Tom Roberts joined Vital Communities as Executive Director in February 2015. A resident of Cobb Hill Cohousing in Hartland, Vermont, Tom has more than a decade of successful leadership experience in Upper Valley nonprofits, including as a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation, and prior to that as Executive Director at the Ottauquechee Health Foundation in Woodstock. Before moving to the Upper Valley in 2002, Tom worked as an attorney both in a small litigation and government practice firm, and for the Homeless Advocacy Project with the Bar Association of San Francisco. He has worked in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors on issues of justice, housing, children, and healthcare. He holds a B.A. in English from Stanford University, a law degree from the University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law, and is a graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute.
Energy Program Manager
Sarah Brock joined Vital Communities in 2013 as our Energy Program Manager. Through her work Sarah provides support for our region’s 40+ local energy committees, engaging with dozens of volunteers and clean energy businesses in programs like Solarize Upper Valley, Weatherize Upper Valley, and the Upper Valley Green Real Estate Network. Prior to joining the Vital Communities team, Sarah was an Environmental Philanthropy Associate with the High Meadows Fund, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation. Sarah now lives in Warner, New Hampshire, with her husband Zach and her chickens. When she's not busy advocating for energy efficiency, Sarah enjoys playing the trombone and taking walks in her backwoods to look for signs of New Hampshire's abundant wildlife.
Rachel Darrow joined Vital Communities in November 2016 after two years as Finance Manager of Opera North. Prior to moving to Lyme, N.H., she worked for more than eight years with the Greensboro Jewish Federation in Greensboro, N.C., most recently serving as Director of Finance and Human Resources. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from the University of Maryland University College and an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John's College. Rachel currently serves on the United Way Campaign Cabinet, dances with The Raqs Salaam Dance Theater, and enjoys spending time with her three goats.
Transportation Program Manager
Bethany Fleishman was born at the old Mary Hitchcock hospital in Hanover, N.H., grew up in West Hartford, Vt., and now lives in Hartford Village, where she can see the White River and the trains from her window. She has a biology degree from St. Lawrence University and has worked in public health outreach, as a line cook in San Francisco, a pastry chef in Hanover, and as a member of the Town of Hartford Selectboard. She serves on the board of directors for both Advance Transit and Upper Valley CarShare and is a lifelong bike commuter.
Workforce Housing Coordinator
Mike Kiess joined Vital Communities in July of 2018 as the Workforce Housing Coordinator, working to develop and strengthen workforce housing throughout the Upper Valley. Mike previously oversaw organizational development for Veteran Corps of America, a federal contractor in the field of emergency and disaster response. He moved to the Upper Valley in 2011 after years spent living and working across the US and abroad, serving as a Navy submarine officer aboard the USS Lewis and Clark, an administrative director for the United States Peace Corps, and as a project manager in the paper and steel businesses. Mike is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and holds an MBA from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. He lives in Thetford with his wife, who grew up in the area, and enjoys mountain biking, volunteering on the town Energy Committee, and encouraging people to try new things and do their best.
Food & Farm and Local First Coordinator
Local First Food & Farm
Nancy joined Vital Communities as the Food & Farm Coordinator in 2014. She works to support and grow our local food system and economy. Nancy has lived, worked, and farmed in the Upper Valley for more than 25 years and believes our community is healthier and stronger when our connections to food and the farms that produce it stay vital.
Nancy's informal job title is Farmer-in-Residence: she also runs a pasture-based cattle farm in Norwich. Nancy is on the Board of the Norwich Farmers' Market and a retired Norwich volunteer firefighter and EMT. She loves puttering in the garden, hiking with her dog, and visiting farmers' markets.
