Alumni Stories

  • Meet some of our incredible Alumni as they share their stories of where they are now, and how AmeriCorps helped them get there!

  • Brittany stands with a purple blazer and her hair tied back in a low bun, she wears a black and white patterned shirt and is smiling into the camera

    Brittany Nevins
    Captive Insurance Economic Development Director

    Dept. of Economic Development, Agency of Commerce and Community Development
    VHCB AmeriCorps 2014-2015

    I recently moved back home to Vermont after three years living in Austin, Texas and started a new position with the state of Vermont as their Captive Insurance Economic Development Director. In my new role I am responsible for marketing the captive insurance industry globally to recruit businesses to license their captive insurance company in Vermont. Vermont is ranked number one nationally in the industry and third globally in the industry and generates millions of dollars annually in taxes and fees that go toward Vermont’s general fund.

    While in Texas I worked for Travis County managing their economic incentive program for businesses who were developing in the area. Prior to that I worked for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as a subject matter expert in home health and assisted living facility programs. I loved living in Austin, but nature kept calling me back to Vermont. In my free time I love to hike with my dog Daisy, work on art projects, and read.

    For my AmeriCorps service, I served as a Housing Resource Specialist at the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). I met with clients to do financial literacy and determine their eligibility for housing assistance. Throughout my time I needed to understand rules and regulations regarding tenant rights, the Housing and Urban Development Community Housing Block Grant, and subsidized housing. I was not only able to grow in my customer service and advocacy work, but also in my knowledge of governmental systems and approaches to social work. I utilized my AmeriCorps service as my practicum for my Masters of Sustainable Development, with a concentration in Policy Advocacy & Analysis. I wrote my thesis, titled Policy Recommendations for Alleviating Homelessness in Chittenden County. Working with homeless populations in my community I lived in was a very rewarding, humbling, and challenging experience. I interacted regularly with people who had lost their housing or were imminently losing their housing. I learned a lot during that time about self care and gratitude as well. It felt rewarding to dedicate so much time and energy to an issue deeply impacting my community, an experience I will never forget.

  • Andy standing with a hiking backpack smiling in a blue plaid shirt - pine trees stand tall behind him, andy stands to the right of the screen

    Andy Wood
    Conservation Planner
    VT Fish and Wildlife Department

    VHCB AmeriCorps 2014-2015

    After serving a VHCB AmeriCorps term with the Catamount Trail Association, I continued working in the outdoor industry, then returned to school to get my Master’s degree in UVM's Field Naturalist & Ecological Planning Program. After completing my masters, I worked for several years as a consulting ecologist, and then transitioned to my current role at Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

    VHCB AmeriCorps showed me connections between housing and conservation that I hadn't seen before. My time with VHCB reinforced my understanding of the need for a systems approach to solving conservation problems that also meets the needs of communities. I am grateful to have that perspective. Another benefit of serving with VHCB was getting to meet other dedicated AmeriCorps members serving across Vermont on a host of different topics. At the time, I had just moved to Vermont, and it was nice to be a part of a cohort and learn about interesting work and new places. I've also remained connected with my host organization, and continue to explore the Catamount Trail every winter.

  • Brenna hikes in the rain, overlooking the mountains, she is smiling on the left side of the screen

    Brenna Toman
    Planning Analyst
    Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District
    VHCB AmeriCorps 2016

    I live in Montpelier with my partner, our dog and two cats. I work as the Planning Analyst for the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District. I was hired right after my VHCB term as a School Zero Waste Coordinator. After several years with the District, I moved into my current role. I am also Chair of Montpelier’s Conservation Commission. In my free time, you can find me playing rugby with the Burlington Women’s RFC, backpacking our local mountains (I’m an Adirondack 46er!), mountain biking, and getting outside whenever possible.

    By serving with VHCB AmeriCorps I learned how to organize and develop programming, which I continue to tap into for my current position. The time management, communication, and writing skills I practiced at my position have helped make the transition to a full-time job nearly seamless. The super positive recommendations from my mentor at Stowe Land Trust definitely didn’t hurt! My AmeriCorps experience with Stowe Land Trust immersed me in Vermont life and got me hooked here. My time as a naturalist helped me grow personally and professionally. My time spent outside has helped me stay mindful and curious during any activity. Some of the friends I met in AmeriCorps are still my go-to people here in Montpelier. Plus, I got to take a Women’s Rock Climbing NOLS course in Arizona using some of my scholarship money from my service, and I am planning another NOLS course soon to use more of my merit award.

  • a group of people bundled up at a table, eating lunch outside in the winter COTS Coolest Lunch Participating in fundraising events that bring light and recognition to those experiencing homelessness!

