Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: Goodbye.”
Longtime MTI contractor and employee Martha Bentley has accepted a new position with the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and will start in the new role on July 1. While we are all thrilled for Martha, as well as for the State of Maine as a whole, we are obviously saddened for MTI’s loss. Martha has been a force at MTI over the past 17 years and will be sorely missed. First engaging with MTI as a contractor to administer early research and development bond programs and operating in that role for 14 years, she then became an “official” member of MTI’s staff in July 2016, serving as MTI’s Director of Innovation Infrastructure.
In her role as the Director of Innovation Infrastructure, she has been responsible for ecosystem support programs, including MTI’s sponsorship activity, and State of Maine bond programs. She oversaw the Cluster Initiative Program, the University of Maine Small Campus Initiative, and served as the administrative backbone of the Maine Accelerates Growth program. Over the past three years, she also oversaw the administration of $65 million in bond-funded projects for MTI including the Biomedical and Cancer Research Bonds, MTAF2.0, and the Marine Bond.
Martha demonstrated initiative by working with the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board throughout 2017 to help them complete their first Maine Innovation Action Plan report since 2010. The Action Plans are due every five years and the members of MIEAB had not been able to attend to its completion until Martha stepped up to tackle the coordination and development of it.
Martha has been a leader at MTI in identifying challenges, developing solutions and overseeing their implementation. She played a vital role in helping MTI implement its strategic plan and launch its new funding approach by consistently taking initiative and identifying opportunities for improvement to MTI’s processes. Additionally, she has always conveyed a positive and professional image of MTI through her work on the following ecosystem projects or initiatives: MIEAB support/S&T Plan coordination; Maine Food Strategy Economic Development Council; Research Reinvestment Advisory Committee (UMS); EPSCoR workforce committee; FOR Maine – Exec Committee; Global Market Analysis Committee; Emerging Technologies Committee; USM Business School Advisory Board; Maine Space Grant Review Committee; and the FocusMaine Trade Marketing Review Committee. And, importantly she’s played a leadership role for MTI on collaborations such as the #MaineCanDo, the Maine Women for Women Investor Initiative, the Maine Community Foundation’s Downeast Entrepreneurship/Innovation collaboration, and the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy.
Again, Martha has contributed a great deal to MTI over the past 17 years and we owe her a debt of gratitude for all her efforts and impact. I sincerely appreciate all her contributions to MTI and Maine’s innovation economy and wish her well in her new position with the State of Maine.
Of course, it’s been said that all things change, and friends sometimes leave, but life and work must continue. In that vein, earlier this year, MTI sought to augment its staff to keep pace with the increased work load associated with our new funding approach. It was encouraging that we received well-over 40 applications for an Investment Officer opening and nearly 40 for a Lending and Grant Associate position. The applicant pool was impressive. After sifting through the applications and conducting interviews, MTI ultimately welcomed Amy Leshure as a new Investment Officer and Barb Ford as a new Lending and Grants Associate.
Amy joined MTI in late April and brings extensive experience in financial analysis and risk management. Previously she worked in private equity banking at RBS Citizens in Boston, MA before moving to Maine and spending the past seven years in commercial lending and small business financial management. An avid supporter of Maine-based businesses, she aims to connect local entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success.
Barb also joined MTI in April. With deep roots in the marine and software industries, Barb has over 25 years of experience working with Maine small businesses and startups. She loves working with entrepreneurs and notes that the best part of her job comes from watching good ideas come to fruition.
We are excited that both Amy and Barb have joined the MTI team and look forward to many years of productive working relationships with MTI’s portfolio companies, research institutions and our valued ecosystem partners.