Leadership Transition at Maine-based CEI Capital Management LLC, one of the Nation’s Premier New Markets Tax Credit Firms

Charles J. Spies, III Announces Retirement; Traci R. Vaine to Succeed as CEO on October 1, 2020 

September 1, 2020 (Brunswick, ME) – Charles J. Spies, III, will step down as CEO of CEI Capital Management LLC (CCML) on October 1, 2020 after 14 years of leading one of the nation’s premier New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investment firms. He is succeeded by Traci R. Vaine, who has served as CCML’s Chief Compliance Officer for the past eight years. CCML is a wholly owned subsidiary of Maine-based Community Development Financial Institution, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI).  

Having previously served on its board of directors, Spies took over as CEO of CCML in 2006. Under his leadership, CCML deployed $1.02 billion in federal and state NMTC allocation in more than 95 projects across the U.S. without a single year of financial loss, making CCML one of the nation’s leading allocatees of federal NMTCs. Like CEI, CCML’s focus on projects located in underinvested rural communities has helped to create and preserve 8,849 jobs and the firm has entered into Community Benefit Agreements that directed over $12.5 million in additional investments into programs that support people and communities with low incomes.  

“Under Charlie’s leadership, CCML has set the standard for excellence in the New Markets Tax Credit industry,” said Elaine DiPietro, CCML Board Chair and President, Blooming Ventures LLC. “His dedication to advancing CEI’s mission and supporting his team has been a powerful combination, creating positive, sustainable impact in rural communities.” 

At CCML, Spies encouraged innovation, leading the development and launch of additional CEI subsidiaries, including Bright Community Capital, LLC, which invests in solar energy development in communities with moderate and low incomes and CEI-Boulos Capital Management LLC, providing long-term investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones. 

For 10 years, Spies held an elected seat on the executive committee of the board of directors for the New Markets Tax Credit Coalition, a national association of practitioners. He also served on the steering committee for “Opportunity Appalachia” providing equity investments into rural communities in Ohio, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia. Prior to joining CCML in 2006, Charlie served as Chief Operating Officer for the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System and previous to that was CEO for the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). He was also President and CEO of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds.  

In addition to his work in rural areas across the U.S., Spies is dedicated to his adopted home state of Maine. A graduate of the University of Maine, he uses his expertise in economic development and the forest products industry to support targeted investments across Maine. He currently serves on the executive committee for the Forest Opportunity Roadmap/Maine (FOR/Maine), a cross-sector collaboration between industry, communities, government, education and non-profits brought together to realize the next generation of Maine’s great forest economy; and on the Board of the Brunswick-Topsham  Land Trust. 

“Of CCML’s accomplishments, I am most proud of having a role in helping to create sustainable change for people and places experiencing underinvestment,” said Spies. “Premium Peanut is bringing market stability and profitability to 500 farmer/growers, who are able to sell every ton of peanuts they grow, due to a New Markets investment in their state-of-the-art facility in Douglas, Georgia. Our investment in the nonprofit, federally qualified Lanai Community Health Center is providing the only public health care on the remote island of Lanai, Hawaii. In Maine, the addition of two tissue machines to the St Croix mill in Washington County added over 90 direct and 80 indirect jobs and stabilized over 300 existing mill jobs. That mill is running at full capacity today. I also want to thank the CCML staff and board members who drove these accomplishments and continually set a high bar in investment, compliance, asset management and long-term community impact for the NMTC industry.”  

Incoming CEO, Traci Vaine, has worked alongside Spies for over 12 years in various positions including, most recently, Chief Compliance Officer. In her work at CCML, Vaine co-founded the CCML NMTC Roundtable, a forum for practitioners to discuss current topics and industry trends. She is recognized as an industry expert on topics of compliance and asset management. Prior to joining CCML, Vaine was the co-founder and operations manager of Fantasy Stock Market, Inc., an industry-leading e-learning stock market program. She also served as senior benefits advisor for the Arizona State Retirement System and a financial consultant at Smith Barney. She received her B.S. in Finance, Magna Cum Laude, from Arizona State University and is a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional.      

“I am deeply committed to CCML’s mission, which we share with our colleagues at CEI, to build a more equitable economy,” said Vaine. “CCML is currently managing a portfolio of over $200 million in NMTC investments in projects in rural regions throughout the country, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with my colleagues and engage with the communities we serve to provide access to economic opportunity.” 

Vaine will collaborate closely with Chief Financial Officer, Didier Hakizimana, who joined CCML in 2010. Hakizimana is a CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner and Chartered Global Management Accountant. 

About CEI Capital Management 

CEI Capital Management LLC (CCML) creates and preserves jobs and improves quality of life in rural, low income communities across the country by providing access to flexible project capital through the Federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program and the Maine New Markets Capital Investment (NMCI) Program. CCML is a wholly owned subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), whose mission is to grow good jobs, increase environmentally sustainable enterprises and expand shared prosperity by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy advocacy. https://www.ceimaine.org/cei-capital-management/ 

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