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Laurie Gagnon Lachance

Laurie LachanceFirst Female President of Thomas College,
First Female President of the Maine Development Foundation, 
and First Female Maine State Economist

There is a reason why Laurie Lachance’s three career changes have landed her at the top of the fields of higher education, human development, and economics in her beloved State of Maine. Laurie has a profound understanding of the role that leveraging individual potential plays in the development of an economy. When it comes to human capital, Laurie believes that it’s at the heart of everything that we do and everything that we can achieve. That belief, along with the action steps that she has delivered over her entire career, have profoundly improved the aspirations of women across the State of Maine and beyond.

In her position as State Economist, Laurie emphasized the role that human capital plays in value-added economic development. As the leader of two great Maine institutions, she has maintained a laser-like focus on unlocking the innovation that resides within us all. Her move to higher education matched her rhetoric of two decades prior – that higher education is a key ingredient that promotes economic development.

Laurie Lachance was born and raised in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. A product of the humble beginnings that are part and parcel of a rural Maine upbringing, Laurie sought the best education that Maine had to offer. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, her Master’s degree from Thomas College, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Laurie’s career began as an economist for Central Maine Power. As State Economist, she served an unprecedented three Maine governors: a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat. During her eleven year tenure as State Economist she served as the chair of the Maine State Revenue Forecasting Commission, restoring public trust in the forecasting process. Her advocacy of promoting lower energy costs through restructuring of the market is one of many shining examples of her influence.

Later in her career, Laurie turned her attention to human potential. In a letter of support to the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Committee, Cheryl Miller of the Maine Development Foundation expressed what it was like to operate under the leadership of President Lachance in a work environment that was at times made up of all women. In Miller’s words, “she creates a culture of kindness and honesty...we all became more than we thought we ever could be, both professionally and as an organization. For those who know her, she is consistently one who inspires, empowers and affirms all those she touches. ”Her tenure at Thomas College has been characterized by growth and change. The College has flourished with new buildings, programs and playing fields along with major gains in student population. Thomas College is a business and liberal arts educational institution located in central Maine whose mission is to prepare students “for success in their personal and professional lives, and for leadership and service in their communities.”

As U.S. Senator and former Maine Governor Angus King said of Laurie in her nomination letter, “To each opportunity she brings the same abundant enthusiasm and unflagging optimism in the belief that positive thinking can overcome obstinate obstacles and turn the most hostile skeptics into ardent promoters of a new idea.” Senator King went on to add: “I guarantee that we haven’t yet realized all the great things that Laurie will introduce and make happen.”

Inducted 2014