What happened when BRLI Clifton Eames Award winners lunched with Clif

What happens when you gather together a room of people who all have strong connections to Bangor, Maine and have all been awarded the Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI) G. Clifton Eames Leadership Award?   

MAGIC!   That’s what happens.

LtoR: Bill Lucy, Kelly Pearson, Jason Clay, Kerrie Tripp, Bob Potts, Dennis Marble, Kirsten Ismail, Clif Eames, Jon Eames, Rob Reeves, Jane Searles, Shirar Patterson, Karl Ward, Dick Cattelle, Carol Colson, Deb Neuman

That magic occurred recently on a beautiful August afternoon,  four floors above the Penobscot River in the Boardroom of the new home of Bangor Savings Bank.   I had invited these awardees (see list below) to have lunch with Clif Eames.   We are so grateful to have had this opportunity to let Mr. Eames know how he has influenced all of us to “live up to” what this award represents.

“The G. Clifton Eames Leadership Award was established to recognize the contributions of outstanding BRLI alumni. It was inspired by Clif Eames, whose leadership as a local businessman and commitment to the Bangor Region serves as an illustration of what an outstanding leader truly is. Each year, the award is given to a BRLI alumnus who has used their leadership skills, knowledge and resources to benefit the community and the region.”

We started off by introducing ourselves, although many of us have known each other in various capacities over the years so this was truly a special reunion!   We shared what the BRLI program meant for us both personally and professionally. Here are a few comments:


  • Gives you a sense of belonging
  • Opens your eyes to economic opportunities in the community
  • Creates lifelong friendships
  • Was the beginning of my possibilities
  • Is the reason I chose to remain in this community

There were many comments about why the Bangor community is so special…

  • You can be a big fish in a small pond
  • Any one person can come up with an idea and make great things happen!
  • You can leave, return and still feel like you belong.

It was great to hear from Dick Cattelle, Karl Ward and Clif Eames about their experiences as the “pioneers”of the program that started as an idea to grow future leaders in our community and years later has had a tremendous impact that they could have never predicted.  We all appreciated the contributions of Kathy Hunt and Merlene Sanborn to the program.

Dick Cattelle remarked, “Looking back over my career and professional life, BRLI is the one thing I feel the most internal pride about.”

Fast forward to the present and plans for the future!  We were fortunate to have the Current Chair of the BRLI Steering Committee, Jason Clay and Past Chair Kirsten Ismail joining us to talk about where the program is today.   Both Kirsten and Jason expressed their pride in the program and the honor they feel as “stewards” of the program.

Did you know the BRLI program now has 450 alumnae?

We all agreed that one of the reasons BRLI continues to be a successful program is because it has been able to adapt and remain relevant while never losing it’s core mission.

I could not miss the opportunity to ask these leaders to share their lessons learned as leaders.  Hopefully these lessons will inspire you as they did me.

Great leaders…

  • demonstrate integrity, reliability, commitment
  • surround themselves with people smarter than they are
  • LISTEN!   
  • have a sense of humor
  • are humble
  • are doers, givers not takers
  • are goal oriented and determined
  • assume positive intent
  • have to be decisive and make decisions
  • view challenges as opportunities
  • inspire
  • are self aware and admit their mistakes
  • allow their team to soar
  • are great mentors
  • are creative and encourage their team to be so
  • understand their roles and skills and the roles and skills of their team

More words of wisdom…

  • Sometimes leaders can be too quick to make decisions when it’s best to “take one more breath” and see if a better idea surfaces.
  • You need to be “with” your team.  You can’t lead from afar.
  • Management by “walking around”

As the group walked out to the rooftop deck for a photo there were smiles, conversation and a sense of being part of something extraordinary.  The BRLI program is extraordinary.  If you would like to know more go here.


G. Clifton Eames Awardees

Shirar Patterson 2018 – Kelly Pearson 2017 – Elizabeth Sutherland 2016 – Bob Potts 2015 – Kerrie Tripp 2014 – Glenn Mower 2013 – Gary Creaser 2012 – Jane Searles 2011 – Dennis Marble 2010 – Deb Neuman 2009 – Bill Lucy 2008 – Dick Cattelle 2007 –  Carol Colson 2006 – Rob Reeves 2005 – Jon Eames 2004 – Merlene Sanborn 2002 – Karl Ward 2001

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