“When You’re Finished Changing, You’re Finished”

Brian Whitney MTI President

Ben Franklin’s oft quoted maxim about change, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished,” is relevant in most every aspect of life and perhaps most pertinent when considering how best to evolve, improve, and grow organizations.

As a leader of a small non-profit, I have always embraced continuous change and believe it is essential to strengthening operations.  Fortunately, there are many other change makers within MTI, among its talented staff, contractors, and Board, who have led and supported efforts to fuel much-needed improvements to our strategic approach, program development, investment processes and procedures, outreach and marketing, and inclusivity efforts.  Without question, MTI is full of smart and talented people who agree with Franklin’s perceptive quip.

I have been privileged throughout my tenure at MTI to work alongside some of the most brilliant, selfless, and dedicated public servants. Some of those amazing individuals have recently concluded their service to MTI and I want to take a moment to recognize them.

As you know, MTI is a unique public-private partnership.  The organization is governed by a Board made up of 10 private sector and 5 public sector members.  All members of the Board are appointed by the Governor to serve a 3-year term.  A second term is also permitted.

Over the past months, 8 new appointments were made to the Board.  The new members are incredibly impressive and will no-doubt have a tremendously positive impact on MTI in the years to come.  I will introduce you to those members in next month’s newsletter but want to use this occasion to express my gratitude to the departing Board members for their service.

I have employed the following Kurt Vonnegut quote in this blog space before, but it certainly seems appropriate to use again in this circumstance – – “It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: Goodbye.”

I want to express a fond farewell to longtime MTI Board members Donna Cassese, Chip Kelley, and Sebastian Belle.  All three joined the Board just shortly after I assumed the leadership role.  Throughout their 8+ years on the Board, they led the organization through some monumental change and improvement. First and foremost, they oversaw a transformational strategic planning effort at MTI that led to a more streamlined and customer-focused approach to investing in innovation in Maine.

Donna Cassese leaves the Board as its most recent Chair, serving in that capacity since 2018 and as Vice Chair for the four years prior.  Chip Kelley has served as Treasurer of the organization throughout his entire time on the Board.  Sebastian Belle has been a faithful and tireless Board member who provided exemplary organizational governance.  All three oversaw the deployment of more than $200 million in funding and helped to generate thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in private sector matching investment, and well-over a billion in economic impact. It is truly amazing when you think about it.

Rick Ganong joined the MTI Board in late 2017 and filled one of the two spots designated for someone with finance and venture capital experience.  During his 5+ years on the Board, he added a great deal of value to deliberations focused on maximizing the upside of MTI awards and investments.  Rosaire Pelletier and Sarah Curran both joined the Board about a year after Rick and provided valuable contributions that helped shape MTI’s tactical direction through sector-focused innovation challenges.

All these Board members demonstrated unwavering commitment to MTI and its mission, and I am forever grateful for their contributions.

It’s been said that all things change, and friends sometimes leave, but life and work must continue.  MTI’s important work will indeed endure, and we will continue to embrace change.  I look forward to introducing you to MTI’s new Board members next month but, for now, I want to convey my deep appreciation to Donna, Chip, Sebastian, Rick, Rosaire and Sarah for their untiring efforts to grow Maine’s innovation economy.  Our state and its economy are stronger and more resilient because of their efforts.

Thank you!