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    2019 Housing & Conservation Conference
    Building and Sustaining Healthy Communities

    Maura AdamsMaura Adams is a program director at the Northern Forest Center, facilitating the Bike Borderlands initiative and implementing innovative community revitalization strategies in the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Maura previously worked in green building consulting and campus sustainability at St. Paul’s School, the Jordan Institute, and Harvard University. She has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She lives off-grid in Deerfield, NH with her husband and dog.

    Mark AndersonMark Anderson is director of conservation science for The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern U.S. Region. He provides science leadership, ecological analysis, and landscape assessments for conservation efforts across twenty-two eastern states. He holds a doctorate in ecology from University of New Hampshire and has published widely on climate change resilience, large landscape conservation, biodiversity, and forest dynamics. In 2016, Mark won The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Achievement award.



    Margaret BozikMargaret Bozik is the Director of Asset Management & Special Initiatives for the Champlain Housing Trust. Margaret has served as the Co-Chair of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance for the last four years. She has co-presented nationally with the University of Vermont Medical Center on housing and healthcare, and also works with Northwestern Medical Center on housing and healthcare initiatives. Margaret has also been part of CHT’s work on recovery and offender reentry housing.




    Elizabeth BridgewaterElizabeth Bridgewater has worked in the non-profit sector for the last 25 years. After serving four years as the Director of Homeownership at the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, she assumed the role of Executive Director in January 2018. WWHT provides housing opportunities through its housing development work, its 804 rental apartments, 136 shared equity homes, and its homeownership counseling and education program, which serves an average of 350 people each year. WWHT also provides low cost loans and project support to people whose homes need critical health and safety repairs. 

    Prior to her work with WWHT, Elizabeth worked with ACCION International, at the Center for Women & Enterprise in Boston, and at the Community Development Partnership on Cape Cod, Elizabeth was involved in fundraising, program development, hosting international program tours, managing entrepreneurial and micro loan programs for small business owners as well as sector focused projects in the fishing industry. As Executive Director of the CDP, Elizabeth oversaw CDBG funded rehab loan funds, a portfolio of 61 affordable rental units and the development of homeownership and rental units, including an award winning Platinum LEED rated project in Harwich. She also developed the Real Return Project, which used a community solar model to share the financial benefits of solar energy with all of the CDP’s low and moderate income tenants as well as to implement deep energy retro-fits throughout their rental portfolio. Elizabeth has a degree in International Relations from Bradford College and a Master’s Degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. 

    Sarah BrockSarah Brock manages the Energy Program at Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization based in White River Junction, Vermont, serving the entire Upper Valley region. Sarah led the development and successful launch of Solarize Upper Valley and Weatherize Upper Valley campaigns, partnering with more than 30 towns and 18 contractors to help more than 570 residents go solar or weatherize their homes. Prior to joining Vital Communities in 2013, Sarah was a fellow with the High Meadows Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation. Sarah lives in Warner, NH.  



    Kara CaseyKara Casey is the Director of Economic Empowerment at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The Network’s purpose is to uproot the causes of violence so that every last Vermonter thrives. Kara works toward that purpose collaborating with advocates at the Network’s 15 member programs, partner organizations, state agencies and policymakers to ensure Vermont is a place in which survivors of domestic and sexual violence have the resources that they need to find safety and healing.



    Kevin ChannellKevin Channell is a Farm Business Specialist. He began his career in agriculture raising organic produce as an apprentice through NOFA-VT in 2004. In 2005 he and his wife co-founded a diverse organic farm in Fairlee, Vermont. They grew the farm through direct to market sales and a CSA. In 2010 they enrolled in the Farm Viability Program through VHCB and worked with the Intervale’s Success on Farms Program to grow their business, expanding a winter CSA and selling into the Boston markets. In 2013, Kevin and his wife started a family and successfully transferred the ownership and management of the farm to an aspiring couple who originally began their farm at the Intervale Center’s Farm Incubator. Kevin continues to enjoy raising produce in their family garden and mixed livestock at their small farm in Reading, Vermont. He is utilizing his background in agricultural lending and continuing his education through a Master’s program in Economics and Business Administration to help grow farms in Vermont.


