Why I Serve:
Education is a powerful way to give everyone opportunities to achieve their goals and full potential in life. I see LearningWorks as an organization that helps to ensure access to educational opportunities for those in our community for whom traditional education doesn’t always work. It is important for me to be able to help enable and contribute to these opportunities for fellow Mainers.
Eric leads global corporate strategy at WEX and is responsible for strategy across the company's Health, Fleet and Corporate Payments lines of business. Prior to WEX, Eric held various leadership roles at Unum Group in the Customer Experience Center, IT organization, Products and Market Development areas. Before joining Unum Group, Eric was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company and practiced corporate law at Ropes & Gray in Boston. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics and international studies from Colby College and a J.D from Harvard Law School.
Why I Serve:
I joined the board at LearningWorks because I am passionate about alternative education and meeting students where they are when the traditional approach doesn’t fit. LearningWorks is a phenomenal organization that serves this significant community need. I am so energized to hear the stories that students tell about their life-changing experiences at LearningWorks. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this amazing group.
Sarah is responsible for developing strategic programs to drive revenue growth and partnership for WEX’s largest Corporate Payments accounts. Before joining WEX, Sarah spent 11 years at Unum in a variety of areas such as Underwriting, Finance, Enrollment and Operational Effectiveness. Sarah is a member of the Brick and Beam Society of the United Way of Greater Portland and chairs the Impact Investing Committee and sits on the Steering Committee. Sarah is a native Mainer and spends off time with her family exploring new cities as well as enjoying all that the Portland area has to offer.
Eben Jose, Treasurer
Investment Director, Spinnaker Trust
Why I Serve:
I am proud to serve as a member of the LearningWorks board because I believe everybody deserves an opportunity to get an education that will help him/her live a happy and fulfilling life. LearningWorks programs do just that as they offer those who have not found success in traditional educational environments an alternative way to succeed. It is critical for our community to embrace, celebrate and expand these programs so that everybody who seeks to better themselves through education is provided the tools do such.
Eben is responsible for managing all aspects of Spinnaker’s public and private alternative investments as well as formulating the firm’s fixed income investment strategy. In addition, Eben evaluates new and existing equity investments for Spinnaker’s two stock portfolios. Prior to joining Spinnaker, Eben worked in Boston as an analyst at Santander Bank where he helped oversee the bank's commercial lending portfolio. Eben is a member of the Investment Committee and the Marketing Committee at Spinnaker.
A native of Boothbay, Maine, Eben lives in Freeport with his wife and son. He is a member of the Maine CFA Society and serves as a board member at the Friends School of Portland.
John Christie, Secretary
Sinu, Inc. Chief Operating Officer
Why I Serve:
I’m a firm believer that each of us is curious and passionate, but traditional schools don’t always tap that potential. LearningWorks is creating unique environments which inspire constructive engagement, new beginnings, and brighter opportunities by drawing out our students’ existing capabilities.
John runs operations and finance for Sinu, an IT Services firm In New York City that he co-founded in 2004. Prior to LearningWorks, he served six years on the Cape Elizabeth School Board, including two as chairperson. When not working or supporting education efforts, John is on the water kayaking or sailing. At home, he’s building a fishing skiff with his 16-year-old son, which helps keep them both off of the computer.
Nirupama Aggarwal, OD, At Large
Maine Eye Center, Optometrist
Dr. Nirupama Aggarwal is an experienced optometrist who has been caring for patients at Maine Eye Center since 1984. She specializes in routine eye care, contact lens fitting and evaluation, and the non-surgical treatment and management of ocular disorders. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Penn State University, Dr. Aggarwal attended the New England College of Optometry where she was awarded her optometric degree. She managed the contact lens clinic at Yale New Haven Hospital where she was also an instructor of contact lens science. Dr. Aggarwal then moved to the Portland area and joined Maine Eye Center. In addition to her practice at Maine Eye, Dr. Aggarwal donates her time participating in eye care missions abroad. She travels with other eye professionals to underprivileged countries, providing much needed eye care to the people living there. At LearningWorks, Niru is a long time volunteer in our Youth Building Alternatives and English Language + Literacy programs.
