Our Board

Jill M. Ward, President (South Portland)

Jill currently serves as President of the LWVME and MCCE. Jill has been a League member since 2009 and has been involved with MCCE since 2008. She is the Director of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maine School of Law. She recently co-chaired a statewide task force on juvenile justice reform and was appointed by the Governor to the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group where she serves as chair. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University Law Center, Jill has always had a strong interest in civic life, public service, and advocacy. She returned to her home state of Maine in 2007 after more than 15 years’ experience in the public sector, including senior policy positions with Girl Scouts of the USA, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC. Jill also worked in the U.S. Senate for Senators Paul S. Sarbanes (MD) and George J. Mitchell (ME). When not working or volunteering, Jill can be found on a soccer field, at a ballpark, or in a hockey rink watching her boys, Michael and Nicholas.

Pamela Cox, Vice President (Yarmouth)

Pamela is a senior international finance, trade, economic development and policy leader with over 30 years’ experience in the World Bank Group. During her three decades there, she held senior operating roles in East and South Asia, Latin America and Africa, where she managed multi-billion dollar portfolios and engaged with client governments at the highest levels. Pamela has deep expertise in management, project finance, including developing innovative financing and risk management instruments and implementing high profile infrastructure investments, as well as in public sector policy formation and government relations. She is also an independent trustee and audit committee member for Baillie Gifford Overseas Ltd. US mutual funds. Pamela earned an MA and PhD from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, where she studied development economics and received a Shell Fellowship to fund her dissertation research on energy issues in Senegal. She is a graduate of Reed College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her languages include French, Spanish and Portuguese. Pamela serves on the board of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and chairs the Bath Backpack Program and the Board of the Chocolate Church Arts Center.

Susana Hancock, Secretary (Freeport)

Susana is a linguist and anthropologist focusing on geopolitics of climate change in the Arctic and Middle East. She holds three degrees from the University of Oxford, most recently earning her DPhil/PhD last year. She is the recipient of many national and international fellowships and honors. She is a former international elite rower and has coached both at the University of Oxford and now with Waynflete School in Portland. Susana is a coordinator for Democracy Maine’s Outreach and Education and leads the Speakers’ Bureau. This includes designing various educational curricula, which she has presented throughout Maine, and now around the world (thank you, Zoom!). She is multilingual and has delivered material in five languages. Susana has numerous and varied talents ranging from winning an international award as an amateur astrophysicist, performing as a concert cellist, and performing as a sleight of hand magician. She is on the International Council and leadership for the Association for Polar Early Career Scientists, is an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and an Arctic consultant for the UN’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Additionally, she serves on a variety of local, state and international climate, policy and academic boards.

Ann Luther, Treasurer (Trenton)

Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and MCCE. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, “The Democracy Forum”, on WERU FM Community Radio. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections and is the namesake and 2017 inaugural recipient of the LWVME’s Ann L. Luther Volunteerism Award. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 - 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Benjamin Gaines (Portland) 

Ben Gaines is an attorney based in Cumberland County with a practice focused primarily on elder law, nonprofit organizations, and election/political law. Before coming to Maine and beginning his legal practice, he spent over a decade working on political campaigns all over the country, from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest. Preparedness and dedication are qualities Ben has cultivated throughout his career passionately holding his family and political beliefs close to his pursuits. With roots in local advocacy and leadership, he is committed to serving his community by working and volunteering with activist groups, including sitting on the Board of Directors for Maine League of Women Voters, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, and Fair Election Portland.

Laura Christy Genese (Falmouth)

Laura is the Marketing and Communications Director for Girls Scouts of Maine. She served on the Steering Committee for the Maine Suffrage Centennial Collaborative, which inspired her to get more involved in advocating for voter rights. Laura is also a certified yoga, meditation, and pranayama teacher and in her spare time, enjoys providing tools for well-being to the next generation through local classes and workshops. Laura grew-up in Maine, leaving to attend Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut where she received her BS in Business and Marketing. After many years working in CPG marketing and advertising in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, she moved back home to Maine to raise her family, and follow her heart advocating for girls and women in the non-profit sector.

