Nicole Brown, Chair
Class of 2012
Nicole’s political field and advocacy work span over a decade, but she first joined the Emerge Maine Board in 2014. Prior to her election as board chair, Nicole led fundraising and transition team efforts – most notably chairing the Woman of the Year committee. Many Emerge graduates know Nicole from her trainings on Finding Your Win Number and Asking for What You Need. Nicole’s expertise includes data targeting, staff management, and mentoring, candidate support, and planning for victory on Election day, She currently lives in Hampden with my son, Parker, her partner, Rob and their dog Leila.
Kate Elmes, Vice Chair
Class of 2014
Kate serves as the Director of Development of Trekkers, a youth-mentoring organization working to ensure all Maine students have the support they need to grow into resilient, aspirational, and connected adults. Kate holds a B.A from Lesley University with degrees in Women’s Studies and Political Science and is a graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale. Kate is passionate about helping women run for office and win. Kate is the Vice Chair of Emerge Maine, serves on the Executive Committee of the Maine Democratic Party, the Permanent Status on the Commission of Women and Girls, and most recently has managed Senator Eloise Vitelli’s re-election campaign. Kate split her time between Woolwich and Vinalhaven Island with her Mississippi mutt, Piper.
Elizabeth Frazier, Treasurer
Class of 2017
Elizabeth Frazier, a native of Maine, is an associate government relations attorney at Pierce Atwood. She has been a member of the Emerge Board of Directors since 2018, and currently serves as the Treasurer. In her legal practice, Elizabeth has engaged closely on legislation regarding greenhouse gas reductions, land use, insurance matters, taxation, economic and business development, and Maine’s burgeoning land-based aquaculture economy. Elizabeth has worked in government and politics throughout her career. In 2008, Elizabeth worked as a grass roots coordinator for Obama for President in New Hampshire. Elizabeth then followed her passion for government to Washington, D.C. where she served as Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s scheduler and executive assistant until 2012 when she returned home to Maine to pursue her law degree. Elizabeth lives in Portland with her longtime partner Evan and their three cats.
Sarah Lawrence, Secretary
Bootcamp Class of 2019
Sarah is a New York City native and lifelong Maine enthusiast who has lived around the world and is thrilled to now call Portland home. Sarah is an organizational development specialist and an executive coach. She facilitates leadership development courses and trainings for health care professionals through the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership, a small Maine-focused nonprofit. She’s also a dedicated volunteer organizer, primarily involved with Swing Left Maine since 2018 (mission: to elect Democrats from Maine to Congress and the White House). Sarah’s past political experience includes interning for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), serving as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)’s scheduler and executive assistant in Washington, and volunteering on various political campaigns since 2004. Sarah loves exploring Maine (particularly outside), is a devoted/ obsessed aunt, and enjoys dabbling in oil/acrylic painting and improv comedy when she’s not thinking about politics or leadership.
Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Past President
Class of 2010
During Kathy’s tenure on the Emerge board, she has led and been a part of programming, recruitment, board management, staff management, fundraising, event planning, and candidate support. Additionally, she has led the organization through transitions and growth with an unwavering passion for empowering Emerge women. She works as Director of Campaigns and Healthcare Advocacy at Maine Equal Justice to help create systemic change through public policy to improve the lives of those people most impacted by poverty and economic injustice. She previously held positions at the Maine Women’s Lobby after an earlier career in education. She is passionate about making organizations, advocacy, and public policy inclusive for all people and raising up the voices of the most vulnerable in creating a truly equitable future, and believes electing more women to office is a vital part making meaningful change. Kathy was honored for her work as the 2016 recipient of the Ruth L. Lockhart Feminist Activist Award from the Mable Wadsworth Center. She lives in Portland with her husband Hiram and their adorable toddler.
