- Bob Allen, President, Green Mountain College
- Becca Balint, Vice Chair, Senate Education Committee
- Liz Bankowski, President and CEO, Windham Foundation
- Liz Gamache, Mayor, City of St. Albans
- Scott Giles, President and CEO, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
- Rebecca Holcombe, Secretary, Agency of Education
- Eileen Illuzzi, Director, North Country Career Center
- Joyce Judy, President of Community College of Vermont, Vermont State Colleges
- Pixie Loomis, Executive Director, Vermont Adult Learning
- Kate McGowan, Executive Director, United Way Addison County
- Mary Alice McKenzie, Former Executive Director, Burlington Boys & Girls Club
- Rob Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Vermont State Employees Credit Union
- Paul Millman, President, Chroma Technology Corporation
- Mary Moran, Superintendent, Rutland City Public Schools
- Laurie Patton, President, Middlebury College
- Aly Richards, Chief Executive Officer, Permanent Fund
- Michael Schirling, Secretary, Agency of Commerce and Community Development
- David Sharpe, Chair, House Education Committee
- Dan Smith, President and CEO, Vermont Community Foundation
- Bill Stritzler, Owner and Managing Director, Smugglers' Notch Resort
- Scott Thomas, Dean of College of Education & Social Services, University of Vermont
- Lisa Ventriss, President, Vermont Business Roundtable
- Al Wakefield, Chief Executive Officer, Wakefield Global
ROBERT ALLEN began his tenure at Green Mountain College on July 1, 2016. Bob’s goal as the College’s 8th president is to strengthen its position as the country’s leading small environmental liberal arts and science college. Bob is an experienced leader of academic and business institutions in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. From 2011 until June of 2016 he served as president/CEO of the Windham Foundation and its operating company The Grafton Village Cheese Company.
From 1982 until his retirement in 2005, Bob served as president and CEO of the Vermont Country Store, a multi-channel retailer of hard-to-find products. In 2010, Bob worked as interim president/CEO of the non-profit Direct Marketing Association (DMA) headquartered in New York.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Burlington’s Gardener’s Supply Company, JK Adams, and The Vermont Country Store. His previous non-profit board associations include the Dorset School Board and Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vt. From 1995-2007, he served on the Champlain College board of trustees, which he chaired from 2005-2007. During his final year as a trustee he was a co-chair of Champlain’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. His other board associations have included the Preservation Trust of Vermont, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Orton Family Foundation, the Long Trail School and Historic Deerfield (Massachusetts).
REBECCA A. BALINT of Brattleboro, Windham County, Democrat, was born in a US Army hospital in Heidelberg, Germany where her dad was stationed. She was raised predominantly in upstate New York and attended public schools in Peekskill. She received her BA from Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Rebecca earned her masters in education from Harvard University in 1995 and her MA in history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2001. Her career in education has been spent teaching in public and private schools in New England, as well as at the Community College of Vermont.
She first moved to Vermont in 1994 to teach rock climbing at the Farm and Wilderness Foundation in Plymouth and relocated permanently to Vermont in 1997. She went on to direct Saltash Mountain Camp at Farm and Wilderness, a coed wilderness adventure camp for 11-15 year olds. She has served on Brattleboro's Development Review Board and as an elected town meeting representative from her district in Brattleboro. She writes a popular weekly op-ed column in the Brattleboro Reformer, serves on the workforce committee of the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS), and is a CTI-trained coach who works with groups and individual clients on fulfilling professional and personal goals.
ELIZABETH BANKOWSKI is the CEO and President of The Windham Foundation. She is a former board member and executive at Ben & Jerry’s. She remains a trustee of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. She also served as Chair of the Board of New Chapter Inc., a natural supplements company. In 1984 she ran Madeleine Kunin’s successful campaign for Governor; in 1992 she led the U.S. Commerce Department transition for President-elect Bill Clinton and in 2010 she led the transition of Governor-elect Peter Shumlin. She is a graduate of Boston College.
LIZ GAMACHE is serving a third term as Mayor of the City of St. Albans, Vermont, where she is leading an unprecedented downtown revitalization effort that has transformed the Main Street district, filling vacant storefronts while attracting jobs and private investment. Over the course of her career, Liz has served in leadership and managerial roles in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and as an entrepreneur. Prior to the Vermont Community Foundation as its Vice President for Grants and Community Investments, Liz was the Executive Director of Efficiency Vermontand she served for seven years as Manager of Corporate Services at Vermont Electric Cooperative. Liz holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Vermont, and an Excellence in Executive Leadership certification from Champlain College.
