About Mary J. Herman

Mary has a broad range of experience in many arenas and a wealth of knowledge to share. Here are some highlights of her professional life.

  • Master’s degree in special education/learning disabilities
    Mary’s life is defined by a profound desire to help others. Mary began her career as a social studies teacher in Washington, DC. But she soon realized that many of the youth in her classes were not reading up to their grade level. Recognizing a critical need, Mary returned to college to earn a master’s degree in special education/learning disabilities. In the years to come, Mary would become known for championing social causes and her ability to make change happen in a variety of areas.
  • Downeast Health Services’ Calais Family Planning
    In the 1970s, Mary relocated to Washington County, Maine. With no teaching jobs available, she began as a volunteer at Downeast Health Services’ Calais Family Planning where she helped introduce the first prepared childbirth classes in the area. Seeing real value in her leadership abilities and drive, she was named executive director in 1974.
  • New Directions
    Her time at Calais Family Planning unlocked a desire to become involved in the delivery of health care in Maine. After earning a degree in nursing from the University of Maine Augusta, Mary went on to coordinate education, training, and outreach at New Directions, a substance abuse prevention and treatment program housed at Kennebec Valley Regional Health Agency, now known as HealthReach.
  • Maine Women’s Lobby
    The next phase of her professional life involved advocating for women’s issues at the 110th Maine legislature as leader of Maine Women’s Lobby team. In that capacity, Mary oversaw the successful enactment of the first law prohibiting discrimination in housing against women and children, and funding for the Displaced Homemakers Project (now Maine Centers for Women’s Work and Community).
  • Cohen-Herman Associates
    In 1982, she joined what became Cohen-Herman Associates, a highly successful lobbying and association management firm based in Augusta. Mary developed a niche for the firm in representing the interests of affiliated health professions and nonprofit agencies. Her successes include landmark legislation enabling direct access to licensed physical therapists without a physician’s referral.
  • Mary also established a name for herself with Maine businesses. Her firm effectively stopped legislation to apply a hefty tax on bulk water carried out of Maine, a measure that would have been detrimental to one of the state’s strongest and most supportive corporate citizens, Poland Spring. For Central Maine Power, she instituted a program that led to better communications with the company’s low income customers.
  • First Lady, 1995-2003
    As First Lady, from 1995 to 2003, Mary was a staunch supporter of Maine small businesses and local artisans. She strongly advocated appreciation for the special quality of place that makes Maine exceptional.
  • Maine Made
    A visible presence at the annual New England Products Trade Show, Mary made it her mission to promote Maine-made items. She is very proud to be part of the core group that launched ‘Maine Made,’ a campaign that now promotes more than 1,000 Maine companies.
  • Maine Family Literacy Task Force
    Mary also never forgot her roots in education. She actively chaired the Maine Family Literacy Task Force for a number of years and initiated Read to ME, which provided every entering Maine kindergartener a new book. Her love of books and advocacy for children’s literacy continues today.Since her earliest days in Maine, Mary has also donated her leadership abilities to a multitude of causes and organizations that are close to her heart. The majority of the causes she champions focus on improving women’s health in Maine and support for Maine youth.