Stand in Your Circle of Strength and Lead

Ed. Note: On May 30, Vital Communities honored 12 community leaders who’ve added immeasurably to the vitality of the Upper Valley at its annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration. The following are the event’s keynote remarks from Jenny Levy, the immediate past board chair of Vital Communities and Vice President of People, Community and Environment at Hypertherm.

Congratulations to Vital Communities for 25 years of cultivating positive change in our 69 towns of the Upper Valley. It has been my honor to be part of caring for and growing that impact during my 5 years on the board, just a short part of the long history of this incredible organization.

Congratulations to the honorees this evening. I am humbled to be a part of your celebration tonight. You are joining another seven “classes” of heroes and leaders. Prior honoree categories include Olympians, Veterans, Women Leaders, Visionaries of the Upper Valley, Mentors, Young Leaders, and Long-Standing Stewards – some of whom are here with us tonight. Thank you all for being a critical part of what makes the Upper Valley such a special place.

When you listen tonight, read about past leaders, or, like me, work alongside two of them, Barbara Couch, a Woman Leader, and Dick Couch, a Visionary of the Upper Valley, it is easy, and frankly appropriate, to be in awe. We are quick to put them all on a pedestal.

This very event makes us pause and look up to these heroes and leaders and the heights they have achieved. We sit here and look at THEM up THERE. I start to wonder HOW did they do it? WHERE does a hero or a leader come from? Maybe it was the Wheaties they ate for breakfast, or, as Warren Buffet might put it, they got a winning ticket in the ovarian lottery. So, knowing I was going to have the opportunity to speak tonight, I did some homework. I reached out to heroes and leaders from this year and prior years and asked them this simple question: “What was a moment that set you on the path to becoming a hero or a leader?” The answers they each gave were varied and inspiring, and, lucky for all of us, instructive.

Vital Communities grew out of what we can think of as the Rabbi Hillel category of leaders. He was a first-century Jewish scholar who wrote, now translated, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” Reading a 1993 Valley News Sunday editorial is what sparked a prior honoree, Betty Porter, to start a conversation with the League of Women Voters, and then one meeting, and then another, and then a whole organization was founded that we all now benefit from greatly. Don’t forget it was one person reading one article that set this future in motion.

An honoree tonight, Stan Williams, was standing in his driveway years ago, watching his son bike down to the Norwich library to do his homework on their computers, which had internet speed the Williams family couldn’t get at home. His son had just asked him, “Dad, can’t you do something about this?” Stan’s neighbor, with whom he was chatting at the time, piled on, “Stan, don’t you know something about telecom? Maybe you could get us internet?” Lucky for all of us, Stan listened on that day. Now 3,000 rural customers are connected to ECFiber.

One of the Upper Valley Visionaries, Van Chesnut from Advance Transit, tells a similar story of being called to lead. Advance Transit had just completed a small pilot project for DHMC that found ridership significantly increased if their employees could get on the bus for free when they simply showed their badge. Seeing this positive result, Van wondered if he could figure out how to do that for all Upper Valley citizens. Lucky for all of us, our community now benefits from the largest, free, non-urban public transit system in Vermont and New Hampshire. Betty, Stan, and Van all answered Rabbi Hillel’s questions with “Yes, me” and “Yes, now.”

Next, there’s the ABBA category of leadership. The “Take a chance on me” set of stories. Julia Griffin, the town manager for Hanover and a Woman Leader honoree, describes when she was fresh out of grad school and was the assistant to the assistant of the City Manager in Santa Monica, California, John Jalili. Despite being low on the totem pole Julia describes John’s mentorship as critical to her future path. He took time to teach her some key principles: to wade in quietly, to not force things, to think of community as theater, and to be patient. Likely, many of us consider, “Where would Hanover be without Julia?” The real questions are, where would Hanover be if John hadn’t taken the time to teach these lessons to Julia? And where would Hanover be if Julia hadn’t stopped and listened and taken these lessons to heart?

Rob Taylor described his father, Steve Taylor, an honored Long-Standing Steward, going to work at the Valley News in his 20s and being made the managing editor at that young age. Steve’s own capabilities helped him earn that position, but it was also someone else who took a chance on Steve to run and grow our region’s source of news and insights, in fact the very one which decades later inspired the creation of Vital Communities.

Julia and Steve and many others like them had people who saw something, some spark, some ray of potential, and those people took a chance on them. In turn, Julia and Steve took full advantage of that chance – they didn’t back away, they trusted themselves and the person on the other side of the table.

There’s another category of hero and leader, the “You can run but you can’t hide” type. This became apparent when I was talking with Elyse Crossman about her honor as a Young Leader as the executive director of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce. She grew up feeling like she was just known as “Ray’s daughter” and she resented it. You see, her father, Ray Gagnon, was on the Claremont City Council, was the Mayor and a Representative to the New Hampshire Assembly. Elyse’s turning point was when she stopped trying to run away from the legacy she was so lucky to be a part of and started to embrace the lessons of leadership and making a positive difference her father had been demonstrating her whole life.

One of the honored Women Leaders, Sara Kobylenski, former executive director of the Haven and ongoing change maker, told me she was recently given a stuffed giraffe by her friend Jill Lord (a Long-Standing Steward honoree by the way). The card with it said, “Because you always stick your neck out for others.” It was at that moment that Sara realized this is exactly how she has lived her life, snapping her back to a memory of being a 4-year old on the playground and sticking up for another child there. Elyse and Sara have embraced their greatest sources of strength and use that to fuel their ongoing impact.

Finally, are the seed-sowing moments of heroes and leaders. Edie Thys Morgan was in the first class of Olympian honorees as an Alpine skier in the crazy speed events. She was on the World Cup circuit for 6 years and participated in two Olympics. When asked what her moment was, she described that the biggest impact came from small precious doses of encouragement she received from her mother every night she tucked young Edie into bed. These small moments knit together to form enormous inner security and confidence that later fueled Edie.

When I asked one of tonight’s honorees, and my friend, Pru Pease, she knew exactly the moment when she saw herself as somebody. It was when she walked through the doors of the Family Place, another honoree as a Long-Standing Steward, looking for guidance. Pru was pregnant with her second child and her first was perched on her hip with two broken legs. Christie Binzen, the ED at the time, came walking down the stairs, looked directly into Pru’s eyes with warmth and knowing and simply said, “Welcome.” It was in that one look, that one word, that Pru knew she was being seen for who she was and could be and that she was strong, deserving, and powerful—shall we say, truly heroic? Earlier, you heard for yourself what that small seed grew for Pru and the countless people Pru has likewise empowered.

Will we all be patient and diligent to sow seeds, like tonight’s honorees Pooh and Anne Sprague from Edgewater Farm, and the half dozen other farmers honored in prior years? These heroes know how to plant a seed at the right depth, in the right light, and with the right nutrients so that we may all in turn be nourished. What seeds in our community are we each planting and tending to?

Will we all raise our hands like Betty, Stan, and Van and answer the questions, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” In what area of your life could you be answering these questions in the affirmative? When will you take up the call to stand in your circle of strength and lead?

When will you take up the call to stand in your circle of strength and lead?

Will we all take a chance on someone? Are we in a position to see something in someone else and have the guts to act on it? Or, has someone tried to take a chance on you? Like Julia and Steve, did you put your faith in them and yourself and did you take it? What additional greatness could occur if we each did so?

Will we all be brave enough like Elyse and Sara to realize our calling? Will we ask ourselves the same question: What are we running from, that if we stopped, turned around, and faced it, we would find our greatest source of strength?

As you now know, the heroes and leaders before us and in years past all come from where you and I sit tonight. They are not far above or away from us. The very future of the vitality of our community, our nation, even our world, rests on all of us learning these important lessons and taking them to heart. Look at yourself. Look around this room. Look around your community. Who and what will we be celebrating next year and at the 50th anniversary? You see, we are all creators of heroes and leaders, indeed, we are all heroes and leaders.

Thank you.

Heroes & Leaders: Creating a Vital Upper Valley

Every spring, Leadership Upper Valley, a program of Vital Communities, hosts the annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the Upper Valley. In 2019, we are pleased to honor 12 Leaders who add immeasurably to the vitality of our region. Read about these honorees below.

Liza Bernard and Penny McConnel met at a book discussion group and years later opened the Norwich Bookstore in 1994. Liza Bernard moved to the Upper Valley in 1977. She managed the Vermont State Craft Center in Windsor before starting her own business creating handwoven and hand-knit clothing. She worked at art galleries and consulted for art exhibitions across Vermont and did a short stint at King Arthur Flour, where she helped compile their 200th Anniversary Cookbook. A founding member of Local First Vermont, Liza was also a founder and enthusiastic promoter of Local First Alliance. Liza has served on the board of League of NH Craftsmen, the Child Care Center in Norwich, and the Abbott Memorial Library in Pomfret, where she lives. Penny McConnel and her husband Jim Gold have lived in Norwich for 41 years. Penny has always worked in retail and became a bookseller in 1981 at the Dartmouth Bookstore. She was a buyer there and later at a bookstore at the Powerhouse Mall. Penny has served on the boards of the Vermont Public Radio Advisory, Vermont Humanities Council, New England Independent Booksellers Association, and is presently on the boards of the Norwich Public Library and Norwich Senior Housing.

Len Cadwallader started his professional career running an after-school tutoring program in Johnson’s War on Poverty program in Lackawanna, New York. He worked at the Farm & Wilderness Camps in Plymouth, Vermont, for 21 years, first as Business Manager and then as Executive Director for 13 years. After a brief stint as the Executive Director of Kendal at Hanover, Len was hired in 2000 to become Vital Communities’ first full-time Executive Director, a position he held for 11 years. Throughout his professional career, Len always took time to get involved with social justice issues. For example, Len accompanied the Guatemalan couple who had lived in Sanctuary for 10 years at the Benedictine monastery in Weston, Vermont, when they decided to repatriate to their homeland. For the past two years he has commuted to the Massachusetts prisons where he co-facilitates anger management workshops in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) program.

