Maine Leaders Pay Tribute to Christopher “Kit” St. John

Maine leaders pay tribute to Christopher “Kit” St.John, who will leave his position as MECEP Executive Director at the end of 2011. See Press Release.

Former Governor John Baldacci:

“Kit’s work on behalf of Maine has helped to elevate the conversation about public policy. His rock-solid research and advocacy have led to better government, and his commitment to working families is a tribute to him and to the organization he founded. Kit’s voice and leadership will be missed, but the work he has begun will continue.”

Former Governor Angus King:

“I congratulate Kit for his dedicated 34 years of service to the citizens of Maine.  Although we didn’t always agree on issues, Kit based his arguments on data and sound analysis.  I have always respected him and enjoyed our spirited discussions.”

Former Governor Joseph Brennan:

“Kit has stood up for social justice in Maine when it was popular to do so, and when it was not.  Kit’s research has shown how Maine can have economic prosperity and social justice and environmental responsibility at once – we don’t have to choose.    Thousands of Maine’s working families are better off because of Kit’s advocacy.  Thank you for your service.”

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe:

“Executive Director Christopher St. John has ushered the Maine Center for Economic Policy into the 21st century. For nearly two decades, Kit has brought vibrant and effective leadership to an institution focused on providing critical research, analysis, and education to help Mainers prosper in this struggling economy. Over his storied career – from his role as a teacher in Tanzania to his more than 15 years with Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Kit has epitomized Maine’s hallmark work-ethic and can-do spirit many times over.  As the torch-bearer of the proud MECEP tradition, his daily contributions will be missed. I wish Kit, his wife, Eunice, and his family all the best as they embark on the next chapter in their life together.”

U.S. Representative Mike Michaud:

“I’ve known Kit St. John for many years. He was one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and hardworking people I had the honor of working with while I was in the Maine Legislature. His knowledge and appreciation of a range of issues, especially budget policy, was always impressive and served him well as the head of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. While my staff and I will miss working with Kit, I want to thank him for his years of service and wish him all the best in retirement.”

U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree:

“Anyone who has watched Kit St. John over the years knows how deeply committed he is to this state and the people who live here.  The intelligence, judgment and compassion he brought to his job made him a tremendous asset to anyone involved in public policy in Maine over the last three decades.   Kit really has made the world a better place through his work, and I know he will continue to contribute in the years ahead.”

Former U.S. Representative Tom Allen, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers:

“Kit St. John has made a career of telling the truth—about the Maine economy and Maine people.  Elected officials and the public desperately need accurate, independent information about the human and economic consequences of policy proposals.  In Maine, Kit and MECEP have provided that data for years and we are all better off for his work.  We will miss him.”

MECEP Board Chair Steve Ward:

“For nearly two decades Kit St. John has been MECEP’s voice in the corridors of power, a tireless presence in good times and bad.  Now, MECEP will go forward under the leadership of its Board and — in time — a new Executive Director. MECEP’s message for policymakers will not change: review with care all policy options and pursue those that are kindest to people in poverty, Maine’s environment and future generations. But soon it will not be Kit’s distinctive voice delivering that message. All of us who love Maine have learned from him — and we will miss him.”

Lisa Pohlmann, Natural Resources Council of Maine:

“It was a privilege to work with Kit for 13 years as we developed MECEP from the ground up. Kit’s passion for economic justice, deep knowledge of state and federal policy, and strategic leadership continually helped keep Maine families and workers, as well as their connection to the Maine environment, front and center in policy debates.  I know that MECEP’s dedication to the common good has made Maine a better place. Kit has been a great teacher and a wonderful friend. We will miss his razor sharp insight, his boisterous laugh, and the warm smile he bestowed on hundreds of people from all backgrounds. His influence will live on in my life and in the lives of many, many others.”

Sara Gagne-Holmes, Maine Equal Justice Partners:

“It has been an honor to work closely with Kit over the last five years. He has been a mentor, confident and, most importantly, a friend.

