Key Executives is pleased to announce The Top 25 CEOs of Maine for 2023. Situated in the heart of New England, Maine is renowned for its rugged coastline, vast forests, frigid winters, association with Stephen King, and a bountiful supply of fresh lobsters. However, despite having around 4,500 active lobstermen, lobster fishing represents only a fraction of the thriving economy in the Pine Tree State. Maine enjoys a robust economic landscape, encompassing diverse sectors such as tourism, agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing. Moreover, the area has recently experienced remarkable GDP growth, ranking among the fastest-growing U.S. states, surpassing its economic expansion in the last four years compared to the preceding fifteen.
Central to this dynamic ecosystem are the leaders who guide their companies through the continually shifting landscape, not merely propelling the success of individual enterprises but also strengthening the sustained vibrancy and resilience of the state's flourishing economy. The men and women featured in this year's list showcase a remarkable array of skills, including effective risk management, visionary innovation, unwavering dedication to sustainability and societal impact, among numerous other praiseworthy characteristics of executive leadership.
This year's award recipients showcase remarkable achievements, with Melissa Smith standing out as the CEO of WEX. Under her long-standing guidance, holding different roles, WEX not only launched a successful IPO but also has achieved double-digit growth, transforming into a $1.7 billion global player. Another distinguished awardee is John McKernan, the Chairman and CEO of McKernan Enterprises. With nearly five decades of experience in both the private and public sectors, McKernan has a noteworthy background, having served as Maine's state governor and being elected twice to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Completing the trio is Meredith Strang Burgess, the President and CEO of Burgess Advertising & Marketing. As a past laureate in the Maine Business Hall of Fame and a former president of the Portland Ronald McDonald House, Burgess has garnered recognition throughout her career. Her accolades include receiving numerous awards and recognitions, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Thomas College.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 25 CEOs of Maine for 2023.
1. Michael Haws
President and Chief Executive Officer, Sappi North America
Mike Haws was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Sappi North America in 2019 and is responsible for leading all Sappi operations in the region. Sappi is a leading global provider of sustainable woodfibre products and solutions, in the fields of Dissolving pulp, Printing papers, Packaging and speciality papers, Casting and release papers, Biomaterials and Bio-energy. As a company that relies on renewable natural resources, sustainability is at their core. Sappi European mills hold chain of custody certifications under the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™ C015022) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC/07-32-76) systems.
Previously, Haws served as the Vice President of Manufacturing responsible for the Somerset, Cloquet and Allentown operations – as well as the Research and Development facility. He joined Sappi in 2012 as Managing Director of the Somerset Mill. Prior to Sappi, he held a variety of operational roles with Verso Paper, International Paper and Champion International. Haws has over 30 years of experience in the paper industry and holds a BS in paper science and engineering from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
2. Jay Mazelsky
President and Chief Executive Officer, IDEXX
At IDEXX, Jay Mazelsky has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors since October 2019. IDEXX is a global leader in pet healthcare innovation. Their diagnostic and software products and services create clarity in the complex, constantly evolving world of veterinary medicine. Prior to his current roles, Mazelsky served as Interim President and CEO from June 2019 to October 2019; and he was an EVP, responsible for the company's North American Companion Animal Group Commercial Organization and key elements of the innovation portfolio from August 2012 to June 2019. In addition, Mazelsky has served as a member of the board of directors of Dentsply Sirona, Inc. since May 2023.
Before joining IDEXX, Mazelsky was a SVP and General Manager from 2010 to 2012 a Computed Tomography, Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Therapy Planning at Philips Healthcare, a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics. Prior to joining Philips, Mazelsky was at Agilent Technologies, where he was an Executive in Charge from 2000 to 2002, leading the integration of Agilent’s Healthcare Group into Philips. He also served as a General Manager of the Medical Consumables Business Unit at Agilent Technologies from 1997 to 2000. From 1988 to 1996, he was in a number of roles at Hewlett Packard. Mazelsky holds a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Rochester and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
3. Mary Snyder
Chief Executive Officer, Medicare, Northeast, UnitedHealthcare
Mary Snyder began her professional career 31 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer of Medicare in Northeast at UnitedHealthcare. At UnitedHealthcare, part of the UnitedHealth Group family of businesses, they are working to create a system that is connected, aligned and more affordable for all involved; one that delivers high quality care, responsive to the needs of each person and the communities in which they live.
With connections to more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and care facilities across the globe, UnitedHealth can collaborate in new ways to improve patient care while providing customizable and comprehensive solutions in any marketplace, anywhere. Snyder first got her start in 1992 as an assistant director at Aurafin. From there, she went on to CIGNA Healthcare, before eventually rising to staff VP of corporate strategy and planning at WellPoint, her most recent position prior to joining UnitedHealthcare. Snyder graduated from Boston College.