LearningWorks Executive Director
Heather joined the LearningWorks team in September 2016. Prior to LearningWorks, Heather was the executive director of The Telling Room, a community writing center in Portland, for five years. Heather earned a BA from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM where she studied philosophy, literature, and the history of math and science. She earned an MA from Goddard College, where she designed an individualized program that combined coursework on youth development, arts education, and creative writing with a practicum as a writing teacher at TRUCE, the Harlem Children’s Zone’s afterschool arts and education program. Heather relocated to Portland, ME in 2008 from Austin, TX, where she co-founded a youth writing center called Austin Bat Cave and served as the senior grant writer for Creative Action, a nonprofit arts education organization. She is a member of the Institute for Civic Leadership’s Upsilon class, where alongside peers from the nonprofit, public, and private sectors, she studied a facilitative leadership model designed to foster deep collaboration in the workplace. Her professional accomplishments have been recognized by a St. John’s College Award of Merit, which is given to outstanding alumni in recognition of their achievements within their chosen field; the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which presented a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award to Young Writers & Leaders, a literary arts program for refugee and immigrant youth that she designed and launched at The Telling Room; and the 2018 Metamorphosis Visionary Leader Award. She is a 2019 Maine Network Partners Fellow. Heather lives in Portland with her husband Matt and two children, Nora and Arlo.
Carolyn Johnson, At Large
Educator & Guatemala Literacy Project
Why I Serve:
As an educator, I know that everyone learns in different ways, through different experiences. LearningWorks offers hope, options, alternatives, and support for people in our communities who may not thrive in traditional educational settings to find success. By emphasizing the talents of each individual, setting challenging expectations, and providing alternative pathways to education and literacy, LearningWorks provides opportunity for individuals while creating the foundation for a strong, vibrant community.
Carolyn Johnson has more than 30 years experience as a teacher, administrator, and consultant. She was selected as a Maine Distinguished Educator and worked with schools to develop student assistance teams and anti-bullying programs. She is the founder, developer, and past director of the The Culture of Reading Program (CORP), which provides professional development and resources in literacy education for schools in rural Guatemala. Starting in 2007 with one school, CORP now serves 70+ primary schools, nearly 600 teachers and more than 15,000 students.
Carolyn is a member of the Rotary Club of Yarmouth and served as District Governor of clubs in western Maine and coastal New Hampshire. She is active as a facilitator with Rotary International, working with local clubs and districts. She is a frequent motivational speaker at regional and international events.
Carolyn is vice-chair of the Literacy Rotary Action Group and an advisor to the Rotary Foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene. In Schools programs, she serves as a consultant and project reviewer for major Rotary Foundation education & literacy grants. Carolyn was awarded the Service Above Self Award, Rotary’s highest award recognizing Rotarians who demonstrate their commitment to others through volunteering their time and talents.
In addition to serving LearningWorks, Carolyn is involved at Yarmouth Senior Housing (safe, affordable housing for elders) and is Chair of the Advisory Board for the Guatemala Literacy Project. She and her husband, Peter Johnson, live in Yarmouth
John P. Griffin MD, At Large
Richard Price, At Large
Portfolio Manager, H.M. Payson
Richard recently relocated to southern Maine to join the team at HM Payson. Prior to that, he held the position of Portfolio Manager at First Advisors in Damariscotta for three years and was a Financial Services Representative at TD Bank before that. Richard holds an MBA from Husson University, where he also earned his B.S. in Accounting. He is currently enrolled in the College for Financial Planning education program and will be taking the CFP exam upon completion of the education requirements. When he's off the clock, Richard enjoys traveling with his wife, volunteering in his local community, cooking, golfing, fishing, and spending time on the water with friends and family.
Louis Pickens, At Large
Chef + Owner, Black Betty's Bistro
Why I Serve:
I serve to help motivate and educate the next generation of chefs and encourage creative expression. I am inspired to help these young participants gain skills and confidence to take on new endeavors.
With over 30 years of experience in the food industry, Chef Louis Pickens has worked in a wide variety of food establishments: from hospitals to five star hotels and almost everything in between.
Since his move to Portland in 2011, he has worked with Black Tie Catering Company, Portland harbor Hotel, Mercy Hospital State Street, and has grown his catering company, Black Betty's Bistro, LLC, to a full time operation in Portland's West End, with a storefront cafe in the works.
He maintains a sense of dedication, strong work ethic, and attention to detail not only in the daily management of an establishment, but also in the preparation and serving of food. He cooks with great pride and passion, whether preparing meals for his family and friends or for clients. He enjoys creating dishes that allow guests to experience the great diversity of fresh foods that this area has to offer.
