At its May 20, 2021, meeting, the Vital Communities Board of Directors welcomed seven new members, more than replacing in number the four who were departing. (Read about those four remarkable people!) The new Directors bring backgrounds in planning, farming and farm policy, local businesses, health care, the elderly, and more. Here’s an introduction!
Meghan Butts, of Lebanon, NH, is Executive Director of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission and has worked closely with Vital Communities both in that job and as a volunteer on the Lebanon Energy Advisory Committee. “The [Vital Communities] staff I have worked with are kind, energetic, and truly believe in their work which shows me that Vital Communities is a great place to work. That is important to me when I consider supporting an organization. Also, I have learned through my work that Vital Communities is a key piece to connecting people together and you cannot have change or improvement without those connections. This shows Vital Communities’ value to the region.”
Laura Ginsburg, of Tunbridge, VT, is Development Division Section Chief for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Her life experience includes living in Canada, New Zealand, and Montana, where she worked at a tribal college and owned and operated a dairy farm. She serves on the Tunbridge Planning Commission and Orange County Parent Child Center Board. “As a resident of Tunbridge, the connection to the Upper Valley is a critical component of my family’s daily lives—it’s where we shop, dine, recreate, and how we identify ourselves for geographic purposes. While Tunbridge is near the edge of what is considered the Upper Valley, organizations like Vital Communities are critical for engagement and development of priorities that impact our community—energy, food, transportation being key examples.”
Tim Josephson, of Canaan, NH, General Manager of Lucky’s Coffee Garage, is a current member of the Mascoma Valley Regional School Board and recent member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Josephson said he hopes to provide a voice from the Mascoma area and as the manager of a small, locally owned start-up business. “I want to be able to give back to the Upper Valley at large and work to bridge the divide between communities within our region. We are all interconnected and rely on each other for so much, and yet we live in the small silos of our own towns. I am eager to work to reinvigorate towns such as Canaan in order to help them reverse their fortunes and create positive change by integrating more work of Vital Communities. Through community outreach and meeting people where they are, we can work to improve the Upper Valley in every town and revitalize our small towns, something I am passionate about. The COVID pandemic has shown that work can be flexible now, and small towns such as ones in the Upper Valley can be competitive through services such as broadband extensions and desirable communities.” Josephson recently earned a Master of Public Administration from Norwich University with a capstone thesis entitled “The New England Village: A Blueprint for 21st Century Rural Economic Redevelopment.” His views on diversity and equity have been influenced having “lived in places suffering from the aftermath of redlining and [I] have felt firsthand the effects of policies that hurt our society’s most vulnerable. I feel that my work on municipal law can help Vital Communities empower residents to take charge of their own towns to affect positive change by starting at the local level.”
Robin Kilfeather-Mackey, of Cornish, NH, is Vice President of Operations of the Upper Valley Land Trust and former Dartmouth-Hitchcock Chief Financial Officer, and a licensed CPA with masters degrees in business administration, healthcare delivery science and conservation biology. “Having lived in the Upper Valley for the past 25 years, I have seen significant change occur, some positive, some negative. … I would like to volunteer my time to support organizations, like Vital Communities, which strive to make the Upper Valley a community that values and supports all persons while carefully stewarding our environmental resources for future generations.”
Greg Norman, of Norwich, VT, is Director, Community Health Improvement and Benefits at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and represents that organization on the Board. His perspective is shaped by his working-class roots in a midwestern manufacturing community where he worked in factories before college, and his early-career work serving persons affected by mental illness, poverty, substance use, trauma, and other challenging issues. “Vital Communities plays an important role convening community partners on critical issues that face our community, including many which contribute to the long-term well-being and health of regional residents by addressing economic and sustainability issues needed for long-term regional viability. I would like to support the continuation of this work through my contributions to the Board, with a particular lens of helping ensure that the work of Vital Communities provides increasingly equitable benefit to our communities.
Chelsea Paige, of West Lebanon, NH, is a User Support Analyst for Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and a lifelong resident of the Upper Valley, a Lebanon High School graduate, and Secretary of the Upper Valley Young Professionals Steering Committee. “As a young professional and woman of color who is native to this area, I believe that I would be able to offer a diverse perspective in my experiences living in a less diverse community. I have also been attending school and working full-time over the last three years, which is a less traditional path; I enjoy sharing my experiences, and learning about other people’s experiences as well.”
David Watts, of Norwich, VT, is Director of Human Resources at Kendal at Hanover and has served on the boards of Leadership Upper Valley, David’s House, and the Grafton County Senior Citizens Council. He cites as influential having grown up lower middle class, being the first in his family to earn a college degree, and working for a labor union. “The Upper Valley suffers from a critical affordable housing shortage, access to mass transport, rising food prices, and the challenging but necessary changes to our energy infrastructure to address climate change. Systemic and individual racism lurks in many corners of our culture. These are formidable challenges that keep our region and its people from being all they can be. Our dual state status adds to these difficulties but also gives us a great opportunity to make change that works specifically for our region.”