Spencer Thibodeau ’10, An Eye for Leadership

Spencer Thibodeau ’10, An Eye for Leadership

Spencer Thibodeau ’10 is not shy about telling people his goals in politics.

The 29-year-old Portland, Maine councilman said quite directly, “I hope to pursue higher office someday. However, success in politics is based on results. My constituents expect results, and my goal is to deliver. In 10 years, I hope to be serving my community as mayor. But, I still have a lot to learn about the political process and about myself as a participant in that process.”

That determination and willingness to serve people was forged in the classrooms of Fairfield University. “Fairfield gave me the opportunity to practice advocating as a FUSA senator. Whether the issue was lunch trays in Barone or events on campus, I was able to learn how to communicate my concerns to administrators and my classmates.”

Even before attending Fairfield, Thibodeau had his eyes set on public service. He attended Cheverus High School in Portland where he was elected the first African-American class president. He thought back on his first visit to Fairfield and said he was immediately hooked on the University.

“I knew I was attending Fairfield as soon as I arrived on campus. It’s the feeling you get every time you turn off of North Benson Road.”

Thibodeau majored in political science at Fairfield, where he became involved with the student senate, pushing for greater access and communication between student government and the constituents they represent.

“I have been interested in politics since I can remember. However, the defining moment for me was the night my mom called me away from my homework and into the living room to watch the 2004 Democratic National Convention and some state senator from Illinois give the keynote — Barack Obama. I remember immediately changing the Kerry/Edwards pin I had to an Obama ’08 pin and walking around Cheverus High School with it the next day.”

Thibodeau spent the summer of 2007 on a “host family’s couch” in Portsmouth, N.H., where he organized volunteers in the seacoast region for the future president. This experience later yielded an opportunity for him to spend the summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

Thibodeau now works as an attorney at Verrill Dana, LLP in the firm’s real estate practice group. He began his law career with a focus on large forestry and agriculture transactions in the western hemisphere, but has transitioned to commercial and residential real estate matters including commercial lending, title matters, and leasing, among others.

“I decided to go to law school after discussing next steps with my mentors at Fairfield at the end of my junior year. I ultimately decided to attend Northeastern University School of Law.”

During his time at Northeastern, Thibodeau also clerked at the Massachusetts Land Court and served as a legal intern at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.

After graduating from Northeastern Law School in the spring of 2013, Thibodeau returned to Portland to practice law. He also successfully sought a seat on the Portland City Council in 2015.

Thibodeau believes his dual careers as attorney and councilman “balance each other very well because I essentially have two full-time jobs.” He adds, “Like every other commitment, it is about time management and not overdoing it. I do my best to be at each hearing, coffee meeting or community event, but the commitment adds nearly 30 hours a week to my full-time job. I want to be the best councilor I can be.”

Asked what were some of the lessons he learned at Fairfield, Thibodeau jokingly said, “I learned I was not an engineer. I came in as a freshman in the engineering program and realized it was not for me.”

He also made lasting friendships. “Thanks to Fairfield, I have friends in every corner of the country and I am still in touch with many of them today. Plus, who can resist throwing up a ‘Go Stags’ sign when you see another Stag at an airport or while visiting another city. Stags are everywhere, and we roam together.”

He recalls fondly Saturday and Sunday breakfasts in Barone. “I could literally be there all day. I also loved the quad as a freshman, playing Wiffle Ball or football. I just remember the campus was always alive.”

Thibodeau retains close ties with Fairfield. “Being involved with Fairfield is important. I always welcome the opportunity to come back. The students are so impressive, and it is always interesting to see how they interact with their school community. While Fairfield alumni are separated by years from current students, our experiences are largely the same. It is a unique experience that we all share.”