The Jackson Laboratory logo
Skip to content

5 Questions

with Jill Goldthwait, Director, Office of Government Relations, The Jackson Laboratory

Q: How did you get into politics?

A: A friend urged me to run for Bar Harbor's town council. I had been pretty apolitical before that, but I won a seat and served for nine years.When a Hancock County State Senate seat opened, I decided to run for it. I served in the Senate for eight years, until I reached the term limit.

Q: What did you like about being a senator?

A: As a senator you have access to just about everything, and I got to know the district, including the outlying islands, and many, many people very well. And as an independent I caucused with both parties in Augusta and saw a full spectrum of perspectives. I enjoyed the job a lot.

Q: Why did you begin working for The Jackson Laboratory?

A: A little over a year after I left the Senate, I took on a six-month consulting job to help with a state bond campaign. We wrapped up the project, and I was literally packing up my things when [Laboratory Director] Rick [Woychik] walked by, stopped, and asked me what in the world I was doing. I've worked in government relations here since. I believe passionately in the mission, and it's such an important place for the county and for Maine.

Q: Did you grow up in this area?

A: No, I grew up in New Jersey and moved around a lot after that. It was after I got my nursing degree in California in 1978 that I decided I wanted to live in Maine. So I came east, and when I drove onto Mount Desert Island [MDI] I just knew I belonged here.

Q: What about MDI and Bar Harbor struck a chord with you?

A: The beautiful setting was part of it, of course. And I enjoy island life. I had served in the Peace Corps, on Tonga in the South Pacific, and it's different from mainland—you literally can't burn any bridges and walk away. That lesson has influenced my work in the Senate and at the Laboratory.