Delia Clark was Founding Director of Vital Communities, serving from 1993-1999. She is currently Principal at Confluence, where her work focuses on building sustainable communities through facilitating civic engagement, place-based learning, heritage interpretation, strategic planning, and community dialogue. She is a frequent trainer and facilitator in these areas throughout the United States and internationally, for organizations that include National Park Service, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, Shelburne Farms, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Delia is the co-author of Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts published by University Press of New England; Learning to Make Choices for the Future: Connecting Public Lands, Schools and Communities Through Place-based Learning and Civic Engagement; Building Skills for Effective Facilitation; and other manuals and chapters that have collectively been translated into six languages. Mother of three grown children, Delia lives in Taftsville with her husband, Tim Traver.

Ivy CondonIvy Condon is deeply involved in her community as a native of Claremont. There she helps to coordinate programs and events as the Center Coordinator at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center. Ivy is also in her fifth year as the Stevens High School girls’ varsity basketball coach. She works with volunteers from the girls’ teams each week at the Community Center to teach young children the game of basketball. In her spare time, Ivy and her husband run a basketball club, the Claremont Lady Hornets, which includes girls from 3rd through 12th grade in the Claremont area. Ivy enjoys being a positive role model for the many youth athletes and young adults she has contact with in Claremont. Ivy has a strong passion for her community and is on the Healthy Vibrant Claremont Committee, which works to bring positivity and needed changes to Claremont.

Edgewater Farm is a family farm located along the alluvial plains of the Connecticut River in Plainfield. Originally a five-generation family farm owned by the Colby Family, Pooh and Anne Sprague have owned and operated Edgewater Farm since 1974. Although initially the Spragues maintained outside employment, they were encouraged by their county agents to try growing strawberries on the farm. The first strawberry crop was harvested in 1976, and from that point other crops were added to accommodate market demand. By 1983, both of the Spragues were working full time on the farm and, along with a few greenhouses, they opened their Route 12A Plainfield farmstand. Today they grow vegetable and ornamental bedding plants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and vegetables. They sell products through their greenhouses, farmstand, and CSA, as well as at select locations in the Upper Valley. Edgewater Farm donates to area food shelves through the local nonprofit organization Willing Hands. Pooh and Anne—along with their children, Sarah and Ray, daughter in-law Jenny, and 36-year veteran Mike Harrington—are involved with managing the many different aspects of the farm. With their third generation growing up on the farm now, they continue to take a long view of land stewardship.

Jarvis Green is a director, performing artist, and cultural worker from Anderson, South Carolina. He moved to Vermont in 2011 from New York City and founded BarnArts Center for the Arts in Barnard in 2012. He is the Founding Producing Artistic Director of JAG Productions and the former Director of Theatre Arts at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. Jarvis received his training at the prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, as well as South Carolina’s Anderson University and Governor’s School for the Arts. Jarvis has developed work with The Public Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Village Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Capital Playhouse, BarnArts Center for the Arts, ArtisTree, Northern Stage, and North Country Community Theater. In 2017, Jarvis accepted the New England Theatre Conference’s Regional Award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre on behalf of JAG Productions, in recognition of sustaining theatrical excellence.

A strong work ethic, a passion for helping others, and a sincere love of animals have been at the core of Curt and Sharon Jacques’ life and their business. Curt’s background as a top-performing territory sales manager and nutrition specialist for a national feed company and Sharon’s professional training as a nurse combine to form a unique mix of technical knowledge, drive, and heartfelt compassion that conceived a remarkable destination retail location and valued home to some 35 employees. Curt and Sharon purchased West Lebanon Feed & Supply in 1995. In 2007, they opened an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that celebrates the human-animal bond. The business has since developed into a nationally and internationally top-awarded store in its industry. Now, Curt and Sharon’s vision of “Your Life, Your Style, Your Store” takes new shape through their venture GooberPick, as they continue to find innovative ways to serve the people and animals in their lives.

Tunbridge resident Prudence Pease created a career dedicated to advancing the lives of others in her local community and across Vermont and New Hampshire. She has been involved with many organizations in the Upper Valley including The Family Place, Orange County Parent Child Center, Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council, and Community Partnership of Orange-Windsor. Since 2014, Pru has worked for Granite United Way designing and implementing the Work United initiative in the Upper Valley. A journey that began with one full-time employee and five business has now grown to a team of three full-time resource coordinators serving 11 companies in the Upper Valley. Prudence is a certified Bridges Out of Poverty facilitator and has trained more than 16,000 individuals nationwide, drawing on her compelling personal story of growth and change. A graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute, she is a highly sought-after speaker on the topic of economic diversity.

Monique Priestley is a designer, gamer, geek, and connector. She founded The Space On Main in Bradford, Vermont, as a nonprofit in 2017 in hopes that it could promote a greater sense of community and connection for people living and working in the Upper Valley. Monique believes strongly that everyone has a responsibility to give back to their communities. In Bradford, Monique holds several elected positions and serves on a number of town commissions. She is a director for Vermont Council on Rural Development, Global Campuses Foundation, Cohase Chamber of Commerce, Cohase Rotary Club, and Little Rivers Health Care. Monique volunteers as a mentor and was a member of the 2018-2019 cohorts of Leadership Upper Valley and Changemakers’ Table. She was named Cohase Chamber’s 2018 Citizen of the Year and Vermont Attorney General’s March 2019 Vermonter of the Month. Monique also telecommutes full-time for CampusCE Corporation in Seattle.

Stan Williams is Chairman and CFO of ValleyNet, the nonprofit operating partner of ECFiber. ECFiber is a Vermont Telecommunications District formed by 24 towns seeking to provide high speed Internet to every location in its member towns using no taxpayer funds. ECFiber has raised $32M of institutional financing to date and is more than halfway to its initial goal of covering 1,400 “underserved” miles of the 1,700 miles in its towns. Stan’s prior career was spent financing and developing networks in the US, Italy, and the UK with Cellular Communications, Cellular Communications of Puerto Rico, Cellular Communications International, and NTL (now Virgin Media.) Stan and his wife Jenny live in Norwich. He is a member of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and Upper Valley Land Trust boards (and a former Vital Communities board member) and has been an Upper Valley devotee since his family bought a summer camp on Crystal Lake in Enfield in 1973.

Doug WiseDoug Wise has a lifelong passion for using his talents to make a positive difference in the community. Doug graduated from Dartmouth College in 1959 and then earned his MBA in Marketing from Columbia University. He spent his career working in international marketing for major multinational corporations, has been a visiting professor in Pace University’s MBA program, and has been cited as one of America’s top business leaders and thinkers. Throughout his career, Doug has also been an active community member in the Upper Valley. He has served on a variety of boards and councils, including for Leadership Upper Valley, Ledyard National Bank, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, Upper Valley Land Trust, AVA Gallery & Art Center, and numerous others. He continues to be deeply involved with Dartmouth College. Doug lives in Grantham with his lifelong partner Joanne, where together they have hosted more than 10 international Dartmouth undergraduate students.

Chuck Wooster and his wife Sue purchased Sunrise Farm in White River Junction in 1999, and Chuck brought the old farm back into production the following year as a seven-member vegetable CSA. Fast forward to 2019, and Sunrise Farm CSA has 300 members, has expanded to a second farmstead on Route 5, and, in addition to year-‘round organic vegetables, produces pasture-raised lamb, chicken, and eggs, and maple syrup, honey, and firewood. Chuck has been an active volunteer in Hartford, serving on the Selectboard, Conservation Commission, and as Town Moderator. He has also volunteered as a board member for the Upper Valley Land Trust and for Vital Communities’ Food & Farm program. Chuck writes on agricultural issues for the Valley News and other publications as time allows.

Longevity & Commitment: Keynote Remarks from Heroes & Leaders 2018

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Kevin Peterson, Director of Economic Development for the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, who offered the keynote speech at our May 3 Heroes & Leaders celebration. Read his complete remarks below. You can watch the entire event courtesy of CATV8. PHOTOS BY MOLLY DRUMMOND.

I am humbled to share the stage tonight with this year’s Heroes & Leaders, and given their longevity and commitment to the Upper Valley, it’s no surprise that I have a direct connection with nearly all of them, as I’m sure many of you do, too.

Bill Boyle was part of the pediatric oncology team that treated my 12-year old daughter for leukemia, and I helped manage the Boyle Fund for Community Pediatrics.

In the fall of 1978, before starting my freshman year at Dartmouth, my father and I drove across the river to Dan & Whit’s so he could buy a couple of gallons of Vermont maple syrup to take back home to Michigan. I’ve been a customer ever since.

That same fall, inspired by my mother’s membership in a small cooperative food-buying club, I ventured to the far southern end of campus—WAY down Lebanon Street—to shop at the Hanover Coop and the old Food Bin, and I’ve been a member since the mid-1980s.

Laurie Harding and I have talked many times over the years about management issues facing Headrest and other nonprofit organizations.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Jill Lord asking for input on the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, and grants from New Hampshire Charitable Foundation helped to fund previous needs assessments.

My favorite breakfast is fried eggs and Fruitwood Smoked Uncured Bacon from North Country Smokehouse, and I worked with Mike Satzow on the Fund for Greater Claremont.

I chair the advisory committee for my Dartmouth class project, which placed a Dartmouth student at The Family Place to serve as a year-long social-entrepreneurship fellow who helped develop a marketing plan for their Jewelry-O’s program.

Rob Howe and I sang together for several years with Zephyrus, a community choral group.

While I have never been inside the Canaan Hardware, based on what I heard tonight, I need to pay a visit!

I first met Steve Taylor in 1986 when he was leading a presentation on the New Hampshire Land Conservation Investment Program. After I joined the staff of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, he helped me develop a list of the “100 Things to See, Do or Experience to Get to Know the Upper Valley,” and, since 2007, we have co-presented a seminar to the opening session of the Leadership Upper Valley program called on “What is the Upper Valley?”

The Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, which I administered at the Charitable Foundation, provided a grant for a permanent conservation easement on a portion of the Taylor’s Crossroads Farm property along the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford.

Across a 15-year partnership with Tuck, I’ve engaged MBA interns, advised student leaders of the Tuck Social Venture Fund, and worked with John Vogel and the team at the Center for Business, Government and Society to co-host the Upper Valley Nonprofit Exchange, a series of professional-development seminars for area nonprofit leaders.

