Kate is state director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine.
Kate Dempsey: Kate is state director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. © Phoebe Parker

Our People

Kate Dempsey

State Director, Maine

Brunswick, Maine

  • Areas of Expertise

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

Biography

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.

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Thank You, Maine Delegation!

August 4, 2020

Today, President Donald Trump officially signed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and make critical investments in our national park system and other public lands. This historic conservation victory will result in significant federal investment in nature and access to public lands. The bill demonstrated broad bipartisan support in Congress and passed with wide margins in both the House and the Senate.

Maine’s Congressional delegation each played important roles in passing the Great American Outdoors Act. Senator Susan Collins has championed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) throughout her entire career in the Senate and her consistent support played a big role in passing this effort into law. Senator Angus King was a key co-sponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act and spent many hours drafting the language and advocating for it with Administration officials and his colleagues in the Senate. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree serves on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees annual funding for LWCF and has worked tirelessly to boost and maintain funding for conservation. Congressman Jared Golden served as an original co-sponsor on the House bill and voted for permanent reauthorization back in 2019 as one of his first votes in Congress.

Over the last 50 years, Maine has received approximately $191.6 million in funding from LWCF. This support has permanently protected iconic Maine places like Acadia National Park, Grafton Notch, and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park along with community boat launches, fishing access points, and parks. LWCF also encompasses the Forest Legacy Program, which focuses on protecting privately owned forest lands for public benefit. In Maine, the Forest Legacy Program has been a key aspect of our LWCF success by conserving more than 741,000 acres with $76 million.

The bill combines two conservation proposals that each have strong bipartisan support. The first provides full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF, an amount derived from offshore oil and gas revenues—not tax dollars. A recent economic analysis shows that every $1 million invested in LWCF could support between 16 and 30 jobs. Additionally, research on the impact of the LWCF shows that $1 spent generates $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services alone.

The second part of the bill invests $1.9 billion annually for the next five years toward maintenance in national parks, other public lands and at the Bureau of Indian Education. Over $20 billion in direct visitor spending is disseminated each year to local communities adjacent to national park sites. A recent National Park Service study of maintenance investments in this legislation found that it will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years.

Maine’s identity is rooted in our natural places—and so is our economy. Passage of this bill is an enormous victory for our state and represents many years of dedication to the benefits of conservation. Fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund will spark job creation and critical investment in Maine’s communities, economy, and future. Our organization thanks Maine’s Congressional delegation for their leadership in passing this bill.

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