownership create the world’s largest private, working-forest conservation easement.

His retirement in 2017 did not end his passion and commitment to advocating for Maine’s forest sector.  In 2016, he stepped forward to lead the Maine Forest-Based Economy Economic Development Assessment Team (FOR/Maine) focused on redeveloping and diversifying rural Maine’s working-forest economy and serving as the primary spokesperson for Maine’s forest products industry.

That effort, in concert with the University of Maine, mill communities, the forest industry, Maine economic development leaders and policy makers has been lauded as a collaboration that other states, Canadian provinces, and European nations are emulating.

The Maine Forest Products Council recognized Steve with their highest award, the Albert D. Nutting Award in 2017, and their Abby Holman award for exemplary public service in 2019.  Steve received the Maine Development Foundation Champion of Rural Economic Development award in 2019.  He co-created and served as chair of the Maine Tree Foundation and remains involved with planning future uses of wood through other organizations including BioBased Maine and the Maine Forest Biorefinery Advisory Council.

Beyond his contribution to Maine’s forest industry, Steve has contributed his time to community organizations as a Board member and trustee including the Maine Children’s Museum, Eastern Maine Healthcare Corporation, the Bangor Y and All Souls Congregational Church.   You may have had the pleasure of seeing Steve perform in EMMC Auxiliary Follies fundraising musicals and Bangor community theater performances.  Being a proud Eagle Scout himself, Steve took great joy and pride volunteering with his son’s troop in Brewer and lent a hand volunteering at the Chrysler Trans-Atlantic Challenge Balloon Race when it was in Bangor.

Steve grew up in Georgia but came to Maine to visit his mother’s side of the family every summer, and moved permanently to Maine in 1985. As a teenager he spent several summers working in the Maine forests.  Steve earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He is a passionate sailor, enjoys pickleball and tennis, and attempts to play golf. He has served his summer community of Sorrento as Commodore and as current Trustee of the golf course.  He and wife Lizabeth have been married for 36 years and are proud parents of Stephen and Mary Grace.

Business of the Year: Northern Light Health, Penobscot Community Health Care, St. Joseph Healthcare

This is the first time that three organizations have been selected to receive and share the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year” award.  This unusual circumstance of awarding multiple businesses is a reflection of how the Bangor region healthcare community came together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northern Light Health, Penobscot Community Health Center and St. Joseph Healthcare demonstrated how collaboration can lead to solutions when faced with extraordinary public health challenges.  Together these organizations educated and informed, organized vaccine and monoclonal antibody clinics, and continued to provide the highest level of care to our community at a time when protecting public health created previously unimagined challenges. The organizations also strategized through the Community Health Leader Board, established years ago to bring the region’s healthcare providers together to address public health issues.  With the onset of the pandemic, this platform provided a forum for healthcare facilities to work together to address the urgent needs of the community.

A nominator for this award said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic these organizations and especially their many employees, were at the center of the pandemic for citizens of the Bangor Region (and beyond) for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, vaccination and as sources of information and inspiration.”

This collaborative effort has been recognized across the state and the nation as a model of organizations working together during a healthcare crisis.  While this partnership starts at the top among leadership—it is the dedicated staff who skillfully cared for our community during COVID-19, that we owe our thanks to, and wish to recognize.

NEW Arts and Culture Award: Brian Hinrichs and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra

“Brian’s steady leadership of the BSO through the pandemic, and his strong commitment and concern for other arts organizations in the community during this time, have been incredibly impressive.  He has shown by example if the arts community as a whole succeeds, then Bangor succeeds,” was a sentiment expressed as part of a nomination for Brian to be recognized with the Arts and Culture Award.

Brian Hinrichs has served as the executive director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra since 2013.  During his tenure, he has expanded the BSO’s community impact through the founding of the Bangor Arts Exchange, and by bringing classical music to rural schools, area hospitals, and beyond.  He has set a high priority on the importance of nurturing young musicianship, and that focus has resulted in the flourishing of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra today. Throughout the pandemic, Brian has made it a priority to continue engaging the BSO’s audiences and musicians alike, leading to the launch of the BSO’s streaming platform, watch.bangorsymphony.org.

Brian grew up in Bay Shore, New York. He moved to Bangor from Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked for Madison Opera and the Madison Symphony Orchestra before completing his MBA at UW-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration. A cellist by training, Brian’s work with the BSO reflects his lifelong passion and commitment to supporting the arts.
Brian, his wife Alexandra, and their kids, Nate, Sam, and Jem, live in Bangor.

Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Service: Kerrie Tripp

Kerrie Tripp’s background and passion is all about promoting the Bangor region.  This was clearly demonstrated by her 18 years working for and leading the Greater Bangor & Convention and Visitors Bureau.  In that role she worked with hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses to help them achieve their goals through regional collaboration, while passionately promoting the state as a “must experience” destination.

From organizing events to attract people to the region, to developing campaigns to promote the region to serving as an “ambassador” and “cheerleader” for the region, Kerrie established herself and the organization as a leader in the tourism industry in Maine and beyond. In addition, Kerrie played a significant role in campaigns for development of Maine’s first casino (Hollywood Casino) and the Cross Insurance Center.