Jane L. Lincoln
Jane L. Lincoln served for eight years as chief of staff for Maine Governor John E. Baldacci, where she played an integral role in the development of public policy, political and legislative strategy, and communications. Her responsibilities included coalition building and management, legislative relations and community outreach. Jane’s issue portfolio included a particular focus on transportation, energy, finance and intergovernmental affairs. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Jane was the Acting Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, where she managed a workforce of 2,300 and a biennial budget of approximately $600 million. She has served in appointed positions for Democratic, Independent and Republican governors during a public service career that has spanned 33 years. Jane has been on the Emerge Board since 2013, is Vice President of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society Board and a board member of the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Mary Erin Casale
Mary Erin Casale serves as the Communications Director for Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. She received her undergraduate degree at Simmons College in Boston, double-majoring in Political Science and Communications. Casale then spent five years in Washington, DC working for a progressive media consulting firm. During her time as Media Director, she planned and strategically placed millions of dollars in television, radio, cable, Internet, and print advertising for political and nonprofit clients. In March of 2010, she was hired as the Maine Democratic Party’s Executive Director, where she oversaw budget, fundraising and communications activities, while charting the electoral direction of the organization during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 campaign cycles. Casale lives in Falmouth with her husband, Kai, their two children, and one poorly behaved goldendoodle.
Peggy Rotundo served for 23 years as an elected official in Maine, 8 years on the Lewiston School Committee; 8 years in the Maine State Senate; and 8 years in the Maine House. While in the Legislature, she served on the Education Committee and for 14 years served on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, chairing the Committee for 8 of those years. She is currently the Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives at the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships and serves on the boards of numerous state and local organizations, including the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Frances Perkins Center. Encouraging and helping women to run for office and mentoring them to successfully serve and lead are profoundly important to Peggy. She is thrilled to be helping Maine women through her work with Emerge.
Class of 2018
Deqa is a passionate advocate for the immigrant community with extensive experience in social services, public health, community building. Deqa is the Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness Specialist for Maine Department of Education. She formerly worked for The Opportunity Alliance as a community builder and The City of Portland as a Health and Human Services Councilor. Deqa holds a master’s degree in Development Policy and Practice from the University of New Hampshire and master’s in social work from the University of New England. She is a certified language tester and cultural skill trainer and has been providing broad mediation for patients/clients in different settings with service providers to ensure unmet needs of immigrant communities are met. Deqa is originally from Somalia East Africa; she came to the United States in 1992 and has three children. She is a leader in the Somali Community Center of Maine; Deqa is the Board President for Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition, Board member for Maine Women’s Fund, Board member for Friends School of Portland, and she sits on many other boards and advisory committees in Maine. Deqa is the co-founder of Cross-Cultural Community Services where she and her colleagues provide cultural competency trainings to organization in Maine to better understand the challenge immigrants go through as they navigate the western systems. Deqa believes everyone should have the opportunity to access quality education, safe and affordable housing and a clean environment to thrive in no matter where they are from or what ethnicity they have.
Deqa Dhalac is South Portland city councilor representing district 5.
Rep. Drew Gattine is serving his fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives. During his legislative service he has served as House Chair of the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee and the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
Rep. Gattine is a health care consultant with extensive experience in implementing and operating projects designed to deliver more effective and efficient services in publicly funded programs. He is a nationally known expert on the topic of health care fraud, waste and abuse and has presented at numerous national conventions and meetings on this topic. He is also a former state assistant attorney general.
Rep. Gattine served three terms as a Westbrook City Councilor, chairing the Council’s Finance Committee and Committee of the Whole. He also chaired the Westbrook City Charter Commission. He has served as a director of the Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corporation and The Maine Children’s Trust and from 2009-2016 he chaired the Westbrook Democratic City Committee.
Rep. Gattine lives on a small family farm in Westbrook with his wife, Elizabeth.
Class of 2009
As a child, Maeghan lived in the Tall Pines Low Income Housing Project in Lewiston, Maine until her family moved to Turner where she graduated from Leavitt High School in 1989. She received scholarships to attend Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School. After graduation, she worked as a prosecutor in Portland, Oregon starting in the trial unit until she was promoted to run the forfeiture unit. Maeghan spent a year in Asia working to stop domestic violence on a Luce Fellowship and then returned home to Maine. In Maine, she worked as an assistant attorney general before being elected to the Maine legislature. Maeghan now serves as the District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties. Maeghan volunteers on community boards including the Augusta Food Bank, the Alfond Youth and Community Center, and the Spirit of America Foundation. She is the President of the board of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center and the Vice-President of the Family Violence Project Board of Directors.