Each of these individuals and institutions represents a strand in an intricate web that is woven together to form a healthy, vibrant, strong and resilient Upper Valley community and economy. Let me share with you what I think are some other characteristics they all share.

The first is a sense of Place—as Dartmouth alum and author Norman MacLean wrote, “If you don’t know the ground, you’re probably wrong about nearly everything else.” Each person or institution honored here tonight knows the ground. They are deeply rooted in a geographic niche of the Upper Valley—a town, a facility, a subset of our region. They get to know their key audience or their core clients. They understand and have a deep and abiding sense of place and their role in it.

The second characteristic is Longevity—every day, we see the time scale of our world getting shorter and shorter. We live in a culture of ever-decreasing attention spans. News and information comes to us in sound bites, 240-character Twitter rants and Snap Chat posts. We have come to expect immediate response and reward in so many aspects of our lives. Even our politics are short term—New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states with a Governor who is elected for a two-year term. By contrast, tonight’s honorees take the long view. Each has an extended history in our community. One of my favorite books is Staying Put by Scott Russell Sanders. In it, he describes the joys and benefits of staying close to home—wherever that is. These honorees have chosen to stay in their place, serving as anchors in the collective life of the Upper Valley. They embody the idea of durability and consistency that extends beyond the span of an individual lifetime.

The third characteristic is Stewardship—the people we honor tonight are deeply committed to the health and vitality of our region. As the anchoring strands in the intricate web of our vital communities, they are people who think not primarily of themselves, but of the greater good, of broader societal and community benefit, of the commonweal—not a term we hear so often in our current national dialogue. What they do has larger meaning than simply running a store, serving an individual client or providing a service. While they may not even realize it, they are important stewards of this place we all call home.

I think we can all agree that the web of economy and community in the Upper Valley is pretty strong and resilient. The Heroes & Leaders honored tonight are emblematic of that strength and resiliency, and they are some of the strongest strands holding that web together and thus maintaining our sense of place. But that strong web will only remain so if we all remain connected to it, as well. If one or two strands are removed or broken, the web may remain, but it’s not nearly as strong and durable. Thus, we all need to engage with, build, and maintain that web in regular and meaningful ways.

That engagement can manifest in several actions.

#1. Buying stuff on Main Street. According to author and researcher Michael Shuman, every dollar we spend locally results in two to three dollars of additional economic activity in our area. That includes jobs for our neighbors, local tax revenue, vibrant downtowns, more shopping choices, and on and on. I know we all love our Amazon Prime account—and, true confession, we’ve got one too. But I think we—and our entire Upper Valley web—are much better off if we buy local first—at Canaan Hardware, the Co-op, Dan & Whit’s, or at LaValley’s or Farmway. The few pennies or dollars we might have saved buying online are just not worth the cost of weakening our local economic and community web.

#2. Banking with a community bank or credit union based here in the Upper Valley. That ‘bank on the corner’ is likely the one lending to our neighbor who is expanding a local business, or to Twin Pines Housing to develop affordable apartments near an Advance Transit bus line, or to a young family purchasing their first home. Our money, deposited in a local financial institution, provides the capital that makes this kind of community investing possible.

#3. Getting involved in community. The institutions honored tonight, all of our towns, and the many, many nonprofit and community organizations working in our region are always in need of people: to serve on a board, to participate on a committee, to help with a project, to provide financial support. Their health and vitality depends on strong and enduring civic and community engagement, which begins with all of us. Tonight’s honorees offer plenty of these types of opportunities, and the Valley News publishes a monthly listing of volunteer jobs, so there is no shortage of good choices for getting involved.

All of these relatively small and seemingly inconsequential actions, taken together, help to strengthen our web of community and economy, and our sense of place.

In 1999, Tom Slayton, who at the time was editor of Vermont Life magazine, gave the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Upper Valley Community Foundation—in this very room. I’ll close with a quote from that presentation:

“A sense of place is created by a thousand-and-one specific things—an accretion that, over time, creates human interconnections, myths and stories, folklore and—a place. But just as place is created by specifics, it can be lost by specifics. Hayfields and historic buildings, downtowns and mountain tops, swimming holes and the cool, ferny depths of the forests that line the hillsides—all these specific things are important, as are the lives of all the people who live here, their memories of the place, and the stories they tell. If one important museum has to close, if one vital village center becomes run-down and deserted, if one old man or woman with a good story never gets to tell that story to a listening younger ear—then in every case, a region’s sense of place is weakened. By the same token, every single local artist who can afford to keep working, every stretch of the Connecticut River that is cleaned up and re-opened to fishing, every traditional bridge that is maintained and kept open, every town that stays vital—all of those things strengthen a region’s sense of place. Ultimately, a strong sense of community results in a strong sense of place.”

Thank you to Vital Communities for hosting this wonderful event, and congratulations again to this year’s Heroes & Leaders.

Long-Standing Stewards: Heroes & Leaders 2018

Every spring, Leadership Upper Valley, a program of Vital Communities, hosts a Heroes & Leaders celebration to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the greater Upper Valley region. This year, Heroes & Leaders is pleased to honor 12 Long-Standing Stewards who inspire us with their commitment to this community, their hard work, and their positive impact on this place we love and call home.


Bill-BoyleDr. Bill Boyle
Dr. Bill Boyle is emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and of Community and Family Medicine. He came to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Medical School in 1970, after completing his pediatric training and serving in the military. His career has had several twists and turns but has been devoted to children with chronic conditions and the effect on their lives and their families. This has included 40 years in the cystic fibrosis program, a concurrent 12 year stint in pediatric oncology, and four years in the pediatric diabetes program. He also spent six years serving on the national American Academy of Pediatrics Injury and Poison Prevention Committee, with four years as Chair. He served as Hanover Health Officer from 1986-2010, and director of the Hanover Water Company. In appreciation, the Town named the water filtration plant in his honor in 2007. In 1998 a grateful patient endowed the Community Pediatrics Program in his name. The program is devoted to teaching students and residents the burdens families bear when a child is chronically ill. It has fostered and championed the precepts of patient and family centered care in the institution and community. Dr. Boyle has received numerous awards and accolades from the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Hampshire Pediatric Society, and even the Hanover Youth Hockey Association. Bill and his wife Susan have four children and 10 grandchildren.

Dan Fraser - CropDan Fraser
Dan Fraser is the Vice President of Dan & Whit’s General Store in Norwich, where he has worked since he was 10 years old. An Upper Valley native, Dan graduated from Hanover High School followed by the University of Vermont and has a Master’s degree in special education from St. Michael’s College. For 14 years, he worked full time as a Special Educator in Hartford and Hanover in addition to his full-time work at Dan & Whit’s. He describes the store as “what Walmart would be if it were local and community-engaged.” He is delighted that Dan & Whit’s is a key meeting place for families from all over the Upper Valley and travelers from all over the world. Dan is a strong advocate for the local economy and dedicated to supporting the local nonprofit community, both financially and with his time. He founded The 19 Days of Norwich & Beyond 1% for the Haven program in 2013, through which almost every Norwich business and many in other towns now donate 1% of sales each December to the Upper Valley Haven. The effort is in its 5th year and has raised over $1 million dollars to support the Haven. Dan & Whit’s also supports the community many other ways. Dan is generous with his time, as well, serving as a board member for the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Norwich Affordable Housing Committee, Norwich Business Council, Valley Court Diversion, and Hemlock Ridge Condominium Owners Association. He is also a Justice of the Peace serving on the Board of Civil Authority in Hartford.

CCo-op Food Stores (1)o-op Food Stores
In January of 1936, 17 residents of Hanover and Norwich formed the Hanover Consumer’s Club—bringing the nearly 100-year-old cooperative movement to the Upper Valley. What started as a system for pooling orders for discounts within a year became the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society and opened a small retail store on Hanover’s Main Street. Annual sales that year reached $11,404. Today, the four Co-op Food Stores, service center, and commissary kitchen employ around 400 people, serving more than 20,000 member households with sales topping $70 million. In its first year, the Co-op’s Pennies for Change program raised more than $264,000 for community nonprofits including food access partners LISTEN Community Services, the Upper Valley Haven, and Willing Hands. The Co-op also supports local family farms, food producers, and crafters by stocking local produce, value-added food products, and other locally made goods.
Ed Fox -small crop

The Co-op Food Stores are represented at the Heroes & Leaders celebration by Edward W. Fox, General Manager of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society. In his role of chief executive officer for the cooperative, Ed uses his comprehensive leadership and business experience to lead a team of nearly 400 employees. The Co-op’s seven locations are owned by its more than 23,000 member owners. Among his priorities for the organization is to secure and expand Hanover’s commitment to socially responsible businesses practices while strengthening financial performance. Ed’s prior experience–executive and production–sharpened his ability to run profitable operations in highly competitive sectors. He holds a BA in Political Science and Religious Studies from Saint Michael’s College.

Harding CropLaurie Harding, MS, RN
Laurie Harding is the Co-Director of the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project and works closely with local Aging in Community initiatives. Laurie holds an undergraduate degree in nursing from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree from Boston University in community health nursing. She gained comprehensive direct care/care management nursing experience through her work with Visiting Nurse and Hospice of VT/NH. She has extensive teaching experience, including in Honduras and Kosovo. Laurie also served in the New Hampshire legislature for five terms, including in leadership roles for Health and Human Services committees. Laurie is chair of the Board of Directors of Headrest and serves on the Advisory Leadership Board of the New Hampshire Citizens Health Initiative. She is on the steering committee for the Tri-State Collaborative on Aging and is the co-convener for the Upper Valley’s Elder Forum hosted by Alice Peck Day Health Systems. She is a past member of the Advisory Council of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health and over the years has chaired the West Lebanon PTO and Project Grad, volunteered at Whaleback’s Learn to Ski week, served on the Lebanon Master Plan Committee, the WISE Board of Directors, the United Way Board of Directors and the Women’s Leadership Council. She was one of the 12 originators of Women Crossing Paths. In her free time, Laurie loves to “hang out” with her family and ski, sail, and walk with friends and dogs. In addition, Laurie loves making beautiful music with the Upper Valley Music Center’s Juneberry chorus.

