James Murphy

Non-profit, Education

New Mainer

Where did you move from and what made you make the move to Maine?

I lived in Maine as a kid but my family moved away while I was still in school. As an adult I have lived all over- Boston, Seattle, Baton Rouge, DC, and most recently Minneapolis- but have always thought of Maine as home. My parents are from here and my mom moved back while I was in college, which brought me back regularly to visit. As I got married (here in Maine!), made career changes, and had children, I always had living and working in Maine in the back of my mind, but for whatever reason it didn’t seem realistic. On a trip to visit my mom a couple years ago, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking about trying to make the move work. Within weeks she had applied for an incredible job, interviewed, and got an offer, and we made the jump. I worked remotely for a while but was able to find a dream job based here in Maine pretty quickly.

How do you spend your time here in Maine?

Outside! I have two elementary-aged kids who love exploring beaches and trails, climbing on rocks, and getting out as much as possible. Even if we just stayed within the Portland area we could never run out of places to go exploring with them. My wife and I don’t get out to eat on our own as much as we would like, but there is an endless amount of great restaurants to check out. Between Thompson’s Point, the State Theater, and smaller venues like PHOME and One Longfellow Square, the live music scene is great. Living here as a kid, my family tended to avoid the more touristy parts of Maine, but I’m finding a lot of joy in visiting those places as a parent. Honestly, Boothbay and Bar Harbor and Old Orchard are famous for a reason!

What do you love about working in Maine?

I am the Development Director for Educate Maine, a nonprofit focused on career readiness, educational attainment, and working so that all Maine people reach their educational and economic potential. We work with businesses and employers to support their interns and launch apprenticeship programs, we provide professional development for teachers and schools, and we champion computer science education, teacher diversity, and other key educational priorities. In this work I’m constantly inspired by seeing that so many people around the state are really pulling in the same, positive direction. Across industries and sectors, people are looking at ways to expand career pathways so that young people can graduate high school and college and get a great job without having to leave the state. People are thrilled to support schools and teachers, and want to see more great teachers starting their careers in Maine. They see evolving industries and changes to agriculture and aquaculture, but are innovating and finding new ways to adapt and thrive. And they know that we’re an older state and need to find ways to attract more young people and more people from around the world, and more than that be welcoming to those new Mainers once they arrive.

What do you love about living in Maine?

When my family and I were first considering moving here, I was worried it would feel small- I’ve lived in much larger and denser cities ever since going to college in Boston. But living here has really been a great blend of having the arts and culture of a city while being able to be on a beach or on a trail somewhere in a matter of minutes (seriously, there’s a city maintained trail system half a block away from my house where I walk my dog every day, and we can drive to several beaches within 20 minutes). It’s practically a cliche at this point, but you can’t beat the physical beauty of this state. But as more of a city person, I still have access to museums and concerts and great food, and my kids have friends from not just here in Maine but all over the world at their elementary school.

Tell us a bit about your story!

I think for a lot of people- this was true of me at times- Maine can be something of an abstract idea. It’s a vacation, or lobster, or a movie setting, or the place you come from but leave for college or to start your career. I would visit my family and fantasize about moving back, but it didn’t really seem like a realistic option when I was living in much larger cities. But now that I’m back I really see how great it is to live here and work here, and I feel incredibly fortunate to call Maine my home. We have all of the same things you can find anywhere else- great jobs and arts and kids and families, ups and downs just like anywhere. But we also have the ocean. And skiing. And so many lakes. And Acadia National Park. And yes also lobster.

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