Meet Our Board

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Amy has spent the last decade advocating for the students in our local school district. She has worn many hats such as PTA President, volunteer, School Board member, Building Committee member, and substitute teacher. She has recently taken on the new hat of Board Chair for A Place To Start!

Currently, you can find her happily working among the books in the local school libraries.  While advocating for our students, Amy has also been simultaneously fundraising for additional programming, field trips and classroom extras. It is her creative outlet and is something she truly enjoys.  When not selling fundraising raffle tickets, Amy is most likely watching the Red Sox, reading a good book or chatting with a friend in the aisles of Hannaford.

Nadja grew up in Gardiner, Maine. She has lived in Kennebunk for over 20 years, raising her three children, who are now old enough and too busy to mind that she wants to invest time in a new volunteer effort! She earned her undergraduate secondary teaching degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in Literacy Difficulties/Reading Recovery at the University of Maine, and a Master’s degree in Literacy Education at the University of Southern Maine. She has recently turned her attention to the development field, earning a Professional Certificate in Fundraising from Boston University’s Center for Professional Education.

Professionally, Nadja has been the Director of Student Care & Outreach for Student Financial Services at the University of New England, working to ensure students and families are receiving effective communication, financial counseling, and stellar customer service. She has co-owned a family business in the environmental field, has been a “stay-at-home mom,” has trained teachers as adjunct faculty for the University of Maine, and has taught middle school Language Arts. Nadja understands the significant
challenges of caring for sick parents, having had her mother with COPD living with her family for the final 10 years of her life, and a father who was taken by complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She comes to A Place to Start with the goal of helping to ease family’s burdens as they care for loved ones who are ill.  As a volunteer, Nadja has served on various Boards– President of the former Children’s House in Kennebunkport/Arundel, and as an active member of the Kennebunk Soccer Club Board
helping to organize events and activities to raise funding for the organization. She also worked on the University of New England’s “Moving Forward” capital campaign. She has recently been elected as the Secretary on the APTS Board of Directors! Her passion is working with people and building relationships for the greater good. She enjoys skiing and writing and is hoping to someday stop talking about and write her novel!

Erin grew up in Upstate New York but fell in love with the coast of Maine while studying Biology at the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island. After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Biology and Environmental Science at SUNY Cortland, she moved to Maine permanently. She has two daughters, Emma and Abby, who keep her busy and entertained! She is the Executive Director of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, a small non-profit organization that works with the local fishing industry on several different research and outreach projects. Her passion lies in bringing awareness to the marine debris issue that is facing our planet and how we, as individuals and citizens, can make positive changes.  Erin is happy to volunteer her knowledge of grant writing and non-profit finances to A Place to Start and bring any support she can to the staff and other volunteers.

Mary-Lou is the Library Director at the Louis T. Graves Memorial Public Library in Kennebunkport.  She has spent 20 years in the field and enjoys all aspects of interacting with patrons, finding them the right materials, and helping with computer questions/issues.  She has served on several literary committees reviewing primarily children’s books and memoir for adults.  She just completed a $1.5 Million Dollar construction project at the Graves Library that increased the space by 5,000 square feet to offer the community and visitors many new resources.  Mary-Lou graduated from the University of Southern Maine before earning her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston.  She lives in Saco with her husband Greg and two cats.  After caring for her aunt for several years, she joined A Place To Start to volunteer and support other families dealing with Dementia.

Joan Brunnick Dawson is a graduate of Boston College and Regis College. She is a former teacher of special needs students in Grades 4-12, a special education chairman in Acton Boxboro and Falmouth, Massachusetts, and a practicum supervisor for Boston College. She was an assistant professor at Simmons College in Boston and taught in the graduate school until she retired. After retiring, Joan moved to Kennebunkport where she was on the board of the Graves Library, the Child Abuse Prevention Council, Food Rescue, the SMHC Auxiliary, and, most recently, working with incarcerated women at the Women’s Re-entry Center in Sanford. She comes to A Place to Start with the knowledge of how difficult it was to understand her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and recognizes how necessary it is to have a place to share with other caregivers and professionals. Joan looks forward to welcoming and supporting families and their loved ones going through this difficult period of their lives.

Susan is a board certified Occupational Therapist and a resident of Kennebunk, ME. She currently works as a program manager for a 3-day per week dementia outpatient program as well as operating her own private practice. She has worked with the geriatric community over the last 20 years and is passionate about educating families and local communities about dementia care.  After completing her Masters of Occupational Therapy, Susan has also received several certifications for dementia care and education including PAC Trainer in the Teepa Snow Positive Approach to Care and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP).

Shawn Shambo is a 30 year veteran Occupational Therapist who holds licenses in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.  Much of Shawn’s experience over the past 30 years has been in geriatrics and dementia.  Currently, Shawn holds the head chair position for Maine’s Alzheimer’s Association / Portland Walk Committee.  Shawn owns Assisted Living Locators and works as a specialized Senior Care Advisor helping seniors and their families find the best fit in Memory Care, Assisted and Independent living.