“Kit’s contributions to the state of Maine through his work at Pine Tree Legal and his leadership at MECEP have been invaluable. Over the last three decades, Kit’s intellect, passion, humanity and sense of justice have served the State of Maine well through his advocacy for public policies that ensure shared prosperity for all Maine people.

“The advocacy community and the State of Maine are losing a true statesman.”

Dean Crocker, Maine Children’s Alliance:

“Kit St. John will be greatly missed by his colleagues at the Maine Children’s Alliance. For those of us who have worked with him for more than 30 years since his days at Pine Tree Legal Assistance he has been the person we turn to for reasoned and knowledgeable advice. His way of conducting himself has made his voice stand out on key issues for the low income families of Maine. It’s no accident that his national colleagues also look to him for leadership. After devoting so much of his life to Maine’s most challenged families he deserves time to himself and we hope he enjoys it to the fullest!”

Sarah Standiford, Maine Women’s Lobby:

“Most Mainers will never realize the impact that Kit has had on their lives. But for every one of you who has appreciated our state’s beauty, driven safe roads and bridges, seen that an elderly relative got essential care at nursing home because of Medicaid, or acknowledged that we have a – gasp – relatively fair shared tax burden, then you have been a recipient of Kit’s contributions to state policy. Maine has been the ‘way life should be’ in no small part because of Kit. 

“And for those of us fortunate enough to work with Kit directly, we will never fully understand how one person’s mind can be a master of so much history, legal and economic expertise, arcane legislative procedure, and strategic good sense. Thanks, Kit for all that have done and are doing for Maine. And thank you for being a leader and mentor for me and so many others who are committed to improving people’s lives through public policy.”

Jesse Graham, Maine People’s Alliance:

“Those of us that have been lucky enough to work with Kit know the vast impact he has had on making Maine such a great place to live , work and play. I will miss Kit’s compassionate leadership and the championing example he has been for all of us in speaking up and fighting for a just and balanced community. His retirement is so much deserved and I wish him all the happiness and time to relax and pursue all of the other interests I know that he has.”

Joe Ditre, Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care:

“Kit has demonstrated a passion for equality that has inspired hundreds of advocates across Maine and the United States. He has provided a voice at the State House for people from whom legislators rarely see or hear. His intelligence, persistence, and long hours often meant the difference between people doing without food, shelter, or medical care and having these necessities. I am truly honored to have had the opportunity work with Kit. He will be sorely missed.”

Ben Dudley, Engage Maine:

“Kit has been a mentor to me and so many others who aspire to serve the public interest.  He has set the standard for effectiveness as an advocate, organizational leader and role model of the essential values of trust and honesty.  Kit’s dynamic leadership has been invaluable to Engage Maine’s mission to bridge gaps and identify commonalities among a diverse collection of public interest groups. I am proud to call Christopher St. John my friend.”

Laurie Lachance, Maine Development Foundation:

“Kit has been a fixture on the Maine “economic scene” since I was a young economist back at Central Maine Power in the 80s. I have always had tremendous respect for him because he is knowledgeable, principled, and deeply passionate about the people of Maine and the policies that would support the vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people.  But what most sets him apart is his genuine thirst for knowledge and his curiosity to learn more – never being satisfied with a superficial understanding of the complex issues Maine faces.  It has been an honor to know and work with him and his sage guidance will be missed.”

David Vail, Bowdoin College economist and founding MECEP board member, has been co-director of MECEP’s “Spreading Prosperity to All of Maine” initiative:

“It has been a great inspiration and a great pleasure to work with Kit and his remarkable MECEP team these past seventeen years.  Over and over, I have been astonished by Kit’s unique blend of wisdom and common sense, passion and compassion. I trust that when he has left day-to-day administration behind, Kit will continue to be an eloquent voice for Maine’s communities, its natural environment and its most vulnerable citizens.” 

Frank O’Hara, Vice President, Planning Associates, Inc.:

“Kit embodies the fight for social justice.  Kit is intelligent, passionate, committed, and focused like the proverbial laser beam!  He is there when things are going well, and he is there when things look dark. Physically, he is a cross between Charlie Rose and Abraham Lincoln; but that’s a topic for another day.”