Maine’s Governor appoints ten voting directors, eight of whom must be representatives of targeted technologies. The other two directors must have demonstrated significant experience in finance, lending or venture capital. In making the appointments from targeted technologies, the Governor considers recommendations submitted by representatives of targeted technology sectors.
The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development or the commissioner’s designee, the President of the Maine Community College System or the president’s designee and the Chancellor of the University of Maine System or the chancellor’s designee are ex officio voting directors. The Director of the State Planning Office or the director’s designee is an ex officio nonvoting director. The Maine Technology Institute Director is a nonvoting director who is recommended by the MTI Board, appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the Senate, and employed by the Department of Economic and Community Development. Click on the names below to read each Board Member’s biography.
Melissa LaCasse, Chair
Sector Represented – Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture
Melissa Lacasse is the CEO and co-founder of Tanbark Molded Fiber, a manufacturing start-up focused on replacing single use plastic with bio-based solutions. She is passionate about developing new markets and opportunities for Maine heritage industries. Melissa co-founded Tanbark in 2021. She is happy to change the face of manufacturing by challenging the status quo. She wants to arrest the plastic epidemic and believes in shared prosperity. Tanbark allows her to use her skills in B2B Sales and Business Development. She is also skilled in Fundraising and Content Syndication from a career in public radio.
Melissa is Chair of the Board for Maine Technology Institute, where she serves as the Sector Representative for Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture, and also serves on the Board of Trustees for Maine Public.
Sector Represented – Composite Technology
Sector Represented – Aquaculture & Marine Technology
Meredith Mendelson has served as Deputy Commissioner for the Maine Department of Marine Resources since May 2012, with a focus on the interface of state and federal marine resources policy. The agency has a broad mission that includes conservation of marine and estuarine resources, conducting research, and promotion and development of coastal fisheries and aquaculture. In prior work, Meredith staffed Senator Olympia J. Snowe on the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, managed a groundfish sector, and worked for the Community Program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Meredith is a graduate of Bates College and Maine Law, and resides in Camden with her husband and daughter.
Amberlynn Esperanza, Treasurer
Sector Represented – Finance/Lending/Venture Capital
Amberlynn Esperanza is a Commercial Loan Officer for Mascoma Bank, a Certified B Corporation committed to the people, businesses and communities of Maine. In her role, she works with commercial clients to create a package of banking services that best help their business grow and flourish. In 2022, she was recognized as one of the Mainebiz top 40 Under 40 most dynamic individuals changing Maine’s economy. She started her career in Retail Consumer Banking in 2011, and previously was Assistant Vice President, Relationship Manager for Bangor Savings Bank focused on small business lending. Her hometown is Old Orchard Beach, Maine and she attended the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology for Accounting. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where she holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting.
Additionally, Amberlynn serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center as the Secretary and Fundraising Chair and is the Past President of PROPEL Portland. She is also a part of the Leadership Maine Program class of 2023-24 hosted by the Maine Development Foundation where leaders from all sectors across Maine learn about critical issues facing our state by exploring Maine’s diverse regions, assets, economies, issues, and people through direct interaction.
As a volunteer, she enjoys serving as a mentor for Junior Achievement, United Way of Southern Maine’s Campaign Cabinet, Spurwink’s Humanitarian Event Committee, and partnering with the USM Foundation’s Women in Leadership event series. Amberlynn resides in South Portland and loves to golf in the summer.
Jake Ward, Vice Chair
University of Maine System Designate
James S. (Jake) Ward IV is the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Innovation, Resources, and Engagement (SPIRE) at the University of Maine. SPIRE links businesses and communities to university experts and first-class facilities to solve problems and innovate Maine’s future. UMaine is the state’s hub for bringing research to the real world. SPIRE works with students, faculty and staff, as well as startups and established organizations, to commercialize innovations that move Maine (and the world) forward. UMaine is fundamental to Maine’s economic, workforce and community development. SPIRE is the front door to UMaine resources and expertise, and we build strategic partnerships between public-and private-sector groups and individuals to advance prosperity in our state.
Vice President Ward has been the Assistant Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Government Relations since 2006. He has served UMaine in various roles within the Department of Industrial Cooperation and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship since joining the University in 1990.
Prior to joining the University of Maine, Vice President Ward worked in the private industry in software development and manufacturing. He is a member of national organizations, including the Association of University Technology Mangers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He also serves on the boards of many state organizations including the Maine Technology Institute. Originally from Saco, he holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in ocean engineering from the University of New Hampshire.
Sector Represented – Environmental Technology
Bio coming soon!
Sector Represented – Information Technology
Ian Swanberg leads strategic initiatives for Lumen Technologies, a global network technology and solutions provider. He previously served as the Associate Vice President of Finance at the University of Southern Maine and Associate Commissioner for Policy and Finance for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services. Before returning to Maine, he worked for five years as an equity analyst with FBR Capital Markets in Arlington, Virginia. Earlier in his career, he served five years as a legislative assistant and press secretary for U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
A native of Caribou, Ian holds an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and a BA in Economics and Political Science from McGill University in Montreal. He and his wife, Jill, reside in Cumberland.
