Maine Medical Center

Community Employment Services Project

Founded in 2008, the Community Employment Services Project is funded by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office of Behavioral Health. In July 2010, the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services joined DHHS-OBH in its support to the project.

Employment and education for individuals with mental illness

The Community Employment Service Project provides supported employment and education services to individuals eligible for Section 17 or 92 MaineCare services (community integration or behavioral health home) throughout the state of Maine. Eight employment specialists work in eight mental health agency locations throughout the state, supervised by two project soordinators. The goal of the project is to increase the rates of employment and education attainment for individuals with mental illness.

MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland employment specialists:

To contact the employment specialist in your area please call 207-662-2088.  If there is a vacancy in your region, please contact the supervisor for that area.

Aroostook County
Vanessa Connolly, Employment Specialist III
Aroostook Mental Health Center - Caribou

Vanessa joined the MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in February 2023. She graduated from Northern Maine Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with a Major in Medical Assisting in 2016. Before joining the DVS team she was employed by Department of Labor – Vocational Rehabilitation Services as a Vocational Rehab Counselor I, providing services to transitional youth students. Prior to that, she worked for Northern Light Health (formally known as TAMC) for five years working as Cardiology Technician, then moved to Administration Group as a Quality Specialist/ Infection Control for the hospital and Mars Hill Nursing Home. Vanessa is an ACRE-certified Employment Specialist who has completed the IPS Practitioner Skills Training.

Penobscot & Piscataquis Counties
Melissa Lowe, Employment Specialist IV
Community Care - Bangor

Melissa joined MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in March of 2020. She earned her B.S. in Mental Health and Counseling from the University of Maine at Augusta and her M.S. in Counseling and Behavior Analysis from Southeastern University. Before joining MMC, Melissa worked for 24 years with children, teens, and young adults on the Autism Spectrum and those diagnosed with mental health disorders. She worked as a Field Supervisor for Woodfords Family Services for 9 years. Before Woodfords Family Services she was the Director of Therapeutic Services and Education at Beyond the Spectrum in Sarasota Florida and prior to that she worked with children and their families with in-home therapy and parent training. Melissa is an ACRE-certified Employment Specialist and has completed IPS Practitioner Skills Training.

Hancock & Washington Counties
Gillian Gaddis, Employment Specialist III
AMHC - Machias

Gillian joined MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in March of 2024 as an Employment Specialist in Machias. She studied Education and English Literature at the University of Maine at Machias as well as substance abuse counseling at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Gillian has a wide range of work experiences such as restaurant management, running a Boys & Girls Club, bartending, being a deputy town clerk, and even at one time a potter's apprentice. Born and raised in Downeast Maine, she has also lived in various places around the state; Portland, Ogunquit, Cape Neddick, Brewer, and Bar Harbor (to name a few) before returning Downeast to remodel a 3-season camp she inherited from her father into her current residence. She enjoys life on the lake with her chickens and dabbles in homesteading.

Kennebec and Somerset Counties
Vacant, Employment Specialist
AngleZ Behavioral Health Services - Augusta

Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc & Waldo Counties
Alison Fongemie, Employment Specialist IV
Maine Behavioral Healthcare - Rockland

Alison earned her Masters’ Degree in Human Resources Management from Hodges University and her B.A. in Sociology from Clemson University. She always knew she wanted a career helping people, which took form over the years in the field of Human Resources and Recruitment. She learned about MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland through her role at MaineHealth as a Talent Acquisition Partner. When she realized that recruitment wasn’t fulfilling her passion for helping others, Alison accepted a position as a JMG Specialist at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. There she taught students job search and employment, leadership, and financial skills as well as providing opportunities for learning and growth. She joined Vocational Services in October of 2022; Alison is an ACRE-certified Employment Specialist and has completed IPS Practitioner Skills Training. 

Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford Counties & Bridgton
Sydney Williams, Employment Specialist IV
Common Ties Mental Health Services - Lewiston

Sydney Williams was born and raised in Maine. Prior to joining MaineHealth, Sydney worked for Portland Public Schools as an Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator. She has worked in Youth Development for over 15+ years in Portland; service work is where her passion and values lie. She ran a Boys & Girls Club in Portland for 10+ years right out of college. Sydney’s educational background is in Art Education and Art History with a studio focus in sculpture, and she recently obtained a Master’s of Art in Art K-12 Education from the Maine College of Art & Design. Sydney is an ACRE-certified Employment Specialist and is excited to transition from education to vocational services. 