4. Daniel Espinal
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Rarebreed Veterinary
Daniel Espinal is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rarebreed Veterinary, a company that was founded with a single vision to reimagine the veterinary work experience. Their mission is to provide exceptional patient care, outstanding client service and a kick-ass work experience for all employees. Before co-founding Rarebreed, Espinal headed IDEXX Laboratories’ in-house chemistry business and Corporate Development and Strategy team. There, he led and executed global acquisitions, managed the annual strategic planning process and structured complex partnerships to serve as the technology for new companion animal diagnostic pillars.
During his career, Espinal has also worked as a venture capital investor at Allied Minds plc, focusing on internet and communication technologies. Additionally, he was a management strategy consultant at JSA Partners (formerly AT Kearney), a mergers and acquisitions and strategy consultancy in Boston. Espinal is a combat veteran and Airborne Ranger-qualified infantry officer with service time as a combat advisor embedded with the Afghan National Civil Order Police. He holds an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Business) and a BA in economics and international relations from Tufts University.
5. David Criscione
Chief Executive Officer, HAC
David Criscione began his professional career 19 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of HAC, a grocery chain headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As of 2021, HAC operates 80 grocery stores and operates under multiple banners including Food World, Piggly Wiggly, United, Cash Saver and Homeland. Homeland is HAC’s largest banner as well as Oklahoma’s largest locally-owned grocery store chain with 36 locations statewide. Notably, Criscione is an omni-channel retail leader and general manager with strong experience across many functions, including ecommerce, operations, technology, supply chain, merchandising, marketing, strategy, real estate, store development, finance, and M&A.
Criscione first got his start in 2004 as an SVP of marketing, strategy, and business development at Hannaford Supermarkets. From there, he went on to Delhaize America, before eventually rising to SVP of Walmart international at Walmart, his most recent position prior to joining HAC. Criscione graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Bowdoin College with an undergraduate degree in economics and mathematics.
6. Melissa Smith
Chair and Chief Executive Officer, WEX Inc.
Melissa Smith is Chair and Chief Executive Officer of WEX, a leading provider of financial technology services. Smith assumed the role of CEO and a seat on the board of directors in January 2014 after serving as the company’s president since May 2013. Her background in finance is significant and dates back to the start of her career, at Ernst & Young. Over the years, Smith has had responsibility for finance, IT, operations and business development in many roles at WEX. As senior vice president of finance and CFO, she spearheaded the company’s IPO in 2005. Under Smith’s leadership, WEX has experienced double-digit growth—to become a $1.7 billion company—and expanded globally beyond its core fleet offering to include healthcare and travel.
Smith demonstrates a strong commitment to the local business and nonprofit communities in Maine, where she currently serves on the not-for-profit board of directors for MaineHealth. She is cofounder of the Executive Women’s Forum and sheJAMs, an organization that fosters an atmosphere where women can train together noncompetitively. Smith has also been involved with the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure since its inception—both participating in the event and volunteering for it—and she has secured WEX as a corporate sponsor. Past service includes sitting on the board of directors for Dead River Company and the Center for Grieving Children. Smith earned a bachelor’s in business administration and was awarded an honorary doctorate, both from the University of Maine.
7. Stephen Smith
President and Chief Executive Officer, L.L.Bean
Stephen Smith is the President and Chief Executive Officer of L.L.Bean, a leading multi-channel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. The 220,000 sq. ft. Flagship campus of stores in Freeport, Maine is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; and welcomes more than three million visitors each year.
Smith has 31 years of experience, having began his career in 1992. Before joining L.L.Bean, he was a SVP at Walmart International and before that a chief customer officer at Asda. Earlier in his career, he worked with JWT as a media planner. Smith graduated from Dickinson College with an undergraduate degree in art history and physics.
8. John McCarthy
Chief Executive Officer, Seaspan ULC
John McCarthy began his professional career 23 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of Seaspan ULC, an association of Canadian companies primarily involved in coastal marine transportation, ship docking/ship escort, ship repair & refit, and shipbuilding services in Western North America. In addition to the marine transportation services offered directly through Seaspan, commercial ferry, shipyard and bunkering services are provided via numerous affiliate companies.
Notably, McCarthy got his start in 2000 as a director of planning at General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works. He graduated from Questrom School of Business, Boston University with an MBA and from Bowdoin College with an undergraduate degree in government.
