“From Orono to Wall Street: One UMaine Grad’s Journey” will be the focus of a talk March 26 by UMaine alumna Melissa D. Smith, Class of ’91, president and CEO of WEX, based in South Portland. The free public lecture begins at 5 p.m. in Wells Conference Center. In January, Smith became chief executive officer at WEX and joined its board of directors. WEX is a leading provider of corporate payment solutions. The Girl Scouts of Maine presented Smith with the 2013 Woman of Distinction award and Mainebiz recognized her as a 2012 Woman to Watch. Smith previously served in a variety of capacities at WEX, including: president, president–The Americas; chief financial officer and executive vice president, finance and operations. She was chief financial officer in 2005 when WEX went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Smith, who started her career at Ernst & Young, is a co-founder of the Women’s Executive Forum, which seeks to attract, retain and advance women in the information security, IT risk management and privacy industries.
Daniel Williams, who was recently appointed to serve a two-year term as interim executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News about his new role within the university. Williams has been a member of the UMaine community since 1986 and was most recently the associate director of planned giving with the University of Maine Foundation. He described the job as perfect. “It combines my passion for the University of Maine, and my passion for the arts. I’ve also spent the last 10 years fundraising for the university, which is critical for this organization.”
The Morning Sentinel reported University of Maine alumnus John Huard is one of the donors for a $600,000 turf renovation project for the Harold Alfond Mini Fenway Park in Oakland. Mini Fenway is a two-thirds-scale replica of Fenway that opened in 2007, reported the Sentinel. Huard owns South Portland-based Northeast Turf, Hue Inc., a synthetic turf supply and installation company.
The Bangor Daily News reported on the University of Maine announcement that Daniel Williams has been appointed to serve a two-year term as interim executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts. UMaine President Paul Ferguson said, “Danny has demonstrated remarkable leadership in diverse opportunities at UMaine and consistently brings excellent results. At this time, his leadership and experience are particularly important to the Collins Center for the Arts. Consistent with the Blue Sky Plan, the CCA is poised under his leadership to achieve its full potential, engaging Maine citizens and providing high-quality entertainment and education.” Williams has been a member of the UMaine community since 1986, serving in leadership roles in marketing, fundraising, community outreach and the performing arts. Most recently, he was associate director of planned giving with the University of Maine Foundation.
Daniel Williams of Orono has been appointed to serve a two-year term as interim executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts (CCA) at the University of Maine.
Williams replaces John Patches, the longtime director of the Collins Center, who retired Jan. 31.
The Collins Center for the Arts, home to the Hutchins Concert Hall and the Hudson Museum, opened in 1986. Today, it is one of the focal points of community engagement under the Blue Sky Plan, UMaine’s five-year strategic plan.
“Senior Vice President Janet Waldron and I are very pleased that Danny Williams has agreed to assume leadership of the Collins Center for the Arts,” says University of Maine President Paul Ferguson. “Danny has demonstrated remarkable leadership in diverse opportunities at UMaine and consistently brings excellent results. At this time, his leadership and experience are particularly important to the Collins Center for the Arts. Consistent with the Blue Sky Plan, the CCA is poised under his leadership to achieve its full potential, engaging Maine citizens and providing high-quality entertainment and education.”
Since 1986, Williams has been a member of the UMaine community, where he has served in leadership roles in marketing, fundraising, community outreach and the performing arts. Most recently, Williams was associate director of planned giving with the University of Maine Foundation. He is a faculty member in the School of Performing Arts and has served on the Collins Center for the Arts advisory board since 1993, chairing both the Special Events and Gala Committee, and the Community Relations and Outreach Committee.
The Bangor High School graduate received a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in higher education administration from UMaine in 1991 and 1994, respectively.
In addition, Williams served as president and director of development for the Eastern Maine Community College Foundation, director of annual and reunion giving for the University of Maine Alumni Association, and assistant to the dean for UMaine Enrollment Management. In 1998, he served one term as Maine state representative for District 122.
His honors include the UMaine Patrons of the Arts Vincent A. Hartgen Award in 2005.
“The arts are thriving at UMaine and in the Bangor region, and the Collins Center has an essential and exciting role to play, bringing together the campus, the community and world-class performers.” says Williams. “My commitment is to excellence at the CCA, and to seeing the center continue to expand its educational and cultural impact throughout the region and the state.”
Williams lives in Orono with his wife, State Sen. Emily Cain.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s visit to the University of Maine where he was honored as a Margaret Chase Smith Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. Margaret Chase Smith Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are prominent Maine individuals with a past or current career as a policymaker in the state. Dunlap, a UMaine alumnus and Maine’s 49th Secretary of State, said the university is a home for him in many ways and it’s humbling to be asked to visit as a guest. Mary Cathcart, senior policy associate at UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, said every time a fellow visits campus she learns something new about the university and is proud of her students for asking engaging questions.
