Press Release

Maine Rural Leader Receives National Award

ORONO, Maine — During its annual meeting on August 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich.,  Partners for Rural America conferred its highest honor on Mary Ann Hayes, executive director of Maine Rural Partners.

The Ron Shaffer Award for Excellence in Collaborative Leadership is presented to an individual who embodies the values, skills and impacts necessary to build a national and state rural development partnership that meets the needs of rural America.

Hayes was recognized for the diverse collaborative initiatives created under her leadership at Maine Rural Partners since 2004 and their impacts at the juncture of where policy, research and practice meet. Partners for Rural America vice chair and 2011 Shaffer Award recipient Chris Marko of Oregon made the award presentation.

Marko stated, “Six letters of nomination were received from a diverse mix of your local, state and national colleagues containing over a dozen reasons why Mary Ann should be honored with this award. While she exemplifies her commitment to Rural America every day, the following noteworthy accomplishments driven by her collaborative leadership deserve special mention:

• Maine’s Farm Energy Partners Network, in which over 30 active members from diverse sectors work together to help Maine farmers save energy, improve the environment and strengthen their bottom lines. Founded in 2006, the Network continues to deliver best practice energy efficiency and renewable education to Maine’s agricultural community.

• Enactment of the Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program, facilitating long term power purchase contracts for locally-owned and welcomed renewable energy projects.

• Publication of the Realizing Maine’s Worth report, connecting the philanthropic and community development sectors around the enormous potential of intergenerational wealth transfer and follow-up work with pilot projects at the community level to inspire long-term rural investment.

To get involved with Maine Rural Partners, visit or contact Mary Ann Hayes by email at For more information on the work of state rural development councils across the nation, visit