WILTON — Come Monday, Steven P. Johndro will make his way back to the old schoolhouse in East Wilton that has housed Western Maine Community Action for the past few decades.

This time, the 36-year-old Poland resident returns to assume leadership as the new executive director.

After graduating from the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in community health education, Johndro worked for the Healthy Community Coalition in 2002-2003 while it was housed at the schoolhouse.

“I’m really excited to continue the legacy WMCA has,” he said. “I look forward to becoming involved and engaged in the three counties. I hope to take WMCA in a positive direction to meet its mission and vision.”

Johndro realizes the reputation the organization has – 50 years of working to alleviate poverty and overcome barriers to help community members access basic needs, he said.

“WMCA has many dedicated staff members and a good reputation,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the work WMCA has done under the leadership of Fen and I’m humbled to be accepted.”

Johndro will replace Fenwick Fowler who retired in June after serving as executive director for the past 25 years of his 40 years with WMCA.

To accept the new work, Johndro has left his position in public health as executive director of Healthy Androscoggin in Lewiston.

That organization focuses on programs around five areas, including encouraging activity, nutrition, youth substance abuse, tobacco prevention and prevention of lead poisoning, he said. With aging housing stock in the Lewiston area, there is a lot of work needed to reduce the amount of children poisoned by lead, he added.

Each community is different and the work at Healthy Androscoggin or WMCA, while overlapping in some areas, will be tailored to work on issues each community faces, he said.

With master’s degrees in public health, health administration and geriatric health, his career has centered on public health work.

“I’ve truly enjoyed my time with Healthy Androscoggin. It was not an easy decision” to make the change, he said. “But I can do this work on a grander scale. The tri-county work appealed to me.”

Johndro said it’s early to acknowledge any particular areas he would like to work on.

“I will definitely plan to work with the staff and board of directors to set a course for the next several years,” he said. “If opportunities open up in areas that I have experience – that will be great.”

Through previous work Johndro has already experienced funding cuts and spent a lot of time on funding, he said.

Johndro said he wants to work with the board to look at the sustainability of plans going forward and at ways to diversify funding streams to help lead the organization in to the future. Grants are a necessity in much of this work along with new opportunities for partnerships and opportunities to work together, he said.

“WMCA has been extremely fortunate, over the past 50 years, to have dedicated leadership and staff who have worked to alleviate the conditions of poverty for people in Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties,” Norm Croteau, board chair, said in a news release. “Johndro brings experience, commitment and energy to that mission which will not only build upon the successes of the past but which will also help create a vision for the future. He has the personal and professional skills and attributes to make that vision a reality.”

Prior to Healthy Androscoggin, Johndro served as program director for the Healthy Maine Partnership of Greater Waterville, infectious disease coordinator for the Northeastern Maine Regional Resource Center, public health educator for the state immunization program and as a community health specialist for Union River Healthy Communities in Hancock County.

Johndro plans to commute from his home in Poland to work in Wilton and the other two counties. He and his wife, Shelly, have a 3-year-old daughter named Mckenzie and a Standard Poodle named Tek.

Johndro enjoys spending time with family and friends, camping and is an avid sports fan who particularly likes Boston sports teams, including the Red Sox, he said. He recently took up running and participates in 5K races.

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