Jill LordJill Lord, MS, RN
Jill Lord is the senior leader responsible for Community Health at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. She holds a Master’s of Science in Human Services Administration from New Hampshire College and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Vermont. She has been a nurse for 40 years. In 2001 and 2011, she was appointed to the Vermont Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing. Jill was instrumental in creating the Vermont Nursing Internship Program in 1998 and has served as President of the Board since its inception. She served as Director of Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center for 24 years. As a nurse leader, Jill has a strong community health influence through Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, leading the Windsor Area Community Partnership, the Blueprint for Health, the Windsor Area Drug Task Force, Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership, and Volunteers in Action, Chaplaincy Program, and the PATCH Network, in addition to myriad other community health initiatives. Under Jill’s leadership, MAHHC was selected as a national finalist in the prestigious Foster McGaw Award for Community Health in 2002 and the winner of the award in 2012. Jill works to foster high-quality patient-centered care through administrative supervision and support for staff and programs.  Additionally, she leads the local area Multi-facility Ethics Committee, the Windsor HSA Community Collaborative, and the Mt. Ascutney Hospital Community Health Committee.

MIKE Satzow WITH BACONMike Satzow
Claremont native Mike Satzow joined the family meat packing business after graduating from Middlebury College in 1970. He also became involved in a number of civic and nonprofit organizations. He has served as Chairman of the Claremont Police Commission, President of the local Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Clubs, and on the boards of numerous organizations including Valley Regional Hospital, New Hampshire Humanities Council, and as Chairman of the Claremont Economic Development Authority. Mike was also extremely committed to the revitalization of the Claremont Mill District and worked for years to bring the project to fruition. The family meat packing business evolved into North Country Smokehouse, a nationally renowned producer of specialty meats and cheeses. Mike has served on many national industry committees and as co-President of the North American Meat Association. He currently sits on the executive board of the North American Meat Institute. In 2015 Mike sold North Country Smokehouse to Quebec’s Breton Family with the stipulation that a new, ultra-modern, 65,000-square-foot meat processing facility be built in Claremont. This facility now processes the high-quality smoked meats the company is recognized for. Shortly after the sale, Mike created The Great Claremont Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation as a vehicle for local citizens to support deserving local nonprofits. The fund currently holds assets in excess of $100,000. Mike and his wife Sheila enjoy two children and four very active grandchildren.

Family Place logoThe Family Place
For 33 years, The Family Place has provided family-centered support to Upper Valley parents and children. One of 15 state-designated Parent Child Centers in Vermont, The Family Place offers programs and services that invest in better outcomes for families in the region. They partner with parents and with other professionals through a variety of services including an on-site skills-based program for young parents, developmental screenings, home visits and parent education, child care financial assistance, a Child Advocacy Center, and an on-site child care center for infants and toddlers.

Family Place NancyBloomfield2The Family Place is represented at Heroes & Leaders by Executive Director Nancy Bloomfield and Board Chair Posie Taylor. Nancy joined the organization in 2015 after years of experience working with families and children in the region. Nancy developed and coordinated Listen Community Services’ Teen Lifeskills Center “The Junction.” She worked with families involved with the Department for Children and Families through a position as Family Engagement Specialist with Easter Seals Vermont. She also was a founding staff member of COVER Home Repair. Family Place - Posie Taylor preferAfter a career at The Aloha Foundation in Fairlee, where she served a variety of roles from homesick camper to Executive Director, Posie Taylor  “retired” and wondered what was next. She searched for a nonprofit whose mission matched her lifelong passion for raising healthy children and found The Family Place, to her everlasting gratitude. Since 2010, Posie has loved working with the dedicated staff and with her wonderful colleagues on the Board to support the essential work of The Family Place and to help strengthen families with young children across the Upper Valley. Other volunteer commitments at Crossroads Academy and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation keep her engaged, but nothing is as nurturing to her heart as her amazing children and grandchildren!

Howe CropRob Howe, Howvale Farm & Tunbridge Fair
Rob Howe has owned and managed Howvale Farm in Tunbridge since 1983, when he acquired the operation from his father, who established it in 1953. The farm has been certified organic since 1995, marketing fluid milk under various brands and raw directly from the farm. Howe has been instrumental in the beloved Tunbridge World’s Fair since 1981, when he was elected to the board of directors. He served for 25 years as director and in other offices for another decade. He has also been superintendent of cattle for 22 years and works with the fair’s promotion committee. Howe is an active member of the Tunbridge Church as a Parish Council member, chair of the Tunbridge Democratic Caucus, and a Justice of the Peace for 15 years. He also sings with the Handel Society of Dartmouth, presently in his 13th year.

Dow Parker cropRobin Dow Parker and John Dow, Canaan Hardware & Supply
John Dow grew up in Canaan and after getting an architectural degree from Wentworth Institute returned to Canaan in 1975 to take over his grandfather’s—formerly his great-grandfather’s— hardware store. In 2006, John moved and expanded the store in a central location on the Canaan common. The store’s presence downtown has been a boon to both the store and the community. John has been an active participant in the Lions Club, American Legion, Eastern Star, Free Masons, Canaan Planning Board, Canaan Water Commission, and Friends of Canaan Village. He was also a member of the building committee for the Mascoma Community Health Center, as well as an umpire and coach. In 2011, Robin Dow Parker became the fourth generation to continue the family tradition when she took over for her dad, John. She has continued to expand the store—and she honors the history of the family business with old tools and photos on display. Robin enjoys being part of the community where she grew up. She organizes and supports numerous popular community events including Canaan Hardware’s Spring Expo Day, the Canaan Farmers and Artisan’s Market Fall Festival, and Christmas in Canaan.

Steve Taylor, Taylor Brothers Farm
Steve Taylor is a farmer, journalist, and longtime public official. He began his newspaper career at age 14 as Hanover High’s sports stringer for the Valley News, and following study at the University of New Hampshire and Army service he was managing editor of the Valley News for seven years. For a decade he was a freelance writer for various publications and was the founding executive director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Along the way he developed with his family a dairy and maple farm in the Meriden Village section of Plainfield. In 1982 he was appointed New Hampshire’s commissioner of agriculture, a position he held for 25 years. He served 12 years as a town selectman and for 31 years was Plainfield’s moderator. He has served on numerous civic and charitable boards and committees at the local and state levels and, as a lifelong scholar of New Hampshire’s rural culture, writes and speaks frequently on topics related to the land and its people.

Crossroad CropJanet & Tim Taylor, Crossroad Farm
When Janet and Tim Taylor started Crossroad Farm in Post Mills in 1980, it was sort of on an impulse—about to have their first child, Janet didn’t want to work in preschool every day and then come home to her own kids, and Tim knew he didn’t want to practice law despite having recently completed law school. They had a big garden and abundant courage, and they launched the first year with an acre of land, a card table, and a hopeful idea. Today, with 45 tillable acres acquired over time, 14 greenhouses, farm stands in Post Mills and Norwich, a number of wholesale accounts including local restaurants and summer camps, and around 40 full- and part-time employees in season, Crossroad Farm is one of the larger farms in the greater Upper Valley region and part of the fabric of the Thetford community. As farmers, Janet and Tim have been involved in building a vibrant agricultural economy in the region for decades. In their early farming days they helped coordinate mini-conferences for area farmers to learn from experts and each other—building knowledge and relationships that have helped them and many other local farmers over the years. Janet has served on the board of the Norwich Farmers’ Market and was involved in the development of local farm to school efforts, and Tim was president of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers’ Association. They’re also very connected to their community beyond the farm; Janet served on the Thetford School Board and on the Vital Communities board of directors, and Tim is a member of the town’s Development Review Board, a longtime youth soccer coach, and for seven years has been Chair of the Act 250 District 3 Environmental Commission. Now in their 60s, Janet and Tim feel strongly about maintaining the farm as a working farm and teaching the next generation to keep it going. In 2016, Tim and Janet conserved Crossroad Farm with the Vermont Land Trust and also took on partner Phil Mason, who started working there 17 years ago as a young teenager. “Keeping it a farm for the next generation is a big deal to us,” Janet says. “The farm is very much a part of the community, and we never want to be too far from it.”

PrintThe Tuck School of Business
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College combines the intellectual depth and reach of a large Ivy League university with the values of a close-knit community. Founded in 1900 as the world’s first graduate school of management, Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Tuck is distinguished by its collaborative, trust-based learning community and commitment to placing students at the center of discovery. In this environment, students learn to ask the right questions, build the right teams, and take the right risks to transform themselves and the broader world. This orientation to both do well and do good is one of the most enduring aspects of a Tuck education. Tuck’s Center for Business, Government & Society prepares wise leaders to better the broader context in which business operates. The CBGS believes business and governments exist to serve society and can work together for the common good. The 21st Century global economy faces acute social challenges from poverty, inequality, and climate change to health, education, and economic opportunity. No business or government can escape these challenges, and no organization or even sector can address them alone.
ginaTuck is represented at Heroes & Leaders by Gina des Cognets, Chief of Staff to the Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Gina serves as a strategic adviser on institutional matters, oversees corporate relations, marketing and communications and institutional research, and partners with the senior leadership team to bring the Tuck mission and vision to life. At Tuck since 2006, Gina has held several in roles including Associate Director and then Director of Alumni Services, and more recently, Director of Marketing and Communications. Before joining Tuck, Gina was Director of Investor Client Services at Business Intelligence Advisors, and held chief of staff roles at both AOL Time Warner and Robinson, Lerer and Montgomery (RLM, a strategic communications firm in NYC). Gina is a proud 2001 graduate of Tuck and has a BA in Art History and minor in Psychology from Hamilton College. Gina is a trustee of the Norwich Public Library and the Montshire Museum of Science.

 

 

Closing Remarks for Heroes & Leaders from Markell Ripps

Thank you all for joining us to celebrate the young leaders who are being honored tonight, and thank you to Vital Communities for recognizing their important contributions to our community. It is so important to make a point to pause in our busy lives to recognize those around us who make our community what it is—the Upper Valley. As we all know, each year Vital Communities honors a different category of heroes and leaders. So the natural question that I am tasked to answer tonight is “Why are young leaders important?” It just so happens I have been asking myself this question since I first joined the Upper Valley Young Professionals in 2012, the year the group was founded. After five years being on the group’s board, and serving as its co-chair and chair for several years, I find that while I don’t feel as young as I did back then, through furthering the group’s goal of supporting young leaders by connecting them to one another and to their community, I have learned quite a bit about this subject.

