Our People

Kate Dempsey

State Director, Maine

Brunswick, Maine

Kate Dempsey, State Director for TNC in Maine.

Kate Dempsey photographed in Bath, Maine on November 24, 2020 © Phoebe Parker

Areas of Expertise

Public Policy, Climate Strategy, Conservation Partnerships, Fundraising, Women and Leadership

Contact

Email:

Media Contact

Jeremy Cluchey
ph. 207-607-4843
Email:

Biography

Kate Dempsey is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. She has been in that role since 2016 and has been with The Nature Conservancy since 2003 working primarily in the federal policy arena.

Under Kate’s leadership, TNC Maine is making significant investments in reducing and managing the effects of climate change by joining together science and policy with placed based actions which are restoring and conserving the connections between the forests, rivers and ocean in Maine.

At TNC Maine, Kate has prioritized and recognized that the best conservation outcomes are achieved when they integrate communities’ knowledge and are coupled with conservation science. She is leading efforts to evolve our conservation strategies to better partner with Wabanaki neighbors and to integrate equity into all our conservation strategies.

Kate serves on Governor Janet Mills' Climate Council as the Environmental Representative, and she leads The Nature Conservancy’s climate work across the Northeast coordinating strategies and planning regionally. Kate is particularly committed to understanding how we can rapidly deploy renewable energy while ensuring that nature can continue to play a role in climate emissions reductions. In addition, climate adaptation must ensure that people most impacted by climate change are considered in climate adaptation approaches and in climate policy development.

Under Kate’s leadership, TNC Maine:

  • Is in the middle of a $130 Million comprehensive campaign for climate action called Join Maine.
  • Is working with fishermen on deploying cost-effective video monitoring systems to meet monitoring requirements after successfully advocated for 100% monitoring of groundfishing trips in the Gulf of Maine. This is setting the course for sustainable fish populations which in turn supports local communities and biodiversity.  
  • Has conserved 45,000 acres forests including three ecological reserves by adding to our Spring River preserve in Downeast Maine), the Perham Stream-Quill Hill project in Western Maine and the remote, rugged Boundary Mountains Preserve along the border with Quebec. And over the next several years has goals to conserve reliant and connected forests across the Appalachians. Has endowed the St. John Forest and enrolled it in the California Carbon Market.
  • Is partnering with tribal, state, and private landowners across over 25,000 miles of the North Woods to restore some of Maine's highest-value aquatic networks by improving road-stream crossings. 
  • Acting on Maine’s ambitious Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions and helping communities adapt to changes already on the way—and thanks to advocacy from our staff and many others, nature-based solutions to climate change are front and center. 
  • For the previous 13 years, she helped lead TNC's public policy initiatives in Maine—first as Senior Policy Advisor for Federal Affairs, where she successfully secured $10-15 million per year in public funds for TNC's conservation work in Maine, and then as Director of External Affairs, where she managed the Chapter's policy initiatives, public partnerships and marketing efforts. In addition, Kate has focused on the intersection of conservation and climate change. In 2015, she was part of TNC’s North America 50-State Climate Strategy, where she was responsible for the state-by-state rollout and integration of strategy into each state’s annual plan. She was also selected as the TNC U.S. Government Relations Cabinet’s first Vice Chair, a national team determining TNC's positions and strategy on U.S legislation.

    Kate holds an undergraduate degree in Government and Sociology from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree from Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environmental Policy. In 2017, she was presented with the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Alumni Outstanding Career and Service Achievement Award.

    Early in her career, Kate served as a VISTA (Americorps) with Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City, Missouri; a program associate for the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC; and as a director at Cambridge United for Smoking Prevention for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kate then moved into congressional work, first working as Economic Development Director and then District Director for former Representative Marty Meehan (MA) and then as Economic Development Director for former Representative Tom Allen (ME).

    Kate grew up in Philadelphia where she developed an early focus on social justice and community development. A Mainer since she moved to Phippsburg, Maine in 2000, Kate now lives with her family in Bath, Maine. Over the last 20 years, she has served on the boards of the Maine Center for Economic Policy and Family Focus Child Care Centers of Maine and has coached town recreation soccer and lacrosse. Kate’s favorite places in Maine (and maybe the planet) are TNC's Debsconeags Lakes Wilderness area and Popham Beach State Park. Her non-work time is most happy when she’s with her family, hosting good friends and exploring Maine’s conservation lands.

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