Maine Community Health Options, Chief Information Officer
Why I Serve:
I believe a thriving community provides ways for all its members to prosper and contribute. LearningWorks provides critical education for new Mainers and young people in Southern Maine to give them these opportunities. I feel a deep personal satisfaction in being able to help an immigrant
from Rwanda learn English to put his engineering talents to work and in helping a teenager who hasn’t been able to finish at traditional high schools earn her diploma and go to SMCC.
Will is the CIO at Community Health Options, a nonprofit, member-led health plan providing comprehensive health insurance benefits to individuals, families, and businesses. He is responsible for the overall technical strategy for the organization. Prior to joining Community Health Options, Will was the Deputy Director for Maine’s Dirigo Health Agency, overseeing technical and financial operations. During this time, Will also served as Acting Deputy Director for the Maine Health Data Organization, the state’s all payer claims database. In other roles, he has focused on the delivery of business systems and analytics for local and international clients including MaineSense, Bowdoin, Reuters, AT&T, and British Telecom. Will has a BA in English Literature and Philosophy from McGill University.
Eric L. Tracy
Unum, VP, Customer Experience Center
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 is responsible for the real-time service experience of customers who call the contact centers and manages the intake, medical records, and benefits center assistant teams that support the Benefits Center. Most recently, Eric was in the Global Services area of Unum and had responsibility for the delivery of technology solutions to the Unum US business. Since joining the company in 2002, he has also held other leadership roles in Global Services, strategic and pricing roles in Underwriting, led the Market Development area in Products and Marketing, and worked as AVP of Product Development. Before joining Unum, 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.
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.
Unum, Director of Enrollment Solutions
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.
For the past 10 years, Sarah has happily worked at Unum in various positions. Currently, she is focused on enrollment and leads a fantastic team of consultants located across the country that educate Unum clients about their financial benefits. She is a native Mainer and spends off time with family enjoying all that the greater Portland area has to offer.
Development Director, Portland Media , Center Photographer
Why I Serve:
I joined the board of LearningWorks (then Portland West) after I spent a Salt semester documenting a student in the Youth Building Alternatives program. Each day I observed the sincerity of the staff and the quality of the work put into helping these students become more productive members of our community.
Lesley was born in Portland, Maine but lived in various places including Boston, Massachusetts; Brewer, Maine; Big Lake, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Boone, North Carolina; Bauchi, Nigeria; and Kingston, Jamaica. She attended public schools in Portland and earned an AA at Colby Sawyer College, moving onto the University of Maine, Orono to major in Anthropology. She studied technical photography at Appalachian State University, photography at Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and field camera, editing, and production at Community Television Network. Lesley works as a documentary/portrait photographer, a television producer, and a documentary video maker. She is the mother of three creative children and grandmother of four.
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.
InterMed, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Why I Serve:
As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I know that the success of our communities’ youth is dependent on adults who see them for who they are and meet their unique needs accordingly. Traditional education frequently does not meet the needs of Maine’s wonderful and diverse group of children and teens. LearningWorks delivers educational alternatives with passion and commitment. I believe our programs can benefit our youth, their families, and ultimately our communities, for the rest of their lives.
Karen has been a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for almost 20 years. Her area of expertise is adolescent medicine. She currently works at InterMed Pediatrics in South Portland and part-time as an independent book seller at Nonesuch Books in South Portland. Karen holds an MA in Public Health and Public Policy from the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and an MS from the University of San Francisco, California. She currently lives in South Portland with her wife, two sons, and assorted other four legged and winged creatures.
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, and by 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. 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
Merrill Barter, Treasurer
Baker Newman Noyes, Director, State & Local Tax
Why I Serve:
Education is one of the key factors influencing a person’s ability to be successful — no matter how that term is defined. LearningWorks offers programs for Maine young people and adults which enable them to gain, through hard work and commitment, the education and life skills that they will need to achieve their goals. I am excited to be part of this organization, and to be able to see first-hand the positive impact that it has on individuals and the community.
Merrill is the Director of the State and Local Tax Practice at Baker Newman Noyes. He has more than 26 years of experience working in the tax field in areas including government, public company, and public accounting. He earned a BA in business administration with highest distinction from Husson University and an MA in taxation from Thomas College. In addition to serving on the LearningWorks board, Merrill also serves on the METRO-Greater Portland Transit District board and was a longtime member of the IRIS Network board. Merrill grew up in Boothbay Harbor and and now lives with his family in Falmouth. He spends as much time as possible with his wife, three daughters, and three dogs enjoying the outdoors and the beauty of Maine.