    Ela ChapinEla Chapin has been the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Director since 2006, helping to improve the quality of program services and providing professional development opportunities to strengthen the network of agricultural service providers in Vermont. She has a MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University. Ela is also an avid gardener and dancer and lives in East Montpelier.



    Mohamad ChakakiMohamad Chakaki grew up playing in the sand and surf on both sides of the Arabian Peninsula, and then on the edges of eastern forests and city streets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. His intellectual and professional interests lie where the lines blur between East and West, cities and nature, art and science, and so on. Mohamad holds a Masters of Environmental Management with a focus on Urban Ecology and Environmental Design from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and undergraduate degrees in Religion and Biology from The George Washington University. He completed doctoral coursework at the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, with research into emerging urban landscapes in the modern Middle East. Mohamad has followed his passion for working in nature and with people in parks and gardens across the US, with the Peace Corps in Central Africa, and the United Nations in Syria. He consults on environment and community development projects in both the US and the Arab Middle East. Mohamad was a co-founder of the DC Green Muslims network and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.


    Abbie CorseAbbie Corse farms with her parents, Leon and Linda, at The Corse Farm Dairy, the family’s 150 year-old organic dairy in the hills of very southern VT. Abbie grew up on the farm and was determined to never return. A journey through stints at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, the Telluride Film Festival, and MASS MoCA ultimately made it clear that her heart belongs to this land her family has stewarded for so many years. Land stewardship is at the heart of their operation, which manifests itself in myriad ways. All 300 acres of the home farm are Vermont Organic Farmer certified, fully conserved, and solar powered. Leon was the first certified Master Grazier in VT through the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program, the first fully accredited apprenticeship program for farming in the nation. They became certified organic in 2008 and ship milk to Organic Valley, a cooperative that benefits their farmers for quality over quantity and maintains strict pasture regulations. Because she was raised in a family for whom civic duty was paramount, it is through this lens that she integrates her training in journalism and her love of the land to advocate for farmers. Abbie currently serves on the NOFA-VT board, the VT Farm & Forest Advisory Board, and as an Act 250 District Commissioner. As a result of this juggling, her house is often a complete disaster, her children fed many meals of (albeit organic) cereal, and she is seldom on time. You can follow along with her adventures in farming and mothering on Instagram: @thecorsefarm.


    Caitlin CusackCaitlin Cusack spent most of her youth building forts and exploring the woods behind her home in eastern Massachusetts. These experiences led her to pursue a B.A. in Environmental Studies from The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and a Masters of Forestry in 2008 from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. Prior to graduate school, she spent three years wandering around the woods of Ohio, West Virginia and New England working on projects involving non-timber forest products and native plant conservation. Prior to joining VLT’s stewardship team, she served for three years as an Urban and Community Forestry Extension Educator for the University of Vermont Extension and a Conservation Forester with Vermont Family Forests. In her current role as forester she manages VLT properties, stewards conservation easements and supports conserved landowners and staff with forestry-related requests. She lives in Bristol with her husband and daughter and is co-owner of their sugaring business, Little Hogback Farm.

    Xusana DavisXusana Davis serves as the state’s Executive Director of Racial Equity. Using data-gathering and analysis, training enhancement, and policy review, she works with state government agencies to identify and address systemic racial disparities and support the state’s efforts to expand and diversify Vermont’s population. She holds a Juris Doctor with a concentration in International Human Rights Law from New York Law School, where she also directed a civil liberties education program for low-income and minority youth. She studied at Fordham University, earning the Rev. J. Franklin Ewing, S.J. Award for writing on the relationship between global human rights violations and HIV/AIDS. A first-generation U.S.-born Latina, she has always been passionate about promoting open access to government for all people, regardless of their background or place of origin.

    Mike DeBonisMike DeBonis returned to his home state to join the Green Mountain Club's staff as executive director in 2014. Prior to working for the GMC, Mike served as executive director of the Forest Guild, a national organization of professional foresters dedicated to practicing and promoting responsible forest stewardship. In 1996, Mike completed a southbound AT thru-hike and completed Long Trail hikes in 2004 and 2017. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Johnson State College and a master of forestry degree from Yale University. In his spare time, Mike enjoys tinkering with old cars and motorcycles and running on the trails and back roads of the Mad River Valley. Mike and his wife, Jennifer, met as Peace Corps volunteers in Jamaica and make their home in Moretown along with their two dogs.

