County Faces: Carl Michaud of Mapleton
Carl Michaud has worked at the Central Aroostook Association for 10 years and has seen the organization’s growth in serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Michaud, 52, grew up in Fort Fairfield and lives in Mapleton with his wife, Kim, who works at MMG Insurance and chairs the board of Wintergreen Arts Center. The two empty-nesters are now in the prime of their careers and active in community groups, as they watch their own kids enter adulthood.
“I love it here,” Michaud said of the Central Aroostook Association. “I enjoy trying to make money work for a nonprofit organization and getting those funds to make the individuals’ lives better.”
At the Central Aroostook Association, which will mark its 60th anniversary this year, Michaud works as chief operating officer, overseeing much of the organization’s administration, finances and logistics.
The Central Aroostook Association was founded in 1959 as the Opportunity Training Center out of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Caribou. The center was envisioned as an alternative to state institutions for children with developmental disabilities. In the 1960s, the organization built its day school in Presque Isle, the first such school in the state for individuals with developmental disabilities, Michaud said.
Today, the Central Aroostook Association serves more than 400 adults and children with a staff of about 150, offering youth and adult programs, work programs, case management, home support and shared living homes.
Michaud came to work in the organization after starting his career in business and nonprofit accounting.
He grew up in Fort Fairfield, with his dad working in civil service at Loring Air Force Base, and graduated in the class of 1985. He earned an accounting degree from Northern Maine Community College, worked for a time with private businesses, and then earned a degree from the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
Out of UMPI in the early 1990s, he took a job as the accountant for Northeast Packaging Company. After three years there, he was attracted to an accounting job with the newly formed Loring Job Corps, which was established in the wake of the base’s closure.
“I’ve always liked numbers. I used to watch baseball games and recalculate a person’s batting average after they got a hit or didn’t get a hit,” Michaud said.
“I thought I would always be an accountant and become a CPA. After I got my four-year degree, I decided that I didn’t want to be a CPA behind a desk. I wasn’t interacting with anybody, I was just doing numbers every day,” he said.
“When I went to Job Corps, nonprofit accounting really became my niche. ‘We have this much money, how can we make things work?’”
Michaud spent seven years working for Job Corps, helping the job training program establish itself at the former air base where his dad used to work. After a stint in Bangor with Job Corps’ contracting company, Michaud moved back north and was looking for a job in the Presque Isle area.
When a job opened up with the Central Aroostook Association, he said he knew it could be a good opportunity to work with a mission-oriented organization.
In the last 10 years, Michaud has watched as the Central Aroostook Association has grown steadily, almost doubling its staff in addition to increasing its programming and its homes.
The Central Aroostook Association oversees homes in Presque Isle and Caribou where adults with disabilities live along with staff who are on site 24/7. The association also operates County Box and Pallet, a standalone business where 15 workers make wood shipping pallets for farmers, McCain Foods and other businesses.
Michaud said he’s been proud to work with the organization as it has grown, and to participate in activities like the annual Special Olympics events. Along the way, he gets to know the people who benefit from the Central Aroostook Association.
“I see them every day, doing what I do to make sure the money works for the people we serve,” he said.