Honoring Grassroots Leadership for Phasing Out Flame Retardants


Grassroots Leadership Awards

Linda Baker of Topsham is a former Republican state senator and public schoolteacher. Linda is the widow of Skip Baker, a career firefighter—with experience as a volunteer and then later as a professional firefighter—and former fire chief in Topsham, who died 16 years ago. His death was caused by what’s considered the number one cause of line-of-duty deaths among professional firefighters: cancer. Linda has two sons currently in the fire service, and she continually pushed for bipartisan support for LD 182 to help protect families like hers from the loss of a hero to cancer.

In an eloquent op-ed for the Bangor Daily News, Linda wrote: “We owe it to Maine’s heroes, our firefighters, to get this done.”

Therese Flaherty of Yarmouth spent her 48th wedding anniversary at the State House urging Maine legislators to support a bill that would help reduce harm to firefighters’ health—firefighters like the man she once called “my hero.” Until his death from cancer six years ago, Yarmouth firefighter Timothy J. Flaherty was her husband of 42 years.

“He fought till the end,” Therese said. “He was the best husband I could have asked for. He was my hero.”

Therese and Linda worked tirelessly this past year to push for passage of LD 182, speaking to legislators and reporters about their personal stories to show how much Maine's families and firefighters needed this law to phase out flame retardants. Thanks to Therese and Linda, Maine’s heroes and their families will be better protected from these toxic chemicals. 

Our Grassroots Leadership Award is given to a community member, educator, or organizational leader or group whose exceptional and often courageous grassroots leadership has empowered community members to create positive change for environmental health at the local, state, or national level. Grassroots leaders are the backbone of our movement, and winners of this leadership award have helped win support for policy and change by speaking truth to power and showing decision-makers how their actions can have an impact on the health of individuals, families, and communities.