“Roots to remind you where you’re from and wings to show you what you can become” was the theme of remarks by northern Maine native Gilda Nardone upon accepting the Deborah Morton award in a ceremony at the Portland Campus of the University of New England. The Deborah Morton Awards are presented each year to outstanding women who have achieved high distinction in their careers and public service, or whose leadership in civic, cultural and social causes has been exceptional. 

Nardone’s own roots are in Aroostook County where she learned the values of hard work and community in Presque Isle.  She began to spread her wings after graduating from what was then Westbrook Junior College – now the University of New England – finding mentors and inspiration along the way to a graduate degree in educational administration from Wheelock College. For the past 38 years, she has served as Executive Director of New Ventures Maine (formerly Maine Displaced Homemakers Program and then Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community), an organization dedicated to helping others take flight to a new or better career. From its roots as a small displaced homemakers program, Nardone has built a sturdy organization that has evolved to meet the changing needs of women – and men – in the workplace.

Jeff Scher Photography

Today, under Nardone’s leadership, New Ventures Maine and its staff of 20, helps people all over the state venture in new directions by offering tuition-free programs for career, business, and financial education. She is especially proud of the Totally Trades Conferences her organization delivers around the state that give young girls hands-on experiences in trade and technical career fields. Nardone is a collaborator and advocate for expanding opportunities for adult learners of all ages.

She is the recipient of previous awards for her leadership and activism at both the state and national levels, including: the Maryann Harman Award, The Women in Public Life Award, and the Women in Business Champion for Maine and New England, Small Business Administration. She was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and the national WomenWork! Hall of Fame in 2004.

Other Deborah Morton Award recipients honored along with Ms. Nardone are Dr. Susan J. Hunter, who currently serves as President of the University of Maine and Eileen F. Skinner, who has served as the president and chief executive officer of Mercy Health System of Maine.

More information about New Ventures Maine can be found at newventuresmaine.org or by calling 1-800-442-2092.

 

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