Kate Dempsey, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine, visited the University of Maine on Monday, Nov. 14 to speak about her new role in the community. Dempsey was promoted to her post in January of 2016, bringing more than 25 years of experience in conservation, economic development and public health to the table, along with 12 years of experience as a senior policy advisor for Federal Affairs and the Director of External Affairs.
The event was held in 107 Norman Smith Hall from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dempsey presented about her experiences scaling local efforts to achieve global conservation goals. During her time at the Conservancy, Dempsey has played various key roles in statewide and national projects including the Penobscot River Restoration Project, the Katahdin Forest Project, the 2014 Clean Water Bond, the demolition of the Veazie Dam in 2013 and the removal of the Great Works Dam of 2012.
Dempsey is currently leading in partnering the Conservancy and its stakeholders to find new ways for sustainably managed forests to both reduce carbon emissions and support critical jobs in Maine communities. She is also working with partners to find innovative ways to support schools and communities to encourage their students to learn about the “natural world.”
The Nature Conservancy in Maine was founded in 1958 by a group committed to a healthy Maine. Dempsey plans to carry on that tradition by leading other passionate individuals in the fight of finding “practical approaches that ensure our incredible natural resources remain an asset for the people in Maine.”
Dempsey’s current duties as state director in Maine include working very closely with Maine’s Congressional delegation. She oversees partnerships and policy development within Maine and encourages the Congressional Delegation to support the Nature Conservancy’s priorities such as passing federal budgets that support conservation and making Maine communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
In Dempsey’s presentation she asked the audience, “How can we challenge ourselves as conservationists to think about the big questions?” Dempsey highlighted that currently in Millinocket, Maine, the timber industry has severely declined, causing an economic downfall in the community. An audience member added, “it’s very encouraging to watch people who used to be fighting, coming together with a common goal to make a better community.”
Dempsey highlighted the importance of addressing climate change and supporting forests, noting, “think about the virtuous cycle. If you start with nature, the northern Appalachian Mountain forest range is crucial to protect. We have used tools over the years to respond to economic shifts in that forest economy. In doing so, we’ve kept that forest protected. Collectively, we kept the forest intact.” This was one of several movements that Dempsey has taken part in as State Director for Maine in the Nature Conservancy.
“It’s incredibly important to sit down and look at other perspectives and sustainable ways to address climate change, supporting forests and conservation efforts. It’s collective,” Dempsey added.