Wendy Tardif, right, at the Dempsey Center in 2019, with the organization’s namesake, actor Patrick Dempsey, at left. Tardif announced she will be stepping down after 12 years with the organization, but plans to stay on through the transition to a new director. Contributed photo

LEWISTON — After a decade in the role, Wendy Tardif is stepping down as executive director of the Dempsey Center. 

Some would call it a retirement. Tardif herself would not. 

She plans to stick around until a replacement is found, for one thing, and that could take months. 

“I’m not going anywhere else,” Tardif said on Thursday. “I’m staying all the way through the transition. I want it to be a really good one — to find the right person and all that. I’m just going to have a little more time to myself. I don’t know that I’m necessarily retiring, but that’s the word other people are using right now.” 

Tardif took on the job in 2011 after serving for a time as interim director. Before that, she had served as event manager of the Dempsey Challenge, the center’s primary fundraising vehicle. 

All in all, Tardif has worked in the field of community health education for more than 25 years, co-founding Healthy Androscoggin (formerly known as Tobacco-Free L/A) and playing an instrumental role in the creation of the CMMC Health and Wellness Center. 


Although she plans to stick close during the search for her replacement, her looming departure was already being felt at the center’s highest levels. 

“We cannot thank Wendy enough for her dedication, passion, enthusiasm and leadership over the past 12 years,” Patrick Dempsey, founder of The Dempsey Center, said in a statement. “She will be greatly missed by the staff, board members and partners alike. We wish her all the best as she pursues her new goals.” 

You can understand their wariness about the move. Among other things, Tardiff helped create the very first Dempsey Challenge, spearheaded the transition from a department of Central Maine Medical Center to independent entity and oversaw the merger with the Cancer Community Center. 

“Wendy’s contribution to the Dempsey Center is immeasurable,” write Dempsey Center board Chairman Timothy Griffin. “Her professionalism and leadership skills helped transform the center from a startup nonprofit to an independent 501(c)(3) with multiple locations.” 

According to the statement, the Dempsey Center board is working with Starboard Leadership Consulting in finding the best candidate to fill the position.  

“We have a strong team in place with an exceptional foundation and feel confident in the future ahead,” said Griffin. 

Tardif echoes that sentiment. 

“Working with an incredible staff, passionate volunteers, dedicated board, and committed community partners and donors, has been a privilege,” she wrote in the statement. “And although this is an exciting time for our organization with more growth potential, it is personally time for me to step back to spend more time with family and pursue some other interests. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to work for a great organization, with an impactful mission. There is still so much work to do to improve the lives of people impacted by cancer. I am confident the Dempsey Center will find the right person to lead that charge.”


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