BANGOR — Maine People’s Alliance executive director Jesse Graham, who grew up in Weld and graduated from Mt. Blue High School, was recently named a Rockwood Leadership Institute 2015-2016 National Leading from the Inside Out (LIO) Fellow.

Graham is one of 25 nationally recognized leaders selected as a LIO Fellow. He is one of two chosen from New England. Since 2003, Rockwood’s fellowship program has emerged as a leading learning laboratory for America’s experienced social change leaders.

Graham, a 1998 graduate of the University of Vermont, joined Maine People’s Alliance in 1999. He has been the executive director since 2007.

As part of the LIO Fellowship, Graham will be in Washington, D.C. this week for intensive training sessions. He will take part in additional week-long trainings in Colorado and California next year.

“The three full weeks of intensive trainings will be a lot of work for me. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Graham said of the high level leadership training program.

He is looking forward to the life skills segments such as learning to make time for himself, the need for self care, how to avoid burnout and similar topics. The program will make him better at his job, but also as a husband and father, Graham said.

Graham is currently working to raise Maine’s minimum wage. If successful, 130,000 Mainers would be directly impacted in a positive way.

“It’s very hard to pay the bills on $7.50 per hour,” he said.

Affordable health insurance is another issue Graham is involved with. “There’s more work to be done,” he said.

Last week, Graham said one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is a recent federal court ruling requiring cleanup of the Penobscot River. Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council has been working on the mercury contamination issue for more than a decade.

Graham’s long term plans include continuing to organize and run campaigns, at the state and national level, to improve the lives of Maine people. 

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