In 2015, Cathy Ramsdell, Executive Director and Casco Baykeeper Pro Tem, was featured in an exhibit at the Portland Public Library on women in maritime commerce, Staying the Course: Working Women of Portland’s Waterfront.
Cathy Ramsdell never imagined as a girl growing up in Belfast, Maine, as the first four-year Maine graduate of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, as a CPA in Boston and Bangor, or as a private consultant to various entities over the years, that she would finally put down roots in southern Maine. Cathy has been the Executive Director for Friends of Casco Bay since 2003, half of the
organization’s 27-year history.
In 2015, in addition to dealing with the fiscal and managerial challenges of running a nonprofit with a full-time staff of 9 and more than 200 volunteers, she accepted the role of Casco Baykeeper Pro Tem. Cathy divided her time between board rooms and our Baykeeper boat, exploring ways to combat threats to the Bay from stormwater pollution and climate change.
Cathy was instrumental in helping to pass groundbreaking ordinances in Portland. She served on the City of Portland’s Green Packaging Taskforce. Two years of meetings resulted in two ordinances to reduce waste through a 5-cent fee on single-use shopping bags and a ban on polystyrene packaging (e.g., Styrofoam). In effect since April 2015, these ordinances have become models for other Maine communities. Cathy also worked with Portland officials to help draft a Stormwater Service Utility Fee to find a way to share the cost of upgrading the City’s sewer systems and stormwater protections more equitably.
At the state level, Cathy worked with both industry and environmental groups to pass a law phasing out plastic microbeads, used in personal care products like facial scrubs and toothpaste. These can pass through water treatment plants and may be ingested by fish and shellfish—and seafood lovers. Maine and other states passed bans that led to a federal law banning microplastics in