FocusMaine, a private-sector workforce development group, has appointed a new president with a history of advocacy for the biotech sector.

The group announced Tuesday that Dana O’Brien, former chief sustainability officer at the Washington, D.C.-based biotech advocacy group Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, will step into the role on Monday.

Incoming FocusMaine President Dana O’Brien Courtesy of FocusMaine

FocusMaine aims to promote job growth in Maine by investing in the advancement of aquaculture, agriculture and biopharmaceutical industries across the state. O’Brien, a former congressional policy director who also had a number of leadership roles within BIO, brings a unique background in collaborative leadership that FocusMaine co-chair Andrea Cianchette Maker believes will help to facilitate FocusMaine’s mission.

“We were looking for someone with a collaborative leadership style because our model of catalyzing change is by working with partners in other high-performing organizations to deliver services directly to businesses,” Maker said. “I think Dana is going to be able to engage in in-depth conversations first with the leadership team and educate us on trends in the sectors we’re working on.”

During his tenure at BIO, O’Brien worked to shape government policy surrounding biotechnology. By working with public and private leaders, he worked to establish BIO as a leader in sustainability through educational partnerships with organizations such as the National Academy of Medicine.

Maker believes that O’Brien’s experience working with government will help FocusMaine branch out to governmental advocacy. Additionally, she believes his love for the state will translate into effective leadership.


“His passion for Maine matches our passion for Maine,” Maker said.

The move to appoint O’Brien comes after former FocusMaine president Kimberly Hamilton announced she would step down earlier this year. Hamilton, who had been with the group since its founding in 2016, helped to build FocusMaine’s network of partnerships during the firm’s early years.

O’Brien said he hopes to continue Hamilton’s work while also starting a new adventure in his new home state of Maine.

“It’s just the right time for Maine to enhance its effort to grow jobs within the sectors at the heart of FocusMaine’s mission,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I’m delighted to bring my skills to this exceptional organization and to call Maine home.”

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