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“Call Me Pollyanna”

Thursday, May 24th, 6:30-7:45pm
Camden Public Library

Co-sponsored by the Camden Public Library

Is there power in positive thinking or is it looking at the world through rose colored glasses? Does “the glass half full” philosophy create plusses or minuses? When does an optimistic approach pay off?

Featured Storytellers:

  • Heidi Neal – Loyal Biscuit Owner and Entrepreneur, Maine Retailer of the Year for 2017

  • Cara Romano – Metalsmith, Retailer and Executive Director of a Community Nonprofit Group

  • Kate Braestrup – Community Minister, Chaplain and Bestselling Author

Moderator/Organizer: Candace Vancko – Former College President (State University of New York at Delhi)


Heidi Neal – Loyal Biscuit Owner and Entrepreneur, Maine Retailer of the Year for 2017


Heidi purchased the surviving single-location Loyal Biscuit Company in Rockland in January of 2010 and has since turned it into a thriving, five-location business with shops in Belfast, Brewer, Camden, Rockland and Waterville, ME. In addition, she has added two other companies to support the mission of her retail business: Loyal Biscuit Tug ME Toy and Fidelis Biscuit Company. Both companies contribute to the Loyal Biscuit mission of healthy treats and durable, locally made toys and can be found in other pet and specialty stores throughout the country. Loyal Biscuit was named the 2015 Best Pet Supply Store in the country by Pet Business Monthly. In addition, Heidi was named the Maine Small Business Person of the Year for 2015 and Maine Retailer of the Year for 2017.

Heidi was born and raised in Rockland and graduated from Thomas College in Waterville. She also is a 2015 graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Babson College. She resides in Rockland with her husband, Joel, and their four dogs and a cat.


Cara Romano – Metalsmith, Retailer and Executive Director of a Community Nonprofit Group


Believing in the organization’s mission and the quality of craft produced in Maine, Cara joined the Maine Craft Association Board in 2011. Dedicated to Maine artists she was determined to help provide them with support programming and to help Maine achieve recognition as a destination for contemporary craft. Despite significant financial challenges, she served two consecutive terms as Board President.

Cara earned a BFA from the University of Maine in 2001 and participated in a three-year internship with Master Metalsmith Curtis K. LaFollette. For the next twelve years she traveled around the country participating in and selling her work at juried craft shows such as the American Crafts Council shows, New York Gift Show and the Philadelphia Museum Show. Currently Cara own a shop (KoT) in downtown Ellsworth where she showcases a curated collection of American craft by contemporary artists from all over the United States. In 2016 she became part-time Executive Director of Heart of Ellsworth, a downtown revitalization group working to bolster the Main Street community.


Kate Braestrup – Community Minister, Chaplain and Bestselling Author


The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Kate grew up living around the world. Educated at the Parsons School of Design/The New School and Georgetown University, she originally thought of herself as a writer, publishing a novel, Onion, in 1990 and occasional essays in national publications. In 1985 she married Drew Griffith who joined the Maine State Police and moved to Maine. Her husband was killed while on duty in 1996, leaving her a widow with four children ages 3 to 9.


Kate entered the Bangor Theological Seminary in 1997 and was ordained in 2004. Since 2001 she has served as chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. In 2006 she married artist Simon van der Ven and together they have a total of six children.

Kate divides her time between her service as chaplain and writing. She is the author of The New York Times bestselling memoir, Here If You Need Me, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, Beginner’s Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life and Anchor & Flares. In addition, she is a popular public speaker around the country and abroad.

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