The first thing I have learned is that the Upper Valley is especially scant on young professionals. If you are under 40 and accidentally walk into any non-profit board meeting in the Upper Valley, you will almost certainly be sweet-talked into joining. My own fiancé made the mistake of missing just one Grafton County Bar Association meeting, and—oops—he was voted onto the board and was deemed the group’s website guru! Now that isn’t to say that young professionals don’t want to join non-profit boards—they certainly do, like many of the leaders being honored tonight. The problem is that there just aren’t enough young leaders to go around. In the 2015 census, the populations of both New Hampshire and Vermont had a higher average age than almost all the other 50 states.

Perhaps partly due to this fact, being a “young person” in a field or community where your colleagues are usually in a different demographic category than you are can be quite challenging. Many young people in the Upper Valley’s workforce find themselves here to take on a new career opportunity or start a new educational program, and many are moving from more populated areas around the country. Our young professionals group would hear that many in this category arrive in our area feeling somewhat isolated. Many of the Upper Valley’s workers not only live in one town and work in another, but they don’t congregate in the same city center during the day, as is the case in metropolitan areas. This means that there is less chance to strengthen social interactions among members of our workforce unless we make those chances more readily available ourselves. We also often hear that many of our young professionals may be the only ones under 40 in their offices, and sometimes even in their whole fields. Once they get here to the Upper Valley, they are faced with being not only a newcomer, but also someone in the dreaded “young” category.

We all know being in the “young” category often does not have positive connotations when you are trying to be successful in your career or be a leader in your community. We have heard how our honorees tonight have been quite successful in their fields, but I also wanted to give a voice to our other peers, who may have trod a more difficult path. “Young” is often associated with “inexperience,” which means it can be difficult to have one’s voice be heard and taken seriously in some scenarios. I have heard from several of my peers that even though groups and businesses are eager to welcome young people, those peers then often face challenges when offering a new idea or solution, when it has been done the same way for a very long time. However, it is imperative for young leaders to be able to contribute to the cause they are interested in, because when they can, in turn they will feel invested in the business or group’s success. Likewise, professionals in the mentor class can pass down their experience and expertise. This helps a business or group remain relevant and resilient, and by including a young person in your business or group, it builds in continuity and succession planning for the future.

How can we help a young person to succeed? As an example, when I first joined Dan Grossman in law practice, he made a specific point to encourage everyone in the office to refer to me as just another lawyer in the office—not a young one; not a new one. You don’t want your brain surgeon to be introduced as the young, new brain surgeon. That does not instill confidence. Words matter. Just this week, a colleague and I were referred to as “girls” in a professional setting. I know it was not intended to be a slight, but when you speak to someone who is a professional peer, it doesn’t make them feel like one if terms such as “young” or “girls” or “boys” are used. Often, the person using these terms doesn’t even realize the effect this can have, but that’s exactly why I wanted to talk about it. Our young professionals group has even considered that maybe including the word “emerging” professional in our mission would be more accurate than “young.” We all know what is meant by the term “young,” and if used correctly, it can be worn as a badge of pride, like it is tonight for our honorees, who are in a special class of leaders that deserves to be celebrated due to that specific circumstance and the challenges they face because of it. However, in certain contexts, it can be used in a way that is not helpful to promoting one’s sense of confidence and ability. All of us of all ages need to think about how we can best support this special type of leaders and professionals.

So why are emerging leaders important to a healthy and vital community? Well, let me tell you another quick story. When I first became a lawyer in my mid-twenties, some fellow professionals and clients would tell me that I looked too young to be a lawyer, or that I couldn’t possibly be a lawyer because I was the same age as their own children. To which I would respond, “Old lawyers don’t grow on trees.” And guess what—experienced professionals, those who create jobs and pay taxes, they don’t grow on trees either. They have to ripen over time. In other words, seasoned professionals just don’t show up out of nowhere. The community has to plant the seeds that encourage young leaders to move here. As a community, we have to provide them with affordable shelter and affordable education; we have to mentor them, listen to their ideas, and support them in their goals. If we are lucky, they will decide to put down their roots here, contribute to our economy, populate our schools, pay taxes, shape local policy, stabilize our community, and plan for its future. This takes work on all of our parts.

Young leaders reinforce why the Upper Valley is such a great place to live. If you ask the person sitting across from you at the table today why they chose, out of the whole country, to live here, you will most likely get a response identifying the area’s work/life balance, natural beauty, community cohesiveness, availability of social services, opportunity to be involved in local government, or friendly corporate environment. When you work here at a local business, most of us can call up any one of our competitors if we need help. You can call your neighbors when your car gets stuck during mud season. Or when your neighbors find your goats in their own yard, eating their flowers, they will bring them back to you—an experience I can personally attest to. These qualities just don’t happen by accident. They are created by a balanced community that strives to take care of all the needs of its members. A community where every little bit can go a long way and a new idea can spark real change. Our region provides fertile ground for fostering this cohesiveness, and with the right amount of care, our young leaders have demonstrated for us the amazing results that can be grown from it.

Our honorees today help to weave these very intangibles together to provide the fabric that is our sense of place. Some of them have overcome moving from across the country, far from their own families and friends; have started a new career or new educational program; have developed a new business; and even started new families, all while taking what little precious personal time they have left to give back, for the benefit of all of us in this room. Despite these challenges, our honorees today have made amazing contributions to our community’s health care, environmental, economic development, finance, technology, corporate social responsibility, disability awareness, international advocacy, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, athletic, and education spheres. They were not afraid that they didn’t have enough experience. They were not afraid that their voices wouldn’t be listened to. They were not afraid of trying something new that perhaps hadn’t been thought of before. They were not afraid that they couldn’t make a difference, or that it wasn’t worth trying. They started by giving back a little bit a time, and their success and impact grew and grew.

We celebrate your hard work, your perseverance when facing these obstacles, and your dedication to an idea greater than yourself. An idea that connects all of us in this room together. An idea we call the Upper Valley.

You should all be proud to be called a “young” leader, and we know you will give back to whatever community you live in—even though we truly hope you will continue to make the Upper Valley your home.

Delivered at Heroes & Leaders celebration 5.24.2017 honoring Young Leaders by Markell Ripps

Meet the 2017 Heroes & Leaders Honorees

 

Merritt Patridge

Merritt Patridge

Merritt Patridge joined the Tuck School of Business in 2015, where she serves as Executive Director of the Center for Business, Government & Society. Prior to Tuck, Merritt worked at The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science as Program Lead for HCDS Impact Investing and then Director for Strategy and Operations. Her work included ethnographic research to understand the social, cultural, and economic factors of tuberculosis in the mining sector in South Africa and support for the Ministry of Health of Rwanda in their national palliative care strategy. From 2008-2011, Merritt worked as an investment analyst for a $10 billion global long/short equity hedge fund, Maverick Capital. At Maverick, Merritt joined the Board of its philanthropic foundation, where she led grant-making activities, developed analytical tools for evaluating nonprofit organizations and their impact, and set strategic direction. She also managed investment team recruiting. Prior to Maverick, Merritt worked for two years as an investment analyst at Morgan Creek Capital Management, an endowment-style investment firm. She has worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Abuja, Nigeria, and the National Park Service in Jackson, Wyoming. Merritt earned her MBA from Tuck, where she was a Tuck Scholar, and a BA with Honors from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she majored in History. She currently serves as President of the Board at the Upper Valley Haven.

 

Dan McGee

Dan McGee

Dan McGee was born and raised in the Upper Valley and returned in 1997 to take a position at Red River, a start-up technology firm. In 2001, Dan became a member of the Red River management team, where he has since served in a variety of roles focused primarily on sales and operational leadership. Today Red River is a 235 person technology transformation company with employees nationwide and offices in Claremont, Reston, Va., and Austin, Texas. Dan is Red River’s President of Operations and responsible for Sales Operations, Program Management, Service Delivery, Technical and Business Operations, and Human Resources. Prior to Red River Dan worked in the financial services industry at SNL Financial in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is a graduate of Bates College (1996) where he majored in Economics. Dan is also a volunteer hockey and soccer coach and has served on several Boards including the Carter Community Building Association, the Red River Charitable Foundation, and Mascoma Savings Bank. Dan lives in Lebanon with his wife Kristin and their three children ages 12, 10, and 8.

 

 

Elyse Crossman

Elyse Crossman has been the Executive Director of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and has focused on rebuilding the Chamber as an essential community influencer for economic development. Under Elyse’s direction, the Chamber has expanded its membership, as well as built on a number of initiatives; Business Before and After Hours, Speed Networking, Lunch n Learns.  Elyse returned to the Connecticut River Valley after graduating from High Point University in 2010.  She has been active in several community based initiatives including Claremont Green Dot, Greater Claremont Concert Series and the Early Childhood Education Leadership Team.  Elyse and her husband reside along the scenic Sugar River in Claremont.

 

emily photo

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson learned about the resiliency of life by growing up watching her mother, a veterinarian, advocate for animals. While a student at Mount Holyoke College, Emily founded the youth-led nonprofit Cultivating Action, with the mission to build community around environmental solutions. Cultivating Action focuses on bringing the natural world into the classroom by placing aquaponic systems in schools across the country. This closed-loop microcosm of life is a way for students to interact with biology and chemistry in a hands-on way. While on exchange at Dartmouth, Emily joined Stand With Me, a medical nonprofit that produces and distributes pediatric standing frames in the developing world. Her work with that organization took her to South and Central America where she saw firsthand the challenges faced by children with disabilities and their caregivers. These experiences, coupled with her work as a research assistant in Dartmouth’s aquaculture lab, led to Emily’s appreciation of the importance of science-based policy. To further that professional focus, Emily looks forward to attending Oxford’s Enterprise and the Environment Summer School this July and joining the Vermont Law School this fall to begin her Masters in Environmental Law and Policy/Accelerated JD.

