As seen in Vermont Business Magazine:

Over 500 Vermonters from over 130 different towns gathered at Castleton University today to hear from 90 different presenters and to continue a statewide conversation about how we can nurture great leaders in our local communities. Vermont Council on Rural Development’s “Making It Happen! Local Leadership for the Future of Vermont Communities” features skills workshops, case studies of success, and facilitated conversations about recruiting and supporting great leaders. As part of the day’s events, VCRD presented its Lifetime Achievement Award and Community Leadership Award.

Hank and Molly Lambert

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Molly and Hank Lambert of Swanton, both who have deep experience working on behalf of Vermont communities and also in their own community of Swanton. Molly was the first woman to serve as the Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, in the Dean Administration, and was appointed State Director of USDA Rural Development for VT and NH by President Obama. In addition to many other roles, Hank was Town Manager in Manchester, Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs, and Director of the VT Local Roads Program. Detailed biographies and a photo are attached.

“Molly and Hank are a great team, working together for Swanton and also in so many roles supporting Vermonters,” noted VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello. “The positive impacts of their work probably touches every single community in Vermont.”


Shannon Barsotti

The Community Leadership Award was presented to Shannon Barsotti, local chair of the Empower Pownal process, co-founder of Discover Pownal, and former member of the Pownal Planning Commission. Shannon was the local lead in applying for and organizing Empower Pownal, the inaugural community to participate in VCRD’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program.

“Shannon showed tremendous poise and commitment throughout the intense community conversations prompted by the “Empower Pownal’ process,” noted Costello.  “At every opportunity she listened to her neighbors and worked to rally behind common initiatives. Discover Pownal and the task forces working locally with Shannon’s support are bringing unity and progress to this great Vermont town.”

“What better place to recognize these Vermonters than at a summit with hundreds of other great local leaders,” noted Costello. “For every Vermonter we highlight with these awards, there are dozens of others working tirelessly in support of their towns. At VCRD we feel fortunate every day to work with such committed and high caliber individuals from all across Vermont.”

The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit organization charged by the federal farm bill to act as a neutral convener at both the local and policy level supporting the progress of Vermont communities.

Past Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award:

2015… John Ewing

2016…Rick Davis

2017…Paul Bruhn

Past Recipients of the Vermont Community Leadership Award:

2005… Al Stevens, Wells River

2006… Edgar May, Springfield

2007… Monica Greene, Alburgh

2008… Robert McBride, Richard Ewald, Bellows Falls

2009… The Center for an Agricultural Economy, Hardwick

2010… Marcia and Al Perry, Richford

2012… Tara Kelley/Mark Foley/Paul Gallo/Mike Smith, Rutland Creative Economy

2013… Orly Munzing, Strolling of the Heifers, Brattleboro

2015… St. Albans Community Leadership: Liz Gamache, Dominic Cloud, Emerson and Elizabeth Lynn, Warren Hamm