About Restorative Justice Project Maine

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About Restorative Justice Project Maine

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is an approach to harm that focuses on the needs of those affected by the harm – including the person whose actions caused the harm, the person who was harmed, and the community where the harm occurred. It emphasizes repairing the harm, not through punishment and isolation, but through accountability, understanding the impact of the harm caused, and making amends. At its core, restorative justice is about fostering understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. 

Our History

The Restorative Justice Project (RJP) Maine has a rich history dating back to 2005. Our roots are firmly planted in the efforts of countless dedicated individuals who have been involved along the way. While we remain faithful to our origins, RJP Maine continues to evolve, adapting to the needs of the communities we serve.

Who We Serve

We serve a diverse range of individuals and groups within midcoast Maine and offer training statewide. Our programs and trainings cater to parties causing harm, those harmed, schools, educational institutions, and the wider community. We believe that everyone can benefit from and contribute to restorative practices.

Our Values

At RJP Maine, we value empathy, understanding, respect, and community. We believe in the power of dialogue and collective action to repair harm and build stronger, more compassionate communities. We believe in access to restorative solutions for anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Meet Our Team

Our dedicated team of staff and board members are the backbone of RJP Maine. Each member brings their unique experiences, skills, and passions to our work.

Restorative Justice Project Maine Staff

Charlotte Cramer

Charlotte Cramer
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

Charlotte Cramer
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

As a Restorative Justice Manager, I work with RJP’s volunteer facilitators and mentors to lead restorative harm repair processes with youth and adults referred to our program. I also serve as the Referral Stream Lead, strengthening partnerships with various referral sources and community service organizations.

What Are You Most Passionate About In This Work?

I strongly believe that we need alternative responses to wrongdoing than those our current criminal legal system offers, which disproportionately target people of color, fail to reduce crime or promote safety, and cause further pain to both those who caused harm and those who were harmed. Restorative processes have the power to achieve true accountability and healing in response to conflict and pain. This work gives me hope for a future built upon empathy and interconnection, and guided by community well being.

What Do You Bring To This Work?

I have a Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago with a concentration in social administration and transforming justice policies and practices. I also bring experience in legislative advocacy, including as part of the successful Illinois campaign to abolish sentences of life without the possibility of parole for people under the age of 21.

What Restores You?

Running, naps, brunch, laughter, and snuggles with my cat, Winter.

Emma Hirst

Emma Hirst
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

Emma Hirst
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

I help facilitate and organize restorative processes for adults and youth referred to our Harm Repair Program. Additionally, I bring restorative practices to the Maine Coast Regional Reentry Center as the Reentry Center Lead.

What Brought You To This Work?

Working with people who are incarcerated in CA introduced me to the many ways America’s criminal legal system is not only inefficient, but significantly traumatizing. Dedicated to understanding different ways of resolving harm and healing trauma led me to study restorative and transformative justice.

What Are You Most Passionate About In This Work?

Restorative practices welcome people to be seen as they are, oftentimes initiating deep connection to one-another in powerful or transformational ways. I am passionate about continuing to learn and lean into this beautiful way of being in relationship to those around us, in hopes to alleviate pain and suffering.

What Restores You?

Spending time in or on water, with close friends and family, with a book, on my bike, in the woods, with paints and pencils, in the kitchen, or on the dance-floor are all ways that fuel me up and settle me down!

Hanlon Kelley

Hanlon Kelley
(She/Her)

Training And Capacity Builder

Hanlon Kelley
(She/Her)

Training And Capacity Builder

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

As part of the Training and Capacity Building team, I co-host training sessions, support training outreach, and communicate with volunteers and community members about training. I also help develop and refine our training curriculum as needed and work to respond to new training needs as they arise.

What Are You Most Passionate About In This Work?

I feel passionate about the way that restorative practices can be used in every area of life. This can allow the full range of our humanity to be expressed and can mean that all our relationships, including those with more-than-human beings, involve mutual respect and care.

What Is One Thing You Want Folks To Know About You?

I will soon become a mom for the first time! My husband and I are so very excited.

What Restores You?

As an introvert, my restorative activities are mostly solo or with one other person. I love being near water, especially swimming or canoeing. I also delight in baking sweet treats, gardening, practicing the banjo, and various crafts—needle-felting is my current favorite.

Heather Fogg

Heather Fogg
(She/Her)

Training And Capacity Builder

Heather Fogg
(She/Her)

Training And Capacity Builder

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

I support us by offering ways for us to enliven and deepen our understanding of what it means to bring restorative values and principles into our work and lives.