    Joshua DavisJoshua Davis is the Executive Director of Groundworks Collaborative. Groundworks formed 4 years ago as the result of a merger between Morningside Shelter and the Brattleboro Area Drop in Center. Groundworks provides support to individuals and families facing housing and food  insecurities in greater Brattleboro. Joshua is a graduate of SIT Graduate Institute and was a Peace Corps Volunteer (Namibia 2003-2005).




    Samantha Dunn - Housing VT photoSamantha Dunn is a project developer at Housing Vermont, the state’s largest nonprofit housing and community developer. Housing Vermont specializes in syndicating federal and state tax credits and combining tax equity with a wide range of sources to complete mixed finance projects to provide permanently affordable rental housing across the state. Samantha is a LEED Accredited Professional with experience identifying and implementing a wide range of sustainable solutions to address economic development, sustainable energy implementation, food systems and sustainable infrastructure challenges and opportunities. At Housing Vermont, Samantha works across the state to acquire, permit and fund a range of affordable housing solutions. Before joining Housing Vermont in 2016, she worked as a rural community economic development consultant serving communities, organizations and businesses. Samantha received her Master of Architecture from the Boston Architectural College and her Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Jericho, Vermont with her family and serves on the Jericho Planning Commission and the board of the Vermont Community Design Institute.


    Todd FarringtonTodd Farrington joined the Big Sur Land Trust in 2007. He has served in many different capacities, including as operations and events manager, community affairs manager and creative producer—most notably, as the lead in the designing and direction of BSLT’s Youth Outdoor Programs since their inception in 2013. Todd firmly believes the health of nature and the health of our human communities are closely intertwined. Over the years he has worked to innovate new ways to reduce barriers to accessing conserved open spaces for people of all ages and all communities in Monterey County, CA, doing so by facilitating a broad range of experiences, from intimate guided hikes though ancient redwood forests to community-wide festivals celebrating urban open spaces, to transformative wilderness experiences for youth from underserved communities. Todd serves on the Board of the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club. He spends his free time exploring the tide pools, oak woodlands and redwood forests of California's central coast. 

    Joshua FaulknerDr. Joshua Faulkner is a Research Assistant Professor for University of Vermont Extension. He has coordinated the Farming and Climate Change Program in UVM Extension’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture for the past six years. He does applied research, outreach, and education on soil, water, and nutrient related issues across the state and region. He also works with farmers on practices and innovative solutions to improve the management of these resources and enhance farm resilience to climate change. His focus spans across all agricultural sectors, and from the farmstead to the watershed scale.

    Eve FrankelEve Frankel is a 20-year communications professional who began her career in publishing as part of the original Seven Days staff, before spending a decade developing European and midwestern markets for the growing renewable energy industry. Eve joined The Nature Conservancy in Vermont four years ago as Director or Strategic Communications where she embraces the role of chief storyteller. Eve also leads workshops and presentations on the “Science of Storytelling” on college campuses, at conferences, and for conservation partners.


    Bill Fraser
    Bill Fraser has been working in New England local government for 37 year, the last 24 plus as City Manager in Montpelier.  He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree In Public Management. Bill lives in Montpelier with his wife Anne. They have four children ages 19-26, all raised in Montpelier.




    Gregg GossensGreg Gossens, AIA, Principal of Gossens Bachman Architects, is one of the founding partners of gbA. He is a committed believer of a collaborative creative process and the ability of design to transform and enhance communities. He received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1978, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1980. He has been the past president of the Vermont Chapter of the AIA and currently serves on the board of directors of Montpelier Alive. Gregg is also an Adjunct Professor at the Norwich University School of Architecture and Art.