 

Gordon Ehret

Gordon Ehret

Gordon Ehret has enjoyed living in the Upper Valley since graduating from Dartmouth in 2002. He is a member of the Leadership Upper Valley class of 2013. He has been an associate at Hypertherm since 2007, serving in various positions in corporate improvement, operations leadership, and now engineering project management. Gordon is committed to helping others and improving this community. Gordon is invested in corporate social responsibility at Hypertherm, both as past chair of the HOPE team, which makes funding decisions for the HOPE Foundation, and as a member of the Green Team, focusing on environmental stewardship. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Granite United Way and chair of their Upper Valley Community Impact Committee. Additionally, he is an Everybody Wins reading mentor at the White River School and a ski instructor for the Rivendell Interstate School District’s ski program. Gordon is on the Advisory Group for Thayer School of Engineering’s Bachelor of Engineering program. In 2014 he was recognized as one of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s “40 Under Forty.” He lives in Orford with his wife, Amanda, and his 6-year-old son Willem and 2-year-old daughter Margaret, who amaze him every day.

 

 

Nicole LaBombard

Nicole LaBombard

Nicole LaBombard works in Community Health at Dartmouth-Hitchcock as the Program Coordinator for Partners for Community Wellness. She has been with D-H since 2014 and enjoys working collaboratively with community members and D-H to support a stronger, healthier population. She is a member of the Leadership New Hampshire class of 2017 and connects with fellow classmates across the state to engage more deeply in the issues and opportunities unique to New Hampshire. Nicole currently serves as Chair of the Upper Valley Young Professionals and has been on the board since 2015, helping to foster connections between young people in the Upper Valley. She is proud to volunteer as an advocate for WISE and is passionate about supporting their mission to end gender-based violence. Nicole grew up in Lebanon and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2009. She returned to Lebanon in 2014 and enjoys staying active, spending time with family, and working on obedience with her dog, Remy.

 

Sam Drazin

Sam Drazin

 

Sam Drazin, an Upper Valley native and former elementary school teacher, is the Founder and Executive Director of Changing Perspectives, a nonprofit organization that promotes disability awareness in schools. Sam was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome – a rare congenital disorder resulting in both facial anomaly and hearing loss. Sam underwent seven surgeries as a child while attending his local public school. Sam’s experiences, both as a student with a disability and as a teacher working in an inclusive classroom, made him recognize the importance of improving awareness and understanding of disabilities. Sam continues to be amazed by the positive impact that disability awareness initiatives are having on students and teachers around the country.

 

 

 

Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson is a native of Springfield, Vt., where she serves as Vice Chair of the Select Board and has worked to help improve the circumstances of her community in recent years. She is also Executive Director of the Springfield Prevention Coalition and President of Springfield Project ACTION, the community-based holistic response to the opiate epidemic. She was recently appointed to represent the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on the Governor’s Opiate Coordination Council. Stephanie is also Town Administrator for the Town of Londonderry. Stephanie has a strong passion for her community and state, and for representing those who are often not provided a voice. Stephanie received her undergraduate degrees through the Community College of Vermont and Johnson State College. In 2017, she graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration from Norwich University and began working as an adjunct faculty member with the Community College of Vermont. In addition, Stephanie is a member of Emerge Vermont, a 2016 graduate of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute, and a 2017 Vermont State College Hall of Fame inductee.

 

Holly West

Holly West

Holly West graduated from Mascoma Valley Regional High School in 2000 and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in Management Information Systems and Marketing at Northeastern University in Boston. Holly spent the first year after college working in marketing at Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects. She then transitioned to a career in information technology (IT) at Eze Castle Integration, where she worked for almost seven years before joining Ascend Learning. After working in IT in Massachusetts for over a decade, Holly, her husband, and son returned to Enfield in November of 2013; they welcomed a daughter to the family in November of 2015. Holly has found many opportunities to volunteer within the community since returning to Enfield. She is President and a founding member of Friends of Mascoma Foundation, and a member of the Enfield Budget Committee, Enfield Capital Improvement Program Committee, Enfield Tax Increment Finance District Committee, Enfield Energy Committee (and actively promoted Solarize Enfield-Lebanon), Community Lutheran Church. Holly is also a volunteer with Mascoma Cooperative Preschool and for Whaleback Mountain (UVSSF), where her husband is Chief Operating Officer and Board member. Holly’s parents have always been active volunteers in the community and set a great example for her and her siblings to follow.

 

Paul Coats

Paul Coats

A southern gentleman who loves the outdoors, Paul Coats was drawn to the Upper Valley first by the Appalachian Trail. After hiking the trail, he moved to the area to become Lebanon’s Recreation Coordinator, and he was promoted to Director of Lebanon Recreation and Parks in 2009. His commitments to the Recreation Department and community development run deep, convinced that our community is healthier and stronger when neighbors gather at beautiful parks, interact at special events, stay physically active in fun programs, and mentor our youth to become better citizens. Paul has actively served on several community-building boards, including the Lebanon Opera House, ReThink Health, Skip Matthews Run, Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Healthy Eating Active Living, DHMC’s Healthy Living Committee, Upper Valley Recreation Association, Upper Valley Running Club, and is the Youth Ministry Coordinator at Valley Bible Church. Paul is married to Kristen Coats, also an active member of the community, and they enjoy skiing, biking, running, hiking, canoeing, camping, snowshoeing, traveling and volunteering. Paul’s education includes a Bachelor of Science from Georgia Tech, and Outdoor Educator from National Outdoor Leadership School.

 

Noah Crane

Noah Crane

Noah Crane is an Upper Valley native and Founder and General Manager of the Upper Valley Nighthawks. A former collegiate baseball player and coach, Crane launched the Nighthawks in the fall of 2015. The Nighthawks are the second summer collegiate baseball conceived and managed by Crane. He spent six years as general manager of the Laconia Muskrats, also a member of the prestigious New England Collegiate Baseball League. Crane is a frequent speaker at college campuses throughout New England on the subjects of entrepreneurship, marketing, and athletics. He serves on the board of Mid Vermont Christian School and CCEF New England. Crane graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in Classical Studies. Noah and his wife, Alyssa, reside in Lebanon with their three children.

What I Learned About Mentoring From My Mentor, Donella Meadows

At the May 19th Heroes & Leaders celebration of mentors in the Upper Valley, Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director of Climate Interactive delivered a keynote speech focused on what she learned about mentoring from one of her mentors, long-time Upper Valley resident, Donella (Dana) Meadows. Meadows was the founder of the Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute) and a co-founder of Cobb Hill Co-housing.  Elizabeth worked with her from 1995 until Donella’s death in 2001. We asked Elizabeth to share the list of six traits of mentorship that she outlined in her speech in this blog post.

Donella Meadows influenced so much about my life, especially where I live and the work that I do. In reflecting on how it is that she had such a significant impact, I realized that there were six habits and attitudes that she cultivated that made her a powerful influence not just on me, but on hundreds of other people.

A mentor really sees you, and the goodness in you, and makes you feel special, and chosen, even while you might be one of dozens or hundreds of people who each also feel that special bond. Even fifteen years after her death, I run into people who tell me how much Dana influenced them. Philanthropists, writers, teachers, researchers, all came out of study with her at Dartmouth somehow transformed and found ways to turn that transformation into work in the world. I hear stories from people touched deeply by her genuine desire to hear the essence of their ideas and her willingness to provide practical help to put those ideas into practice.

A mentor makes you jump and stretch and leap and try things you never thought you could. My husband and I, brand new parents, with a brand new mortgage, took a job at Dana’s new institute when she offered it to us. It was a 50% pay cut from our previous jobs and had a guaranteed salary for only six months, and we jumped. Some of our neighbors at Cobb Hill uprooted their lives to join our experiment mostly on the basis of her encouragement. They packed up households, kids, in one case a truckload of farm equipment and animals, on the strength of her vision and her ability to articulate it.

A mentor is so fully herself that she creates a little sliver of space for you to be more fully yourself. Before I knew Dana I knew people who were top-notch thinkers and academics. And I knew people who were intuitive and good at expressing feelings. But I hadn’t met anyone who did both, at the same time. You’ll see that balance today, if you look at her writing, but it was even more apparent in her being. Today, whenever, I am in a group that’s deeply emotional and I feel brave enough to bring in some quantification, or whenever I am in a group that is only looking at analysis and I feel brave enough to talk about my feelings, I feel Dana there, still at my side, reminding me that it is possible – and in fact essential – to bring my full self into this world and into my work.

A mentor finds something to praise and deeply appreciate in whatever you produce. Whatever effort, product or prototype, someone brought her, no matter how amateurish their effort to make the world a better place, Dana embraced it and celebrated it, and then suggested and nudged it just a little further towards excellence.

Mentors allow you to figure things out for yourself and leave you the pleasure and pride of self-discovery, even if you are walking along a path she has already traversed.  As we started to work together I’d have sparkling, shiny ideas for projects we might undertake at her new Institute. I’d bring them to Dana and she’d get excited and encourage me on. It was only after she died, and I began to read essays and papers she’d written before I knew her, that I realized that, for at least several of those brainstorms of mine, she’d already had the idea herself, or most of it, five or ten years ahead of me.

A mentor so empowers you that you believe you did it yourself, and in fact, the illusion is so strong that you did it yourself, that you can keep on doing whatever ‘it’ is even if you loose her. When Dana died so early, so unexpectedly in 2001, the Sustainability Institute was extremely young, and Cobb Hill was still in the construction phase. Both efforts continued in part because of the shared ownership and vision Dana had cultivated in each member of both projects.

 

Honoring 12 Upper Valley Mentors

Vital Communities will honor a dozen Upper Valley mentors at its 2016 celebration on May 19. The annual event, now in its fifth year, recognizes community leaders who have made significant positive impacts in the region and serves as a benefit for the Leadership Upper Valley program of Vital Communities.

“The Upper Valley is a special place because of the people who care so deeply about our community,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Tom Roberts. “The 12 mentors we’re pleased to honor this year have invested their time and energy to provide guidance and inspiration to our region’s current and future leaders.”