SCOTT GILES has served VSAC since 2003. Mr. Giles was appointed president and CEO of VSAC after serving as vice president of operations, social marketing, and strategy. Mr. Giles previously served as deputy chief of staff of the Committee on Science of the U.S. House of Representatives and as senior professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where he authored the student loan provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1998. He was appointed by the Secretary of Education to serve on the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance and was elected chair. A national expert in higher education policy, regulation, and servicing, he has been designated by Secretary Spellings and Secretary Duncan to represent the nonprofit student loan lenders and servicers in three rounds of negotiated rule-making. Mr. Giles has a BA from St. Lawrence University and an MA and PhD from the University of Virginia, as well as certificates in finance and management from the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government.
REBECCA HOLCOMBE joined the Agency of Education in January 2014. Prior to joining the Agency, Rebecca taught at the middle school, high school and university levels. She taught social studies and science before becoming the principal at the Fairlee School. While at Fairlee, she helped lead the district through the formation of the Rivendell Interstate School District.
Rebecca researched issues related to high stakes testing and worked on projects related to organizational learning, school leadership and principal development while pursuing her doctorate at Harvard. More recently, as Director of Dartmouth College's Teacher Education Program, she worked with pre-service teachers and taught a course on Education Politics and Policy. Rebecca holds a BA in History from Brown University, an MBA from the Simmons School of Management, an M.Ed. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Rebecca also completed coursework for her principal certification at Lyndon State College and received her preparation as a teacher at the Upper Valley Educators Institute.
EILEEN ILLUZZI is the Director of the North Country Career Center in Newport, Vermont. She has been involved in Career and Technical Education for eleven years and previous to that worked in Adult Basic Education for eighteen years. She is very familiar with the need for defined career pathways for students at both the secondary and post-secondary level. In 1998, she authored a statement paper and model for the VT Department of Education for a “Single Stream Adult Education Model” that was an early model for secondary and adult students in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for career pathways. She has been a part of the state leadership team that has been developing a secondary through post-secondary career pathways model for Vermont and in this capacity has worked closely with both the VT Department of Labor and The VT Agency of Education.
Eileen is a member of the Vermont State Workforce Development Board Executive Committee, Chair of the Standing Youth Committee and serves as a Commissioner for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Commission on Public Secondary Schools Committee on Career and Technical Institutions. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Rhode Island and her Masters of Science in Administration and Organizational Management from St. Michael’s College.
JOYCE JUDY became president of the Community College of Vermont in 2009, having previously served as dean of students and provost of the College.
She is recognized as a statewide leader in the development of Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program for high school students, and she has overseen the broad expansion of CCV’s workforce education initiatives, including the Governor’s Career Ready Certificate program. By deepening CCV’s relationships with the philanthropic community, Joyce has achieved significant growth in private support for CCV initiatives, including several scholarship programs, the Introduction to College Studies program to improve college-going rates of Vermont high school students, and enhanced services to Vermont’s military veterans.
PIXIE LOOMIS has been the Executive Director of Vermont Adult Learning since 1995. She served on the legislative study committee that resulted in establishing the High School Completion Program. Prior to coming to VAL, Pixie held positions in administration at Sterling College, Johnson State, and Dartmouth. Early in her career she worked for the Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, D.C. She has her BA from Wellesley College and her MBA from Cornell.
KATE MCGOWAN is a recovering CPA with 30 years of non-profit management experience including a variety of perspectives: volunteer, board member, grant reviewer, outside consultant, trainer, facilitator, mediator and Executive Director; and a variety of non-profit areas: higher education, housing, statewide membership organizations, early education cooperatives, historical societies, services to seniors, reading mentoring, free tax programs, business incubators, humane society, and United Way.
McGowan is currently the Executive Director of Addison County and a facilitator/trainer for the Center for New Leadership. She is a candidate for an MBA in Collaborative Leadership from Marlboro College (2018) and has a BS in Economics from University of California Santa Barbara and a Certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution from Woodbury College.
MARY ALICE MCKENZIE is the former Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington.