    Jim HaasJim Haas, a Vermont native raised in a very food-conscious family, spent much of his professional life in Ukraine within the corporate structure of Western food conglomerates. In 2005, he and his wife, Larissa, (with whom he raised three sons) made the decision to return to the family’s principles and launched independent Ukraine’s first commercial wood-fired artisanal bakery. Out of principle, this bakery worked closely with the growers of Ukraine’s fledgling organic sector, promoting and raising awareness of the virtues of local food economies. As an alternative to export, Jim and Larissa’s venture was the country’s first venture whose priority was to make Ukraine-grown organic grains available to the Ukrainian consumer in the form of wholegrain flours and bread. Jim and Larissa’s milling and artisan baking was at the vanguard of an artisanal and local food movement in Ukraine that continues today. Jim returned to Vermont this year to continue his craft, and together with Larissa, to participate in the rebirth of Barre’s historic communal bakery, Rise Up.

    Erica-HeilmanErica Heilman is the producer of the podcast Rumble Strip and she makes stories for Vermont Public Radio. Erica’s independent radio work has aired on NPR’s Day to Day, Hearing Voices, SOUNDPRINT, KCRW’s UnFictional, KCRW’s Lost Notes, and on major public radio affiliates across the country. Prior to her work in audio, Erica worked in documentary television in New York City. She produced programming for WNET, HBO and ABC News.She lives in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.



    Jeffrey Kantor, President of J D Kantor, Inc, has 39 years of experience in development and financing of affordable housing in Vermont. His development consulting services include project feasibility analysis, financial modeling, preparing development and operating budgets, assisting with all phases of project development - acquisition, permitting, funding applications, construction review/financial oversight and compliance with State and Federal funding requirements. Over the past 18 years alone, he has assisted with the development of 59 affordable housing projects in Vermont with a combined total development cost of $273 million and placement of $128 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

    Joe KasprzakJoe Kasprzak is Assistant Town Manager of St. Johnsbury. Joe’s primary focus is on community and economic development. Responsibilities include business outreach and support, business recruitment, strategic planning, marketing, housing, and program development. Before joining the Town of St. Johnsbury Joe worked as an Economic Development Specialist for the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) serving Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex Counties of Vermont. Joe has served on many boards including Kingdom Trails, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, NEK Collaborative, NEK Chamber of Commerce, St. Johnsbury Development Fund, and was founder/member of the Burke Area Destination Development Committee. Joe has spent his entire career in Vermont and enjoys the challenges that economic and community development brings to rural communities.

    Jenna KoloskiJenna Koloski is the Community and Policy Manager at the Vermont Council on Rural Development where she works with communities around the state to support their work to bring the community together, identify key priorities for the future, and line up volunteers, leadership, and resources to move priorities forward. Jenna attended McGill University before moving to Vermont and receiving her Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. She currently serves as the President of the Vermont Community Development Association, a member of the Huntington Conservation Commission and, and a member of the newly established Huntington Trails Committee.


    Carolyn Shapiro (left) and Karen Lane (right)
    Carolyn Shapiro (left) and Karen Lane (right)

    Karen Lane headed up the Barre Ethnic Heritage Studies Project (1977-78) and managed several Barre history grant projects for the Aldrich Public Library which led to her appointment as Library Director (1989-2015), during which time she oversaw the restoration and expansion of the historic 1908 library building. One day in 1994, she received word that the Socialist Labor Party Hall was being emptied of all its artifacts. The community rallied to save the Labor Hall, now a National Historic Landmark owned and managed by the Barre Historical Society of which Lane is the Vice President. 



    Daphne LarkinDaphne Larkin has spent over eleven years leading public relations at Norwich University, getting the stories of the people and programs that make up the university out into the public and into the right hands whether through earned media coverage, supplying journalists Norwich’s story through write-ups and photos, or by placing faculty as expert sources in media coverage. Prior to that, she worked as a freelance journalist for a year, then covered a beat for the Times Argus for two years. Those experiences combined have taught Daphne how to pitch stories to the news media, how editorial decisions are made in news rooms, and how to craft messages and identify stories that speak to certain audiences to achieve specific goals.