10. Patrick Taylor
President and Chief Executive Officer, York Hospital
Patrick Taylor is the President and Chief Executive Officer of York Hospital, which offers a myriad of stellar health care services in their local community centered on patients and family and delivered with loving kindness. Taylor joined York Hospital directly from Catholic Health Services, in South Florida, comprising 38 facilities offering a continuum of services to over 7,500 older adults. There, he provided senior administrative and medical leadership consulting as part of the Emergency Incident Command Team’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
An emergency medicine physician by training, with a strong health care business and operational background, Taylor previously spent three decades establishing, building and leading clinical services and staff at Holy Cross Hospital/Trinity Health (557 beds and $530 million net revenue) in Fort Lauderdale. Positions held there include Director of Emergency Medicine, Director of Medical Affairs, COO, CMO and CEO. Taylor graduated from Duke University with an MD, from Florida Atlantic University with an MBA and from the University of Notre Dame with an undergraduate degree in science preprofessional studies.
11. Kurt Adams
Chief Executive Officer and President, Summit Utilities
Kurt Adams has served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Summit Utilities, Inc. since October 2015 – and a Director of Summit Utilities, Inc. from 2014 to present. Summit Utilities, Inc. is a privately-held holding company that owns and operates several natural gas distribution and transmission subsidiaries that operate in several states. Prior to joining Summit Utilities, Adams served as the Chief Development Officer at SunEdison and First Wind (which was purchased by SunEdison in 2015). At First Wind and SunEdison, Adams led utility scale renewable energy development. Prior to joining First Wind, he was Chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission from 2005 to 2008, where he served as Maine’s primary energy regulator.
In addition, Adams was also Maine’s representative on the New England State Committee on Electricity; and was a representative on the team of regulators charged with establishing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Prior to his position with the Maine PUC, Adams was Governor John Baldacci’s chief legal counsel from 2003 to 2005. Earlier, he served as a consultant with Price Waterhouse’s Office of Government Services from 1989 to 1992. Adams holds a BA in government from Skidmore College, an MA in international affairs from George Washington University and a JD from the University of Maine Law School.
12. Marc Farrin
Chief Executive Officer, M.S.Ambrogio North America
Marc Farrin is the Chief Executive Officer of M.S.Ambrogio North America. He first joined the company in 2021. M.S.Ambrogio is a Group that – since the first company was founded in 1949 – has developed innovative precision technology solutions to improve peoples' lives all over the world and they do so with the utmost respect for the environment and human values.
Previously, Farrin was a manufacturing unit manager at ABB. Before that, he served as a materials manager at General Electric. Farrin earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from North Carolina Wesleyan University.
13. Arthur Batson
Chief Executive Officer, Lucas Tree Expert Co
Arthur Batson is the Chief Executive Officer of Lucas Tree Expert Co, a company that was founded three generations ago to help the power company complete the electrification of rural Maine. Today, they build on a broad base of loyal employees and customers. They've been present at the birth of most major developments in the tree care industry over the past half century, and they enjoy their leadership role.
Since its founding, Lucas Tree Experts has become more diversified. Their service area has also grown, moving south into Massachusetts and South Carolina, west to the Great Lakes, north into several Canadian Provinces. The future of their company will be driven by a determination to remain an industry leader. Notably, Batson has 25 years of experience. He began his career in 1998. Before joining Lucas Tree Expert Co, he was a senior consultant at Charles River Associates. Batson graduated from Villanova University with an undergraduate degree in finance.
14. Julie Williams
Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Dawson Insurance Agency
Julie Williams has been the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Dawson Insurance Agency since 2013. Dawson Insurance Agency has been providing quality, affordable protection to communities in Maine since 1956. Dependable coverage, personal agents and trusted service have driven the reputation Dawson Insurance Agency enjoys. Notably, Williams graduated from Bangor High School in 1999 and Bowdoin College in 2003. After graduating from college, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the office of U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins, serving in several capacities, including as the Legislative Correspondent on healthcare, art, and historic preservation issues.
In 2006, Williams started working for the New England Council as Deputy Director of Federal Affairs, specializing in economic development advocacy on Capitol Hill representing the six New England states. Williams focused on higher education, healthcare, and technology policy. In March of 2008, Williams and her husband returned to Bangor. Williams is proud to be back in her hometown working in the family business as the Broker/Owner & CEO for ERA Williams Bradford and Dawson Insurance Agency. Since joining the Dawson team, she has established new leadership, implemented cutting-edge technology services for agents and clients, overseen a refresh of the brand, and redesigned the client communications plan.