Beth 2012Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Beth’s work increasingly focuses on Multisolving, helping people find solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing multiple benefits in health, justice, equity, resilience, and well-being. She writes and speaks on this topic to local, national, and international audiences. In 2014 she was invited to participate in the Council on the Uncertain Human Future, a continuing dialogue on issues of climate change and sustainability among a select group of humanities scholars, writers, artists, and climate scientists. Beth’s work also focuses on capacity building – helping leaders achieve bigger impact. She has trained and mentored global sustainability leaders in the Donella Meadows Fellows Program, and provided systems thinking training to both Ashoka and Dalai Lama Fellows in recent years. Beth lives in rural Vermont and is a member of Cobb Hill Co-Housing along with her husband, Phil Rice, and their two daughters.

Chief Alexander and carJim Alexander has spent his career helping and uplifting people both in his community and his work. Jim began his 25-year police career in the Upper Valley, culminating in the role of Chief of Police of Lebanon. He has a BS in Criminal Justice Administration and had a unique opportunity to graduate from the FBI National Academy in 2004. During his tenure as the Lebanon Chief of Police he was integral to several community programs, including the Grafton County Drug Court, which seeks to provide treatment and break the cycle of recidivism for repeat, non-violent offenders. Jim was one of a handful of local officials who launched the program, which has become a key part of the local criminal justice system. He is now the Emergency Management Coordinator for Dartmouth-Hitchcock and serves on the New Hampshire and Vermont Emergency Manager Hospital Association Boards. In addition he has been on the board for the Friends of the Drug Court and Lebanon Outing Club and is active in the Christ Redeemer Church in Hanover. Jim lives in Canaan with his wife Deb.

Barnes Boffey Barnes Boffey head shothas many passions, significant among them his love for the work and the vision of the Aloha Foundation. Summer 2016 will be his 24th and final summer as the Director of Camp Lanakila, and his 55th all together. He uses his Middlebury College drama major skills in all facets of his professional life, primarily teacher training, including directing the UVTTP (now UVEI) in its early adolescence and then as Director of Teacher Training at Dartmouth. He has maintained a private counseling practice since 1977, specializing in “Success Counseling.” As a long-term faculty member of the Institute for Reality Therapy, he worked closely with one of his primary mentors, Dr. William Glasser. Barnes credits much of his perspective in helping others to his own struggles with addiction and recovery, and his book Reinventing Yourself shares some of that journey. His true passion is helping people find their best selves and bringing those into being. He thanks Aloha for giving him the opportunity to do that as a way of making a living.

 

Tommy ClarkTommy Clark is a pediatrician and former professional soccer player. He conceived the idea for Grassroots Soccer after living and playing soccer in Zimbabwe. Tommy was born in Scotland and moved to Zimbabwe at age 14, where his father Bobby Clark was coach of the Highlanders Football Club. He attended Dartmouth College, where he was captain of the soccer team. Following graduation, Tommy returned to Zimbabwe to teach English and play professional soccer. He attended Dartmouth Medical School and was twice named the Resident Teacher of the Year during his residency in pediatrics at the University of New Mexico.  Following residency, Tommy was a research fellow at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. Tommy has been awarded the American Academy of Pediatrics Annie Dyson Child Advocacy Award, the Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Junior award, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care Nkosi Johnson Award, and the Peach Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.

 

CD HeadshotCarol Dunne has directed many acclaimed productions as the Producing Artistic Director of Northern Stage. She joined Northern Stage in 2013 and has helped to reimagine and reshape the company in its new home, The Barrette Center for the Arts. Under Carol’s leadership, Northern Stage has successfully launched a new works festival whose first play, Orwell in America, will transfer Off-Broadway in the Fall of 2016. A Senior Lecturer in Theater at Dartmouth College, she has forged an official partnership with Dartmouth offering a groundbreaking collaborative program called Shakespeare in the Schools for area schoolchildren, and creating an Experiential Term for Dartmouth theater students. Carol also introduced musical theater into the curriculum at Dartmouth and has directed half a dozen musicals there. She received the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the College in 2010. Prior to joining Northern Stage, Carol was the Producing Artistic Director of the New London Barn Playhouse, where she produced over 50 plays and musicals and is credited with dramatically transforming a struggling yet beloved institution into an artistically excellent, fully professional and financially successful company. She lives in Etna with husband Peter Hackett and children Ellie and Jamie.

 

PETERPeter Faletra received a Ph.D. from Boston University, where he was a teaching fellow in the accelerated medical school program. During his Ph.D. years he co-founded a successful biotech company and invented a novel method of producing large amounts of antisera for medical and scientific use. He spent 10 years at the Office of Science in the Department of Energy, where he was the Director of Workforce Development. In 2012, he was awarded an AAAS fellow for his many years as a mentor to students from middle school through medical school. Dr. Faletra is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Academy of Science that has a mission to help secondary school students perform extensive scientific research and become members of the scientific community. He is now semi-retired and teaching science at Crossroads Academy where he and his wife Elaine take great enjoyment mentoring students from the Upper Valley and helping to inspire them to be the sort of scientists our world needs to address some of the most challenging issues facing the human race.

 

Dan JantzenDan Jantzen has been a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock management team since 1990 serving in a variety of leadership positions. In his current role as Executive Vice President for Operations and Chief Operating Officer, he oversees operations across the D-H system. In 2012, he was named one of the “100 Hospital and Health System COOs to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review. A Certified Public Accountant for over 30 years, Dan was previously a Senior Manager in the Audit Department of KPMG Peat Marwick, primarily serving clients in the health care, public utilities, and financial services industries. He graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. Dan has served on the Boards of a variety of Upper Valley organizations including David’s House, Crossroads Academy, New London Hospital, and Mascoma Savings Bank. He is a guest lecturer at Tuck, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), and the Geisel School of Medicine and enjoys passing on what he has learned to the next generation of leaders. Dan lives in Etna with his wife, Deb. They have three adult children and a new grandson.

 

Shirley's head shotShirley Jefferson, a Selma, Alabama native, received her BS in Public Administration from Southeastern University and a JD degree from Vermont Law School. As the law school’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity, she provides leadership and guidance for individual students and student organizations, administers the VLS Code of Conduct, serves as chair of the Student Services and Diversity Committee and serves as an advisor to the President and Dean and other Deans and Directors on student and diversity issues. Shirley is also an adjunct professor teaching Race and the Law and Non-Profit Organizations and was appointed by Governor Jim Douglas to the Vermont State Police Advisory Commission. She is known for her motivational speeches on diversity for many different audiences. Shirley lives in Sharon, VT, with her son Jamaal and her granddaughter Liyah.

 

 

JoeJoe O’Donnell has been an Upper Valley resident for most of the time since 1969, when he arrived in Hanover to attend Dartmouth Medical School. He trained in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute from 1976-78, but soon returned to become chief of oncology at the White River Junction VA Hospital. He and his oncology colleagues were very involved in the development of the care of patients with cancer in the region, and the programs and outreach of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. He has also been influential in coordinated efforts aimed at preventing illness and developing palliative care programs. He has been in the Dean’s Office at Dartmouth Medical School since 1985 and is currently Senior Advising Dean. He has led award-winning efforts to involve students in service to the community, and nurtured efforts to embed compassion in medical care and to create a focus on wisdom in medicine. Joe and his wife Janice raised four children and now have four grandsons. They live in Grantham, N.H.

PeggyPeggy O’Neil  has been the Executive Director at WISE since 2003, working to support Upper Valley people and communities impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Antioch College, Peggy has worked in nonprofits focused on crisis services and mental health for over 25 years. She is a trained domestic and sexual violence advocate and received her crisis worker certification from the American Association of Suicidology. Peggy is also a 2005 graduate of Leadership New Hampshire and the 2015 recipient of the Deborah Aliber Award for Community Service from the Women’s Network of the Upper Valley. She lives in Cornish, N.H.

 

Susan Reeves colorSusan Reeves is Professor and Dean at the School for Health Professions at Colby-Sawyer College. A retired employee of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, she served the organization for 35 years, specializing in oncology nursing. Susan joined the adjunct faculty at Colby-Sawyer in 2003 teaching Biomedical Ethics. After serving in a part-time role as the Chair of the Nursing Department, in 2007 she was asked to lead and re-build the Nursing program where she has served since. She also led the development of the College’s Health Care Management, Health Promotion, and Public Health programs, as well as both an online bachelor degree completion program for registered nurses and the College’s first master’s program, which will be in nursing.  Susan is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for New London Hospital and is a Director for the Crotched Mountain Foundation. She also works closely with faculty of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth to offer interprofessional education sessions to nursing and medical students as well as electives in the medical humanities. Susan and her husband David live in New London, N.H.

 

gayGay Sabin has been a beloved teacher for over 47 years, and also an award-winning supervisor and mentor, and an active leaders in many educational associations. Although she has officially retired, Gay is still serving as a substitute teacher at the Grantham Village School, where she has taught since 2002. Nominated by her 1965 classmates, Gay was awarded the 2015 Touch the Future Award by the Independent Alumni Association of Framingham State University honoring teachers who teach teachers and demonstrate and instill an enthusiasm for teaching. Among other accomplishments, Gay was awarded the national Thanks to Teachers Excellence Award in 1990. Gay began her teaching career in Deerfield, MA, where she and her husband, Chris, raised their daughter Kate. They moved to NH (Eastman) in 2002 and she began to work at the Grantham Village School.  In 2013, Gay was awarded the Eastman Recreation Volunteer Award for her work mentoring the teen business project, “Peppermint Patty’s.”

 

fwt photoFred Thomas, at age 89, personifies the mission of SCORE, an organization dedicated to providing counselors, advisors, and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners and for which he often volunteers five days a week. Since 1984 Fred has served as a mentor for the Lebanon Chapter of SCORE, offering advice and encouragement to countless Upper Valley business owners. He served as President of the Lebanon Chapter for four years and has also been the Chair and President of the SCORE National Board of Directors. He has served as a past Board Member of both the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Vital Communities. In addition, he served as a Board member and Treasurer for the Upper Valley Land Trust. Fred holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University. He and his wife Marjorie live in Thetford and have three daughters, Laurie, Kathryn, and Barbara.