    Lindsey LathropLindsey Lathrop is on a mission to create equitable and inclusive workplaces and developed a gender equity training program for professionals to examine (and disrupt) gender roles at work. Lindsey is also a Certified Coach who empowers professional women to answer the question “Why not me?” by examining limiting beliefs and learning the skills to create what they really want in their careers and lives. Lindsey’s expert advice has been featured in, and MoneyDateNight.comHer downtime finds her hiking with her dog, globetrotting with her husband, and perfecting her DIY construction skills. Find Lindsey at or on Instagram at @coach_lins.


    Kerrie LohrKerrie Lohr is the Fundraising and Public Relations manager at Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) in Morrisville, Vermont. After receiving her BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont in 2010, she pursued a career in ski industry sales and marketing. Her concern for and interest in supporting Vermont communities and vulnerable populations led her to join LHP in 2017, where she develops and initiates fundraising initiatives, facilitates community outreach efforts, writes grant proposals, and oversees the organization’s communications. Kerrie is committed to shifting the conversation towards advancing housing solutions, reducing stigma towards those that are housing insecure, and collaborating with local partner organizations to support the greater community’s needs. Relatively new to housing and conservation work, she is eager to continue expanding her knowledge and understanding of state and national housing policies, issues and solutions to best contribute to LHP’s mission and the broader housing movement in Vermont. Kerrie lives in Waterbury with her husband and dog, and enjoys skiing, stand up paddleboarding, and mountain biking.


    Ginny McGinnGinny McGinn is a mother, artist, and nonprofit leader deeply involved in the work of social and organizational change and in building partnerships across lines of power and privilege. Ginny has a profound interest in how change happens, from the level of individual transformation through the level of entire communities or systems, and it is this process of change that she studies and facilitates in her leadership at Whole Communities. Previously, Ginny served as president of Bioneers, a national nonprofit dedicated to disseminating practical and visionary solutions for restoring Earth’s ecosystems and healing human communities. While at Bioneers she and her colleagues launched satellite conferences and built partnerships in cities around the country. Cultivating practices that support whole communities (lower case intended) and bringing those practices into our daily lives is the focus of her current work. Through “Whole Thinking in Practice” we are able to stay present, make better decisions, and act on behalf of the whole as we go about our work in organizations and movements. Ginny facilitates and consults on organizational change around the country, using the Whole Thinking Practices and the tools she and her colleagues have helped evolve at Center for Whole Communities.

    Jessica NordhausJessica Nordhaus  (she/her) directs Strategy + Partnership for Change The Story VT, an initiative designed to advance women's economic status. She is also principal at Gear Shift Consulting, LLC with a specialty in helping employers achieve their gender equity goals. With this hat on, she teams with Lindsey Lathrop as co-director and facilitator of the Business Peer Exchange, currently in its fourth year. Jessica is a Fletcher Free Library Commissioner, co-founder of the Greater Burlington Women’s Forum and serves on the Advisory Board of Emerge Vermont. She is also a managing partner at a mid-size, rapidly growing family firm in the South End of Burlington that specializes in big dinners, bad jokes and lots of laundry.

    Grace OedelGrace Oedel is passionate about making change through community building. She most recently served as Executive Director at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue and Community Center in Burlington, where she founded an early educational center and developed the community's focus on social justice organizing and community impact. Before coming to Vermont from Massachusetts, she founded and directed Dig In Farm, an educational working farm and training center for aspiring young women farmers focused on the intersection of social and environmental justice. She previously worked on the education team of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) planning professional and educational opportunities for Maine's organic farmers. Early in her career Grace served as program director of a new Farm-to-Table program at the Woolman Semester School in Nevada City, CA, worked on an organic commercial vegetable farm, and as a student managed the Yale University student farm. She lives in Burlington, VT with her husband and two children.