Climate Projects Coordinator
Ana Mejia is the Climate Projects Coordinator at Vital Communities. She is a Southern California native and first arrived to the Upper Valley in 2018. Ana received her Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and her Master’s in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, where she wrote her thesis on solar home affordability and energy efficiency programs for low income families. When she is not actively working towards creating sustainable communities, Ana enjoys swimming, cross-country skiing, birding, and trying out new dessert recipes with her KitchenAid mixer.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Elyse Payson first became acquainted with Vital Communities after mistaking a Valley Quest treasure box for litter while out hiking. She joined the Vital Communities staff in July 2017 as Assistant to the Executive Director, with many years of administrative and management experience at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, MedU, and as a private consultant. A lifelong resident of the Upper Valley, Elyse enjoys hiking with her children, including on Valley Quests.
Bookkeeper and Office Manager
Carole Petrillo joined Vital Communities in 2013 as Bookkeeper, Office Manager, and Human Resource Manager. She is also a longtime yoga instructor and practitioner. Since arriving in Vermont in the 1980s, Carole has sought work and play where it contributes to services to lead a healthy lifestyle. Working at Vital Communities is a team effort to practice these goals in the workplace and in our community. Carole takes pleasure in contributing to make the office run smoothly and helping to support Vital Communities’ great programs. Carole grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where she embraced winter – her favorite season. When not working, you can find her enjoying the adventures of skiing endless wooded trails with Jimmy, her partner and best friend. During all the other seasons, look for her on some mountaintop in the White Mountains or the Adirondack Mountains, her favorite playgrounds.
Allison Rogers Furbish
Allison Rogers Furbish joined Vital Communities after a decade-long career in local journalism and public relations in the Upper Valley. A native of Lebanon, N.H., she has a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, an MBA in Sustainable Business from Green Mountain College, and a passion for telling stories that help make the community more sustainable and vibrant. She was the Founding Editor of The Lebanon Times, a hyperlocal newspaper launched in 2013 to cover the “good people, good places, and good things happening” in the city. She lives in Canaan, N.H., where she enjoys the sights and sounds of nature, explores the local trails and waterways, and is slowly learning to garden with her husband and two children. Outside of work, she loves to bake, eat, read, hike, ride her bike on the Northern Rail Trail (with kids in tow!), and spend time with her family.
Food & Farm Manager
Valley Quest Food & Farm
Beth leads Vital Communities' Food & Farm team, including its Upper Valley Farm to School programming, and also oversees Valley Quest. Before joining Vital Communities, Beth Roy worked in the environmental and place-based education fields for 17 years in various positions around New England including at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum in Grafton, Vt. Beth is also on the boards of the Vermont Science Teacher Association (VSTA) and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP), a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth is a New Hampshire native and lives in Hartland, Vt., with her husband and two children. When Beth is not working you will find her exploring the woods around her home with her family or cooking up a new taste test (made of local foods, of course!) for her children.
Leadership Upper Valley Manager, Director of Development
Rob Schultz is the Leadership Upper Valley Manager and Director of Development at Vital Communities. Most recently, he served as Area Coordinator for Granite United Way in the Upper Valley Region. Rob was Executive Director of COVER Home Repair in White River Junction for 9 years. Before working at COVER, Rob was Executive Director for the Farm & Wilderness Foundation for 8 years; helped start a corporate training center for PT Timah in Sumatra Indonesia; and ran programs for Outward Bound in Minnesota, Texas, and New Mexico. He is a graduate of Earlham College and has done graduate work at University of Maryland in International Political Economy. He lives in Hanover with his partner Diane. He sings with Thetford Chamber Singers and is an avid carpenter, cellist, wilderness traveler, and gardener.
Food & Farm Coordinator
Food & Farm
Part of Vital Communities' Food & Farm team since 2012, Becka fosters relationships that keep agriculture a daily part of community life in the Upper Valley. She works with current and future farmers, businesses, schools, and partners across Vermont and New Hampshire to build connections that support farm viability and keep our landscapes working. Becka lived in Seattle for many years, where she worked for the Washington State University Small Farms Program, Cascade Harvest Coalition, Seattle Tilth, and area vegetable farms. Becka is also a writer, founding and writing Ask Umbra at gristmagazine.com until 2009. She holds a BA from Brown University and lives in Hartland, Vermont, with her family.