During her professional career, Mary Alice has held leadership positions in both for profit and not for profit organizations in Vermont. She was President and CEO of McKenzie of Vermont from 1985 through 2000. Subsequently, Mary Alice held the position of General Counsel of The Vermont State Colleges from 2001 through 2005. She also taught both Human Resource Management and Business Law at Vermont Technical College from 2010 through 2015. Mary Alice served of counsel to the law firm of Paul Frank & Collins practicing employment law until joining the Boys & Girls Club in 2007.
Mary Alice is a current member of the Board of Trustees of Northfield Savings Bank. She has served on a number of for profit and not for profit boards of directors including Central Vermont Public Service, VELCO, Vermont Yankee, Vermont Federal Bank, the Associated Industries of Vermont and the American Meat Institute.
A Vermont native, Mary Alice attended Rice Memorial High School. She graduated from St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana and Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana.
ROBERT MILLER is President and Chief Executive Officer for VSECU, a member-owned, not-for-profit, and democratically-controlled financial cooperative for everybody who lives or works in Vermont.
Rob started his career with Citibank in New York and Chicago. He relocated to Vermont as a state employee and public servant, and worked for the Vermont Department of Economic Development where he was ultimately appointed Commissioner by Governor Howard Dean. Prior to joining VSECU, Rob spent over a decade in the institutional investment management industry in Vermont and Connecticut.
Rob currently serves on the Board of Directors for several non-profit organizations in areas of poverty alleviation - Capstone Community Action; renewable energy - Energy Action Network; and economic development - Vermont Council on Rural Development. Additionally, he is a member of the Advisory Board for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA program at The University of Vermont School of Business and a member of Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council (CDIAC) for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Rob possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Vermont. He is a graduate of The Vermont Leadership Institute, a program of the Snelling Center for Government; and a Certified Chief Executive (CCE) through the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES).
PAUL MILLMAN is CEO and president of Chroma Technology Corp. an employee-owned manufacturing company in Bellows Falls, Vermont. He is the recipient of the 2016 Terry Ehrich Award for Excellence in Socially Responsible Business, given annually by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility to a person exemplifying a commitment to the environment, workplace, progressive public policy, and community.
Millman attended Antioch College and is a graduate of the New School and the Antioch New England Graduate School. He is a director of the Vermont Business Roundtable and Valley Net. He is a member of the Steering Committee of ReThink Health in the Upper Valley and president of the Westminster Fire and Rescue Association. He is a former director of VBSR and former chair of the Vermont Employee-Ownership Center. Prior to moving to Vermont he worked as a bartender in New York City. He hopes to return to that profession when his days as a business big shot are over. He talks about his journey from being a bartender to business owner in Vermont and the progressive social issues he is passionate about.
MARY MORAN has served the Rutland City Public Schools since 1996, first as Assistant Superintendent and, since March 2000, as Superintendent of Education. Prior to moving to Rutland, Ms. Moran, a Boston native, was a public educator in Massachusetts for many years. She was a high school history teacher, class and student council advisor and tennis and volleyball coach at Braintree High School. She also served as Assistant Principal at Wellesley High School and Principal at Franklin High School.
Ms. Moran graduated from Boston College with a BA in history, with honors. She also holds a Masters degree in American Studies from Boston College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in School Administration from Northeastern University.
Ms. Moran has served on various education and community boards and projects, including the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, the Vermont High School Task Force, the Teaching American History Project Advisory Board at Castleton State College, the American Association of School Administrators Executive Committee, and the Rutland Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. She also served as a Board Member and President of both the United Way of Rutland County and the Rutland Regional Medical Center. She was a Trustee and President of the Vermont Superintendents Association, and is currently a member the Vermont Public Television Board of Directors.
LAURIE PATTON became the 17th president of Middlebury on July 1, 2015. Patton is an authority on South Asian history, culture, and religion. She is the author or editor of nine books and more than 50 articles in the field and has translated the classical Sanskrit text, The Bhagavad Gita. In addition, she has published two books of poetry. Patton has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life, and she has consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives, as well as on civic engagement. She has held two Fulbright Fellowships (in Israel and India) and has held visiting appointments at the University of Tel Aviv, Hebrew University, and Deccan College (India).