Sector Represented – Precision Manufacturing
Rob Pierson is currently the owner of Twist Consulting, LLC. His focus has been Private Equity turnarounds. His last role was CEO of Grover Precision, a premier manufacturer of medical implants and materials. Rob is highly skilled at Lean implementation and has held several senior level positions in operations, continuous improvement, and product management. Rob has a Master in Business and a Master in Industrial Engineering degrees with certifications in Six Sigma, Innovation, and supply chain. Rob resides in Auburn, Maine with his wife Linda.
Sector Represented – Finance/Lending/Venture Capital
Heather Johnson serves as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, where she oversees several bureaus focused on helping Maine communities and businesses prosper through initiatives ranging from targeted tax relief to tourism marketing. Prior to her confirmation by the Maine Senate in 2019, Commissioner Johnson led efforts to expand broadband connectivity in Maine as Director of the ConnectMaine Authority.
As Commissioner, Johnson draws on her 25 years of experience in the public and private sector, including a successful career in the private technology sector. She currently resides with her family in her hometown of Skowhegan.
Community College Designate
Dan Belyea is the Chief Workforce Development Officer at the Maine Community College System (MCCS). He serves as a member of the senior management team and is responsible for providing state-wide leadership and coordination in support of MCCS’s statutory mission to meet Maine’s workforce needs with the goals of creating an educated, skilled and adaptable labor force that is responsive to changing economic needs and to promote local, regional and statewide economic development. In addition to managing the Maine Quality Centers grant program he works with colleges, businesses, associations and related public, private, and non-profit service providers to create partnerships that are responsive to that mission.
Dan has worked for the MCCS for over 31 years. If February 2020 he was appointed Chief Workforce Development Office for the MCCS.
Prior to that appointment he served as the Executive Director of Workforce Training for the MCCS. In 2016 and 2017, he served as the Director of Operational Support and advised colleges on capital facilities projects, real estate transactions, auxiliary business review and contracts. He has also worked in a variety of administrative positions at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Maine from 1988 to 2016 with his last position as the Director of Administrative, Student Services and Auxiliary Enterprises.
He currently serves on the State Workforce Board, as a non-voting advisory member representing the MCCS and serves as a public member on the Grievance Commission with the State of Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar since 2015. He has served as a member of the following boards in the past: Downtown Bangor Partnership Committee, Chair and Vice Chair on the Board of Commissioners Bangor Housing Authority, and a board member of the Bangor Housing Development Corporation.
Dan lives in Vassalboro, Maine with his husband Gregory Sereyko and their two cats Oliver and Olyvia.
Director of Office of Innovation Policy and the Future or Director’s designate
Scott Kleiman is Policy Director, Economy and Workforce for the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. He provides interagency leadership for Governor Mills on workforce development, regional innovation, and Maine’s long-term economic prosperity. In this role, he directs a policy team supporting implementation, communications, and evaluation of Maine’s flagship $1 billion economic recovery initiative, the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. He also serves on the Board of the Maine Technology Institute.
Prior to joining Governor Mills’ administration, Scott was Managing Director at the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, where he helped state health and human service agencies design, implement, and sustain critical reforms. His work has helped communities strengthen protections for children, improve access to behavioral health treatment, and revamp supports for jobseekers. Scott has trained hundreds of government officials on data-driven management techniques and authored numerous publications on performance improvement strategies for public sector leaders.
Scott previously led strategic projects in the CEO’s office at Ceres, a national nonprofit organization partnering with investors to strengthen corporate sustainability practices and analyzed municipal infrastructure investments at Bain & Company. He was appointed a Senior Fellow with Casey Family Programs and served on the Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence advisory committee for Results for America. Scott earned an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in Political Science.
Sector Represented – Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture
Jed Beach has been helping Maine farmers and food producers hone their business skills through his practice, FarmSmart, since 2014. In that time, he has worked with over 100 small farms and food producers, helping them to establish and reach their business goals. Jed and his wife own and operate 3 Bug Farm, a diversified organic vegetable farm in Lincolnville, Maine. They raise 4 sons on their farm as well. Jed knows how important it is to balance family and farming life, and he takes this lens to every one of his client meetings. He also has an M.B.A in organizational and environmental sustainability, as well as years of bookkeeping and financial experience.
Sector Represented – Biotechnology
Bio coming soon!
MTI President (non-voting)
Brian Whitney is President of the Maine Technology Institute, a publicly financed, private, nonprofit organization established to stimulate research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products, processes and services in the state’s seven targeted technology sectors.
He has extensive experience in economic development and legislative matters at both the state and federal level and has worked with innumerable companies, private and public sector research organizations, and entrepreneurial leaders throughout the State of Maine during his professional career. He served previously as a private sector manager and in the public sector as Maine’s Director of Business Development & Innovation, the Director of Outreach and Economic Development for U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a Business Development Specialist for the State of Maine, and as Chief of Staff to Maine’s Senate President.
He has served on, or staffed, a number of statewide boards including the Maine State Workforce Investment Board, the Maine Economic Growth Council, Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, and the Maine Rural Development Authority. He is currently a board member of the Maine Venture Fund, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine & Company, and the Economic Development Council of Maine.
Brian is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine (USM) and lives in Augusta with his wife and two daughters.