State Director, Maine
Kate Dempsey has served as the State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine since 2016. 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.
Kate holds an undergraduate degree in Government and Sociology from Bowdoin College and a Masters degree from Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environmental Policy. After college, she was a VISTA Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City, Missouri; she worked in Washington, DC, for the Friends Committee on National Legislation; and she ran a public health campaign for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Soon after, she joined the office of U.S. Representative Marty Meehan (MA-05) as Economic Development Director and then District Director, managing all district offices and staff. Moving back to Maine in 2000, Kate worked as Economic Development Director for U.S. Representative Tom Allen (ME-01).
It was during her time in Congressman Allen’s Portland office that Kate first encountered TNC. She was helping to get Forest Legacy projects approved by the federal government, and was struck by the collaborative nature of TNC's work -- a mix of working in communities, with landowners, with local governments, and with businesses, all while achieving important conservation outcomes. Through her political work, she saw how integral conservation is to healthy communities.
At TNC, Kate has focused on the intersection of conservation and climate change. In 2015, she took on the role of directing 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 the Conservancy’s positions and strategy on U.S legislation. In Maine, Kate has prioritized building a happy, productive team, knowing that a well-supported group achieves the best conservation outcomes. Under Kate's leadership, the Maine Chapter is focused on working collaboratively across the state to achieve healthy oceans, rivers and forests and acting to address climate change. Kate serves on Governor Janet Mills' Climate Council as the Environmental Representative.
Kate grew up in Philadelphia but considers herself a Mainer now. She lives with her family in Bath, Maine, and has served on the boards of the Maine Center for Economic Policy and Family Focus Child Care Centers of Bath and Brunswick. She is the 2017 recipient of the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award for her leadership on the restoration of the Penobscot River and her role in conserving thousands of acres of Maine's forests for nature and people. Kate enjoys hiking, paddleboarding, and Popham Beach's hidden nooks, and hopes one day to learn to fly fish.