Women for Healthy Rural Living (WHRL) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on advancing and promoting the health and well-being of the woman, her family, and her community.
WHRL was founded in 2004 as the Women’s Health Resource Library by nurse practitioner Christine Kuhni. The WHRL opened in 2005. Initially intended as a health lending library, the activities quickly morphed to include a community-driven agenda, prioritizing community needs. WHRL has been passionate and persistent about meeting its mission. Our organization is almost entirely volunteer, with a working board and over 50 volunteers.
Research shows that women are the primary consumers of health care for their families. By targeting our message to women, we hope to impact the health and wellness of the entire family and community.
The Women’s Health Resource Library became Women for Healthy Rural Living in 2020 – a name that better suits our current mission and programs.
WHRL continues through the generous financial support of individuals, the community and our corporate sponsors: Wyman’s of Maine, Machias Savings Bank, and Down East Community Hospital.
Board of Directors: Officers
Alahna Roach, President
Alahna received her degree in Counseling and Art Therapy from Naropa University, which she uses in her volunteer work to promote community mental health. She currently serves as Board President of the WHRL and is passionate about recognizing and celebrating the powerful role women play in advancing the health of their families, communities, and one another. She is the mother of four boys and spends her free time racing from ball game to ball game.
Krissy Tatangelo, Vice-President
Kristen moved to the area as a student at UMaine Machias, where she studied art and education. She immediately fell in love with Downeast Maine and has been here ever since. Kristen is an accomplished jewelry designer and silversmith. She creates jewelry for a shop in Milbridge and another in Florida. Art is a passion for Kristen, who is the co-founder of the Cherryfield Arts Initiative where she organizes art workshops for children. Hobbies include travel, reading, gardening, and outdoor activities; she is most at home in or on the water. Kristen is currently a stay-at-home mom; she resides in Cherryfield with her husband and two boys. They share their home with two dogs, two cats, and two goldfish. Any more pets in pairs, and they may need to build an arc.
Jenny, along with her family, runs Intervale Farm in Cherryfield, where they specialize in growing and selling organic blueberries, specialty cut flowers, and blueberry jams. She recently joined the WHRL board in the spring of 2017. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking with the dogs, arts and crafts with her kid’s homeschool group, and volunteering for DETOP, 4H, and now WHRL.
Pam Dyer Stewart, Secretary
Pam Dyer Stewart is a home birth midwife who has served birthing women in Downeast Maine since 1982. She served on the national midwifery board for six years and was active in state and national midwifery politics for many years. As the mother of four grown children– and now enjoying two grandchildren – she knows the central role of moms in the family circle, both the rewards and the challenges. She has striven through her professional career to affirm women’s ways of knowing and support women’s physical and emotional self-care. Pam joined the WHRL board in 2009. She currently serves as secretary and as the coordinator of the Incredible Edible Milbridge project. With her husband, Brian, she grows vegetables, and chickens for eggs and meat. In her spare time, she enjoys being outside in the garden or for a hike, reading, fiber arts, and visits with grandchildren.
Ora Aselton, Recording Secretary
Ora, a Massachusetts native, has happily called Maine her home for over forty years. She graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston with a BA in education and art. Developing and implementing the first visual art curriculum at Narraguagus High School, she taught the program there for twenty-four years. Upon her retirement in 2008, she joined the board of the Women’s Health Resource Library and is proud to be a part of this dynamic group of community-minded women. As past-president of the Pleasant River Garden Club, she has a special interest in WHRL’s Incredible Edible Milbridge project which promotes community gardening skills and nutrition education. I am on the board of the Ruggles House and also on the executive committee for Pleasant River Garden Club.
Maeve Perry lives with her son in the same community where she grew up. She has worked with children and families since graduating from the Psychology & Community Studies program at the University of Maine in Machias in 2011. She is also part of the Cherryfield Arts Initiative Board and recently started a Life Drawing Group. Maeve has deep roots in DownEast Maine and feels fortunate to find herself in the company of caring and creative people. She is most passionate about women’s health and addressing the unmet basic needs of children and families. Her participation in WHRL events has also revealed her inner game show host; Maeve has hosted both the popular “Sex-ed Jeopardy” at local schools and “Women’s Health Trivia Night” at 44 Degrees North. Maeve joined WHRL in 2015 to be closer to the strong and supportive females that she grew up with. She has contributed laughter, energy, and creativity to the group and we never really know what she might say next.
Juana joined the WHRL board in March 2018. Fifteen years ago, she came to Milbridge to participate in Maine’s wild blueberry harvest. In 2013, she became involved with Comienza en Casa / It Starts at Home to prepare her to be her son’s first teacher and prepare him for success in elementary school. Her active participation over the years and her commitment to sharing her knowledge and experience with other parents led her to become a part-time AmeriCorps member with Mano en Mano in 2014. She is now the Migrant Education Regional Coordinator at Mano en Mano. Juana is currently pursuing her degree in education at the University of Maine at Machias.
