Executive Director Announcement

KWE Families and Friends,

We’re fast approaching a series of milestones in the evolution of Kieve Wavus Education. In 2022 Wavus will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Kieve reaches the century mark in 2026. Our camps were once again full of kids this summer after a 12-month pandemic hiatus, our educational programs continue to impact the communities that need us the most, and the number of selfless donors who help to facilitate our cause grows every day.

There’s one particular milestone, however, we must note more immediately: one of a thoughtful and prepared transition of leadership, which is requisite for the continued replenishment, nourishment, and reinforcement of the values and capabilities of the families and communities KWE serves. Sam Kennedy will succeed Henry Kennedy as the executive director of KWE, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Henry has tirelessly captained our ship for the last 32 years. In that time, he has led the successful merger with Wavus, overseen the growth and development of countless generations of young men and women in both our summer camps and The Leadership School, and championed the organization’s protection of the environment. Over this period, KWE’s endowment and charitable giving has also grown 20-fold, empowering us to further fulfill our mission. Thanks to Henry’s outstanding stewardship, KWE arrived at this junction where a seamless succession can be achieved. We are very fortunate Henry will remain actively involved at KWE for years to come, focusing on mentorship and advancement.

With help from outside experts, KWE’s board of trustees engaged Sam in a multi-year process that led to this moment, choosing him because of his skill and experience. Camp has played a formative role in Sam’s life since his kiddie camper days in the early ’90s. He was a camper, maintenance worker, and summer camp counselor at Kieve until 2008. Sam graduated from Colby College in 2009 with a B.A. in English. He spent eight years in Chicago where he worked with tech startups—mainly at Guild Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm. But Sam long aspired to return to camp. After a decade away and a Harvard master’s in education, Sam came home in 2018 to share an office with Director of Education and Operations Charlie Richardson, a 40-year-veteran of KWE. Under Charlie, Sam relearned this organization from the inside out. He cleaned out the trip shack, remade the website, shadowed educators-in-residence, hired counselors, recruited campers, and led Camp Kieve for the last four years. Sam’s been instrumental in shepherding KWE through the pandemic, using the disrupted year to strategize for the future. This is a small organization that asks its people to wear lots of hats, and Sam has worn nearly all of them.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected as the next executive director of Kieve Wavus Education,” says Sam. “KWE gives every camper, counselor, director, cook, maintenance team member, and school group an opportunity to learn from some of the best role models around. I’m especially fortunate to have grown up surrounded by those teachers. From them, I learned kindness, respect, responsibility, courage, perseverance, loyalty, grit, hope, resilience, and independence. But it was my time away from KWE that taught me to appreciate what I value the most: kids. They are the most hopeful thing in this world and justification for the hard work of all the teachers I’ve watched come through here for decades. I chose to come back to Damariscotta Lake because, more than anything else, I want to join, recruit, and cultivate the next generations of educators at KWE.”

Sam lives on the Kieve campus in Nobleboro with his wife, Sarah, a nurse practitioner and KWE’s healthcare and risk director, and their daughter, Stella. The family will welcome a son early next year.

It is a blessing when an organization finds someone from within its ranks so ready to lead. We are beyond lucky to have a Sam waiting in the wings. There is truly no one else with a greater understanding of KWE’s roots or a clearer vision for its future.

“I’m so inspired by this team and excited about what’s next for KWE. Here we go!” says Sam. In the coming months, you will hear more of this advancement. We look forward to your support and best wishes in this next stage of our growth.


Dixon Thayer

Chairman, Kieve Wavus Education