These last few years, Kerrie played a key role working with local, state and national leaders to deliver support to hospitality businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2016, Kerrie was recognized for her work with the FUSION:Bangor ”Leadership and Vision Award” and in 2014 with the Cliff Eames Leadership Award that recognizes the contributions of Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI) alumnus.
Kerrie currently works for Sutherland Weston Marketing and Communications as the Director of Tourism and Hospitality Marketing and teaches a service excellence course at Eastern Maine Community College

Kerrie found her way to Maine after living in various parts of the country and today she enjoys her home in Bangor with her husband, Andy and her son, Wendel, a recent graduate of UMaine.

M. Jane Irving Community Service Award: Risteen Bahr

For more than 25 years, Risteen Bahr has worked tirelessly in Maine’s hospitality and tourism industry, first as the Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and then as the Director of Marketing for Bay Ferries Ltd.

In  2007, Risteen became the Marketing Manager for Bangor International Airport.  During her tenure, she played a critical role that resulted in increasing passenger traffic to record breaking numbers and attracting new airlines and routes.   She was involved in BGR’s Air Cargo development initiatives and general aviation business development to diversify the scope of the BGR portfolio.  Many of the recent improvements and the increased efforts on the passenger experience at BGR are, in part, a result of Risteen’s vision.

Risteen also helped the Maine Troop Greeters maintain permanent space in the airport to greet and welcome troops transiting through Bangor and worked on developing the Maine Troop Greeter Museum.

In 2012, Risteen received the Governor’s Tourism Award for Commitment to Community from the Maine Office of Tourism.  She has served on numerous boards at the local and state level and her retirement from Bangor International Airport in 2018 didn’t slow down her commitment to service.  She continues to serve on the boards of the Maine Tourism Association, Bangor Historical Society, and the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Raised in Steuben, Risteen is a graduate of the University of Maine and resides in Orrington with her husband, Dan.

Non-Profit of the Year: United Way of Eastern Maine

“If you take an evening drive through the center of Bangor you look up and see a big neon sign with the word “Hopeful”.  A simple message given as a gift to Bangor from the United Way of Eastern Maine.  In a time that we are struggling with so much uncertainty, it is a visual reminder we can do this and we are not alone.”  This was a quote from the nomination to recognize the United Way of Eastern Maine with the Non-Profit of the Year award.  In 2021, with the support of many generous donors UWEM installed a HOPEFUL sign in downtown Bangor and gifted it to the City to instill a permanent message of hope and action for our community.

For the last 84 years,  United Way of Eastern Maine has mobilized the caring power of people and communities to provide essential services and identify solutions, aimed at the root causes of the community’s most pressing needs.   UWEM is a convener that brings together a network of partners that provide hope to 1 in 4 people in our community each year.   Thousands of donors contribute more than $1.6 million dollars annually to address the issues of basic needs, substance use disorder and early child development.  UWEM rallies to raise additional funds when they are needed, as evidenced by their extensive response to the COVID 19 pandemic. As a community organization, UWEM welcomes all in joining the mission to create meaningful and lasting change for the future.

Arthur Comstock Professional Service Award: Suzanne Spruce

Suzanne Roach Spruce, APR, is the chief marketing & communications officer and senior VP for Northern Light Health where she oversees brand management, marketing, public relations, community partnerships and customer engagement.  Suzanne was the recipient of the 2020 New England Society of Healthcare Communications’ Evans Houghton Award for performance and contributions to healthcare public relations, marketing and communications.

Her nomination for the Arthur Comstock award included, “Suzanne led the effort to share essential and life-saving information with people across the state of Maine during a global pandemic spanning more than two years. She was integral in developing the strategy to communicate the benefits and importance of vaccination, helping to lead Maine to one of the highest vaccination rates for COVID-19 in the nation.  Although Suzanne was working around the clock during the pandemic, she volunteered to work at the mass vaccination clinics in Bangor while continuing to contribute her time to serving the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.”  Suzanne has served the chamber in several roles over the last 14 years, including chair, and past chair of the board.

Suzanne grew up on a potato farm in southern Aroostook County, Maine where she learned early the value of teamwork and communication.   Today she lives in Bangor and spends as much time as possible at her camp in Southern Aroostook, Maine.

Bion and Dorain Foster Entrepreneurship Award: Gamenetics

Oakley Kilgour loves gaming with his friends.  “I remember staying up until the early hours of the morning with our Doritos and Mountain Dew, and when sunrise came around we would sneak into our beds so our parents wouldn’t know.”  That excitement for gaming led Oakley to create customized controllers for himself and a few friends.  From there he decided to sell a few on eBay.
What began as a hobby in his parents’ basement has grown into the most customizable controller company in the world with more than 50,000 units sold and multi-millions in sales since the company was established in 2015.  The company has expanded into their own warehouse facility located in Bangor (their parents have reclaimed their basement) employing five people, including Oakley’s brother Cooper who has been part of this journey since the beginning.
They are experiencing astounding growth right here in the Bangor region as a result of their online presence on TikTok and YouTube with millions of views.  “They have taken a hobby they are passionate about in a city they are passionate about and have built something incredible,” was written in the nomination for this award”.  In addition to, “A young owner who started a business from nothing and built it into a multi-million dollar business with many more ideas for growth is a true example of an entrepreneur.”
Seriously cool fact:  Gamenetics is the second generation family business to be recognized with a Chamber award.  In 2015 C&L Aviation (founded by Oakley and Cooper’s father, Chris Kilgour) was recognized with the same award, the Bion and Dorain Foster Entrepreneurship Award.

Stay up-to-date on all of our events with our FREE email newsletter!

Our Premier Members