What Brought You To This Work?

I first read the word restorative in a textbook in 2001, and felt inspired by the invitation to bring people impacted by a situation together to share and understand what brought us to this moment and what could be possible now to heal the interconnected relationships among us all.

What Do You Bring To This Work?

With gratitude to everybody who deepened my understanding of what it could mean to know justice as healing, I’m learning to bring my whole self, both my favorite as well as my least favorite parts, into every moment while inviting everyone around me to do the same.

What Restores You?

I feel restored in my own complex humanity when I acknowledge my gratitude to all the peoples whose heritage and lineages have stewarded these ways of being in connection with one another for millenia, and accept the responsibility to make amends and reparations in honor of their wisdom, teachings, sacrifices, sufferings, and resilience in keeping right relationships with all our relations.

Joanna Crispe

Joanna Crispe
(She/Her)

Director Of Programs

Joanna Crispe
(She/Her)

Director Of Programs

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

I am responsible for managing the organization’s juvenile harm repair and restorative reentry programming, ensuring that the teams implementing these programs have the resources and tools that they need to succeed. I am also involved in new program development, and sustainability planning.

What Are You Most Passionate About In This Work?

I am excited about the potential of restorative practices to fundamentally shift the way that community members relate to each other. I am committed to upholding the dignity of all, and to approaching shared challenges in ways that elevate both individual and collective strengths.

What Do You Bring To This Work?

I have gained extensive nonprofit project and program development experience throughout my 20 year career working with a variety of mission-driven organizations including the United Way of Greater Portland, the Maine Association of Nonprofits, and the Maine Development Foundation. These roles and others have given me a deep appreciation for inclusive community and organizational capacity building.

What Is One Thing You Want Folks To Know About You?

I grew up in Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island and have also been lucky enough to spend time living and learning in New Orleans, London, and New York City. I now reside in Bremen on the beautiful Pemaquid Peninsula with my partner, Zack, much-adored cat, Basquiat, and many wonderful neighbors.

Kathy Durgin Leighton, Restorative Justice Project Maine

Kathy Durgin-Leighton
She/Her)

Executive Director

Kathy Durgin-Leighton
She/Her)

Executive Director

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

Since February 2020, I have had the pleasure to serve as the Executive Director working directly with all staff and members of the board of directors in furthering the mission of RJP Maine

What Brought You To This Work?

I learned about restorative justice when I was the Executive Director of the YWCA Central Maine in Lewiston. Our afterschool program staff were trained in restorative practices and I saw firsthand how well it helped to resolve conflict when children were asked to reflect on their behavior using restorative questions. What happened? What were you thinking at the time? What have you thought about since? Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way? What do you think you need to do to make things right?

What Are You Most Passionate About This Work?

I’m most passionate about changing the criminal legal system. The current response to crime and wrongdoing through punishment and isolation (jails and prisons) only leads to further harm and trauma. Restorative practices offer an alternative approach where accountability and healing coexists.

What Is One Thing You Want Folks To Know About You?

I’m a lifelong Mainer having never lived outside the state of Maine. While I love to travel, I am always happy to return to my home state.

What Restores You?

Spending time with my family – my life partner, my adult daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and of course, my dog, Casco and anything that involves water – sailing on our wooden friendship sloop, swimming, walking along the beach, and bodysurfing!

Molly Hoisser

Molly Hoisser
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

Molly Hoisser
(she/her)

Restorative Justice Manager

What is your role at RJP Maine?

As a Restorative Justice Manager, my role is to collaborate with stakeholders to enable harm repair and restoration for communities we serve. This includes supporting focus areas of communications and volunteer engagement.

What brought you to this work?

Becoming system-impacted and witnessing barriers that not only prevented healing but compounded harm. I first learned of restorative justice while trying to reconcile the complexities of my own experience. I deepened my learnings first-hand by serving as a community member for restorative conferences, and ultimately through a Masters in Restorative Justice.

What do you bring to this work?

I have 20 years of professional experience identifying and supporting people’s needs, which I bring with me in the transition from one “HR” to another – human resources to harm repair.

What restores you?

Spending time with loved ones, the ocean, long drives, and meditation.

Tim O’Donnell

Tim O’Donnell
(He/His)

Finance And Office Coordinator

Tim O’Donnell
(He/His)

Finance And Office Coordinator

What Is Your Role At RJP Maine?

To keep track of finances – pay the bills and help keep us moving forward.

What Brought You To This Work?

The idea of restorative justice. This is a better way to deal with the criminal system and other harms in our society.

What Restores You?

Music – especially music of the 60’s and 70’s. And my faith in humanity and my religion!

