MeHAF Community Advisory Committee
The foundation’s statewide Community Advisory Committee (CAC) includes individuals with diverse backgrounds who advise the Board and staff on critical issues that align with MeHAF’s mission. They provide thoughtful input into our periodic strategic planning and assessment efforts.
Katie Adams, MD, FAAFP
Katie Adams, MD, FAAFP: Dr. Adams grew up in Southern Maine and received her Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Medical Biology and a minor in Chemistry from the University of New England. She received her Medical Degree in 2013 from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed her Family Medicine Residency at Eastern Maine Medical Center. She is a board-certified family physician and an American Academy of Family Physicians Fellow. Dr. Adams is passionate about providing evidence-based, high quality, compassionate care to those in need without financial or social discrimination. She has special interests in medical ethics, promoting professional wellbeing, substance use treatment, and advocacy and care for the underserved populations. Personal interests include spending time with family, traveling (she has traveled to all 50 US States!), and enjoying the outdoors with a particular love for hiking and kayaking. gardening, sailing and just about anything else that comes across his path.
Nélida Berke, MPH
Ms. Berke came to the United States from Peru in May of 2001, with plans to extend her business in Peru. She later moved to the United States, married, and started a new life. Although her interest and experience was in business, opportunity opened a new career path for her in public health. In 2003, she joined the Portland Public Health Division’s STD/HIV Prevention, and then in 2005 she joined the Minority Health Program. In her role as a Community Health Outreach Worker (CHOW), she assisted Latinos, with and without health insurance, to obtain needed healthcare at major local health facilities. Her goal was to eliminate health disparities (language barriers, lack of transportation, lack of health insurance and awareness of resources, financial issues, and limited knowledge of prevention and treatment services) and to improve healthcare access. In 2013, she was promoted to the Minority Health Program Specialist position, where she skillfully coordinated and supervised 39 CHOWs and 17 volunteers from the 13 largest minority communities in Greater Portland to drive success and aid in better serving their communities. In December 2015, Ms. Berke was promoted to her new role as the Portland Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program Coordinator. She constantly advocates for immigrant rights and health equity through enhancing communication and community engagement with underserved populations. She completed her Master Degree in Public Health from the University of Southern Maine. She served on the Board for Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition until August 2020; serves on the Northern Light Mercy Hospital board, Catholic Identity & Ministry Committee and on several advisory committees. She is a regular guest presenter at health care and social services facilities, and universities, promoting improvement in cultural competence and encouraging humility in health care professionals in Maine.
Donna Brown, MSW
Donna Decontie-Brown is the Executive Director for the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, a nonprofit tribal domestic and sexual violence coalition that serves the Wabanaki tribes in Maine. Donna is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation of Indian Island, Maine and the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg located in Maniwaki, Quebec. Donna’s pronouns are she, her and hers. Donna received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2007 and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maine in 2012. Donna has extensive experience in the field of training, and has provided her services in the fields of information technology, customer service, corporate training, suicide prevention, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and intimate partner violence. Her desire to advocate for the rights, well-being and safety of others led her to serve in a variety of positions over the past 25+ years including adult case manager; research assistant; grant writer; domestic violence shelter aid; and consultant to develop Healing to Wellness Court programs for the Hopi Tribe in Arizona and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe in Wisconsin. Donna is a traditional dancer and master beadwork artist who carries on the traditions of her people, through elaborate beadwork on regalia and modern-day garments. Her work has appeared in various exhibits, museums and galleries. Donna also helps to teach community members the fine art of regalia making and traditional dances as a form of healing and to promote resiliency.
Matt Dexter is Founder & Executive Director of the Christine B. Foundation (CBF), based in Bangor. The Foundation's namesake, Christine, is Matt's mother who passed to stomach cancer. Matt and his family started this organization to build a community of support for those affected by cancer in Eastern Maine. Since its inception in 2014, Matt has been part of the Foundations growth, embracing values of creativity, collaboration, and committing to this community. Outside of CBF, Matt lives in Bangor and fills his time exploring Maine's hidden treasurers, volunteering, and enjoys running along the coast and trails of Maine.
Gia Drew (she/her) is the Executive Director at EqualityMaine, whose mission is to protect and advance full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Mainers by creating an inclusive and intersectional movement through political action, community building, education, engagement and collaboration. She serves on multiple committees and boards, including Maine Advisory Board to the US Commission on Civil Rights, the MaineCare Advisory Committee, and on the board of directors of the Equality Federation, a national advocacy accelerator rooted in social justice, building power in a network of state-based LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations. Gia earned degrees from both Syracuse University and Savannah College of Art and Design and worked as a high teacher and coach for twenty years. While originally from Boston, Gia has called Maine home for more than 22 years and lives in Portland.
