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New Leaders Council Maine
Featuring: Emily Cramer
By Mae Krieg
THIS WEEK’S Alumni Spotlight introduces the first of many, and offers a chance for our amazing alumni to reflect on their experiences with New Leaders Council and share with us, the audience, onlookers, present Fellows and possible future ones, what they learned. It is, arguably, a win-win.
I first spoke with Emily Cramer, a 2015 Fellow who became a Board member this year. Emily, like many New Leaders Council Fellows, does not sustain one main skill or pursuit, but is rather drawn to a more holistic approach to her thinking and professions. She primarily works as the Grants Administrator for the Lerner Foundation and the Betterment Fund in Portland, though she is also a full-time student at the University of Maine School of Law as a JD candidate. Prior to this, she was the Deputy Finance Director for Eliot Cutler’s gubernatorial campaign. In addition, she volunteers for local nonprofits by organizing fundraisers and writing grants.
2015 marks the first year for Maine’s chapter of NLC and thus Emily’s class set a very strong precedent. She says these first meetings were what set NLC apart for her, and made her excited to imagine her place in that group and their possibilities together. She was first asked by Alex Cornell du Houx, an old friend and co-founder of the Maine chapter to participate in the first NLC Maine class, saying, “it was exciting because no one knew what to expect.” She said the idea of a progressive collective was the most attractive aspect initially, and grew from there.
“Progressives in Maine are more independent in nature but could all work together. New Leaders Council could be a perfect outlet for that,” Emily revealed. “During the interview I asked [the interviewers] questions because I was sick of the divisive politics I usually see. [The candidates and founders] were young entrepreneurs who wanted to find a new and collaborative way to communicate together.” Part of what was so exciting, she also added, was the excitement that generates from not knowing the end result.
Her personal NLC passions that formed? The whole experience was “invigorating,” she said, because the group did make it their own. They discussed heavily the oppression of different people, which remains very important to Emily, and every Fellow in the 2015 class realized much they did not know about discrimination, especially in the workforce. This, she says, was momentum for her to go to law school and take this discrimination divide to the next level. The Fellows worked to train people to realize their own privilege, something Emily intends to further, and how to make change and work towards creating an inclusive environment.
One of her favorite realizations of her time as an NLC Fellow was: “You don’t have to be in politics to be a progressive entrepreneur and make an impact.” Businesspersons, radio broadcasters, and many others have been involved and helped her see opportunities where she never realized existed previously. New Leaders Council inspired her to maintain her relationship with these people, and with her newfound knowledge has stayed as a 2016 Board member.
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