Patton earned her BA from Harvard University in 1983 and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1991. In May 2014, she was named the Alumna of the Year at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Patton joined Middlebury after serving for four years as dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and as the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion. From 1996 to 2011, Patton served on the faculty and administration at Emory University, where she was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions and the inaugural director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the Office of the Provost. While at Emory, Patton served as chair of the religion department from 2000 to 2007, founded and co-convened the Religions and the Human Spirit Strategic Plan, and received the Emory Williams Award, Emory’s most prestigious honor for teaching, in 2005. From 2008–11, she served as president of the American Society for the Study of Religion. Patton began her career at Bard College, where she was assistant professor of Asian religions from 1991 to 1996 and taught courses in ancient and contemporary India, comparative mythology, and theory of religions.
ALY RICHARDS is currently the CEO of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, a philanthropic organization founded in 2000 to promote access to affordable, high-quality early care and learning for all Vermont children. Prior to this role, Richards served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, where she led efforts to support early childhood—including winning competitive federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and Preschool Expansion grants totaling $70 million and supporting the passage of universal prek. In this role, Richards has also convened the coalition that helped to pass a set of education initiatives including free lunch for all low-income Vermonters and the Flexible Pathways bill, creating a statewide program for expanding dual enrollment and early college. For her leadership, Richards was selected as a 2013 Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments and as the 2014 Vermont Champion for Education by the New England Secondary School Consortium.
Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Richards served on the 2008 Obama Campaign and worked as the Mid-Atlantic Deputy Finance Director at the Democratic National Committee. She received her BA with honors in International Relations from Brown University. Richards also currently serves as a Trustee of the Vermont State Colleges and the Chair of the Education, Personnel and Student Life (EPSL) Committee.
MIKE SCHIRLING was appointed to Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) in December 2016 by Governor Phil Scott. ACCD’s portfolio includes the Departments of Economic Development, Housing and Community Development, and Tourism and Marketing as well as the VT Center for Geographic Information. Immediately prior to serving as Secretary, Mr. Schirling served as executive director of BTV Ignite, an economic development and technology accelerator initiative, where he oversaw the organization’s efforts to expedite growth of the local tech sector to strengthen the economy by driving innovation. Schirling led projects and initiatives focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities, career coaching and workforce training programs, and development of innovation hubs. He has also worked as a contractor conducting worldwide trainings for the U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program Cyber Division.
Schirling also served in the Burlington Police Department for 25 years, including seven years as Burlington’s chief of police. As chief, he was committed to innovation, collaboration, community engagement and systems change. He led efforts to enhance the Department’s technology platforms and received recognitions from the International Association of Chiefs of Police for Civil Rights, and awards for excellence in victim service and community policing.
DAVE SHARPE of Bristol, Addison County, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a Baptist minister and his wife. He moved with his family to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he spent most of his childhood. The family moved to Youngstown, Ohio, in 1963 where he met his future wife, Pat. Upon graduation from Kalamazoo College in 1968 with a BA in chemistry, Dave joined VISTA and served in Vermont as the building coordinator for the Addison County self-help housing project. He and his wife fell in love with the State, purchased land, and built their own home with the help of friends. The Sharpes owned and operated Hill Automotive for 18 years before Dave shifted gears in 1991 to teach Automotive Technology at the regional technical center in Middlebury and subsequently at the Center for Technology in Essex Junction. Dave also enjoyed coaching basketball at Middlebury Union High School. During his 46 years in Bristol, Dave started the 5-town men's basketball league and represented the community on the regional solid waste district. He is a former member and chair of the local planning commission and the Bristol Selectboard. Dave remains an active member of the community as a member of the Bristol Historical Society and the Bristol Recreation Club.
DAN SMITH is President and CEO of The Vermont Community Foundation. Smith began his career as a law clerk in the Vermont Supreme Court and then practiced law at Downs Rachlin Martin before taking a position with the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, where he led economic development efforts while crafting state and regional strategies to make key industry sectors more successful.
He also worked for a business management consulting company in Stowe before moving on to serve as director of community relations and public policy at Vermont State Colleges, where he developed and executed the institution’s state and federal public policy agenda.
Most recently, Smith served as president of Vermont Technical College, where he has strengthened the college’s financial picture and led a reorganization of college curriculum while deepening partnerships with employers in key state industries.
Smith, an eighth-generation Vermonter who grew up in central Vermont, holds a B.A. in History from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law.