15. Meredith Burgess
President and Chief Executive Officer, Burgess Advertising & Marketing
Meredith Strang Burgess is President and Chief Executive Officer of Burgess Advertising & Marketing, a 36+ year old communications company located in Falmouth, Maine. Burgess, who is very active in the community, is a past laureate in the Maine Business Hall of Fame; a Jefferson Award recipient; received the Mary Rines Thompson Award from WCSH 6 Who Care Awards; and was named the 2014 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Maine. More recently, in May 2021, she was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters by Thomas College. Furthermore, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, Burgess is a very active and outspoken advocate for cancer awareness and prevention.
In 2006, Burgess was elected to the Maine State House of Representatives and served with distinction in the 123rd, 124th and 125th Legislatures and is the third generation to serve in the Maine Legislature. Active in education, Burgess is also the past president of the University of Maine Board of Visitors; and served 11 years as a trustee at Hebron Academy. She served two separate terms on the Board of Maine Historical Society. She also served on the Boards of the Maine Cancer Consortium and the Maine Public Health Association and is a past president of the Portland Ronald McDonald House. When not working on communications, genealogy, community or political projects, Burgess can be found skiing at her beloved Sugarloaf.
16. Bill Thomas
President and Chief Executive Officer, Wedgewood
Bill Thomas is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Wedgewood, an Investment Management company located in Saint Louis, Missouri, United States. With over three decades of experience, Thomas is responsible for the strategic direction and overall management of the firm. His previous positions include CEO of Grail Advisors, as well as senior leadership positions at large national firms like Charles Schwab and Scudder Investments.
Thomas is a graduate of Lake Forest College with a bachelor’s in history. He also holds Series 7, 26 and 63 licenses. Thomas hails from Baltimore, with additional roots in Squirrel Island, Maine. A community leader, Thomas has served on the boards of the Squirrel Island Village Corporation, Church of Our Savior and as a trustee at the Gilman School. Thomas earned an undergraduate degree in Lake Forest College.
17. Betsy Peters
Chief Executive Officer & Growth Strategist, Cambium Enterprises
Betsy Peters is the Chief Executive Officer & Growth Strategist of Cambium Enterprises, an entrepreneur-powered consulting firm. As growth advisor or “special ops" team lead, they partner with CEOs, VCs, Impact Investors, and Investment Bankers to build internal strategic capacity as they develop, validate, and scale new customer-centric initiatives. Peters has over 25 years of experience at the intersection of business strategy, emerging technology, and customer development. During her career, Peters has built teams, raised funds, and managed growth for innovative ventures.
As the CEO and Growth Strategist of Cambium Enterprises, Peters has partnered with CEOs, CROs, VCs, and Impact Investors to develop, validate, and scale initiatives that create velocity and impact. She first got her start in 1994 as a manager of internet marketing at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. From there, she went on to Cox Enterprises, before eventually rising to entrepreneur in residence at Maine Technology Institute, her most recent position prior to joining Cambium Enterprises. Peters graduated from Texas McCombs School of Business with an EMBA and from St. Lawrence University with an undergraduate degree in political science and government.
18. Christopher Tarr
Chief Executive Officer, The Pure Experts
Christopher Tarr is the Chief Executive Officer of The Pure Experts. He first joined the company in 2018. The company provides the highest quality water filtration, air & surface purification and floor care products in the world. They believe: “A Clean Home is a Healthy Home.”
Tarr is a Multiple Franchise Owner at Aerus, provider of best in class products and services helping families create homes that are healthier, safer and more inviting. Previously, Tarr was a closer at Berlin City Auto Group.
19. Keith Canning
Chief Executive Officer, Sawyer Island Consulting
Keith Canning is the Chief Executive Officer of Sawyer Island Consulting. For more than three decades, Sawyer Island Consulting’s principles have guided businesses through every stage of product and brand development. With a specific focus on stimulating the growth, relevance, and sustainability of Maine businesses, they partner with both nascent and established businesses in their efforts to create and nurture new products and ideas, to revisit and reenergize existing offerings, and develop and implement strategies that: build awareness, accelerate growth and increase revenues for both near- and long-term success.
Canning brings more than thirty years of deep supply chain experience to each engagement. Through his career with Pine State Trading, one of Maine’s largest convenience brand, tobacco, and convenience product distributors, he worked closely with manufacturers, brokers, mass marketers, and convenience chains to develop, introduce, promote and merchandise new and existing brands to mass-market consumers. Canning graduated from UMass Boston.
20. Shaun Alfreds, MBA
Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, HealthInfoNet
President & Chief Executive Officer, Cureous Innovations
Shaun Alfreds, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of HealthInfoNet, the designated operator of Maine’s statewide Health Information Exchange (HIE). In his role, Shaun is committed to working with HealthInfoNet’s community-based Board of Directors and seasoned team of technical, clinical, and programmatic experts to assure that interoperability services continually meet the needs of the healthcare community throughout Maine. In addition to his role at HealthInfoNet, Shaun also serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cureous Innovations, a health information interoperability and technology company.