Elsie Flemings is the Executive Director of Healthy Acadia, a community health organization primarily serving Washington and Hancock counties in Downeast Maine, with offices in Calais, Ellsworth, and Machias. She is responsible for ensuring that the organization is responsive to local community health needs and priorities, while assuring effective program management, communication and coordination with partners, community mobilization, financial management, ambassadorship, and resource development. Healthy Acadia is dedicated to a broad range of collaborative community initiatives, with six current priority areas of focus: Strong Beginnings; Substance Prevention and Recovery; Healthy Food; Active and Healthy Environments; Health Promotion & Management; and Healthy Aging. Prior to her role as Executive Director of Healthy Acadia, Elsie served as a Maine State Legislator from 2008 to 2012, representing the Mount Desert Island region. Elsie has also served as the Coordinator of the Union River Watershed Coalition in Hancock County, Maine, and as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Elsie lives in Bar Harbor with her husband, Richard, and their two daughters, Fiona and Sylvia. Their older daughter (Elsie’s step-daughter, Rachel) lives in Florida with her daughter, Haven. As a family, they love to “walk the walk” (or “run the run”) of healthy living: running, hiking, biking, swimming, gardening, skiing, sledding, and adventuring together.
Drew is a white, queer, and transgender organizer. After moving back to their home state in 2012, Drew’s focus was on the Southern Maine Workers’ Center through 2021. At SMWC, Drew first served first as the Chair of the Board of Directors, then as the Executive Director for five years, and a final year as the Leadership Development Coordinator. Currently Drew is an independent contractor supporting social justice organizations with everything from volunteer coordination to political education programs. Prior to their move to Maine, Drew was an organizer and educator in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. In New Orleans, Drew worked with residents organizing to regain access to their homes in public housing developments after Hurricane Katrina, primarily with the organization Survivors’ Village. Drew was formally trained as an organizer in San Francisco by the Catalyst Project five month Anne Braden Program and through a two-year organizing apprenticeship with POWER: People Organized to Win Employment Rights. For many years Drew’s day-to-day work was as a carpenter and occasionally in the service industry– experiences that cemented their steadfast commitment to building a world in which everyone has the human right to work with dignity and comprehensive publicly-financed health care.
The Reverend Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr. is an Ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of America, Inc. Appointed May 18, 2003, Rev. Lewis is honored to serve as the current pastor of the Historic Green Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Portland, Maine. Additionally, he serves internationally as the Presiding Elder of the Nassau District, Bahamas Conference of the A. M. E. Zion Church. Presiding Elder Lewis has been favored with more than 30 years of effective ministry and community leadership. Rev. Lewis has served historic congregations such as; Rush Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Cambridge, MA. and Goodwin Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Amherst, MA. Denominationally, he is a current member of the Connectional Council serving on the Board of Communication which oversees the Star of Zion, Quarterly Review, and all social and print media outlets. Since arriving in Portland, Pastor Lewis has served on various organizational boards such as the United Way of Greater Portland, Vice President of the Greater Portland Branch of the NAACP, the City of Portland’s Community Development Block Grant subcommittee, and the Police Citizens Review Subcommittee. Currently, Reverend Lewis serves as a Commissioner on the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations. A native son of Boston (Roxbury), MA; Pastor Lewis has dedicated himself to community empowerment, spiritual development, economic opportunity, and social justice.
Rebecca Matusovich, MPPM
Becca Matusovich is the founding Executive Director of the Partnership for Children’s Oral Health. Her 25-year career in public service includes work in education, substance abuse prevention, chronic disease, public health infrastructure, refugee & immigrant health, child welfare, and community engagement. Becca brings a deep passion for improving the systems that serve Maine children and families, and she has extensive experience in catalyzing complex system change and forging partnerships with a common vision. Her state government posts include Prevention Team Manager for the Office of Substance Abuse, Chronic Disease Division Director at Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine CDC’s first Cumberland District Public Health Liaison, and she spent several years as a Policy Associate at the Cutler Institute within USM’s Muskie School for Public Service prior to her current position. While crossing sectors and disciplines in many ways over the years, her work has always gravitated around a core interest in health equity and systems thinking.
