Announcing Jillian Kanter and Kirsty Beauchesne as PROPEL's next President and Marketing Director

We are pleased to announce Jillian Kanter and Kirsty Beauchesne as PROPEL’s newest President and Marketing Director!

PROPEL’s Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Jillian Kanter and Kirsty Beauchesne will be taking over for Rebecca Mills and Christopher (Topher) Stephenson as President and Marketing Director, respectively. Mills and Stephenson have run the organization since January of 2017 and are thrilled to provide Kanter and Beauschene the opportunity to step into the organization's primary leadership positions.

Jillian and Kirsty will be available at PROPEL’s next event to discuss their plans for the rest of PROPEL’s 2019!

About Jillian:


Jillian Kanter is currently the Marketing and Communications Specialist at Verrill Dana LLP, a full-service law firm conducting a nationwide practice from offices across the Northeast. In that role, she helps to tell the firm's story and that of its more than 130 attorneys and nearly 30 practice areas and industry groups. She is also a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine Development and Marketing Committee. Jillian earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Connecticut and her MBA at the University of Southern Maine. Originally from Massachusetts, Jillian has chosen to call Maine for home six years and is passionate about promoting the state as more than a great place to vacation, but also somewhere where young professionals, like her, can come to build and grow their careers, as well as to enjoy the fun activities and natural wonders Maine has to offer.

About Kirsty:


Kirsty Beauchesne is a Digital and Broadcast Television Marketing Consultant with WGME and WPFO in Portland. She has held this position since graduation from Bryant University, with a Marketing and Communications degree, in May of 2017. A Lewiston, Maine native, she has always been passionate about coming back home to ensure local businesses thrive. Working alongside non-profit and for-profit companies, she develops on-air marketing campaigns, creates targeted digital strategy and enhances social media presence to support her clients’ recruitment, competitive and revenue goals. In addition to her role at WGME, she is highly involved with the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber and PROPEL Portland, encouraging young professionals to establish meaningful connections, find careers that ignite them and dig deep roots in Maine.


The goal of PROPEL and its programs is to make Southern Maine a place where young professionals and small businesses can connect and thrive. PROPEL’s main current initiatives are the In-Focus event series - Which partners with local businesses to host events and raise money for Southern Maine non-profits, the Pro.U event series - In which PROPEL partners with local universities to connect young professionals with established alumni, their Annual Awards event which acknowledges stand-out achievements in Maine’s small and large business communities, and the Maine Ambassador Program - A proprietary technology that will connect people who’ve just moved to Maine with established Mainers.

PROPEL's 2018 - A Year in Review

PROPEL’s 2018 in Review

PROPEL is an exceptional organization with a pretty simple goal: To make Southern Maine a place where young professionals and small businesses can succeed and thrive. Exactly how we do that continues to evolve, but here are some of the awesome ways we brought different groups and organizations together to work towards that goal in 2018.

We Raised $2,580 To Help Start Up a New Mainer’s Food Business.

At Taste The World, we raised enough money to fund a scholarship through CIEE that will aide a New Mainer in starting up a food business, complete with a membership to Fork Food Lab! We also introduced young professionals to some of the greatest cultural flavors from around Portland, not to mention - One of the food vendors was Niyat Catering, who’s business was started through the scholarship we raised money for at the FIRST Taste the World in 2016! Check out the rest of the photos here.

This event, and the scholarship wouldn’t have been possible without our partners at Machias Savings Bank! Thank you to PROPEL’s Zoe Hull for organizing as well as Machias and the rest of our Premium Sponsors - Consolidated Communications, WEX, and Purdue University Global.

We raised $1,200 to help female New Mainers learn english at In-Focus: In Her Presence.

Imagine that you’re a female immigrant who doesn’t speak english. You want to get a job, make friends, and become a part of your new community, but you don’t know how to communicate with anyone - What do you do? This is where In Her Presence comes in, they help Maine’s female immigrants learn to speak english and become members of the community. In September we partnered with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce to put on an In Focus/ Women of the Chamber collaboration event to shine a light on In Her Presence and raise money for their cause. Check out the photos here!

This event was funded by our partners at Machias Savings Bank. Every dollar from every ticket sale was donated to In Her Presence, and Machias MATCHED each dollar donated! Thank you to Zoe Hull for organizing the event, and to our Premium Sponsors for ensuring our ability to operate between events - Consolidated Communications, WEX, and Purdue University Global.

We Made New Connections with Alumni from University of Maine and University of Southern Maine.

Sometimes PROPEL events raise money for critical community organizations. Sometimes they are as simple as an opportunity to expand your network and have a drink with someone you otherwise might have never met! Our PRO.U event series, launched in 2018, helped to connect Portland’s young professionals with established alumni from local Universities, starting with University of Southern Maine Alumni Association. Our most recent Pro.U event was held at Mast Landing, who happens to be the winner of the 2018 Ignition Award for Social Entrepreneurship!

Thank you to the alumni associations of UMaine and University of Southern Maine for collaborating with us, as well as Mast Landing Brewing Company, and Island Dog Brewing for providing places for the PROPEL community to meet new people. And thanks to Kirsty Beauchesne for spearheading this new event series.

