From small businesses and large, health care, municipal government, a church, and many other corners of the Upper Valley, 24 people came together on Wednesday, June 9, to complete a 10-month program to help them build the skills, knowledge, and personal networks to be effective leaders in the Upper Valley. The day-long event took place at the Vermont Institute for Natural Science pavillion in Quechee, VT.

Interested in joining next year’s class? Apply by June 15!

“The world needs you,” keynote speaker Monique Priestley, Vital Communities Board Chair, told the graduates at a late afternoon culminating event. Start small and start anywhere, she advised graduates who are wondering how to apply what they learned.

“I have seen what the smallest actions can do. The library board you serve on where the librarian serves a child patron an after school snack when that snack is the only food he will eat that day. The chamber board that supports the executive director who helps secure recovery funding for husband and wife business owners who are at risk of losing an entire life’s work. The community action board that helps a veteran experiencing homelessness find a warm, safe, stable place to live. The youth program that teaches an elementary school child living in poverty to use a screwdriver for the first time in her life, inspiring her to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. … The world needs you. You just need to decide whether or not you are going to step up and accept the charge.” Read the full text of Monique’s speech.

The 24 graduates began meeting for monthly, day-long sessions in September, when warm temperatures allowed them to meet in person, also at VINS. Successive sessions were a mix of virtual and in person. The sessions explored the topics of Education, Art and the Creative Economy, Health and Human Services, Economic Development, Justice, Transportation and Livable Communities, and Environment. Upper Valley leaders in those areas who helped plan the days included Joanne Roberts, Superintendent, SAU 88 Lebanon Schools; Jarvis Antonio Green, Founder and Producing Artistic Director, JAG Productions; Barbara Farnsworth, Manager, Community Health Improvement, Dartmouth-Hitchcock; Nancy Merrill, Director, Planning and Development, City of Claremont; Robert Sand, Founder, Center for Justice Reform, Vermont Law School; Karen Liot-Hill, Lebanon City Councillor and former Mayor; Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Manager, Vital Communities; and Hannah Gelroth, VINS Director, School Programs & Teacher Professional Development.

Leadership Upper Valley Class of 2021

Jane Clifford, Mascoma Bank

Jessica Clow, West Central Behavioral Health

Zachary Conaway, Dartmouth Hitchock Health

Janet Couture, Hanover Consumer Cooperative

Kathy Dunham-Bellavance, Geokon

Leon Dunkley, North Universalist Chapel Society (North Chapel)

Kimberley Gibbs, Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Susan Goodell, Otto & Associates, Inc.

Lynne Goodwin, City of Lebanon

Daynia Langlois, Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Nancy Lindahl, BAYADA Hospice

Jill Marshall, Jill Marshall Consulting (self-employed)

Ashleigh McFarlin, Claremont Savings Bank

Davis McGraw, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Shari McLaughlin, Gallagher, Flynn & Company, LLP

Steven Monteverdi, Hypertherm

Melissa Norton, Spark! Community Center

Rebecca Owens, City of Lebanon

Amanda Roberts, Mascoma Bank

Tamara Rockwell, Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Valerie Thompson, LISTEN Community Services

Celeste Wetherell, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Ashley Wood, Upper Valley Haven

Terra Wheeler, Red River