Mary Ann Kristiansen is the Founder and Executive Director of the Hannah Grimes Center, established in 1997 to create a thriving marketplace for local products and to help the people who make those products build sustainable and successful businesses.
She started the Hannah Grimes Marketplace and added the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in 2006 to support the successful start up and growth of local small businesses.
Mary Ann was born and raised in Minnesota. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. After college, she moved to New York and worked for J. Walter Thompson Advertising and Merrill Lynch. While she was there, she earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University.
She moved to New Hampshire in 1991 and bought Buckminster Farm in Roxbury. She started a home-based soap making business in 1991 and also gardens and raises sheep and chickens at her farm. Through her soap making, gardening, and farming contacts, she began to realize that there was a shortage of markets for locally-made products from small-scale businesses, while at the same time, there was a shortage of skills on the part of local producers to enter and succeed in those markets.
At TEDxFargo in 2018, Mary Ann spoke about how ideas shape people and give them the skills needed to get the work done – they shape us and we shape them. She talks about how vital new ideas are for our communities and encourages the audience to allow themselves to be “possessed by an idea”.