Susan Thornton ’85, a top-level U.S. diplomat for East Asia and the Pacific region, has bought a 480-acre farm in Lisbon and plans to retire in Maine with her husband.
She resigned from the State Department in June, a few months after President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson had selected Thornton to lead the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and be the U.S.’s head negotiator with nations such as China and North Korea, but her nomination faced resistance from Steve Bannon and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Thornton’s new home in Lisbon, known as the Packard-Littlefield farm, is currently farmed by Cultivating Community, a nonprofit that provides about 30 acres of land to immigrant and refugee growers, many of them Somalis living in nearby Lewiston. Thornton told the Portland Press Herald that she would like to continue supporting Cultivating Community’s farmers and is working to renew a lease with them.
As Thornton learns the ropes of farming, she’ll be helped by her son, Ben, who is a farmer. Her daughter Kate is a first-year student at Bowdoin.
Reporter Mary Pols writes, “Although [Thornton] has been in the Foreign Service for 28 years – 18 of them spent overseas – she and her family have spent time in Maine regularly in the summer since 2004” “I love Maine,” Thornton said. “And I feel like it is my place.”