In 2020, Maine was home to 184 large businesses (100+ employees) and over 147,000 small businesses. Without the resources and economies of scale of large businesses, however, many of these small businesses struggle to access high quality leadership training and coaching due to cost, distance, time, and other factors. Launched in 2020, the Visionary Leadership Program (VLP) meets this need by helping Maine small business leaders scale up and strengthen their leadership skills. The program is a collaboration between the Maine Center, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, and Bangor Savings Bank.


Through monthly virtual meetings, the program builds a strong peer group, teaches leadership skills and tools for today’s business challenges, and introduces participants to experienced Maine business and thought leaders. Now in its second year, the VLP program has served 28 business leaders from 26 companies and organizations across Maine. The VLP is co-facilitated by Skip Bates, SVP and Director of Main Street Banking at Bangor Savings Bank and Alexa Dayton, COO at the Maine Center. Each session features a guest speaker from the Maine business and leadership communities.

2021-2022 Curriculum


Building culture

Goal setting

Understanding yourself & others

Fostering personal & interpersonal effectiveness

Mission building

Team building & DEI

Knowing your customer using design thinking

Managing change

Goals, performance, & feedback

Building peak experiences

2021-2022 Guest Speakers


Kerem Durdag – Great Works Internet

David Pease – Bangor Savings Bank

T.J. Holloway – The Holloway Group

Tara Jenkins – Conscious Revolution

Mandy Levine – Mandy Levine Consulting

Prof. Richard Bilodeau – University of Southern Maine

Steve Musica – Lean East

Marie McCarthy – L.L.Bean

Bob Montgomery-Rice – Bangor Savings Bank

Past Participants


What People Are Saying


The Visionary Leadership Program was timely for the stage we were in as a business. We were experiencing tremendous growth with our ecommerce that required more staffing and operational systems. The resources provided through the VLP helped to fortify the processes we needed to support that growth. The topics presented by the speakers were delegated in a way that allowed for us to then apply them in real time – in the day to day.

Mary Jo Marquis

Director of Business Development at Vena's Fizz House, 2020-2021 cohort member

I always appreciate getting to work with and learn from fellow business owners. Getting input and hearing about other entrepreneurs’ experiences has been one of my greatest resources for growth.

Eliah Thanhauser

Co-founder & CEO of North Spore, 2020-2021 cohort member

I am honored to be part of this conversation. The cohort members share experiences, work together to solve real problems, and have volunteered their businesses as classrooms.  They are forward thinking, candid, and are experts in their fields. VLP provides tools, space, and expertise to help them grow. I believe, firmly, that their experience here will put them in a position to address larger social challenges. They are the business leaders we need.

Kerem Durdag

President & COO of Great Works Internet, 2020 & 2021 guest speaker

How to get involved

For prospective participants

If you are interested in applying for the 2022-2023 VLP cohort, we’d love to hear from you! We will be recruiting our next cohort in Summer 2022, with the program starting in early October. The cohort meets for 2 hours approximately one evening per month between October and May, with small group discussions and optional reading assignments between sessions. Participants also receive coaching during the program from a trained executive coach. We welcome applications from senior and emerging leaders at Maine-based companies and organizations in any sector with five or more employees. We particularly look for candidates who have a growth mindset and are willing to put in the work to become better leaders for their company and their community. If you think you’d be a great fit for our program, please email Laurie Johnson (ljohnson@mced.biz) to learn more about the application process.

For prospective guest speakers

If you are interested in being a guest speaker in our program, we’d love to hear from you! Speakers must be able to commit to 1-2 planning calls with the program facilitators and an evening, 2 hour interactive presentation. If you think you’d be a great fit for our program, please email Laurie Johnson (ljohnson@mced.biz) to discuss how you could join our speaker roster.

For prospective collaborators

If you are interested in collaborating with us, becoming a sponsor, or sponsoring a seat in our next VLP cohort, we’d love to hear from you! Please email Laurie Johnson (ljohnson@mced.biz) to explore these options.



For Inquiries


Laurie Johnson, MCE