We are pleased to announce that Kyo Bannai, Ponch Membreño, and Steph Tipton have joined our board of directors as new trustees and are also excited to welcome Anna Howell, Becca Kosakowski, and Devon Liddell as advisors.
Kyo Bannai, Trustee
A long time cheerleader of the arts, education, and other good ideas, Kyo has served on a plethora of boards, committees, and advisories of non-profits over the last 25+ years. She was born and raised in Tokyo, landed in the San Francisco Bay Area via Hawaii during elementary school, and headed northeast where she competed in swimming and earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard, then to New York City to study architecture at Columbia. Kyo and her husband, Craig Schneider, eventually settled in a small coastal town near Portland, Maine, and raised their daughters, Emi and Nori. Kyo currently serves as the President of the Yarmouth Arts Alliance and most recently worked on a capital campaign as Director of Community Relations at a robust southern Maine music center. Kyo’s daughter, Emi, attended Maine Coast Semester 62; her experience at Chewonki was truly life-changing and led her to join environmental action groups, further develop her capstone project at her sending school working collaboratively with faculty and administrators, and maintain a close bond with her Chewonki friends – she even attends college with some of them at Bowdoin. Kyo considers Chewonki at the top of her list of “good ideas” and hopes to support and promote the organization for years to come.
Edgard Ponch Membreño, Trustee
Ponch Membreño has been a Chewonki Outdoor Educator, Camp and Trip Leader, and is the parent of two girls campers. He has also been the Wilderness Trip director at Merrowvista, a Senior Manager at Toad&Co, and a resident at the Teton Science focusing on environmental education and nonprofit management. In 2020, Ponch teamed up with the founder of Intrinsic Provisions, a joy-focused outdoor lifestyle shop that connects consumers to high-quality brands.
Ponch has served on the board of Portland Greendrinks, is a founding board member of both the Illustration Institute and Portland Parks Conservancy.
A native of New Jersey, Ponch moved to Maine in 1985 to attend Colby College and currently resides on Peak’s Island, his “rooted place.” He is known as an innovative leader, strategic connector, and mentor. He is inspired by nonprofits and companies that can find success while doing good.
Stephanie Tipton, Trustee
Stephanie grew up in Bowdoinham and first encountered Chewonki in 1974 as part of a school program with Chewonki. From that brief encounter, Chewonki brought an environmental awareness that would shape the course of her life. After a stint in the army, the GI Bill allowed her to study geological sciences with an emphasis in hydrogeology at the University of Southern Maine. After college she took a job as an environmental consultant in Chicago, working on cleaning up RCRA and CERCLA sites in the Midwest. After six years in consulting, she earned a law degree from Chicago Kent School of Law in Chicago, specializing in environmental law, and is a partner at Litchfield Cavo LLP in Chicago. In recent years she has stepped away from active practice to spend more time with her son, Levi. Levi became a Chewonki camper at age 8 and spent six wonderful years on the neck. She has served as a trustee of the Catherine Cook School, Levi’s primary school, serving on their environmental issues and diversity committees and as co-chair of the annual giving committee.
Stephanie’s sister, an avid Maine woodswoman, died while serving in the Army National Guard in Kuwait. As a remembrance of her and Jessica’s love of the Maine woods, Stephanie and John help fund the Maine Girls Scholarship Fund, which allows Maine girls who would not ordinarily be able to attend Chewonki an opportunity to do so.
Stephanie lives with her husband, John, son, Levi, and three cats in a small house in Chicago with lots of garden space. She is in the process of changing some of her garden space into pollinator friendly gardens.
Rebecca Kosakowski, Advisor
Early in her professional career, Rebecca Kosakowski’s life was spent at sea. She began as a student with the SEA Education Association in college, and then worked on various schooners and Tall Ships while earning her 100 Ton USCG Master’s License. The majority of the vessels she worked on were owned by nonprofit organizations and were education-based, with the programs focused on teaching adolescents to be stewards of the sea. When it became time for her to move onto land, it was a seamless transition for Rebecca to go from working for ocean-based semester school programs to Maine Coast Semester. Rebecca spent 5 years as the Director of Admission and Financial Aid before leaving to be home with her children (who are now 11 and 13).
While in her role at Chewonki, Rebecca helped to develop the College Counseling event for the Semester students. In this time, she found her passion for the field of college counseling. During her years at home with her children, she earned a Certificate in College Counseling through the UCLA Extension program and established her own business, Midcoast College Counseling, LLC. Throughout her career of more than 15 years in education, Rebecca has served as the Class Dean, Advisor, and College Counselor at various independent schools throughout New England in addition to her time as an Independent College Counselor. She has held a leadership position on the Governing Board of the New England Association for College Admission Counseling. Rebecca will begin this fall as the Director of College Counseling at The Derryfield School in Manchester, NH.
Rebecca still spends her time outside of work on the water. Her family will return this summer from a year-long sabbatical during which they cruised over 4000 miles on their sailboat while “boatschooling” their children. It seems a natural progression for Rebecca to return to serve Chewonki at this time and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to support the organization.
Devon E. Liddell, Advisor
Devon E. Liddell is an alumna of the Maine Coast Semester (Semester 23). She currently holds the position of Senior Vice President and CFO of Irex Corporation, a nationwide network of specialty contractors. She previously worked as a Management Consultant with Accenture’s Operations Strategy Group. She earned her BA with honors in Anthropology from Northwestern University, won a Fulbright Scholarship for language study and independent research in Morocco and Spain, and earned an MBA degree with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her community involvement includes service as a Trustee and past President of the Board of New School Montessori; a Director of the Commonwealth Foundation; and a co-founder and Director of Open Montessori.