About the Forum:

The Mid-Coast Forum on Foreign Relations was organized in 1983 by a small group of area residents with a special interest in the United States role in international affairs. At its first meeting, the Board of Directors adopted the following statement of purpose: The purpose of the Forum is to consider all aspects of foreign affairs as they impinge on our national life.  Different and controversial views will not be avoided, but Forum analysis will be conducted in a spirit of open, free inquiry, with tolerance for differing views in the best tradition of our democratic heritage.  The Forum hopes to contribute to increased knowledge of its members and to a vigorous consideration of foreign policy options facing our nation.

This purpose and the means of accomplishing it were further refined when the Forum was formally established as a non-profit corporation under the laws of Maine in 1988.  The articles of incorporation define the purpose of the Forum as:  To promote, for the benefit of its members, study and discussion of the development, formulation, and implementation of United States foreign policies by means of a program of speakers, the organization of discussion and study groups, and the production and distribution of relevant materials to the membership.

Membership of the Forum is currently about 300 and the Forum has held more than 445 meetings with invited speakers on all aspect of United States foreign policy and the factors influencing it.  The membership includes individuals who have considerable experience in virtually all aspects of international affairs while serving with the United States government, corporations, and private agencies.  Writers, physicians, educators, journalists, lawyers, business people, and others seeking to stay informed on international issues are also represented in the membership.  Maine high school and university students studying international and foreign affairs are often invited to attend Forum meetings.

The Forum members and their guests meet monthly throughout the year, generally on the second Monday of the month, at the Elks Lodge Event Center Rockland, Maine.  Meetings are held over the lunch hour and run from 11:45 AM until approximately 2:00 PM. The format includes a brief social period, speaker’s presentation, and question and answer period followed by a luncheon where members discuss and debate the subject of the presentation with others seated at their table.  Speakers typically arrive the day before and are hosted by one of the Forum Directors or by a member who has recommended the speaker.

Forum speakers have included current and former U.S. and foreign government officials, including from the diplomatic corps and the military, representatives of non-governmental international organizations, academicians, working journalists, exchange students, international business-people, and other foreign policy specialists.  See the Speakers page for past and upcoming speakers.

The Forum also organizes a monthly discussion group (dubbed the “Lunch Bunch”), which also meets at Elks Event Center.  This group provides members a chance to exchange views and information on a foreign relations topic prevalent in the current news.  Attendance at this discussion is limited to 30-35 participants on a first-come basis in order to give participants the opportunity to express his or her views in an open and interactive environment.  In addition to its monthly meeting and discussion group, the Forum occasionally sponsors other events both for its members and the interested public.

For Would-be New Members:

Please click here to display and fill out a Membership Application.

Directors of the Forum:

Deborah Luth Bedell and her husband Gene relocated to Rockport in late 2020 and joined the Forum shortly thereafter. Deborah has retired as a corporate attorney, having served as general counsel of several software companies. Despite being a New England native, she has spent much of her adult life in the Mid-Atlantic and the South, having finally moved to Maine to escape the heat and humidity of Charleston, SC.  For many years she served as a community volunteer, including as an officer of  local and regional Pony Clubs, college alumnae clubs and reunions, a veterans’ charity and her homeowners’ association. She has also edited several books for her husband, an author and retired tech executive. With the Forum, she is a member of the Operations Committee and contributor to the Speakers Committee.  Deborah and Gene have two children, a daughter who is a former Marine officer and current federal prosecutor, and a son who is a musician and a systems architect with a major technology firm.  They are both occasionally willing to visit Maine.
  Mac Deford served as President of the Mid-coast Forum for 17 years until retiring from that position in 2017.  Since retiring to Maine in 1977, he has served as Chair of the Farnsworth Museum, Executive Director of the Penobscot Marine Museum, and Treasurer of Camden Conference.  He is the Mac half of the Tom and Mac show, an annual Camden Conference Community event.  Mac spent much of his early professional life at the Middle East or Arab desks of the State Department. He subsequently headed Merrill Lynch Private Banking offices in Seoul, Manila, and Buenos Aires, ending his banking career as Regional Director for Private Banking in Asia, based in Hong Kong.
Tom DeMarco served as Treasurer of the Mid-Coast Forum from 2010 to 2023.  He has lived in Camden for thirty plus years.  Tom has served on the Board of Pop Tech and of the Camden Conference and is half of the famous Tom and Mac History Roadshow, which has, for 12 years, filled houses in Camden, Belfast and now Portland as part of Camden Conference.  Tom is the author of sixteen books, including novels, business and software-related related non-fiction, and a collection of short stories,  His latest work is the novel  The One-Way Time Traveler, published in 2020 about a future that is decidedly female. He is a Principal of The Atlantic Systems Guild, a technology think-tank with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Jo Dondis is a member of the Midcoast Forum and a Maine native. She spent 24 years in Los Angeles working as a network television news producer at CNN, CBS and KCET, A PBS station where she won a Peabody Award for her work on the program A Place of Our Own.  Jo is Founding Chair of the Friends of the Strand Theatre (FOST) board in Rockland and led the effort to transition the Strand from a for-profit business to a non-profit arts organization in 2013. Currently Jo sits on the Maine Arts Commission and the Advisory Board of the Maine Jewish Museum.
Cathy Landau-Painter’s professional career spanned the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.  As a partner of the global financial services firm, KPMG LLP, Cathy was a member of the firm’s senior leadership team, responsible for the firm’s domestic public policy agenda throughout the US. Prior to that, she was a member of AARP’s national leadership team.  Since moving to Maine in 2013 with her husband Charles Mamane, Cathy has volunteered with diverse political/community organizations.  She currently serves as an elected member of Camden’s Personnel Board and on the boards of The Rideshare Company and New Hope for Women a well as volunteering with the Restorative Justice Program and the Olympia Snowe Leadership Program.
  George Look retired to mid-coast Maine in 2012.  Prior to retiring, he spent three years with the National Security Council as Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.  Before that he was the Director for Nonproliferation and Counterproliferation of the Congressional Graham/Talent Congressional Commission. From 2003-2008 George served in several positions at the Department of State, including as Executive Director of Secretary Rice’s International Security Advisory Board and head of the United States delegations to the Moscow Treaty, START Treaty, and INF Treaty implementation commissions.  From 1977-2003 he served in various positions in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and in the private sector.
Ed Neisingh has worked in the technology field for many years before retiring to Maine in 2005.  His career included various positions in both Information Systems management and technical consultancy for Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.  He worked overseas for extended periods on several occasions, in Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland and Switzerland in technical management and operational startup roles, with responsibilities for remote and matrixed IT organizations, at local, regional and corporate levels.  Working in international business meant often having to explain the US to foreign colleagues, and European and foreign positions and concerns to domestic US management, often within the context of US foreign policy.  Since retirement, management has been limited to managing a sailboat in Penobscot Bay – a much simpler exercise.
  Sarah Rheault was born in England and grew up in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Ghana. She and her husband Andy moved to Rockport Maine in 1974, where they started Penobscot Boat Works.  They were founders of The Mid-Coast Forum in 1983. Sarah has served on various non-profit boards state-wide, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Trust for Public Lands, and locally, including Maine Coast Artists and Coastal Mountains Land Trust.  When not involved with The Forum and other things she travels with her old car (Bugatti type 37) and with friends around the world.  Sarah is Secretary of the Mid-Coast Forum and keeps us all in line.
  Judy Stein and her husband Mike moved from the New Haven, CT area to Belfast in 1994 because “we sail.”  Since living here she has served as President of the Library Board in Belfast, on the Board and for three years as President of Camden Conference, on the Board of the Penobscot Marine Museum, and on the Hutchinson Center Advisory Board.   In previous lives she was a securities analyst, started the Communications Skills program at the Yale School of Management and was a principal in Strategic Communications, a management consulting firm. She is the co-author of two books on management communications –Writing for Decision Makersand Presentations for Decision Makers.
Jane Strauss first came to Bayside in 1991 after her parents moved to Belfast.  She retired there in 2005 and served on the Northport Planning, Bayside Utilities and Belfast Senior College Boards as well as chairing the Maine Master Gardener Development Board.  She is a longtime member of the Belfast Rotary Club and recently helped found the Penobscot Bay Orchestra. She dates her commitment to International relations to her time as a youngster in Hong Kong and her Scots/Canadian heritage.  She had a long career in planning and project management with General Motors in Europe, based in London, Frankfurt, Zurich, and Brussels.  She studies viola at Bay Chamber Music school and keeps active with Scottish country dancing.
  Lee Webb is on the boards of the Maine Historical Society, the Coastal Healthcare Alliance, the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and the Andover Abbot Association. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.  Before moving to Union, ME, he served as President of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington, Executive Vice President of the NY Urban Development Corporation,  Acting President of NY Job Development Authority, Vice President of Partners Health Care in Boston and Vice President for Administration at the New School University in New York City. As a young man, Lee was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Ward Wickwire retired to Maine in 2002, and since then he has served as a Director of the Camden Conference, President of the Megunticook Golf Club and Managing Director of the Alliance of Corporate Advisors, a global alliance of over 40 investment banking firms focusing on cross border mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance.   His professional career involved national and international business.  He was a managing director of a middle market investment banking firm, at which he led a number of sale assignment and strategic acquisition searches for public and private companies, both domestic and global and in corporate development for several subsidiaries a major steel company.


The Board of Directors

  • Deborah Bedell
  • Thomas M. Deford, President Emeritus
  • Tom DeMarco
  • Jo Dondis
  • Cathy Landau-Painter
  • George Look, President
  • Ed Neisingh
  • Sarah B. Rheault, Corporate Secretary
  • Judy Stein, Comptroller
  • Jane M. Strauss
  • Lee Webb
  • Ward Wickwire, Treasurer

(See board member bios here)



  • Matt Storin
  • Karin Look
  • Eric Lebson
  • George Look
  • Todd Bluhm