Restorative Justice Project Maine Board

Abdi

Abdi "Lalee" Awad

Abdi "Lalee" Awad

Abdi “Lalee” Awad immigrated from Somalia to Maine with his family and attended Portland High School. He is currently incarcerated at Maine State Prison. Lalee refused to let his current circumstances define who he is. While incarcerated, he earned his AA, BA (from the University of Maine at Augusta), and MS in Adult and Higher Education (from the University of Southern Maine). He is currently looking to apply for his PhD program. He is a Nationally Certified Yoga Instructor in Traditional Vinyasa and Holistic Yoga Flow, Two times Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Fellow (2021-2022 &2022 to 2023), Senior Justice Scholar with Opportunity Scholars, 2023 UCLA Dream Fellow, Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Volunteer, Culturally Responsive Restorative Justice Practitioner Consultant and Youth Mentor. Social/Immigrant Justice Advocate, Presenter, Currently a Consultant with Catherine Cutler Institute at the University of Southern Maine: a firm believer that education is the greatest equalizer in our society. His current work includes uplifting the voice of underserved community members (justice system-impacted and immigrant communities). His favorite pastimes include listening to music and watching documentaries.

Chris LeGore

Chris LeGore

Chair

Chris LeGore

Chair

Chris LeGore graduated with a BA in Physics and an MS in Science Education from Cornell University. She was a high school math and science teacher for 7 years, the last four at Mt. View H.S. in Thorndike, Maine. For the past 39 years she has been a UMA employee: teaching developmental math for 8 years, then overseeing the university’s off-campus centers, and finally serving as director of University College – the system’s distance education network. She retired from administration in 2010 and continues to teach as an adjunct faculty member at University College in Rockland and at Maine State Prison. An active member of the UU Church of Belfast, she has been involved with RJP Maine since its inception. Her favorite activities are sailing, mentoring, playing her flute, playing with her grandchildren, and having lunch with friends.

Connie Putnam

Connie Putnam

Connie Putnam

Born and raised in Knox County, Connie retired in February 2024 after dedicating 25 years to community health promotion as the Director of Penobscot Bay Community Health Partnerships. In 1997, she took the lead in establishing Knox County’s inaugural community health coalition, laying the groundwork for collaborative efforts to address health challenges. She secured Maine’s pioneering grants for tobacco and substance use prevention in 2001 and 2002, significantly improving the health outcomes of the county’s residents. During her tenure, she served on several statewide councils and advisory boards, including the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Advisory Board, the Maine State Legislature’s Statewide Coordinating Council, and the Maine Network of Healthy Communities. Connie remains committed to improving lives and fostering healthier communities, serving on the Boards of Directors for Penquis and the Coastal Recovery Community Center. Connie also finds joy in her personal life, cherishing her relationship with her grown daughter who resides in Valencia, Spain.

Don Hoenig

Don Hoenig

Don Hoenig

Don earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Lynn, moved to Belfast in 1983 where they raised their three children and watched the city evolve into the amazing place it is today. They have eight grandchildren. In a veterinary career spanning more than four decades, Don has worked in mixed animal practice, spent time as a USDA Veterinary Medical Officer, was the State Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian in Maine for 17 years, served as an AVMA Congressiona​l Fellow in Sen. Susan Collins’ DC office, and taught at Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. Since retiring from the Maine Department of Agriculture in 2012, Don continues to offer veterinary consulting services in farm animal welfare and public health policy through MIM Consulting. He has served on the Waldo County YMCA board of Directors for 30+ years and volunteers for the Saco Food Pantry and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. He’s a passionate follower of the “beautiful game” (soccer) and he coached in the Belfast schools for many years. Other interests include surf fishing, carpentry, gardening, traveling, and spending time rammin’ around with Lynn.

Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Jack has a BA from Fordham University and Spanish language proficiency degree from the US Army Language Institute of Monterey, California. He retired in 2013 from a 40-year banking career at Camden National Bank. Jack currently serves on the Boards of Directors for Mid Coast Recreation Center and O’Hara Corporation of Rockland, Maine. Jack has been involved with the Restorative Justice Project Maine since 2014. He resides in Rockport Maine, and summers at a family home on Islesboro. Jack enjoys hockey, long distance trekking, and sailing.

