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Building Leadership as a Community Development Strategy for Small Islands

Session Replay



Resilient leaders are those who can take action in the face of uncertainty and rapid change. Community leaders, groups, and innovative organizations tell the story of how they are leading the way in creating resilient communities, by building from the inside out and fostering strong leadership across generations.


Chief Leadership Officer, Island Institute

Karen Burns

As the Chief Leadership Officer, Karen oversees our project work in the areas of Social Resilience. She also works across teams at Island Institute to maximize the contributions of individuals through personal and organizational professional development. Additionally, Karen is the lead for the Island Institute’s Inclusion & Equity Task Force.

Karen first joined the Island Institute as a Performing Arts Fellow on Vinalhaven from 2003-2005. After completing her fellowship, she was hired by the Vinalhaven School as the high school English teacher, where she taught until 2013. She then rejoined the Island Institute, and served as the Community Development Director and the Vice President of Community prior to her current role.

She received her undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from Amherst College, and earned her master’s degree in Teaching (MAT) from the University of Maine in Orono. Karen lives on Vinalhaven Island with her husband, Bruce, and their two children, Brandon and Natalie.

President, BI Historical Society

Angela LeFevre-Welke

Angela LeFevre-Welke, BA (degree in secondary education, English literature, and American History), moved to Beaver Island 20 years ago when she married Paul Welke, owner of Island Airways. She was introduced to Beaver Island almost 35 years ago by friends and was a frequent visitor to the area prior to moving here. Angela has over 20 years’ experience managing a multi-physician office. In 2003, she become President of Island Airways and in this role oversees the behind-the-scenes operations of the airline including FAA communications and updates, hazardous materials training and updates, staff recruitment, IT, contracting, policy implementation, FAA manual review, revision, and implementation, and general administration.

During her time on the Island Angela has become more involved in community organizations. Currently, Angela is the President of the BI Historical Society, VP of the school board, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as several other event committees. The importance of these Island organizations working together for economic development and enhancement of general economic health of the Island has been a main goal.
Angela’s interests include a passion for animals (three rescue dogs weighing a total of 282 pounds), reading, and travel. It is her goal to solo and become a private pilot in the next year.

Co-chair, Vinalhaven Island Sea Level Rise Committee

Linnell Mather

Co-chair, Vinalhaven Island Sea Level Rise Committee

Yvonne Thomas

Rathlin Development & Community Association

David Quinney Mee

Sponsored by:

Island Institute

The Island Institute works alongside Maine’s island and coastal leaders to catalyze community sustainability in the state’s 120 island and coastal communities and share what works among these diverse communities and beyond.

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