Don Gooding and the rest of the MCED team.
Lee Cheever (far left) will take over as interim director when Don Gooding (center) steps down in June.

Lee Cheever will take over as executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development next month after Don Gooding steps down, according to Cathy Renault, chair of MCED’s board.

“Lee is currently the Operations Manager and intimately familiar with all the activities of the organization. In addition, she is a gifted counselor to early stage businesses, dating back to her tenure at the Small Business Development Center,” Renault said in a statement.

MCED is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help entrepreneurs launch and grow companies. It’s probably most well known for its Top Gun business accelerator program, which has expanded significantly under Gooding’s tenure.

Maine Startups Insider on March 29 broke the news that Gooding had resigned his position as MCED’s executive director, a position he’d held since 2010. In his resignation letter, he cited a desire to pursue other activities, a dislike of fundraising rather than working with startups and a shift in the board’s focus away from helping entrepreneurs start companies and toward helping already established companies scale up and grow. It’s a shift Gooding said he agrees with, but which doesn’t match his interests.

“[A]s the board has emphasized scale-ups – which I agree is the right next step for MCED – my enthusiasm has waned, because I really am most passionate and skilled at startups,” he wrote.

Cheever will serve as acting director until the board completes a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

Here’s an excerpt from the job posting: “The next executive director will continue to refine the quality of MCED’s current programs, elevate the priority work in the creation of effective entrepreneurial programs for rural participants, and using the high caliber skills and connections of its staff and board members, develop effective strategies to build resources to help more mature businesses accelerate their growth.”

Whomever MCED’s board picks, that person will be asked to significantly grow the organization’s footprint and impact. From this week’s news release: “The board is not content to just maintain and improve MCED’s current program offerings, but is extremely focused on expanding its portfolio of innovation.”