    Alan OrganschiAlan Organschi is a principal and partner at Gray Organschi Architecture (, an architectural practice in New Haven, Connecticut recognized internationally for its integration of design, construction, and environmental research. He is also the founder of the fabrication workshop and construction management firm JIG Design Build which in 2018 created the Ecological Living Module, a fully self-sustaining micro house for the United Nations Environment Program. As a member of the Senior Design and Technology Faculty at the Yale School of Architecture, Mr. Organschi directs the newly inaugurated Yale Building Project LAB. His current research project, the Timber City Initiative (, examines the application of emerging structural wood fiber technologies and the carbon sequestration strategies in the construction of global cities. He is a co-author of the upcoming book The Carbon Guidebook: A Field Manual For Building Designers and the website   In 2012, Mr. Organschi and his partner Elizabeth Gray were honored for their work with an Arts and Letters Award in Architecture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Nancy PatchNancy Patch is county forester with the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation. She is cofounder and board member of Cold Hollow to Canada Regional conservation partnership. Nancy and has worked on conservation issues for almost 20 years, including nine years on the Vermont Land Trust board, with one year as chair. Nancy serves on the Forest Stewards Guild Membership and Policy Council, on the Board of Two Countries One Forest, and the Champlain- Adirondack Biosphere Reserve steering committee. Education includes a B.S. in Forestry, an M.A in education, both from The University of VT and an M.S. in Plant & Soil Science form Texas A&M.

    Eileen PeltierEileen Peltier became Executive Director of Downstreet Housing and Community Development in April 2008 after serving as the agency’s Director of Finance and Administration. Eileen was the 2016 recipient of the Michael M. Richardson Award from Housing Vermont in recognition of outstanding leadership and commitment to social equity.  She serves as the co-Chair of the Hunger Council of Washington County and as a board member of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. Eileen also is the Vice Chair of the Vermont Alliance for Recovery Homes (VTARR) and a member of the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council. Previous roles include the Treasurer of LeadingAge Vermont and commissioner on the board of the Barre Housing Authority. Eileen is a regional administrator of Vermont’s statewide SASH (Support and Services at Home). She is passionate about opportunities at the intersection of health and housing and teaches on this topic nationally for NeighborWorks America. Previously, she worked in nonprofits in Vermont and Massachusetts, primarily within healthcare.  Eileen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.  

    Jacob Deva RacusinJacob Deva Racusin is co-owner of New Frameworks Natural Design/Build, offering services in green remodeling, new construction, consultation, and education featuring low-impact high-performance building technologies. Through his work as a designer, builder, consultant, and educator, Jacob is able to merge his passions for fine craft, ecological stewardship, relationship to place, and social justice. Jacob is Program Director of the Certificate in Building Science and Net Zero Design at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and is a BPI-certified contractor and Certified Passive House Consultant. Jacob is the author of the books Essential Building Science, and The Natural Building Companion which he co-authored with Ace McArleton. An active member of the Embodied Carbon Network’s Renewable Materials Task Force, Jacob has been active in introducing sustainability measures into building codes, including the IRC and the Vermont Residential Building Energy Standard.

    Mike RamaMike Rama joined the Downstreet family in March of 2018. He brought with him over seven years of professional strength and experience in the areas of non-profit leadership, fundraising, communications, operations, event management, and organizational culture. He also has a background in social innovation and entrepreneurship, having co-founded an inspiring national non-profit and holding an MBA in Sustainable Innovation from the University of Vermont. Mike and his wife, Hannah, live in Northfield. 



    Lesley Ratley BeachLeslie Ratley-Beach joined The Land Trust Alliance as its first Conservation Defense Director in August 2007. Leslie led the effort that created the first ever national conservation defense liability insurance program (Terrafirma Risk Retention Group LLC) and she continues to lead the delivery of Terrafirma services to the 527 land trust insured owners, as Vice President of Alliance Risk Management Services. Leslie also created and leads the Land Trust Alliance’s national conservation defense initiative and is a national author and speaker. Previously, Leslie worked with the Vermont Land Trust for almost 13 years as Stewardship Director, leading the program responsible for more than 1,430 conservation easements on over 470,000 acres of land with more 1,200 landowners. Prior to that she was Project Counsel, drafting and helping to negotiate more than 600 conservation easements. Leslie has a law degree from Boston University (1985) and Bachelors’ degrees from University of Oregon. She practiced law first in Massachusetts and then in Vermont.


    Chuck RossChuck Ross is the Director of Extension at the University of Vermont (UVM). Prior to UVM he served as the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets for the State of Vermont where he worked on issues including water quality, food safety, agricultural literacy and agricultural development. While serving as Secretary he was elected to be the President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).  Before his role as Secretary, he worked as State Director for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. He has also served as a Vermont State Representative. Ross manages his family’s farming businesses in Hinesburg, VT. He holds a BA and Masters degrees in Geography. 



