Heroes & Leaders - our annual celebration of leaders in the Upper Valley.

Vital Communities’ annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration is on hold during the pandemic. We miss this joyful gathering where the many forms of leadership in the Upper Valley are appreciated and celebrated.

We are grateful for the many people who are supporting the Upper Valley region as we move through this difficult time.

Heroes & Leaders has also been an important fund raising event for Leadership Upper Valley.

If you’re interested in supporting Leadership Upper Valley scholarships with a donation or sponsorship, please contact Rob Schultz at 802-291-9100 x102.

Heroes & Leaders Honorees 2019

Liza Bernard & Penny McConnel

Len Cadwallader

Delia Clark

Ivy Condon

Edgewater Farm

Jarvis Antonio Green

Curt & Sharon Jacques

Prudence Pease

Monique Priestley

Stan Williams

 Doug Wise

Chuck Wooster

 Keynote Speaker:  Jenny Levy, Vice President of People, Community and Environment, Hypertherm

Read more about all of our honorees.

All proceeds from the dinner benefit Leadership Upper Valley,
a program of Vital Communities.

Thank You to our 2019 Sponsors!

Leadership Upper Valley Program Sponsor:


Heroes & Leaders Event Sponsors:

Heroes & Leaders Table Sponsors:

Sponsorship Opportunities
Table Sponsor – $1,000; table for 10 includes 8 of your guests as well as an honoree and their guest for the evening. Your business will be recognized in all event materials, at the event, and in the Vital Communities Annual Report. For more information about sponsoring Heroes & Leaders, contact rob@vitalcommunities.org.

Honorees from 2012-2019

Heroes & Leaders 2019 - Founders

On May 2019, Vital Communities celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a focus on leaders who have added immeasurably to the vitality of the Upper Valley, including the Founders of Vital Communties.

Vital Communites’ Founders

Liza Bernard & Penny  McConnel, Co-owners of Norwich Bookstore

Len Cadwallader, Former Executive Director of Vital Communities

Delia Clark, Founding Executive Director of Vital Communities and community convener

Ivy Condon, Center Coordinator at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center

Edgewater Farm, Multi-generation farm and land conservation leader

Jarvis Antonio Green, Founder and Producing Artistic Director

Curt & Sharon Jacques, Owners West Lebanon Feed & Supply

Prudence Pease, Work United at Granite United Way

Monique Priestley, Founder of Space on Main and community organizer

Stan Williams, Chairman and CFO of Valley Net and EC Fiber

Doug Wise, Civic leader, and founder of Leadership Upper Valley

Chuck Wooster, Co-owner of Sunrise Farm, civic leader, and writer

Read more about all of our honorees.

Keynote Speaker: Jenny Levy. Vice President of People, Community and Environment, Hypertherm

Read Jenny Levy’s complete keynote speech.

Heroes & Leaders 2018 - Long-standing Stewards

On May 3, 2018, we honored Long-Standing Stewards who have contributed to our region:

William Boyle, MD. Boyle Community Pediatrics Program, CHaD
Co-op Food Stores. 
Edward W. Fox, General Manager
Robin Dow Parker & John Dow. 
Canaan Hardware & Supply
The Family Place. Nancy Bloomfield, Executive Director & Posie Taylor, Board Chair
Dan Fraser. Dan & Whit’s General Store
Laurie Harding, RN. Upper Valley Community Nursing Project, Headrest
Rob Howe. Howvale Farm & Tunbridge Fair
Jill Lord, RN. Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center
Mike Satzow. North Country Smokehouse
Janet & Tim Taylor. Crossroad Farm
Steve Taylor. 
Taylor Brothers Farm
The Tuck School of Business. Gina des Cognets, Executive Director, Office of the Dean

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Peterson. New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority

Read Kevin Peterson’s complete keynote speech.

Heroes & Leaders 2017 - Young Leaders

On May 24, 2017, we honored these Young Leaders who have contributed to our region:

Dan McGee, Red River
Elyse Crossman
, Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce
Emily Donaldson
, Cultivating Action
Gordon Ehret
, Hypertherm
Holly West
, Friends of Mascoma Foundation
Merritt Patridge
, Tuck School of Business
Nicole LaBombard
, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Noah Crane
, Upper Valley Nighthawks
Paul Coats
, Lebanon Recreation & Parks
Sam Drazin
, Changing Perspectives
Stephanie Thompson
, Springfield Prevention Coalition

Keynote Speaker: Markell Ripps, Grossman & Ripps PLLC

Heroes & Leaders 2016 - Mentors

On May 19, 2016, we honored these mentors from our region who have invested time and energy to provide guidance and inspiration to our current and future leaders.