    Ciara Kilburn
    Director of Housing Services
    Steps to End Domestic Violence
    VHCB AmeriCorps 2015-2016

    I am currently the Director of Housing Services at Steps to End Domestic Violence in Colchester Vermont. I oversee all things that have to do with housing here at Steps, this includes supervising our housing advocates, overseeing our 21 unit shelter, and our Safehome program which provides emergency motel stays for those actively fleeing intimate partner violence. I was formerly working at the Committee on Temporary Shelter for almost 5 years which was also my host site for AmeriCorps! My working experience is working with homeless individuals and families to help them with goals that will lead to housing. Through my AmeriCorps year I was able to work my way up at COTS and was given an opportunity that I might not have previously had. I started out being an AmeriCorps Peer Support Member at a daytime homeless shelter for adults. While I got a lot of experience there I also valued the many trainings that were offered through AmeriCorps. It was a great chance to meet other AmeriCorps members and network with them. I left college not knowing where to take my first step in my career. I was introduced to AmeriCorps through an alumni who encouraged me to do it. They told me that it would help me decide what I wanted and didn’t want to do. I enjoy running into people and finding out they are AmeriCorps alumni as well, I enjoy sharing stories and experiences with those other people. I really do not think I would have found my passion if it wasn’t for joining the VHCB AmeriCorps. I would always recommend AmeriCorps to anyone who is considering it.

  • Polly is in a bright yellow and orange vest with a big smile and wearing a hard hat, she is at a work site with other people in the background

    Polly Crocker
    Watershed Planner
    San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
    VHCB AmeriCorps 2010-2011

    I went to grad school right after my AmeriCorps term at California State University Monterey Bay for Watershed Science and Policy. During grad school I got into municipal work through an internship with the City of Pacific Grove’s Public Works Department. After grad school I found an internship with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) Wastewater Enterprise (WWE) where I eventually obtained a full time job as a Watershed Planner. I coordinate enforcement of the City’s Stormwater Management Requirements program, which requires new development projects to reduce the amount of stormwater running off their site using green infrastructure.

    There is a direct connection between my AmeriCorps position with the Franklin Watershed Committee and my current job at the SFPUC! I actually met an employee of the SFPUC on the shores of Lake Carmi while installing a vegetated buffer along the shoreline of a camp owner’s property. We needed to borrow a wheelbarrow to haul some rip rap and the neighbor was an SFPUC employee! He gave me his card and I carried it all the way to California with me. When I needed a summer internship, I reached out and it eventually led to the internship I got after grad school.

     My VHCB AmeriCorps position working directly with farmers and homeowners around Lake Carmi to improve water quality was immensely important in helping me prepare for my work in San Francisco. I learned that persistence can pay off and to be confident in my work. I was charged with making monthly door-to-door visits with the local farmers to engage them on the topic of water quality in Lake Carmi and try to persuade them to change their farming practices to help the lake.

  • Ellen jumps for joy next to a blue van with a swan flying on the side of the road in New Zealand

    Ellen Reader
    Service Coordinator
    Upper Valley Haven, Family Supportive Housing Program

    VHCB AmeriCorps 2012-2014

    Since wrapping up my service with VHCB AmeriCorps in 2014 I've continued working in the field of housing and homeless services. At the Upper Valley Haven I worked in children's services for 3 years before transitioning to a service coordinator position with the Haven's Family Supportive Housing program in 2017. The overarching focus of this role is supporting families in finding and maintaining permanent housing, but I also get to build relationships with those I work with and support them in identifying and reaching any and all goals, housing or otherwise. In 2016 I returned to school and in 2020 earned my MSW from the University of New England and then became a Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW). As part of earning my MSW I interned with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition where I stepped outside of direct service work to engage in policy and advocacy efforts in the state. VHCB AmeriCorps was a wonderful introduction to this important work and connected me to an incredible network of people and organizations making a difference throughout Vermont.

    “VHCB AmeriCorps had a huge impact on where I am now. I became a social worker because of my service. The first AmeriCorps term I did with COTS in Burlington was the first time I woke up each morning and looked forward to going to work. That continued with my second term with the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction and I still feel that way today."

  • Jenna smiles into the camera, she is wear a black shirt with a gray scarf

    Jenna Koloski
    Community and Policy Manager
    Vermont Council on Rural Development
    VHCB AmeriCorps 2008-2010

    After two years of AmeriCorps, I stayed at the Green Mountain Club part-time as the Education Coordinator while I pursued a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law and Policy at the Vermont Law School. In August of 2012, I was hired by Hunger Free Vermont as a Child Nutrition Advocate. In 2014, I transitioned to my current role as Community and Policy Manager at the Vermont Council on Rural Development. In this role, I work with communities around the state to build a prosperous future, and bring together experts and leaders to identify policy and programs that support rural Vermont communities.

    Outside of work, I volunteer on my local Conservation Commission, chair a Steering Committee of community members working on the future of outdoor recreation in our town, am the Secretary of  the “Old Hut Croo” Association (former employees of the AMC backcountry hut system), and the Vice President of the Vermont Community Development Association. I live in beautiful Huntington, Vermont with my husband, daughter, and black lab in an off-grid home on the shoulder of Camel’s Hump. As an AmeriCorps member, I was challenged to work independently and professionally, but still had the support of my AmeriCorps program director and peers as well as my on-site supervisor and other staff to turn to when I had questions or concerns. The professional development opportunities offered through the AmeriCorps program have been a fantastic addition to my resume, and have armed me with the skills I need in my current work.

    Through my two years with AmeriCorps I grew both personally and professionally. I gained valuable experience in program development, public presentation skills, and the basic ins-and-outs of working in a small Vermont non-profit organization. I also made connections that were critical in accessing future job opportunities. Two years of service also instilled in me a fundamental value of service to my community and my state. I am constantly in awe of the dedicated volunteers across Vermont that are working to improve our communities and Vermonters’ lives and I want to do what I can to support their work and do my part.

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