Mainely Character is an all-volunteer organization, there are no paid staff. Preparing for the scholarship, reviewing and rating applicants and making awards is a significant time commitment, it is a labor of love.
Arnold Bushner, Founder, conceived Mainely Character in hopes to help students obtain financial aid based on “doing good” in their lives and in their community. He believed that character is as important as academics, athletics, and the arts. The principles of courage, integrity, responsibility, and concern are the words he strived to live his life by and the values he promoted to family, friends, and colleagues.
Around 1998 Arnie shared his vision for the Mainely Character Scholarship with Judy Katzel and Annalee Rosenblatt. He saw firsthand how a focus on character improved his daughters’ high school experience and he recognized that though application of these principles that he grew as a family man and an individual. He lamented the lack of a scholarship that recognized the importance of character and was determined to correct this.
Arnold passed away on, March 31, 2008. He was a devoted father to three girls and a wonderful husband to his wife of 30 years. A strong work ethic and effort to do his best helped Arnold become a successful businessman.
Through the creation of this scholarship program, Arnie shined a light on the successes of students in the skills that truly count in life — courage, integrity, responsibility, and concern. His work lives on through the students Mainely Character supports each year.
Richard Barnes is professor emeritus of Educational Leadership and former dean of education at the University of Southern Maine. Prior to his tenure at USM Barnes served as a teacher, principal and superintendent of schools, primarily in Maine, but also in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In retirement he has continued his support for educational access and opportunity at all levels and all ages throughout Maine, especially in rural and underserved communities. He joined the Mainely Character Board in 2014.
Anne Cass retired in 2017 after 43 years teaching high school English and serving as a High School and Elementary school principal in both public and independent schools in New England and Oregon. As founding board member of Heart of Character (www.heartofcharacter.org), she was delighted to join Mainely Character. She also serves as a facilitator for the Center for Grieving Children. Anne lives in southern Maine with her husband, author Richard Cass, and their cat, Tinker. She joined the Mainely Character Board in 2018.
Kathleen Kerr is a Leadership Development Coach and Change Management advocate. She spent twenty-five years working with national government agencies and non-profit organizations focusing on information technology, leadership, professional development, and technical training and education. Kathleen lives in Yarmouth with her husband and daughter. She joined the Mainely Character Board in 2016.
Susan Leighton worked in the College Placement Office of Scarborough High School for 13 years. She assisted seniors and their families with the college application and financial aid process and was directly responsible for the outside scholarship program for graduating seniors. Prior to that she worked for several years in banking and raised three children in the Greater Portland area. She and her husband have also just recently retired from a running a successful home inspection business for 15 years. She joined the Mainely Character Board in 2016.
Curtis A. Mildner
Curtis A. Mildner is President of Market Decisions Research of Portland Maine. In 2007 he was invited to serve on the board of directors of Mainely Character. Impressed with the incredible examples of character among so many deserving students, he has become an enthusiastic advocate for the scholarship. His company now sponsors a $2500 Mainely Character Scholarship.
Bill Penley is President of Penley Associates, Inc. in Scarborough, ME. The company provides contracted sales representation for small companies seeking growth through personal contact with current and prospective customers. Bill founded the company following a 34-year career with the US Postal Service where he held numerous jobs including Postmaster, Business Customer Relations Manager and most recently National Account Manager. Bill, a graduate of the University of Maine, has been active in many community programs including the American Lung Association, Little League Baseball, and several church committees Bill has served as Treasurer of Mainely Character since 2006.
Cecily Rich is a behavioral health consultant, advocate and counselor. She joined the board in 2019.
Annalee Rosenblatt has served as as Chair of Mainely Character Board of Directors and has been on the board since its inception. She has worked as a Labor Relations/Human Resources Consultant for over 30 years in Maine. Active in many civic organizations she has served as former chair of the Scarborough Board of Education and chair of the Scarborough 350th Anniversary Celebration Committee. She notes, “Mainely Character offers students an opportunity to be recognized for their civic contribution to their school, Town, state or country which makes my participation an attractive and worthwhile way to spend my time and energy. Seeing the wonderful qualities of our young people during the scholarship awarding process makes the time so very worthwhile.”
Susan Walters worked in the Wells-Ogunquit School District for 30 years as a teacher, teacher leader and administrator. In 1989, she helped to develop the first site for the Extended Teacher Education Program(ETEP) a school-university partnership with the University of Southern Maine. This innovative program eventually was expanded to multiple districts and gained national recognition as a model for quality teacher preparation. Dr. Walters was a writing consultant to districts throughout Maine and New England. She continues to coach student writers at all levels and helps high school students tell their stories for college application essays. Since joining the Mainely Character Board in 2016 she has particularly enjoyed reading applicants’ stories and the opportunity to recognize Maine students with exemplary character.
Tricia Weyand retired in 2017 as Director of Guidance at Thornton Academy in Saco. Her career had spanned 45 years in England, Ireland, and the US as teacher, community organizer, guidance and college counselor and therapist in private practice. Tricia also worked and volunteered extensively both with the Center for Grieving Children and the Kids First Center as facilitator and consultant. That involvement prompted her research and development of a workshop on the subject of “Forgiveness”, which has been presented widely and is a topic close to her heart. Tricia joined the Mainely Character Board in 2018.