Cumberland County
Joel Costigan, Employment Specialist IV

Joel joined MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in July of 2021. He earned his MSEd in Teaching Methodology from the University of New England, and a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Southern Maine. Previously, Joel worked in public education, most recently working as the High School Specialist for the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) program at Deering High School. He also taught social studies at Portland High School and Westbrook High School, and worked several years as an educational technician in day treatment programs. Before his career in education, he worked as a youth worker in a residential program for Youth Alternatives and as a psychological technician at Spring Harbor Hospital. Joel is an ACRE-certified Employment Specialist and has completed IPS Practitioner Skills Training

York County
Kristina Duff, Employment Specialist IV
Maine Behavioral Healthcare – Biddeford

Kristina Duff is originally from central Maine, and has lived in Portland for about ten years.  She completed her studies at The University of Southern Maine, and earned a Master’s Degree in Education Psychology in 2017.  After having worked in the field of special education for over ten years, she took a job working to support outpatient psychiatry service delivery at McGeachey Hall, MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland’s outpatient psychiatry department, and transitioned in 2019 to MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland as an Employment Specialist, working directly with individuals with disabilities referred by the Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Kristina, an ACRE-Certified Employment Specialist, transitioned fully into this role on the CES Project in January 2024.  

Gayla Dwyer - Supervisor, Augusta/North
Phone: 207-493-3650

Gayla became a MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland employee in October 2018.  Prior to that she was the Vocational Services Manager at AMHC (since May 1990), and a subcontracted employee from 2008 to 2018 with MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland as a CES Project Coordinator.  Presently, Gayla supervises the northern regions of the CES program, supporting Employment Specialists in Caribou, Machias, Bangor, and Augusta.  She has completed IPS Supervisors Skills training.  Gayla is one of the founding members and incorporators of the Maine Association of Persons for Supported Employment (ME-APSE), and currently serves as the Chapter President.  Gayla also serves as a member of the Maine State Workforce Board’s Committee on Disability and Employment.  Gayla has over 40 years of experience providing vocational services to various population groups within Maine, 31 years specific to individuals with disabilities.

Gayla was a member of the State Team that applied for, and was successful in obtaining, the first ever Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Grant for the State of Maine. Gayla currently serves as a member of the Wabanaki Vocational Advisory Council for the Wabanaki Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  She also advocated, and was successful, in having a Native Business representative on the Governor’s State Workforce Board.  She attended the University of Maine at Presque Isle's non-degree program. She is a Veteran, having served in the United States Air Force as a Fuel Systems Mechanic stationed at Loring Air Force Base.  Gayla is Native American and a member of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. 

Patricia Salvatore - Supervisor, Rockland/South
Phone: 207-650-6195

Pat joined MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in January 2010 as an Employment Specialist IV to work on the CES Statewide Employment Project in the Androscoggin area.  She was promoted to CES Supervisor in October 2013, supervising the southern regions of the program, supporting Employment Specialists in Biddeford, Portland, Lewiston, and Rockland.  Patricia has over 30 years of experience in the social services field; 25 years dedicated in vocational services helping individuals with disabilities navigate their pathway to employment while providing support and guidance to employers on hiring, retaining and training this population. Pat is passionate about advocating for adult mental health consumers to improve employment outcomes while encouraging employers to hire people living with mental health conditions, adding to the diversity of their organizations throughout Southern Maine. Pat holds an Associate’s Degree in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Counseling, a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, and has been a state certified alcohol and drug counselor since 2011. She completed the IPS Practitioner Skills training and IPS Supervisor Skills training. Pat is a lifelong learner and continues to be involved in trainings that benefit her personally and professionally. 

Nancy Litrocapes, IPS Trainer and Liaison

Nancy Litrocapes, MSEd, returned to MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland in 2020 as the MBH ACCESS Team ES after a 19- year hiatus. Nancy has a BA in Anthropology/Sociology from Knox College in Illinois and a MSEd from University of Southern Maine.  In 1996, Nancy worked as an Employment Specialist IV on the National Institute of Health funded Employment Intervention Demonstration Project in conjunction with the MHMMCP department of psychiatry.  When that grant ended, Nancy worked as the first ACT Team ES in the state of Maine, as a member of the MHMMCP access team.  Presently, Nancy serves in the position of IPS Trainer & Liaison for the CES Program.

Nancy’s past employment includes Work Opportunities Unlimited, Workplace Lab at USM, directorship of Litrocapes Associates, Inc., a full-service staffing agency that consulted both employers and potential employees on the ADA, work accommodations, and Universal Design, and as the Economic Development Specialist for the City of Westbrook, ME. Nancy has completed the IPS Practitioner Skills Training and the IPS Leadership Training.

For additional information, please download Is Work Missing From My Life?, a booklet produced by MaineHealth Vocational Services Portland through a contract with the DHHS Office of Substance Abuse and Adult Mental Health Services.

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