James Martin will be the new CEO of Community Concepts as of Jan. 3, 2023. Submitted photo

LEWISTON — Community Concepts, the nonprofit that provides a range of services to low-income households in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, has hired James Martin as its next CEO.

Martin, who will start Jan. 3, told the Sun Journal this week that he hopes to “chart a path forward” that builds on the hard work of the organization, especially during the pandemic when Community Concepts stepped up in several ways to respond to more needs.

“The needs of Mainers have been exacerbated as a result of COVID and the impact of isolation, increased costs and inflation and all those various pressures,” he said. “So I think the timing is great given the opportunity to look at the work that’s been happening as a result of COVID and how the organization has really delivered premier services during that time and stepped up to the plate during a time of need.”

Martin, 38, has been the chief program officer at Sweetser since 2017. The behavioral health agency has 600 employees. Prior to joining Sweetser, Martin held a variety of positions in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, including director of the offices of Child and Family Services and of Aging and Disability Services.

Community Concepts in recent years has had close involvement in many initiatives to assist the most vulnerable residents of the city, including emergency shelters at the Lewiston Armory and the Ramada Hotel during the pandemic.

Martin said moving ahead, now that people are transitioning out of working remotely and some relief programs are phasing out, it’s an opportunity for the organization to take a fresh look at community needs.


He said a recent needs assessment highlighted top issues that aren’t unique to central and western Maine.

Martin said affordable housing is an area that “has to be prioritized,” as well as expanding child care and Headstart programs.

Community Concepts has in the past been involved in affordable housing projects, including the recently completed Gauvreau Place, a Blake Street housing development with 35 units. Other Community Concepts services include heating and utility assistance, home improvement services, home ownership support and financing for housing and businesses.

The organization has also played a central role in Lewiston’s Choice Neighborhoods initiative, especially during the community planning process in the Tree Streets neighborhood that led to a $30 million federal grant.

The organization is part of the initiative’s efforts to boost neighborhood-level services, such as expanded child care and health care options. Martin said expanding child care is among the top three issues Community Concepts will pursue.

CEO Shawn Yardley, who is retiring at the end of December, served on Healthy Neighborhoods planning council, which led the planning effort.


According to an earlier news release, Martin served as a child protection case worker in DHHS’ Lewiston office earlier in his career, which familiarized him with the Lewiston and Auburn region and with the work of Community Concepts.

“I’m drawn to the Lewiston-Auburn community given the revitalization that’s been happening, and also the impact of (Community Concepts) across western Maine,” he said Thursday. “It’s a nice opportunity for me to join a productive team and help them build on the successes they’ve had so far.”

In announcing the hiring, board President Ed Barrett, the former longtime city administrator, said, “We are excited to bring on board someone with Jim’s wide-ranging experience in providing social services to Maine residents and who is deeply committed to providing pathways to economic stability for individuals and families in our region.”

Tara Jean Davis, chairperson of the search committee, added, “After a lengthy national search that began in July, the members of the committee were deeply impressed by Jim and his commitment to the people of our region. He was unanimously recommended to the board and we are pleased that he has agreed to assume leadership of our organization.”

Martin said in the news release that he’s “pleased and honored for the opportunity to serve the residents of our region and to direct an organization that has deeply committed employees and a history of excellence in community service. I look forward to working with the board and our staff to build on and enhance that history.”

Martin, who lives in Raymond, holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of New England, where he has also served as an adjunct professor.

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