Janine Gates

Janine Gates

Vice-Chair

Janine Gates

Vice-Chair

Janine Gates joined the Board of the Restorative Justice Project Maine in 2019. She brings to that role a solid grounding in the substance use disorders and mental health field. She worked for several years as a therapist and program manager in a hospital-based treatment program, and then as a policy analyst for the Addictions and Mental Health Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health. After founding her own consulting practice, Janine worked with worked with not-for-profit organizations, service provider coalitions, and government to provide program development, system design, strategic planning, and development of/training in best-practices guidelines. She graduated the University of Toronto in 1996. Janine retired and moved to Belfast in 2015.

Jim Miller

Jim Miller

Treasurer

Jim Miller

Treasurer

Jim graduated from Husson College with a degree in Finance. He has been the President and General Manager of WoodenBoat Publication Inc. for over 30 years. Jim has been a board member of Eastern Maine United Way and is a long-time member of the board of the Belfast Coop and is on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters. He is also the co-chair of the Waldo County YMCA.

Karen Tilbor

Karen Tilbor

Secretary

Karen Tilbor

Secretary

Karen joined the RJP Maine board in January 2021 following a career in education including teaching, administration and research. She earned a B.A. from Elmira College and an M.S.Ed. from Wheelock College. Her work experience includes preschool, elementary, secondary and higher education and includes projects pertaining to educational access for homeless children and parenting education for incarcerated parents. Her interest in restorative justice was inspired by experience with discipline systems in schools and colleges, tutoring students in correctional settings and attending Brunswick Friends Meeting. She volunteers with new Mainers, Merrymeeting Gleaners, groups in Bowdoinham and serves on the board of the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund. Other interests include reading groups, music time outdoors kayaking, cross-country skiing and enjoying walks with friends and dogs. She has one daughter.

Lael Sorensen

Lael Sorensen

Lael Sorensen

Lael had a first career in medieval and early modern European history at Cal State University (Los Angeles) and while she lived there continued a long practice of involvement in social justice work, especially involving immigrants and LGBTQ causes. She moved to Maine in 2002 and entered a process of discernment with the Episcopal Church that led to seminary and a change of career. She has served as an Episcopal priest in Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, and since 2015 has been the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, Maine. She joined the board of RJP Maine in 2023.​

Melissa Bellew

​Melissa Bellew

​Melissa Bellew

Hailing from northeastern Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountain foothills, Melissa is a retired public defender from Kentucky and a nonprofit professional. Melissa is the current COO and in-house counsel at the Capital District YMCA in Albany, New York, and a past CEO of the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport. Melissa holds a law degree from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in English and Spanish from Eastern Kentucky University and is a current student at Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University in New York City studying social justice

and religion. Melissa is a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland. Melissa and her wife, Lori, spend many weeks of the year in Midcoast Maine, enjoying anything outside and near water with dogs and friends.

Misael Beltran-Guzman

Misael Beltran-Guzman (he/him)

Misael Beltran-Guzman (he/him)

Misa first moved to Maine in 2018 to attend Colby College in Waterville. As a first-generation-to-college, low income student of color, Misa became involved in Colby’s efforts to support the inclusion and success of underrepresented students and joined Colby’s Restorative Practice Leadership Team in 2021. After completing his BA in Latin American Studies and Educational Studies in 2022, Misa took a full-time role with Colby’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Apart from his position at Colby, he has remained actively involved in educational equity work by attending trainings, facilitating workshops, mentoring students, and rooting himself in Restorative Practices. In 2024, Misa enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Online Master’s in Educational Leadership. His favorite pastimes are photography, spending time outdoors, and social dancing.

Tim Huges

Tim Hughes

Tim Hughes

​Tim Hughes grew up in Ohio and moved with his wife to Belfast in 1982. He graduated from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, CWRU School of Medicine in Ohio, and UCSF rural family medicine program in Fresno, California. He has worked for Seaport since 1982 and now principally works helping people recover from addictions. He also currently serves on the Waldo County Recovery Committee. Tim has one daughter and enjoys reading, listening to people, being in, on or under water, and riding bicycles.

William E. Walch

William E. Walch

William E. Walch

Bill began his career as a broadcast journalist in the Midwest, holding a degree in Science Journalism from Iowa State University. For 21 years, Bill was an executive of a number of leading nonprofit organizations. In 1991, he founded Development Communications Associates (DCABoston.com). As DCA president, he led the formulation of the Cause Development® methodology. Bill has directed projects dedicated to eliminating river blindness and neonatal tetanus, controlling tuberculosis, and expanding what has become the world’s largest program to train clinicians in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients based in South Africa. He has sailed the coast of Maine and beyond for 21 years and now spends nearly half the year in Midcoast Maine. He is an avid kayaker and a sometime boatbuilder and woodworker. He and his wife, Marlene, have three children and eight grandchildren.