Honoring 10 Upper Valley Visionaries

Vital Communities will honor 10 “Upper Valley Visionaries” at its 2015 Heroes & Leaders celebration. The annual celebration recognizes significant community leaders and serves as a benefit for the Leadership Upper Valley business leader training program from Vital Communities. “Each year Vital Communities honors a select group of Upper Valley residents who have made significant contributions to the vibrant region in which we enjoy living, working, and playing,” said Executive Director Tom Roberts. “This year we’re thrilled to honor 10 people whose long-term visions have helped make the Upper Valley the vibrant community it is, rich with local agriculture, arts organizations, nonprofit services, world-renowned businesses, and more. We’re thankful for and inspired by their passionate leadership.”

 

len_smallKeynote Speaker Len Cadwallader has spent most of his professional career in nonprofit management. For 21 years he was on the management team of the Farm & Wilderness Camps in Plymouth, Vermont, serving the last 13 years as Executive Director. Most recently he served 11 years as Vital Communities’ Executive Director. He was a founding member of the Hanover Affordable Housing Commission that worked with Twin Pines Housing Trust and a private developer to create Gile Hill on land donated by the Town of Hanover. He has also served on the boards of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership. In 2012, Len was awarded the Allen and Nan King Award for Service to the Community by the Co-op Food Stores. He and his wife Mary Ann raised their two children in Rutland County, Vermont before moving to the Upper Valley in 1997. Since retiring from Vital Communities in 2011, Len has served his faith community, the Quaker meeting in Hanover. When not doing trail maintenance work for Hanover Conservancy, Len enjoys kayaking and adventure travel.

 

 

Barbara garden small

Barbara Ragle Barnes has dedicated her impressive career to improving the quality of education, much of it in the Upper Valley. Originally interested in medicine, Barbara decided to become an educator after teaching sailing at a camp the summer before she was to start medical school. When she moved to Norwich with her young family some years later, because of her background in science, she was recruited to work with two Dartmouth professors, one a biologist and one a physicist, who were also parents of children in the school, to help start a real, hands-on science program. Ultimately that led to the creation of the Upper Valley Educators’ Institute (UVEI), the highly regarded teacher preparation program in Lebanon. When Dartmouth became coeducational and a woman was needed in the Dean’s Office, Barbara filled that role as Assistant Dean of the College. Subsequently she became the head of two very different independent schools, one in Ohio and the other southern Vermont, and concluded her professional life as an educational consultant for 15 years.  Now, almost 92 years old, she delights in taking OSHER courses at Dartmouth. The Upper Valley is certainly the richer because of the efforts of this indefatigable lady.

 

 

Matt Bucy smallMatt Bucy  As a child of the 1960s, from his early days in Casper, Wyoming, to his arrival in New England; college at Middlebury for visual arts; Yale for architecture; and then employment at the company making the first digital synthesizer – curiosity was largely what drove Matt Bucy. “It’s all about poking things.”

Matt is perhaps best known for his purchase and renovation of the former Tip Top Bakery, now called Tip Top Building, a project that embodies the principles by which he lives: See future possibilities; respect what’s there; make it useful and as environmentally friendly as possible; be frugal not flashy; use color to express energy.

It’s interesting to note that Matt was encouraged to run for membership on the Hartford Select Board, a post for which he did not campaign. He won.

As a hands-on developer in the Upper Valley, a slight variation of Thomas Edison’s famous quote is appropriate to Matt: “Life is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.”

 

 

Dick small

Dick Cyr was born on April 24, 1937 in Maine, and since then he has considered many places to be “home”. After high school, Dick was proud to have served his country as a Marine. Later he worked in construction and sales, but no other experience has been more rewarding to Dick than fulfilling his role as a father to his three sons, the youngest of which was David, who Dick adopted as a toddler. During David’s three-year battle with leukemia, Dick met many families struggling to be with their hospitalized children. In an effort to ease their burden, Dick channeled his own grief after David’s passing at the age of five and created the legacy that has become David’s House so that families have a home-away-from-home during the most difficult of times.

Dick is the recipient of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for community service and the New England patriots Charitable Foundation MVP Award from Volunteerism for his work in creating and sustaining David’s House.

 

 

Van Chesnut smallVan Chesnut moved to the Upper Valley in 1987 to become the Executive Director of Advance Transit, headquartered in Wilder, Vermont. His leadership and guidance developed the fledgling transportation company into one of the finest fare-free, fixed-route bus systems in the entire United States.

Van has more than 30 years of experience managing transit systems. An Indiana native, he graduated from Purdue University. Prior to his arrival in the Upper Valley he oversaw transit systems in rural and small town America, including Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Columbus and Warsaw, Indiana.

Van has enjoyed unprecedented success developing numerous public-private partnerships in the Upper Valley to make Advance Transit an integral component of the region’s transportation systems, with high ridership and service productivity – a noteworthy accomplishment considering today’s strained town budgets and cutbacks on federal funding.

Van lives in South Strafford, Vermont, with his wife Leigh. They have two grown daughters, Laura and Lilly, who have graduated from college and now live and work outside the region.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADick Couch received a Bachelor of Arts in 1964 and an engineering degree in 1965 from Dartmouth College. After graduating, he worked for Creare as a project engineer, launching a career that would help make him one of our Valley Visionaries.

In 1968, in a garage across the street from Creare’s main headquarters in Hanover, he and then Creare President and Dartmouth professor Robert Dean co-founded Hypertherm. Their objective was to apply ultra-high temperature technology to industrial problems.

In 1971, Dick purchased the majority interest in Hypertherm, which today has grown into an international conglomerate with 1,400 associate-owners. Of Hypertherm’s 112 patents in the fields of plasma cutting and pollution control, Dick was the inventor of 42. In 2002, Hypertherm was ranked 12th in Fortune Magazine’s listing of Best Companies to Work for in the United States. Hypertherm was also recognized as one of the best large companies to work for in the State of New Hampshire.

 

 

Robert Dean smallDr. Robert C. Dean Jr. is the founder or co-founder of 11 Upper Valley companies that have all flourished in the field of advancing technology. They include some names many in the region will recognize: Creare; Hypertherm; Creare Innovations, which became Spectra/Dimatix and sold to Fuji; Verax; Synosys, renamed PerSeptive Biosystems; Synergy Research Corporation; Synergy Innovations; Simplex; NanoComp Technologies; Synticos; and Sunfyr.

Dr. Dean holds three degrees from MIT, including a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1948, a Master of Science in 1949, and a Doctor of Science in 1954. He served as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. From 1956 to 1960, he was the Head of Advanced Engineering at the Ingersoll-Rand Company. In 1961 he moved to the Upper Valley and became a Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and is now Professor of Engineering, emeritus.

 

 

David_Goudy-1 smallDavid Goudy served as the Executive Director of the Montshire Museum of Science for 34 years, retiring in March 2015. He came to the Upper Valley in 1981 and, together with a highly dedicated staff and community of supporters, transformed a fledgling museum into a nationally recognized center for science learning. Under his leadership, the Museum has been lauded for its innovative approaches to delivering science education to rural schools and families. David’s passion for education and the natural world has had a significant impact on countless children and families over the years. In addition to his role at the Montshire Museum, David has served the Upper Valley community in volunteer capacities with the Howe Library, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, Dartmouth Hitchcock, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. David considers himself lucky to have been part of such a generous community; however it is the community that has benefited through David’s work.

 

 

 

guests_dave smallLiz and Jake Guest have owned and operated Killdeer Farm in Norwich since 1980. They now operate over thirty acres of organic vegetables , 14 greenhouses of bedding plants and organic tomatoes, a successful  farmstand and a CSA with over 400 members. Liz and Jake both have long histories as visionaries and activists in the growing and promoting of local and organic food.
Liz was a founding member of the Plainfield, VT Coop, a central figure in the emerging food coop movement in Vermont, and the initiator of many food-related projects such as a coop grain mill and the widely distributed presentation and slide show addressing the need for locally produced food. Liz co-directed the “Grains and Beans” project, a project to promote the re-introduction of locally grown grains and beans. She has been a board member of the Hanover Coop, and chaired the Education Committee.
Jake has been active in a variety of Ag and food projects, organizations, and movements. In the early 70s, he was a founding member and board member of the NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers’ Association), a founding member and coordinator for the Upper Valley Food Coop, and co-founder of the Norwich Farmers’ Market. He has been a board member of the Hanover Coop and is currently a board member and past president of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers’ Association. Jake was recently honored at a conference in California as one of a small group of founding “agrarian elders” of the Organic Movement in the United States.

 

 

carol_smallCarol Langstaff’s life combines music, movement, and storytelling with fostering community. As the daughter of singer and theater director John Langstaff and traditional-music collector Diane Hamilton, Carol’s creative apprenticeship began in childhood and widened with extraordinary teachers at the Longy and Dalcroze music schools, Neighborhood Playhouse, and the dance school of Martha Graham.

In addition to her choreographic gifts, Carol plays many instruments, and she has a special talent for channeling groups of people into theatrical extravaganzas such as Revels, co-founded in 1971 with her father; and FLOCK Dance Troupe, founded in 1999, where she directs seasoned performers and eager amateurs in multilayered productions exploring ecology, overdevelopment, refugees, aging, and gender.

Co-founder of numerous Upper Valley ventures, including Strafford’s Creative Preschool, the Upper Valley Food Co-op, the Earth and Arts Camp, and Connecticut Riverfest, Carol participated in the process that birthed Vital Communities. Carol’s current focus is an effort to transform youth violence into new forms of creativity and responsibility.

 

 

Jim Varnum smallJim Varnum was President of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital from 1978 until his retirement in 2006 and was Founder and President of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance from 1983 to 2006.

Jim graduated from Dartmouth College in 1962 with a major in economics and went on to receive his Master’s degree with honors in Hospital Administration from the University of Michigan. He was CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison and later of the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He is currently an Emeritus Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine.

Jim led Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover during the planning and building phases for the new medical center and its historic move to Lebanon. The new Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, a $228 million project, opened its doors in October 1991, one of the few new medical centers in the United States at that time.

Jim and his wife Cindy have lived in Etna for more than 35 years.

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