BILL STRITZLER is the Managing Director and Owner of Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont.
Bill is a graduate of Middlebury College and was employed by Wells Fargo from 1960 - 1974 where he was a Vice President of the Bank and President of the data processing subsidiary. Bill joined AT&T in 1974 and was there until 1987. He was a Corporate Vice President for new ventures and Vice President of Marketing for all US industries. He joined Smugglers’ Notch Resort in 1987 as Managing Director and purchased the company in 1996.
Bill currently serves on the Advisory Board of Butternut Mountain Farm (a privately owned maple sugar and Vermont products business.) Bill is immediate past President of the Vermont Business Roundtable, past Chair of the Nature Conservancy and Vermont Public Television along with past Chairman of the Vermont Economic Progress Council, past President of the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation, past Board member of the School for Northern Studies and past Chairman of Copley Health Systems where he was a Board member for nine years.
SCOTT THOMAS is Dean of the College of Education and Social Services (CESS) at the University of Vermont. He is also professor in the College’s Department of Leadership and Developmental Sciences. Prior to joining UVM in the summer of 2016, he was Professor and dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. In addition to Claremont, Dean Thomas has held tenure-line positions at the University of Hawaii, the University of Arizona, and the University of Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Leadership, and Research Methods, and a BA with honors in Sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara.
Dean Thomas’ research interests include higher education policy, science and technology, and the stratification of postsecondary opportunity in the United States and abroad. In addition to research in these substantive areas, he has a related line of interests and work focusing on methodological issues. Topics of interest in that area include multilevel statistical modeling, social network analysis, and spatial analytics.
He is the editor in chief of the Journal of Higher Education, the oldest and most distinguished journal in the field of higher education and he co-edits the book series International Studies in Higher Education (now 24 volumes). He currently serves as the immediate past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, North America’s primary scholarly society for the study of higher education issues.
LISA VENTRISS is President and chief spokesperson of Vermont Business Roundtable, a non-partisan, non-political, public affairs organization comprised of 115 CEOs from among the state’s most successful private sector and not-for-profit employers. Through thoughtful policy research and analysis, collaboration and advocacy, the Roundtable seeks to leverage the entrepreneurial capital of its members to benefit the welfare of all Vermonters on economic, social and environmental matters.
Prior to joining the Roundtable in 2002, Ms. Ventriss was President of the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (1997-2002).
Ms. Ventriss currently serves on the boards of Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation; Greater Burlington YMCA; Maine Mutual Group; the University of Vermont; Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies; VBR Research and Education Foundation; and Vermont PBS.
In 2009 Ms. Ventriss was appointed by Governor Douglas to the Building Bright Futures Council, which is organized to create a unified system of quality health, early care and education supports for young children and their families. In 2010 Ms. Ventriss was presented with the Key Achieve Award by KeyBank, in recognition of her years of leadership and contributions to both the business and non-profit communities throughout Vermont.
Ms. Ventriss is a native of Middlebury, VT and holds a Master of Public Administration and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Vermont.
AL WAKEFIELD has over forty years total experience in the evaluation and recruitment of senior level management. Having served in four Fortune 500 companies and three global executive search firms, Al has gained in-depth skills in the successful completion of searches for a wide range of consumer companies in direct selling, financial and industrial organizations and not-for-profit. His functional skills are in marketing, sales, finance, human resources, social media and operations. Notably, he has been successful in diversity targeted searches for these areas.
Before forming Wakefield Global, Inc, Al was co-Founder of Wakefield Talabisco International. Al held various human resources positions at Mobil Oil Corporation, The Celanese Corporation, The Singer Company and Avon Products, Inc., where he served as Vice President, Human Resources and Administration Worldwide. He was previously a partner in the executive search firms of Korn/Ferry International and Gilbert Tweed Associates, Inc.
Al was nominated by clients and selected for inclusion in the Career Makers: America’s Top 100 Executive Recruiters; The Career Makers: North Amercia’s Top 150 Executive Recruiters and The New Career Makers. He was cited for his superior work in direct selling and marketing, consumer products and not-for-profit organizations. He has also received the Direct Selling Association Partnership Award.
Al previously served on the boards of The Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Public Radio, Green Mountain College and SIAS International University in China, and presently serves on the board of the Killington Music Festival.