Our Board Of Trustees

Herring Gut Learning Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, political affiliation, age, or religious beliefs in the administration of its programs.

Peter Harris

Chair, Trustee since 2015

Born in New York City, Peter grew up mostly in New England, first visiting midcoast Maine as a kid during his parents’ summer vacations. He attended the University of New Hampshire, then served as Director of a statewide low-income community organizing project in New Hampshire. He moved to Washington D.C. to join the staff of Senator Claiborne Pell, later working for Senator Howard Metzenbaum for eight years as Chief of Staff. In Washington he became immersed in the worlds of public policy, electoral politics, and media.

He then worked as a strategy and media consultant in successful U.S. Senate, Gubernatorial, and Mayoral election campaigns in Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and New York City.

Peter started and was President of two consulting companies specializing in issue advocacy and reputation management. His clients included elected officials, corporations and trade associations, and not-for-profit institutions.

His public affairs projects, in the U.S. and internationally, included issues in the fields of health care, education, philanthropy, intellectual property, and campaign finance reform.

A Maine resident who lives on a small harbor just two miles from the Herring Gut campus, he resides with his wife Peggy in Tenants Harbor and in Washington, D.C.

Philip Conkling

Vice Chair, Trustee since 2013

For the past 30 years, Philip Conkling’s life has been grounded by experiences among the 5,000 or so islands in the archipelago of Gulf of Maine where he has visited more than 1,000 islands for purposes of collecting and analyzing ecological information on behalf of island communities and owners. In 1983, he founded the Island Institute and served as its president for three decades. After stepping down from the leadership of the Island Institute, Conkling founded a consulting practice, Philip Conkling & Associates, focused on strategic communications and environmental management.

Conkling is the founding editor and publisher of Island Journal, the author of Islands in Time, A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine (1981, 1999, 2011) and Lobsters Great and Small (2001). He served as the editor of From Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy – An Environmental Atlas of the Gulf of Maine and most recently helped write and edit The Fate of Greenland-Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change. He has also served for 20 years as the publisher and columnist for The Working Waterfront and is currently a contributing editor at Maine Magazine.

Nancy Steiner

Secretary, Trustee since 2013

Nancy is both a documentary film and television producer. She has worked as a news producer at NBC/Universal and covered events and human interest stories around the world. Her work included producing the first U.S./USSR Presidential summit, the bi-weekly feature, "Our Town", which profiled local citizens in crisis at the center of national issues, and "City Limits", which covered urban America's most urgent issues. In 1999, she produced Katie Couric's Confronting Colon Cancer series, for which she won "Today's" first Peabody Award. She also worked as a documentary film producer at Kunhardt/McGee Productions and her credits include Freedom: A History of US, The Kennedy Tapes Revealed, This Emotional Life, and Teddy: In His Own Words. In June of 2010, Nancy formed a partnership with John Abbott and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to create a production company, Cross Rivers Productions. CRP is currently in the process of developing multi-media projects for both film and television.

Ken Walsh

Treasurer, Trustee since 2016

Ken was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. one of 7 children of an Irish and Italian Catholic family. After graduating from the State University of New York at Cortland in January of 1985, Ken accepted his first job as the youngest director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Rochelle, NY where he served as the Assistant Executive Director for 7 years.

In 1992 Ken moved to Waterville, Maine and accepted the challenge to lead the Waterville Area Boys and Girls Club organization as their Executive Director. Quickly after 2 years he started fundraising efforts to redefine the Boys and Girls Club and successfully raised 2.1 million dollars to renovate the old Main Street building. After the completion of the Capital Campaign, Philanthropist Harold Alfond was excited about the new development of the Boys and Girls Club and challenged Ken and the Board of Directors to build the best youth serving organization in the country and merge with the YMCA. Ken was named Chief Executive Officer of the only merged Boys and Girls Club and YMCA in the country. Today, the Alfond Youth Center is the largest Boys and Girls Club in the nation, serving over 8,000 youth members from 125 towns.

Ken has dedicated his life to improving the well being of youth. His recent efforts have been to develop a long lasting opportunity for kids now and into the future. Ken has been focusing on an endowment campaign in which he has raised over 12 million dollars to date. His goal is to add another 20 million within the next 10 years. To date, Ken has raised over 35 million dollars for youth programming in his 25 years serving the Waterville community.

Ken lives in Vassalboro, Maine with his wife Suzanne his son Sean and daughter Kate.

Phyllis Wyeth

Founder and Trustee Emeritus, 1999

Phyllis Wyeth has a longstanding and enthusiastic dedication to the environment, inherited from her mother, Alice Mills, an environmental activist who raised her to "leave the world a better place." Mrs. Wyeth believes in the power of education to resolve environmental challenges. She founded Herring Gut Learning Center to teach local children about aquaculture and marine conservation to help preserve Maine's traditional fishing communities and received the NOAA Fisheries Environmental Hero award in 2002 for these efforts. Mrs. Wyeth is active in conservation initiatives in Maine and the Brandywine watershed in Pennsylvania. She has served as trustee to The Heinz Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Mary Chichester duPont Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Nancy Baker

Trustee since 2012

Nancy is a Texas native and moved to the Midcoast area from Washington DC in 2008. She is an artist represented by the Mars Hall Gallery and currently instructs art workshops for teens. She partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide to promote legislation to reduce incidences of childhood drowning and served on the board of the National Tourette Syndrome Association until 2011. Nancy resides in Thomaston.

