County Face: Suzie Paradis of Fort Kent
FORT KENT, Maine — Suzie Paradis of Fort Kent credits her St. John Valley upbringing for her success in balancing her roles as a mother, businesswoman and community volunteer.
Paradis was born in Massachusetts but raised in Madawaska, having graduated from Madawaska Middle/High School in 1990. She has served as economic and community development director for the Town of Madawaska since 2014.
During that time, she has secured over $20 million in state and federal grant funds for local projects.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been raised in this area and continue to be a part of amazing communities in the Valley,” she said. “Credit goes to my parents for instilling a strong work ethic and my family for always encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and supporting all my endeavors.”
Paradis has been married to her husband, Denis Paradis, for 25 years. They are the parents of three children: Savannah 23, Steffany 21, and Eden 15. Savannah and Steffany recently earned master’s degrees from Husson University in occupational therapy and business administration, respectively. Eden is a three-sport star athlete at Fort Kent Community High School and a member of the National Honor Society.
In her work, Paradis writes and administers state and federal grants and coordinates events related to job retention, business growth and advancement for the towns of St. Agatha and Madawaska. She has also played a part in helping to bring forth the town’s Grand Plan Madawaska, which is a long-term plan to revitalize and beautify the town.
“I enjoy the diversity of the work, as it ensures that no day is like any other, and I am always focused on the bettering of the community, which makes you feel good at the end of the day,” she said.
Ryan D. Pelletier, Aroostook County administrator and former Madawaska town manager, said he has worked with Paradis for the past 20 years in both work and volunteer environments throughout the St. John Valley and during that time has come to consider Paradis “a dear friend.”
“She has a huge heart and cares deeply about the people of our area,” Pelletier said.
“She is highly regarded in her profession and has the ears of state and federal decision makers. Her peers seek her out for advice and guidance. I wish I could identify one thing that demonstrates how much a benefit she is to Madawaska, but honestly she is a benefit to the entire County.”
Paradis’ volunteer efforts include the Fort Kent Outdoor Center, Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Aroostook Aspirations, the United Way of Aroostook and the Valley Rivers Middle School/Fort Kent Community High School Booster Club.
Through her volunteer work at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center, she has served on various committees and donated her time to help decorate the center for fundraisers.
She can often be seen working the admissions table at various high-school sporting events for the booster club, and was also instrumental in helping to raise funds for new lights at the Fort Kent Community High School soccer field.
She earned a spot to participate in the 2017-2018 Maine Development Foundation’s Leadership Maine Silver Class, a year-long program which brings community leaders together throughout the state to develop professional relationships with one another and help them cultivate their leadership skills.
“The opportunity to be a part of the Leadership Maine program has provided me a better understanding of professional development and has challenged me professionally and personally,” she said.
Paradis said that along with her family, she has been inspired by friends, co-workers and others she has met along the way while actively participating in the community.
“There are many individuals that I can acknowledge for their guidance, words of wisdom and encouragement in supporting me with my goals and aspirations. I am truly thankful for them all,” she said.
During her free time, she enjoys spending time with family at their camp on Eagle Lake, practicing interior design, reading, attending concerts, and walking her dogs, Shadow and Bauer.