Mainebiz published a Q&A with Carrie Enos, the University of Maine Pulp & Paper Foundation’s new president. In January, Enos formally took over leadership from Jack Healy, who is retiring in the spring. Enos graduated from UMaine in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and has worked in the paper industry since 1997. She said she sees the appointment as her opportunity to give back to the foundation and industry.
Steven Kydd, a 1991 University of Maine graduate who majored in business administration, remembers growing up in Orrington, Maine, with a passion for food and an awareness of where his food came from. His family grew their own vegetables and his uncle was a lobsterman.
In 2012, Kydd and his business partners Joe Perez and Larry Fitzgibbon took their shared love of food and converted it into Tastemade, the world’s first global food network built for digital platforms.
Tastemade’s mission is to connect the world through food by allowing creators to make and share video programming instantly on a global and social scale. Tastemade has more than 100 food channels in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and has had episodes uploaded from more than 250 cities, 25 countries and in 10 different languages.
Tastemade’s YouTube channel offers original programs featuring recipes, cooking and travel. Many Tastemakers film their shows for free in the company’s California studio that was designed to create high-quality productions and inspire collaboration. The company also offers a mobile app that allows users to produce and share their own one-minute episodes about their favorite foods and restaurants.
Before Tastemade, Kydd was part of the founding team of Demand Media and executive vice president of Demand Studios, was vice president of business development and strategy for Yahoo! and served as vice president of Internet marketing with 20th Century Fox International in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Los Angeles.
Kydd now lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife and two children, where he shares his passion for food at home and at work.
Tell us about Tastemade and why it was founded:
We created Tastemade with one goal in mind — to connect the world through food. A generation ago the cable industry launched category-defining brands in food and lifestyle, and we believe the same opportunity exists for today’s global, social and mobile digital platforms. My partners and I founded the company in 2012.
Are you a good cook? What’s your favorite dish to prepare and/or eat?
I have no culinary training whatsoever, but growing up I learned some baking tips from my mum and recently learned a lot about cooking from my wife Sal. My favorite dish to eat is a simple steamed lobster which we catch from my parents’ traps off Deer Isle, Maine.
Tell us about your previous jobs and how they have influenced your professional life:
I have been working in the media business for most of my career, and I love that it is a combination of art and commerce. Early in my career I made it my mission to find mentors and learned from them what it takes to be a senior executive at a big company.
I was fortunate to work at great media brands like 20th Century Fox and Yahoo!. However, along the way I learned that I was at my best when starting something new, and that led me toward leaving the corporate world and into startups.
What are you professional and personal goals?
For me, personal and professional goals must be linked. When you start your own company it becomes part of your family life. Fortunately, my family gets to be involved in the development of the company, and that is rewarding for everyone.
What are your biggest professional accomplishments to date:
I had always dreamed about ringing the bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to celebrate the IPO of a company I helped build. I was fortunate to be part of the founding team of Demand Media, and in January 2011, my dream came true.
Another highlight was being asked to speak at Google Zeitgeist this year to tell the story of how my partners and I formed Tastemade.
Both of these events were shared with my partners Joe Perez and Larry Fitzgibbon, who were co-founders of both companies with me.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
For a couple years I served as the head of the UMaine tour guides — showing prospective students and their parents around campus. Looking back on this, it was a great way to build my storytelling skills. Any entrepreneur will tell you that storytelling is critical to starting and growing a new business.
Most memorable UMaine moment:
The day I was accepted to the study abroad program in France for my junior year.
Any advice for current students?
First, study abroad — it is one of the best things you can do to grow personally and professionally. Second, start a business — any business. You will learn more from being an entrepreneur than you will from any textbook. Lastly, find great partners — everything in life is better when you can share it with people you care about.
The Bangor Daily News reported three former University of Maine hockey players will take part in the winter Olympics. Goalie Jimmy Howard, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings and played for UMaine from 2002 to 2005, will play for Team USA in Sochi. Howard’s Detroit teammate Gustav Nyquist was named to the Swedish Olympic team. Matthias Trattnig, a member of UMaine’s 1999 national championship team, will make his second Olympic appearance as an assistant captain for Team Austria. The Portland Press Herald carried an Associated Press report on Nyquist being named to the Swedish team.
The Bangor Daily News reported on Spike TV’s upcoming reality show “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty” that will feature Michael Merchant, a 2007 University of Maine graduate from Hampden. Merchant, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, will pair with another Maine resident to compete against eight other teams of hunters who will try to capture Bigfoot or provide visual and DNA proof the creature exists. The show premieres Friday, Jan. 10.