Kathy Barker


Trustee since 2017

After 39 years spent in public, private and state level education systems, Kathy Barker and her husband Bob retired to Spruce Head Maine. Not ready to give up her passion for teaching and learning, Kathy spent 18 months looking for a way to meaningfully contribute to an educational endeavor in her new community. Then she "met" Herring Gut Learning Center. She was immediately drawn to the creative and important mission of the center as well as the opportunity to be part of a growing outreach to impact as many Maine students as possible.

Kathy brings her experience as teacher of children, professor/teacher for adults, and in management/leadership. She has served as principal, director of services, and a county/state educational leader. She has also established international educational programs for students with disabilities and faced the challenges and rewards of running a non-profit school.

Kathy was honored with the Beekman Award of Leadership in Michigan for her persistent and relentless quest for high quality instruction for all students of all abilities. Her greatest satisfaction continues to come from watching the success and accomplishments of students and faculty.

Kim Fleming

Trustee since 2016

Kim Fleming is a seasoned Development Director with a B.A. in Public Relations and Marketing. She has over 16- years’ experience in marketing and fundraising for nonprofit organizations – including the Arts and grassroots advocacy organizations on behalf of women and children. Ms. Fleming has consistently and successfully raised more funds through fundraisers and annual appeal giving than any previous director before her.  She has a strong background in public relations and marketing with a focus on social media.

Ms. Fleming also has extensive experience in grant managing - both at the state and federal level along with planned giving and donor resource guidance. Kim has secured funding for events that prepare women and children for their wanted path - including Girls’ Day at the State House and Maine Women’s Day at the State House.  

Kim is currently the Development Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA of the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville Maine and lives in the quaint coastal town of Belfast, Maine with her husband Mark and nine-year-old son Benjamin.

Wendy Makins

Trustee since 2010

Wendy W. Makins, resides in Washington D.C. and Cushing, ME. Wendy brings years of experience serving on boards and working in collaboration with institutions focused on education, art, science, and the natural world. Trained in art history, she's a graphic and botanical artist as well as a natural science photographer.

Margaret T. McFadden

Trustee since 2017

Margaret T. McFadden is provost and dean of faculty and professor of American studies at Colby College, a private liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine. Colby’s 2,000 students come from nearly every state and more than 70 countries to take advantage of renowned academic programs and a curriculum that encourages educational exploration and collaborative learning experiences.

McFadden joined the Colby faculty in 1996 and was previously the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Integrated Liberal Learning. She has chaired and served on major College committees, and led numerous initiatives including the establishment of the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the program in environmental humanities and the Cinema Studies Program.

A scholar of American popular culture with interests in gender and sexuality, media and comedy, McFadden won teaching prizes at Colby and at Yale, where she earned her Ph.D. after completing her undergraduate work at Wells College. In 2001, she was awarded Colby’s highest faculty prize, the Charles Bassett Teaching Award, given annually to a professor chosen by a vote of the senior class.

Her most recent book, The L Word, was published in 2014. The work explores the Showtime TV series of the same name, which debuted in 2004. The book explores representation and misrepresentation of lesbians in popular media and the show’s inherent critique of Hollywood. In 2015 McFadden taught a course on the TV show and its place in American popular culture.

Peter Ralston


Trustee since 2016

Peter Ralston grew up in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, worked for a decade as a freelance photojournalist and then began photographing the coast of Maine in 1978, drawn especially to the working communities that define the coast’s enduring character.

His work has been seen in many books and magazines, featured repeatedly on network television and has been exhibited in galleries, collections and museums throughout the United States and abroad.

In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree at Colby College for his photography as well as his role as co-founder of the Island Institute.

He founded Ralston Gallery in Rockport, Maine, in 2011, selling his photographs as well as the work of his lifelong friends, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. His website is www.ralstongallery.com

Susan Schorin


Trustee since 2017

Susan was born and raised in Alexandria, LA, the third of three daughters.  She attended  Newcomb College, Tulane University and got a masters degree in Social Work at Tulane School of Social Work.  After a one year fellowship in child psychiatry at Tulane Medical School, she sought specialized training in treatment of eating disorders at St. George’s Hospital Medical School at the University of London.  In 1982, she joined the faculty of the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at Tulane Medical School and opened an eating disorders clinic at Tulane Medical Center.  She later started and was clinical director of an inpatient acute eating disorders treatment center associated with the medical school, a program which drew patients from all over the country.

Working her way up the academic ladder, Susan was promoted to Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics in 2006.  Over her 27 year career, she published twenty journal articles and  a book entitled WHEN DIETING BECOMES DANGEROUS: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Anorexia and Bulimia (2003, Yale University Press).  She taught hundreds of psychiatry residents, psychology interns, and medical students and lectured around the country and the world.  She also devoted herself to speaking in schools to students and parents, with the intention of prevention.  She was an outspoken advocate for making insurance coverage available for treatment of eating disorders.  In 2002, she was featured in a NOVA (PBS) documentary on eating disorders entitled “Dying to be Thin”. 

Some of her honors and awards include:
1997 Newcomb College Tulane University, Alumna of the Year
2005 Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed by the National Eating Disorders Association
2008 international Academy for Eating Disorders Outstanding Clinician Award

Because of Hurricane Katrina, Susan and her husband Marshall had to move from New Orleans, their home for decades. As a result of their relocation, with great sadness, Susan retired from her life's work. She is now a political activist in Northern Virginia (and closer to Maine and to her beloved grandsons in Massachusetts). That's the silver lining.

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