Prior to serving at HealthInfoNet and Cureous Innovations, Shaun directed operations, consulted, and conducted research and policy development of health information technology and interoperability activities for both public and private sector organizations.
21. Augustus Fletcher
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, NinjaTemplates
Augustus Fletcher is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NinjaTemplates. He first joined the company in 2016. NinjaTemplates creates, revises, tests and installs your Fully-Bespoke eCommerce designs in less time than anyone else. Notably, Fletcher is an expert in sales, marketing, and SEO – with specializations in entrepreneurship, social media, and developing business partnerships.
Fletcher attended the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York with a major in New Media. Impressively, he and his marketing strategies have been featured in local and national media. He has also been instrumental in helping businesses win prestigious national awards for their image, community involvement, and entrepreneurial innovations.
22. Shimon Cohen
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Doin' The Work
Shimon Cohen is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Doin' The Work, a company that provides education, training, and support to individuals, groups, and organizations interested in healing and justice work. Their approach is justice-based liberatory practice. They are culturally-affirming, person-centered, and systems-focused. They draw from the traditions of social movements, healing practices, anti-racist and anti-oppressive social work and counseling, and equity justice. Notably, Cohen is a social work educator, podcaster, therapist, clinical supervisor, and consultant. He has over 20 years of experience ranging from street outreach to individual & family therapy to university teaching.
Before joining Doin' The Work, Cohen was an assistant teaching professor, BSSW field education coordinator and school of social work at Florida International University. Before that, he served as a program coordinator at Educate Tomorrow, Corp. Earlier in his career, he worked with LEAD as a co-founder, director and leadership group coordinator. Cohen graduated from Columbia University with a MSW in advanced clinical social work, health, mental health and disabilities and from the University of Oregon with an undergraduate degree in family and human services.
23. Megan Wilson
Chief Executive Officer, Rockstar Camp
Megan Wilson began her professional career 18 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer of Rockstar Camp, a LIVE somatic leadership training for Female Entrepreneurs, Coaches, and Visionaries. It is not for the faint of heart. It is for you who is ready to come out from behind the curtain and raise your voice. Prepare to amaze yourself. Wilson has trained HUNDREDS of Womxn how to embrace Visibility and Voice to create high-impact movements using Feminine Leadership principles.
Wilson first got her start in 2005 as a multimedia production and project management at Hannaford Bros. Co.. From there, she went on to The Coaches Training Institute, before eventually rising to coaching and consulting at Akari, her most recent position prior to joining Rockstar Camp. Wilson graduated from the University of Southern Maine with an undergraduate degree in media studies.
24. Scott Luciano
Chief Executive Officer, Specialty Response Solutions
Scott Luciano serves as Chief Executive Officer of Specialty Response Solutions, a company that provides training and consulting services to organizations responsible for emergency response or safety. From fire departments to corporations, they can provide the assistance you need to help manage risk. This includes risk assessment, gap analysis, policy development, training, and exercise facilitation. Luciano has been involved in emergency response since 1993. He began his career as a junior volunteer firefighter in Jay, Maine.
Since then, Luciano has been employed as a career firefighter and has worked his way up the ranks to company officer in a career fire department. Trained for all-hazard response, he is experienced in firefighting, emergency medicine, haz-mat, incident command, and technical rescue. He has attended courses at the National Fire Academy, Center for Domestic Preparedness, Fire Department Instructors Conference, and the Nevada National Security Site. Luciano has taught classes in incident command, fire, emergency medicine, and hazardous materials throughout the State of Maine. In addition, he has been involved in the planning of several large training exercises.
25. John McKernan
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, McKernan Enterprises
John McKernan is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McKernan Enterprises, a company that was founded in 2000 by Jaron McKernan. McKernan started with a backhoe and a dump truck and has grown from a small company specializing in excavation and demolition, to a leading, heavy civil contractor, providing land development and infrastructure contracting – as well as excavation in Central Oregon.
McKernan has 47 years of experience, having began his career in 1976. Before joining McKernan Enterprises, McKernan was a CEO, chairman and board member at EDMC. Before that, he served as the Governor of Maine. Before that, he was twice elected to the United States House of Representatives, in 1982 and 1984. Earlier in his career, he worked with Verrill Dana, LLP as a partner. McKernan graduated from the University of Maine School of Law with a JD and from Dartmouth College with an undergraduate degree.