Chris Hafford (Portland)

Chris joined the board of MCCE in November 2016 and the LWVME board in July 2018; currently serving as secretary for both organizations. He works as the Director of Sales for Biddeford-based Banded Brewing Company. A dedicated volunteer, Chris has worked on many different political campaigns and initiatives throughout the years. Some of his activities include knocking on doors, calling undecided voters, and organizing petition and voter registration drives and other work for ballot initiatives. He believes that democracy is a living entity that must be nurtured and carefully tended so that it can grow and adapt to become more fully functioning for more individuals. Chris strongly believes that the fight to keep money out of politics is a bedrock issue of our entire political system.

James Kilbreth (Portland)

James Kilbreth of Drummond Woodsum Attorneys at Law focuses his practice on complex commercial and regulatory litigation, including antitrust, securities, officer and director liability, class actions, bid award challenges, insurance coverage disputes, environmental and energy matters, and higher education issues. Jamie was the lead lawyer for the State of Maine in its litigation against the tobacco industry, securing a $1.5 billion recovery, the largest in State history. In addition to his Martindale-Hubbell AV rating, Jamie has been recognized by a number of independent attorney rating publications: Best Lawyers in America in the categories of Commercial Litigation, Environmental Law and Natural Resources Law; Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business under Environment and Litigation: General Commercial; New England Super Lawyers in the category of Business Litigation, where he was named among “The Top 100” attorneys (2008); and as a 2013 Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation.

Lillias Martin (Thomaston)

Lillias, a retired teacher, has been a member of the Midcoast LWV since 2017. She graduated from St. Mary of the Woods College and received a Master’s Degree from Drexel University. In her teaching career, she served as a Team Leader of school staff and Chair of the district-wide Literacy Curriculum Team, responsible for curriculum development, selection, and implementation, as well as staff development and training through state and national educational initiatives such as the Common Core. She was a longtime board member of Trekkers, a teen mentoring program, and continues to volunteer and substitute teach at local schools. She is also the representative for the LWVME Council of Local Leaders.

Melissa Hanley Murphy (Scarborough)

Melissa has been a member of LWVME since the 1980s when she moved to Maine after marrying a South Portland native, whom she met at the University of Michigan Law School, and joining Perkins Thompson, a Portland law firm. Her legal practice has centered on advising for-profit and non-profit real estate owners, developers and lenders in governance, as well as operational and transactional, matters. Her involvement with the League waxed and waned with the demands of her legal career and child-rearing, but she is a past Board member of the Portland Area League of Women Voters and the LWVME Education Fund, which she assisted in forming. Melissa has been an active volunteer in Scarborough as a past member of the Scarborough Housing Alliance and the Open Space Committee and as the incorporator and a founding Board member of the Scarborough Education Foundation and Scarborough Baseball Boosters. Melissa is passionate about protecting voting rights and encouraging voter participation. One of her favorite LWVME activities is registering new voters at naturalization ceremonies and in schools.

Alison Smith (Portland)

Alison has been a League member since the 1980s, and it was through the LWVME that she first got involved in Clean Elections. She was one of 1,100 Mainers who volunteered to collect signatures in 1995 to put the question on the ballot and has worked on Clean Elections in either a volunteer or professional capacity ever since. Today she serves on the League’s Program Committee and Money in Politics and Advocacy teams. She values not just the League’s policy and voter service work, but its important role in civic engagement and leadership development. The League provided Alison with a civic education and the opportunity to make a difference, and she is committed to strengthening our organization so that all Mainers can find and fulfill their roles as active citizens. Democracy works best when we all participate!

Polly Ward (Yarmouth)

Polly joined the League of Women Voters of Maine in 2012. She has served as Vice President of the LWVME and MCCE. Polly is also a member of the Portland Area League of Women Voters and serves as Treasurer for the LWVPA. She moved to Maine in 1981, and retired in 2010 from a long career in the public sector, working primarily in human resources. She has served as Deputy Commissioner for the Maine Department of Education, Director of Personnel and Administrative Services for the Maine School Management Association, for the South Portland School Department as Business Manager, and in human resources for Portland Public Schools.