    Beth RoyBeth Roy leads Vital Communities' Food & Farm team, including its Upper Valley Farm to School programming, and also oversees Valley Quest. Before joining Vital Communities, Beth Roy worked in the environmental and place-based education fields for 17 years in various positions around New England including at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum in Grafton, Vermont. Beth serves on the boards of the Vermont Science Teacher Association (VSTA) and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP), a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth is a New Hampshire native and lives in Hartland, Vermont with her husband and two children. When Beth is not working you will find her exploring the woods around her home with her family or cooking up a new taste test (made of local foods, of course!) for her children.

    Michael SaccaMichael Sacca is freelance producer and cameraman based in Tunbridge, Vermont. He has been active in the Tunbridge community since moving to the town in 1996, including serving as chair of the Planning Commission for a 5 year period. Presently, he serves as president of the board of Alliance for Vermont Communities, is co-chairing a Vermont Council on Rural Development task force on Natural Resource Conservation, Working Lands and Agriculture in the 4 town area of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge. and has served as Commissioner to Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission for 9 years.


    Gus SeeligGus Seelig has served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board since its inception in 1987. Under his leadership, VHCB has invested $370 million in state funding to develop or rehabilitate 13,000 affordable homes, to conserve 740 farms comprising 167,000 acres of farmland, to protect 267,600 acres of natural areas, recreational and forest lands, and to restore 71 historic community buildings.  

    Prior to his work for the Board, Mr. Seelig served as the Executive Director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, a low-income advocacy and community development organization. Gus has also served on the Affordable Housing Program Advisory Board for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. He is a past chair and current board member of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Vice-Chair of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. He is Town Moderator in Calais, Vermont. In 2010 Mr. Seelig was presented with the Art Gibb Award by Smart Growth Vermont for safeguarding Vermont values and our unique landscape. In 2019 the Vermont Council on Rural Development presented Gus with the Vermont Lifetime Leadership Award in recognition of his transformational leadership in service to community and to the people of Vermont.  

    Gus received a B.A. from Goddard College in 1976 and completed Harvard University’s Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government in 1995.



    Carolyn Shapiro and Karen Lane - Jeb Wallace Brodeur photo
    Carolyn Shapiro (left) and Karen Lane (right)

    Carolyn Shapiro has initiated, overseen and participated in community projects for over 40 years, bringing diverse communities together, especially around sharing their culture and arts. She and her husband oversaw a community volunteer effort to build a free standing structure housing two classrooms for the U-32 middle and high school. She lives in a co-housing community where she and her husband developed the energy system, the site plan, and the process for working positively at the interpersonal aspects of the community. Carolyn is on the board of the Barre Historical Society and is the Project Director for bringing back the 1913 wood fired bakery behind the Old Labor Hall in Barre.


    Kristen SharplessKristen Sharpless became Executive Director of the Stowe Land Trust in 2018 after serving four years as SLT's Conservation Program Manager. She worked previously for Audubon Vermont as part of a team to implement strategic regional conservation programs. A graduate of the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program, Kristen has a deep appreciation for Vermont’s natural history, its communities, and the state’s working landscape. She has worked as a consulting ecologist and volunteer specializing in assisting municipalities with community-based town forest planning, as well as an educator engaging people of all ages in conservation education programs and projects. Kristen lives in Stowe with her family.

    Patrick ShattuckPatrick Shattuck returned to Vermont and joined RuralEdge as Executive Director in January 2019 after working twelve years in real estate and community development in the Mon Valley region of Southwestern PA. Apart from his professional work there, he served as a member of the Wilkinsburg Borough Council, leading grassroots efforts to revitalize this first ring suburb of Pittsburgh while protecting its longterm residents from displacement. Previously, Patrick served as Federal Housing Programs Director at the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for ten years. While at VHCB, he also opened and operated a small bistro in Groton, Vermont and led community revitalization efforts there. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design Historic Preservation Program, Patrick lives in McIndoe Falls with his family.

