HERMON – The lighthearted atmosphere at the inaugural Fusion:Bangor annual dinner Friday night could not be interrupted by the torrential downpour or occasional flash of lightning outside.
Fusion:Bangor is a group made up of some of Maine’s best and brightest future leaders, according to its chairman, Cary Weston, of Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications. Fusion is a network of “the next level of community leaders,” Weston said. The program is geared toward people from the ages of 20 to 40 and attempts to give them “a louder voice in the community,” Tanya Pereira, Fusion’s incoming chairwoman, said.
The dinner opened with a videotaped message from Gov. John Baldacci, addressing the 217 attendees at the Morgan Hill Event Center. Baldacci said he was thrilled to see a “network of young, energetic, fresh minds” in Maine. He challenged them to not allow state and regional boundaries to impede their state’s development.
Three awards were presented during the dinner to people Fusion believes have had a huge impact on their community. Scott R.C. Levy, producing artistic director of Penobscot Theater Company, received the Horizon Award, given to an individual who demonstrates a notable commitment to leadership and civic involvement in the Bangor area. He moved to Bangor from New York City less than two years ago and joked, “I’ve only been here a little more than a year and a half and I’m already getting an award. Who knows what the next two years will bring.”
A. Mark Woodward, executive editor of the Bangor Daily News, received the Partnership Award. This award was meant for the entire paper for its promotion of the fledgling Fusion:Bangor, when it first came on the scene two years ago, as well as its mission to strengthen Bangor and its surrounding communities.
The final award was the Fusion Leadership and Vision Award. It was presented to John Rohman, CEO of WBRC Architects and Engineers and former mayor of Bangor. Rohman, who was a major player in bringing the National Folk Festival to Bangor, said that the region’s future looked “extremely rosy.” Looking out at the crowd he added, “I know we’re all in great hands.”
Former Maine Gov. Angus King gave the closing remarks after the dinner. His speech carried an optimistic message for the state and its future leadership. “A leader is a dealer in hope,” King said, quoting Napoleon Bonaparte. Looking at those in the room, King said he believed Maine has a lot to hope for.