Kenney Miller is the Project Director for Maine's Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Block Grant at the Office of Behavioral Health, providing strategic guidance and oversight for this federal award to best address the complex issue of problematic substance use. Prior to this position Kenney served as the Executive Director of the Health Equity Alliance (HEAL). With a Master's of Science in Social Anthropology, Kenney is a consummate student of culture and society and has devoted his career to addressing the ways in which social forces influence, shape, and collide with human health. He has spoken widely on health equity and the impact of stigma and discrimination on health outcomes, and the need to transform health systems to be more culturally and structurally competent. During his tenure at the Health Equity Alliance Kenney oversaw the agency's growth and transformation from a small social service agency into a regional force for health and social justice throughout Maine. He co-founded the Maine Harm Reduction Alliance, and the Maine Coalition for Sensible Drug Policy, through which he propelled the philosophy of 'harm reduction' to center-stage and amplified the need to better integrate principles of compassion, science, and pragmatism into Maine's drug policy. He has co-founded several state-level health-focused conferences and helped jump-start numerous collaborations and projects to benefit Maine's most marginalized communities including people living with HIV, people who use drugs, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with a history of incarceration, and others.
Fowsia Musse is the Executive Director of Maine Community Integration and a Community Health Outreach Worker at Healthy Androscoggin. She has demonstrated her goal as a leader of the local Healthy Androscoggin where she is educating families about Lead Poisoning Prevention. She effectively leads situations involving conflict while balancing her personal leadership style with the demands of the organization. Fowsia is a member of the Pine Tree Youth Organization board, president of the Neighborhood Housing League, board member of the 21st Century after school program in Lewiston High School Program, and is a coordinator for Maine Community Integrations (MCI), which is an ethnic based organization. In the past she has worked as a medically certified interpreter helping the new Mainer population navigate the very complicated health care system. Fowsia is a cultural broker and "bridger" when it comes to diffusing conflicts, immediate community conflict, and working toward bettering the relationships between neighborhoods so they can have cohesiveness.
Jessica Oakes, LCSW, LADC
Jessica is a licensed clinical social worker and drug counselor who currently works for RSU #24, in Sullivan, Maine. Her work is primarily with children and adolescents providing mental health counseling in the special education school setting. Jessica’s work with youth stems from her belief in the importance of human relationships and the value of empowerment thru education and compassionate listening. When Jessica is not at work she is usually working in her garden or hiking with her husband.
Sara Squires, MPPM
Sara Squires received her undergraduate degree from Wheaton College (MA) and a Master's from USM's Muskie School of Public Service in 2010. She joined Disability Rights Maine (DRM) as an intake coordinator in September 2002 and was later named Public Policy Director. Sara supervises DRM’s information and referral unit, while also coordinating the agency’s policy work and overseeing data management for reporting and quality assurance purposes. She is a past Chair and current member of the MaineCare Advisory Committee and served a term on the mPower Loan Board, which oversees Maine's adaptive equipment loan program. In addition to her collaborations with the Secretary of State’s Office to provide training at its annual conference for municipal clerks and registrars, Sara has also offered training around such topics as Ableism and working with individuals with disabilities.
Joby Thoyalil, MPA
Joby Thoyalil has over a decade of experience working in both Maine and New York advocating for economic and racial justice through policy change. He works as a senior policy advocate at Maine Equal Justice where he analyzes and develops legislative and administrative policy proposals and coordinates policy advocacy on a range of issues related to the economic stability of low-income individuals and families in Maine. Joby currently serves as a Commissioner on the newly established Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, which is an independent, governmental entity with the mission to examine racial disparities across all systems in Maine and to specifically work at improving the status and outcomes for historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous and tribal populations in the State. Prior to moving to Maine, Joby worked as a campaigns organizer at the New Economy Project in New York, where he coordinated multiple campaigns and coalitions, including the statewide New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL) coalition and the NYC Coalition to Stop Credit Checks in Employment. He earned his Master’s in Public Administration from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, where he specialized in public policy analysis.
Shirley Weaver, MT(ASCP), MA., Ph.D.
Shirl Weaver has a long history of involvement in health professions education, both in military and civilian capacities. Shirl was the founding director of the Maine AHEC System and the Maine Geriatric Education Center at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Associate Director of the Harvard Geriatric Education Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Through those organizations she focused on workforce training and education issues at national and state levels to improve health care for rural and underserved communities, such as: improving the distribution of health care providers, especially primary care providers; increasing health career awareness and preparation of rural and underserved youth; preparing providers to care for our increasingly older population; and increasing veterans’ quality of life. Shirl now enjoys retirement in Kennebunk, where her volunteer efforts focus on the quality of life of older adults and military veterans, and mentoring the next generation of osteopathic physicians.