    Tim Terway, PhDTim Terway, PhD is the Vermont Center for Geographic Information’s (VCGI) primary point of contact for users and creators of open geospatial information in Vermont. Dr. Terway comes to VCGI as a geographer with a background as a practicing urban designer and landscape architect, with professional and scholarly work on how knowledge and meaning are construed by environmental experts in making claims about social change in contemporary America.  Tim lives in Barre City with his wife Amber and is often found in the hills on a bicycle.


    Jo Ann Troiano is the Executive Director of the Montpelier Housing Authority, a position she has held since January, 1975.  Prior to that she was employed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She is also Chair of the Vermont Association of Public Housing Directors and in that capacity serves on the Governor’s Housing Council, and a fair housing committee of that council. In addition, she is a Commissioner of the Vermont State Housing Authority. Troiano holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Vermont and lives in Middlesex.


    Brenda TorpyBrenda Torpy Brenda is CEO of Champlain Housing Trust, and has 40 years of experience in affordable housing, starting in rural Vermont. Brenda was a founder of Burlington Community Land Trust, now CHT, and worked with other advocates on the creation and funding of the VHCB. Brenda works nationally and internationally to promote and support the CLT model and permanently affordable housing. 

    Brenda has also worked for the Vermont Housing Finance Agency as Development Director. Brenda was a Ford Foundation Leader for a Changing World 2002, completed the Achieving Excellence in Community Development program at the Kennedy School of Government in 2003, is past President of the National Community Land Trust Network, and serves on the Governor’s Housing Council of Vermont, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Committee and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Affordable Housing Program Advisory Committee.


    Jon Wagner-Hebert and Karin BellemareJon Wagner-Hebert and Karin Bellemare met in 2006 at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. After graduation, they moved together to Sag Harbor, NY and started a small vegetable farm operating out of Jon's parents’ backyard. In 2014, they decided to return to Vermont to look for land and soon after, they were selected by the Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program to purchase a dairy farm in South Barre. Now five years in, they operate Bear Roots Farm, a certified-organic, diversified vegetable farm on conserved land in South Barre and Williamstown. Their mission is to nurture the soils to produce highly nutritious vegetables, ensuring that customers are happy and healthy, too! They offer a Community Supported Agriculture program year-round, and sell vegetables to various area restaurant, at their new farm store in Middlesex, and at farmers markets in Burlington and Montpelier.

    Elaine WangElaine Wang has been the Assistant Town Manager of Barre Town for 3.5 years. Previously she spent most of her career working on a range of environmental issues at non-profit organizations. She has a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in Natural Resources from UVM.





    Kate WannerKate Wanner is a Project Manager at the Trust for Public Land's Vermont/New Hampshire Field Office where she has worked since 2005. At The Trust for Public Land, she has conserved over 15,000 acres in Vermont including new municipally-managed community forests, new state forests, large timberland parcels, and additions to state parks and the Green Mountain National Forest.  She has successfully closed transactions with the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Legacy Program, municipalities and numerous state agencies. Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, Kate worked for 5 years with The Wildlands Project as a Conservation Biologist, designing landscape-scale regional conservation plans that focused on wildlife connectivity and the needs of top predators. She has also worked as a biological technician for the U.S. Forest Service in Moose Pass, Alaska and as a naturalist guide at an ecotourism lodge in the rainforest of Tambopata, Peru. Kate is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a dual degree in environmental science and mathematics. She also received a master’s degree in conservation biology and forest ecology from Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Kate lives with her husband and two daughters in the woods of Warren, Vermont and enjoys backcountry skiing, gardening, and mountain biking.


    Tracy ZschauTracy Zschau and her family live in St. Johnsbury. Tracy has worked for Vermont Land Trust since 1997, currently serving as Vice-President for Conservation. The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) is a member-supported land conservation organization that has worked with families, communities, farmers, and forestland owners since 1977 to conserve nearly 2,000 parcels of land important to Vermonters. A resident of the Northeast Kingdom for almost 25 years, Tracy has also served on the boards of Vermont Coverts – Woodlands for Wildlife, the Danville Conservation Commission, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, the Friends of Dog Mountain and Passumpsic Savings Bank.