Ellen, a proud Milbridge native, worked at Wyman’s of Maine for 36 years, first in the quality department and later as director of operations. As part of her work with Wyman’s, Ellen had the opportunity to travel internationally, which she still enjoys. After retirement, Ellen started volunteering at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital on the medical/surgical unit and the wound clinic. She also volunteers in the first grade at Milbridge Elementary School, helping students with reading and math. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys reading and helping the elderly in her community. She and her husband Nolan have been married for 50 years, have two children, two grandchildren, and 1 great-granddaughter. Ellen enjoys being part of the WHRL board and appreciates the dedication and passion of the group.
Kayla Pinkham is one of our newest board members, joining the WHRL in 2018. Kayla lives in Harrington and is on the board of the Harrington Family Health Center, where she serves as secretary. She enjoys volunteering and learning new things. Kayla graduated from UMaine Machias with a degree in English and finds that reading, writing, and good communication skills have served her well in life. While in college she took many art classes and is drawn to creative activities from photography to printmaking. An avid reader, Kayla especially loves to read in the sun and is a member of the Downeast Women’s Book Club. When at home, she enjoys spending time with her family (including her cat) and cooking while listening to podcasts.
Pat Olsen moved to Cherryfield after 24 years accompanying her husband on diplomatic assignments to countries in the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific. She is an educator who has taught in public, private and international schools as well as home-schooled. Pat’s years in foreign environments provided her with experience in community building, cultural adaptation and cross-cultural initiatives. She has a B.A in Psychology and German from Colby College and a M.Ed. from George Mason University. She enjoys outdoor recreation, fiber arts, cooking, and traveling.
Alison grew up in NY and spent summers at the family camp in Maine. After graduating from William & Mary, she moved to California. While raising 2 kids of her own, she opened her family to foster teens, several from the high school where she was a teacher for 20 years. She taught math, English, and history to many who needed the extra love, discipline, and pb & j provided in her classroom. Preparing meals for a family of 10 has been replaced by cooking in retirement for David and friends, sometimes around the campfire, sometimes for the 50 or so at DETOP. Hiking, reading, FaceTime with kids and grandkids are other favorite activities. Secretly, Alison might be most happy when she is making people laugh.
Barbara arrived in Boston from the UK in 1964. After working at a consulting company for 10 years she went back to school and received her BA and JD from Wellesley College and Suffolk University Law School respectively. She worked at Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts as head of Human Resources and in-house General Counsel until 2001, when she retired, but kept her association with the hospital by becoming a volunteer. Barbara and her partner, Ron, built their house in Milbridge in 2002. Ron died in 2016, and she made plans to live full-time in Milbridge, making the move final in 2018. Barbara is looking forward to working with WHRL in whatever capacity and whatever projects she can be helpful.
- Eileen Bader-Hall, Cherryfield
- Bonnie Blagojevic, Orono
- Katie Doble, Steuben
- Bonnie Johnson, Cherryfield
- Krystal Jordan, Milbridge
- Janis Lesbines, Columbia
- Kristen Nabarrete, Milbridge
- Emily Naples, Sullivan
- Zabet NeuCollins, Harrington
- Francie Shepherd, Milbridge
- Janie Snider, Milbridge
- Ellen Strout, Milbridge
Chris Kuhni, Executive Director
Chris Kuhni is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at the Milbridge Medical Center, where she has worked for the last 25 years. Chris completed a BS in nursing with a minor in English at the University of New Hampshire and her NP education at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2004, Chris founded the Women’s Health Resource Library; she has served as Executive Director ever since. She received the “Inspirations Award” from the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health and the “Nurse Practitioner Advocate Award” from the Maine Association of Nurse Practitioners; both awards for her work in establishing the WHRL. Her interest in gardening and nutrition contributed to the origins of Incredible Edible Milbridge, which started in 2013. Chris serves on the Washington County Committee of the Maine Community Foundation. She enjoys writing and in 2017 authored a profile of Milbridge artist Janie Snider in Maine Seniors Magazine.
Susan Jordan Bennett, Associate Director
Susan has a BA from Wittenburg University and a professional background in administration, marketing and communications. She’s been involved with WHRL since 2005 as a board member, president of the board, and volunteer. She is also a freelance web and graphic designer and works part-time with Maine Families Home Visiting program. In her free time, you might find her photographing Maine, in the garden, or designing.
Zabet NeuCollins, Assistant Director & IEM Children’s Gardener
Zabet splits her time as the Assistant Director for WHRL and as the 4- H Community Education Assistant for the Cooperative Extension of Hancock County. When not working, you can find her knee-deep in the garden (any garden) or snuggled up with a book. She has lived in Maine for 9 years but only has been in Downeast Maine for three. She loves the strong sense of community here, the deep connection people have to the land, and the hard-working women that work with WHRL.
Use of WHRL
As a result of COVID-19 WHRL is not open to the public as many of us work remotely.