Our Board Of Trustees

Herring Gut Learning Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, political affiliation, age, or religious beliefs in the administration of its programs.

Nancy Baker

Chair, Trustee since 2012

Nancy is a Texas native and moved to the Midcoast area from Washington DC in 2008. She is an artist represented by the Mars Hall Gallery and currently instructs art workshops for teens. She partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide to promote legislation to reduce incidences of childhood drowning and served on the board of the National Tourette Syndrome Association until 2011. Nancy resides in Thomaston.

Philip Conkling

Vice-Chair, Trustee since 2013

For the past 30 years, Philip Conkling's life has been grounded by experiences among the 5,000 or so islands in the archipelago of Gulf of Maine where he has visited more than 1,000 islands for purposes of collecting and analyzing ecological information on behalf of island communities and owners. In 1983, he founded the Island Institute and served as its president for three decades. After stepping down from the leadership of the Island Institute, Conkling founded a consulting practice, Philip Conkling & Associates.

Conkling is the founding publisher of Island Journal, the author of Islands in Time, A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine (1981, 1999, 2011) and Lobsters Great and Small (2001). He served as the editor of From Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy – An Environmental Atlas of the Gulf of Maine and helped write and edit The Fate of Greenland-Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change. He also served for 20 years as the publisher and columnist for The Working Waterfront.

Nancy Steiner

Secretary, Trustee since 2013

Nancy is both a documentary film and television producer. She has worked as a news producer at NBC/Universal and covered events and human interest stories around the world. Her work included producing the first U.S./USSR Presidential summit, the bi-weekly feature, "Our Town", which profiled local citizens in crisis at the center of national issues, and "City Limits", which covered urban America's most urgent issues. In 1999, she produced Katie Couric's Confronting Colon Cancer series, for which she won "Today's" first Peabody Award. She also worked as a documentary film producer at Kunhardt/McGee Productions and her credits include Freedom: A History of US, The Kennedy Tapes Revealed, This Emotional Life, and Teddy: In His Own Words. In June of 2010, Nancy formed a partnership with John Abbott and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to create a production company, Cross Rivers Productions. CRP is currently in the process of developing multi-media projects for both film and television.

Ken Crane

Treasurer, Trustee since 2012

Ken is a Maine native with longstanding ties to the Rockland and Midcoast community. Between 1967 and 1995 he managed Senter-Crane, a family owned department store, in Rockland. Since the sale of the family business in 1995 Ken's primary vocation has been finance and equity investing. He has an abiding interest in the education and well-being of young people and for over 20 years Ken has generously served many non-profits in the community, including the Good Tern Co-op, Coastal Child Care , Farnsworth Museum, Rockland Public Library Endowment Association, The Community School, Merryspring, and General Henry Knox Museum. Ken and his wife, Susan Goodridge Crane, a Rockport native, have lived in the area since they were married in 1967. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.

Phyllis Wyeth

Founder, 1999

Phyllis Wyeth has a longstanding and enthusiastic dedication to the environment, inherited from her mother, Alice Mills, an environmental activist who raised her to "leave the world a better place." Mrs. Wyeth believes in the power of education to resolve environmental challenges. She founded Herring Gut Learning Center to teach local children about aquaculture and marine conservation to help preserve Maine's traditional fishing communities and received the NOAA Fisheries Environmental Hero award in 2002 for these efforts. Mrs. Wyeth is active in conservation initiatives in Maine and the Brandywine watershed in Pennsylvania. She has served as trustee to The Heinz Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Mary Chichester duPont Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Ellen Bates

Trustee since 2014

Ellen Bates brings a longstanding dedication to education and the environment to her role as a Herring Gut trustee. Her career began as a rare book librarian and editor at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. From 1962-1967 she worked at the American Heritage Publishing Company in New York. After moving to Washington she volunteered at and subsequently worked for an environmental organization called Concern, Inc. focused on sustainable community development. For over twenty years she helped Concern, Inc. publish educational materials on environmental issues and contributed to their sustainable development website. Ellen also freelanced fulltime for the Graduate School, USDA, which runs government training programs.

Ellen has a strong commitment to her community and has volunteered at several schools and most recently with the Georges River Land Trust, working on the Development and Capital Campaign committees. Ellen lives in Tenants Harbor with her husband Jack and has four grown children.

Peter Harris

Trustee since 2015

A native of New York City, Peter attended the University of New Hampshire, then served as Director of a statewide low-income community organizing project in New Hampshire. He moved to Washington D.C. to join the staff of Senator Claiborne Pell, later working for eight years as Chief of Staff for Senator Howard Metzenbaum. In Washington he became immersed in the worlds of public policy, electoral politics, and media.

After leaving work in the Senate he was a strategy and media consultant in successful U.S. Senate, Gubernatorial, and Mayoral election campaigns in Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Virginia and New York City.

He later started and was President of two consulting companies specializing in issue advocacy and reputation management. His clients included elected officials, corporations, not-for-profit-institutions, trade associations and individuals prominent in public life.

His public affairs projects dealt with issues in the fields of health care, education, philanthropic efforts of multinational corporations, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, federal and state tax policy, utility regulation, the environment, labor relations, intellectual property, and campaign finance reform.

In retirement Harris resides with his partner Peggy Taylor in Tenants Harbor, Maine and in Kula, Hawaii.

Margot Kelley

Trustee since 2015

Margot Anne Kelley is an artist and educator. Equally engaged by words and images, she was a professor for nearly twenty-five years, teaching literature, writing, photography, and aesthetics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her photographs have been exhibited in group and solo shows throughout the United States. Kelley is the author of the word-and-image projects Local Treasures: Geocaching across America and A Field Guide to Other People's Trees, as well as a collaborative poetry chapbook called The Thing about the Wind. Kelley serves as Executive Director of the K2 Family Foundation and as an advisor or board member for several other nonprofits focused on finding creative approaches to living more sustainably. She lives in St. George, Maine.

Wendy Makins

Trustee since 2010

Wendy W. Makins, resides in Washington D.C. and Cushing, ME. Wendy brings years of experience serving on boards and working in collaboration with institutions focused on education, art, science, and the natural world. Trained in art history, she's a graphic and botanical artist as well as a natural science photographer.

Peter Ralson

Trustee since 2016

Peter Ralston grew up in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, worked for a decade as a freelance photojournalist and then began photographing the coast of Maine in 1978, drawn especially to the working communities that define the coast’s enduring character.

His work has been seen in many books and magazines, featured repeatedly on network television and has been exhibited in galleries, collections and museums throughout the United States and abroad.

In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree at Colby College for his photography as well as his role as co-founder of the Island Institute.

He founded Ralston Gallery in Rockport, Maine, in 2011, selling his photographs as well as the work of his lifelong friends, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. His website is www.ralstongallery.com



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