Jim Alexander, Former Lebanon Chief of Police
Barnes Boffey, Aloha Foundation
Tommy Clark, Grassroot Soccer
Carol Dunne, Northern Stage
Peter Faletra, Crossroads Academy
Dan Jantzen, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Shirley Jefferson, Vermont Law School
Joe O’Donnell, Geisel School of Medicine
Peggy O’Neil, WISE
Susan Reeves, Colby-Sawyer College
Gay Sabin, Grantham Village School
Fred Thomas, SCORE

Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Sawin, Climate Interactive

Learn more about our honorees.

Heroes & Leaders 2015 - Visionaries

In 2015 we honored these Visionaries from the Upper Valley 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.

Barbara Ragle Barnes, Founder, Upper Valley Educators Institute
Matt Bucy, Developer, White River Junction
Dick Cyr, Founder, David’s House
Van Chesnut, Executive Director, Advance Transit
Dick Couch, Co-Founder, Hypertherm
Robert Dean, Founder or Co-Founder of 11 Upper Valley companies
David Goudy, Former Executive Director, Montshire Museum
Jake and Liz Guest, Owners, Killdeer Farm
Carol Langstaff, Founder, Revels and FLOCK Dance Troupe
Jim Varnum, Retired President, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (D-H)

Keynote Speaker: Len Cadwallader, former Executive Director, Vital Communities

Learn more about our honorees.

Heroes & Leaders 2014 - Women Leaders

In 2014 we honored these Women Leaders who made significant contributions to the Upper Valley.

Merilynn Bourne – Executive Director, LISTEN Community Services
Barbara Couch – VP, CSR at Hypertherm, President of HOPE Foundation
Gail Dahlstrom – Vice President of Facilities Management, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Julia Griffin – Town Manager, Town of Hanover
Jacqueline Guillette – Superintendent of Schools, Grantham SAU #75
Sara Kobylenski – Executive Director, Upper Valley Haven
Jeanie McIntyre – President, Upper Valley Land Trust
Jane Kitchel McLaughlin – The Kitchel-McLaughlin Family Fund
Suzanne Long – Farmer, Luna Bleu Farm
Sue Mooney – CEO and President of Alice Peck Day Health System
Betty Porter – One of the founders of Vital Communities
Allie Quinn – One of the founders of the Montshire Museum of Science
Bente Torjusen, Executive Director, AVA Gallery
Kathy Underwood, President and CEO, Ledyard Bank

Keynote Speaker: Sara Jayne Steen – President, Plymouth State University

Learn more about our honorees.

Heroes & Leaders 2013 - Military Veterans

In 2013 we honored Military Veterans. This event included a public panel discussion on challenges veterans face coming home and opportunities available to them in the Upper Valley.

Keynote Speakers at the Evening Event:
James Wright, President Emeritus & Eleazar Wheelock Professor of History, Dartmouth College
Deborah Amdur, Medical Center Director, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Panel Discussion Open to the Public in the Afternoon with the goal of bringing a voice to ongoing challenges and solutions for our returning service men and women.
Moderated by Dr. Joseph O’Donnell, Professor of Medicine & Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth & Senior Scholar, C. Everett Koop Institute
Panelists include:
Stoney Portis (Dartmouth MALS ’13, West Point ’04 and Veteran of Iraq War)
Dr. Jim Geiling (VA Medical Center)
Dr. Dan Tobin (VA Medical Center)
Christina Fanitzi (Tuck ’13, Major US Army)
James Sturm (Director of the Center for Cartoon Studies).

Heroes & Leaders 2012 - Olympians

Our first Heroes and Leaders event, honored Upper Valley Olympians for their heroic leadership in our region.

Ski jumpers: Chris & Jeff Hastings and Mike Holland
Nordic skiers: Tim Caldwell and Dorcas Wonsavage
Alpine skier: Edi Thys Morgan
Bi athlete: John Morton
Rower: Rowan Caroll
Ski Jumper: Nick Alexander
Women’s basketball: Yolanda Griffith

Keynote Speaker: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

Vital Communities News


Rob Schultz

Leadership Upper Valley Manager, Director of Development

Leadership UV

 802-291-9100 x102

Leadership UV

— Rob Schultz, Leadership Upper Valley Manager, Director of Development

Rob Schultz is the Leadership Upper Valley Manager and Director of Development at Vital Communities. Most recently, he served as Area Coordinator for Granite United Way in the Upper Valley Region. Rob was Executive Director of COVER Home Repair in White River Junction for 9 years. Before working at COVER, Rob was Executive Director for the Farm & Wilderness Foundation for 8 years; helped start a corporate training center for PT Timah in Sumatra Indonesia; and ran programs for Outward Bound in Minnesota, Texas, and New Mexico. He is a graduate of Earlham College and has done graduate work at University of Maryland in International Political Economy. He lives in Hanover with his partner Diane. He sings with Thetford Chamber Singers and is an avid carpenter, cellist, wilderness traveler, and gardener.