From the Dominican Republic to the United States, the plant manager collects experiences on her Corning journey

Nestled on the Atlantic shore near the southern tip of Maine, the town of Kennebunk exudes its New England charm with old homes, quaint villages, and acres of blueberry fields. While Kennebunk was once known for ship building, today, Corning employees at the town’s 57-year-old manufacturing facility make their mark with life sciences products. 

On any given weekday in Kennebunk, you can find plant manager Racelis Acosta furthering the Corning Life Sciences (CLS) mission. She oversees the bustling manufacturing of plastic labware, handled expertly by the talented plant team. The production floor buzzes with action, and in the application labs, scientists test the products for new ways customers can change lives. 

“Everyone is so passionate about the work that we do,” Racelis says about her team at the CLS plant. “It's so meaningful and has such a positive impact in the world. We get to wake up every day and make a difference.” 

While Racelis has been with CLS for nearly 10 years, she started her Corning career 17 years ago –

as a Lean manufacturing engineer for Optical Communications in the Dominican Republic, where she was born and raised. It was the springboard for a series of powerful career moves, involving seven plants and five relocations. 

Despite her many life changes and accomplishments – graduate school in Sweden, cost reduction in Reynosa, lab accreditation in Monterrey, output doubling in Massachusetts, and now leading Kennebunk – she holds onto her roots in the Dominican Republic. It’s where her family lives, where she met her husband and lifelong friends, and where she first experienced her love of food. She tries to recreate a bit of the DR in Kennebunk. 

“You'd be surprised, but in the New England area, there is a lot of access to key ingredients in Dominican cuisine,” Racelis says. “I'd say that every week I have something Dominican at home, so my daughters can get to know their culture through food.” 

While they visit the Dominican Republic as much as possible, Kennebunk is home. And Racelis credits that feeling to the community. 

“When I'm here, I feel valued, like an integrated individual, regardless of where I am from,” she says. 

Kennebunk’s plant is home for close to 500 employees. Not only have they become a “network that I can rely on,” Racelis says, but they also have fun. Some of her colleagues have recently convinced Racelis to pick up  tennis again after 20 years. 

This is her second plant manager role. She attributes her initial shift to plant manager – first at the Bedford & Woburn plants in Massachusetts – to a crafted elevator pitch with a senior leader. In her pitch, she touted her drive, focus on improvement, and being a change agent for solving problems – not just for the company, but for its people. 

“As a plant manager, I have to think about how to make a positive impact, how to develop people, including myself,” Racelis says. “When I think about what drives me at work, it’s the people and my team.” 

Thankfully, Racelis and her husband, also a Corning employee, have been able to make their career moves in tandem. Together they have a 10-year-old, along with a 2-year-old, who was born just as she accepted her Kennebunk plant manager position. 

“It takes courage to embrace change, dream, and leap into roles, especially if they are outside of your comfort zone,” Racelis says. “But I'd like to think that each of these moves have been pivotal to gaining experiences that got me to where I am today.”