Louis began cooking at age 13 under the tutelage of his grandparents, who were both trained chefs. He later attended culinary school, but the passion and pride he has in cooking came from those early years with his grandparents, when he noticed the power of food and how it brings people together, putting aside their differences to share an experience.
Jessamyn Norton, At Large
Principal + Chief Investment Officer, Spinnaker Trust
Why I Serve:
While I have been given every opportunity in life, I come from a part of Maine where that is not necessarily the case for everyone. I serve because I believe that the concepts of learning and success are not "one size fits all." I have seen the power of mentorship and customized learning for youth and adults alike, and it is important to me to advance and promote the programs offered by LearningWorks in my home state.
Jessamyn is currently the Chief Investment Officer and a Principal at Spinnaker Trust in Portland. Spinnaker is a wealth manager for individuals, families, and endowments with a specialty in trust and estate planning and trust administration. Jessamyn directs the firm's investment efforts, managing three distinct, centralized investment strategies and a team of analysts.
Before joining Spinnaker in 2011, Jessamyn managed Emerging Markets equities at Fidelity Management and Research and was a research associate covering European and International small-cap equities at Wellington Management Company, LLP. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BA in economics and writing from Wheaton College (MA). Jessamyn is also a CFA charter-holder and a director of the CFA Society Maine.
A native of Hollis, Maine, Jessamyn lives with her husband and two young daughters in Falmouth.
Derek Curtis, At Large
Enterprise Technology, WEX
Why I Serve:
I believe strongly that access to education, in its many forms, is one of the most fundamental, yet critical measures of progress in our society. It can represent a path to fulfilling personal achievement and be a great equalizer across socioeconomic and ethnic diversities. The opportunity to help shape an environment where people from wildly diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to maximize personal and professional growth is fulfilling to my family and me. That, combined with the ability to serve locally in our communities, is why I serve.
Derek is responsible for multiple facets of technology development and delivery at WEX, a global leader in corporate payment solutions, headquartered in South Portland. Prior to joining WEX in 2017, Derek spent 13 years at Unum in various technology leadership positions – largely focused on enterprise application and solution development. At home, Derek lives in Buxton with his wife Erin and four young children, where he is actively involved in the school district and youth sports. He holds an undergraduate degree in Communications and Political Science from the University of New Hampshire.
Brice Ndayisenga, At Large
Relationship Banker, Bank of America
Why I Serve:
I believe education is a core necessity in ending global poverty and promoting social justice around the world. Education is a fundamental human right and an indispensable basis for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable society. LearningWorks promotes innovative, alternative and inclusive education to build a thriving community in which ALL learners realize their potential. I feel great joy giving back to our community through Learning Works’ programs.
Brice was born in Burundi, a small country in central-east Africa. Right after finishing high school there in July 2012, he received an Andrew Young International Scholarship to attend Morehouse College, a historically black institution in Atlanta-Georgia. He earned a Business Finance and Economics degree in May 2016. During college, he interned at Comcast as a Salesman in Atlanta in the summer of 2014 and at JP Morgan & Chase as a Wholesale Loan Operations Analyst in New York City in the summer of 2015. In May 2017, after a short time living in South Bend-Indiana, Brice moved to Portland-Maine to rejoin his younger brother, Eloi. From August to December 2017, he volunteered at LearningWorks as a Front Desk Receptionist and an Assistant English Teacher. He has also been volunteering at the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center. Since January 2018, Brice works at Bank of America as a Relationship Banker at the Maine Mall Financial Center. In his free time, Brice enjoys hanging with friends, playing guitar and attending church activities.
Cheryl Greaney, At Large
Why I Serve:
I believe that an excellent education is both a critical outlet for natural curiosity and essential to each person's confidence, self-worth and success. The learning process is as unique as the learner; LearningWorks offers effective and creative approaches to foundational learning. I love Maine and know this state's future is dependent on barrier-free, innovative education to all who choose to call Maine home.
Cheryl brings to LearningWorks strong energy and commitment to the quality of life for all in Greater Portland. She is a retired Unum Executive with extensive experience in leading large organizations. Her corporate background included National Public Policy work, as well as major
leadership roles in Marketing, Product Development, Underwriting and Claims. Cheryl also has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector both as a volunteer and member of several nonprofit Boards. Cheryl holds a BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Southern Maine and a MA in Public Administration from New York University. She is passionate about Maine and is an avid skier, golfer and photographer. Cheryl and her
spouse Maureen live in Portland.