Note: We are seeking a year-long sponsor for future events in this series. If you would like to get your brand in front of Southern Maine’s young professionals and college alumni, please contact Kirsty Beauchesne.

We Gave Young Professionals a Voice In Recognizing Outstanding Members of Greater Portland’s Business Community, and Brought Them Together at the Ignition Awards.

At this year’s Ignition Awards, we recognized 5 local business leaders for their amazing accomplishments and brought them under one roof to meet and connect with Portland’s Young Professionals. What’s more, for the first time we gave the PROPEL community the opportunity to vote and help decide who won each award - We received votes from over 1,500 people voted in 2 days! Awards given out included awards for social entrepreneurship, Hustler of the Year (hardest working startup), and for the first time ever: Young Professional of the Year, awarded to Alison Sivisky. Check out the rest of the photos here!

This would not have been possible without our Ignition Awards Sponsors: WEX, and Purdue University Global, Baker Newman Noyes, Old Port Advisors and Certify. And thank you to Lance, Sadie, Jillian, Rebecca and Ian for being on the Ignition Awards planning committee!

We Honored the Volunteers Who Are Helping to Educate Maine’s Future Generations through Junior Achievement of Maine at JAM Fest:

At JAM Fest we honored the amazing volunteers (and helped drive new volunteers) for Junior Achievement of Maine, which helps teach Maine’s youth key skills that they’ll need to succeed in the future, like financial literacy. In particular, we celebrated Melissa Moffett, JA of Maine’s Volunteer of the Year! We view our partnership with JA of Maine and their work with Maine’s youth as critical to our mission of making Southern Maine an amazing place to be a young professionals - Ensuring that Maine’s young people have the tools they need to succeed is key to the future we hope to realize! Check out some more photos from the event here!

Thank you to JA of Maine, HM Payson, Rising Tide, and Allagash for partnering with us on this event!

And so much more!

Thank you to the entire PROPEL Board of Directors, our incredible sponsors, and everyone who played a role in making 2018 such a great year for this organization.

There is only so much we can fit in one blog post but PROPEL’s board is constantly working on new ways to help Southern Maine’s young professionals, and we’re looking forward to pushing even more initiatives forward in 2019. If you’re interested in joining PROPEL’s board or helping out in some way in the awesome year ahead, please email Brittainy Charrette. If you’d like to sponsor PROPEL’s events or projects over the next year, please contact Topher Stephenson or Kirsty Beauchesne.

What’s Next?

PROPEL’s next event In-Focus event will raise money for the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARSSM). Join us February 7th at Honeymaker Mead as we support the crucial work that this non-profit is doing to aid sexual assault victims in our community. Get your tickets now and your first round of mead is on us! We look forward to seeing you there and to forging connections in Southern Maine’s young professional community.

‘From Away’ To Portland: Life as a Young Professional in Maine


As part of PROPEL’s mission to help make Maine a place where both young professionals and small businesses can thrive, we’re excited to bring you a new interview series featuring stories from young professionals living and working in Greater Portland. We hope these interviews will showcase why Maine is an ideal place to Network, Develop and Live, but also address some of the challenges that newcomers experience in addition to the successes and opportunities.

Our first interview spotlights Paul Harris, a Vermonter who moved to Portland in early 2017. Paul is an experienced marketing professional looking for new opportunities to grow his career and experience life as a Mainer. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Paul.

PROPEL: Where are you originally from & what brought you to Maine?

Paul: I’m originally from Vermont. I grew up in a small town named Shaftsbury, located just north of Bennington. For the past seven (or so) years, I’ve lived in in various areas of New Hampshire. Primarily Manchester and Keene.

My fiancée and I moved to Portland, ME in early 2017 searching for change. Our move was driven by a lifestyle choice, not for our careers. For the past five years, we’ve always vacationed in Maine. It was during our 2016 summer vacation when she looked at me and said, “I’m thinking about quitting my job so we can move here.” I said, “Sure, lets do that.” Just like that, the decision was made.

PROPEL:  What are your favorite parts of living & working in Maine so far?

Paul: What’s not to love! On any given weekend, I have New England at my fingertips. My perfect Saturday involves packing a really good lunch and going to the beach with my boogie board and a great book. I could watch the world pass by all day long and live happily.  Portland is rich in culture, arts, food & outdoor activity. It’s always changing and evolving which keeps the city feeling fresh.

On the work side of the coin, I enjoy that Portland is just big enough so you can have many good career options, but just small enough that you can quickly network throughout the city.  Unlike other big job markets in New England (primarily Boston), Portland offers less competition in the labor market, a low unemployment rate and the reasonably easy commutes help workers avoid burnout and help businesses retain good people. You just have to expect that wages aren’t typically at the levels of major suburban areas.

PROPEL: What are the challenges of being new to the area?

