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Jill Harlow Joins MCFA as Director of Strategic Initiatives


I am a lifelong Mainer. I love the ocean. I am inspired by the determination, ingenuity, and fierce independence of those lucky enough to spend their lives working on the water. I am thrilled to join the team at MCFA because this nimble nonprofit represents hope for Maine’s small, independent fishing businesses and fishing families.


Together, we persevere. That bold statement represents what I think is best about living in Maine. We work hard, and we do our best to work smart. We figure things out and keep moving forward even when the going gets tough. We embrace our heritage and our future in equal measure.


As a professional, I am a strategist, a writer, a fundraiser, a budget wrangler, a project manager, and a partnership builder. The part of my work that excites me the most is growing organizational capacity to lean into ever more complex challenges.


I spent 18 years as part of the backbone team that built the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. That was an incredible journey, and I am proud that Maine is now home to a world-class marine science center that knows its way around fishery and seafood supply chain issues and cares deeply about the science education of Maine youth. In 2021, I dried off my toes and took on the role of Chief of Staff for a very different national nonprofit. Pecan Street uses data to accelerate technology solutions in the energy and agriculture sectors. I learned much about organizational development in a business sector that was completely new to me during this short stint. But I also really missed working with an organization with a mission centered on improving the quality of life and quality of place here along the Maine coast.


Two years is a lifetime in terms of fishery science, policy, markets, community dynamics… and trust. I have a lot of catching up to do. I am excited to get to work. In joining MCFA as the Director of Strategic Initiatives, I will be diving into many aspects of the organization’s existing work to understand where we can scale to achieve even greater community impact and helping the team to launch new initiatives and special projects. It will be a great mix of internal work to shore up our internal systems so that we can remain nimble while realizing our ambitions to grow and external work with the organization’s diverse partners to find new ways to add value.


As a person, I am a reader, a foodie, and a serial home and camp renovator. My husband and I live in Richmond with our four rescue dogs, and my Mom. I have lived in a lot of different parts of Maine, from Downeast to Portland, and north to the County. I grew up hunting, fishing, hiking, paddling, gardening, and enjoying the outdoors is still a part of my daily life. I am a Colby grad, a Williams Mystic Maritime Studies alum, a member of Leadership Maine’s Tau Class.


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