Paul: The rising increase of rent continues to concern me, however, this is a national problem faced not just by Mainers. Renters have choice but often lower rent costs come with all the stereotypical problems associated with them - Bad rental companies, crumbling housing conditions, and smaller square footage have forced many families out of Portland and into it’s rural surrounding areas. It’s a struggle for young professionals who still desire the lifestyle of living in Portland but don’t necessarily have the work experience needed to earn a salary that makes it financially feasible. Renters also face a real issue with parking on the peninsula (especially during summer). The massive construction projects of new city buildings will certainly not help the problem. I think it is difficult for Southern Maine to project the message that “We’re open for business, you should come work here!” With the caveat of “Please come prepared to pay $150/mo. for parking.”

However the real challenges we’ve faced are not always unexpected. For me, it’s always the little things. For example, getting used to Portland’s very specific street parking rules, city trash bag regulations, lack of options for internet service providers and the need to finally get an EZ-pass [laughs]! In the scheme of life, these are small hurdles, but it certainly was a major pain in the first months of our move.

PROPEL: Are there any professional/business nuances that differ from Maine and your most recent location?

Paul: Sure. People from Maine seem to care less about the ideology of “professionalism.” The clearest example of this is seen in professional dress code. A lot of corporate cultures I’ve experienced here don’t care if you wear your old flannels and dirty boots to the office. They only care about the quality of your work. The way work should be. While most corporate cultures hold on to the suit and dress pants, Mainers seem to have never really adopted it (excluding certain industries). I remember I once interviewed a developer for a high-level position and he wore a beanie throughout the entire interview! While I would NEVER recommend (or do) this, I did notice that it didn't seem to faze the committee’s hiring decisions in any meaningful way.

Ayuh, that’s Maine in a nutshell.

PROPEL: Is there anything that businesses & organizations like PROPEL in Maine can do to be more accommodating to young professionals that relocate to the area?

Paul: I think the Maine Ambassador Program a great concept - That new young professionals could reach out to members of the program and schedule a non-formal meeting to grab coffee and just chat about life in Maine. Something like this would have helped me in my early months. The meet-up has to be genuine though. You need PROPEL members who are passionate about the city but also willing to speak the truth about the challenges that come with life in the state.

PROPEL: What are these business & organizations doing right?

Paul: What’s right is the recognition that organizations like PROPEL need to exist in the first place. You can’t force younger people to come to Maine, love Portland, or use your services - That desire lies in the hands of the individual. However, the mere fact that you’re available to people who need help building their networks is is very important.

Like most New England states the population is older and at the end of their work careers. It’s a real crisis if businesses don’t start investing in young professionals and paving the road to one day fill the shoes of the people who are 5 to 10 years away from logging in to their email account for the last time.

PROPEL: How long do you see yourself staying in Maine? 

Paul: If Maine accepts me, I’ll accept it. I”m not one for leaving New England and so far the city has shown hospitality to me. Pending any major life events or career decisions, I’d love to be in Maine for a long time. 

PROPEL: Do you frequent networking events? What are your favorite/most impactful ones that you've attended so far?

Paul: PROPEL & the Chamber host great networking events all year long. You just have to keep an eye on their Facebook page or sign-up for their newsletter to see what’s coming up. In my opinion, the most impactful events they host are the In Focus events - They do a great job of bringing young professionals together to network, but also generating awareness,and often raising money for other local non-profit community organizations.

I also love the GreenDrinks events. This networking event works because it doesn't ask much from its attendees. It’s a great way to meet people, strike up conversations without expecting to hear a corporate sales pitch.

PROPEL: What are your areas of expertise within marketing?

Paul: The sales cycle works in four stages. Attract, Convert, Close & Delight. And it’s the first two stages, Attract & Convert, that I’ve specialized in during my career. In today’s modern “buyer journey”, up to 80% to 90% of the purchasing decision happens before you get on the phone with a sales rep. So it’s crucial your products and services have a great appeal online.

I’ve made a career out of selling the value of a company's products by creating engaging content, campaigns, & events. I convert strangers into leads, leads into sales and sales into referrals.

PROPEL: What’s your favorite..

Maine Beer?

Paul: My favorite beer is Lone Pine Brewing, Portland Pale Ale.  Lone Pine is a perfectly funky little brewery with a good vibe.

Portland Bar or Restaurant?

Paul: So difficult to pick. For some cheap eats, I love getting tacos at El Rayo. If I’m doing something a little more fancy, I might opt for Empire or Central Provisions to get some smaller plates to share.  I’m not a picky eater.

My top five picks for bars would be: Tomaso’s Canteen, Maps, Bayside Bowl, Novare Res & Taco Escobarr.

Food Truck?

Paul: I like the food stands rather than the trucks. Mr Tuna & Mark’s Hots Dogs are on the top of my list. Try them both if you have a chance.

Place to enjoy the outdoors?

Paul: I’m a huge fan of summer. I’ll take the 20 min drive south to Old Orchard Beach. I love it. You also can’t beat taking a bicycle & lunch out to Peaks Island.

PROPEL: What advice do you have for other people that are considering, or have just moved to Maine?

Paul: Stay active. Stay restless. Stay hungry. There is plenty of opportunity out here but just like in other cities, nothing comes easy. You’ve really got to build a strong network to thrive in Maine’s business community.

You can connect with and learn more about Paul on his LinkedIn page.