The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) today announced the recipients of the Vermont Community Leadership Award and Vermont Lifetime Leadership Award. These awards will be presented at VCRD’s 2022 Vermont Community Leadership Summit on August 10 at the Vermont Technical College in Randolph.

The VT Community Leadership Award is presented each year to celebrate Vermonters who exemplify “dedication, integrity and honorable service to community and to rural Vermont,” and who have had a “transformational” effect on their communities. VCRD presents the award to highlight the work of community heroes who epitomize the best spirit of local community service, who volunteer their time, and who have made their community a better place. The Vermont Lifetime Leadership Awards are given less frequently, and celebrate a career dedicated to these same ideals.

This year, the Lifetime Leadership Award is being presented to Brenda Torpy, the former CEO of Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), and Sarah Carpenter, the former Executive Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA). The 2022 Community Leadership Award will be given to Pam Parsons of Richford and the Executive Director of the Northern Tier Center for Health (the NOTCH).

Brenda Torpy was the founder and CEO of CHT from 1991-2021. Starting as a community organizer in rural Vermont, Brenda worked as Senator Bernie Sanders’ first Housing Director in Burlington, and at the VHFA on Policy and Program Development. She also formed and led Northgate Non-profit to acquire, preserve and improve 336 at-risk affordable rentals on behalf of the tenants who govern it now. Brenda was a Ford Foundation leader for a Changing World, and has served on the Advisory Committees of the region’s Home Loan and Federal Reserve Banks and the Boards of the National CLT Network and successor Grounded Solutions Network. She now leads CHT’s efforts in providing direct training and technical assistance on these models across the US and internationally. With a wonderful sense of humor and kindness, Brenda has touched many hundreds of lives through her work.

Sarah Carpenter’s service to Vermont has taken many forms. Sarah was elected Burlington City Councilor in 2020 and serves on the Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, the Charter Change Committee and as Chair of the Human Resources Committee. She served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency from 1998 to 2018, an organization dedicated to “promoting affordable, safe and decent housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters.” Sarah is also Chair of the Vermont Rental Housing Advisory Board, and served as the Executive Director of Cathedral Square Corporation from 1983 to1998.

The 2022 Community Leadership Award will be given to Pam Parsons. Pam was hired as the Executive Director of the NOTCH in 1999. She is actively involved in her community and has served on several Boards of Directors including those of: OneCare VT, Bi-State Primary Care Association, Vermont Rural Ventures, Richford Economic Advancement Corporation, Richford Renaissance Corporation, and Pharmacy Network, LLC. Pam has committed herself to improving the health and welfare of area residents. Her involvement with multiple community partners epitomizes Pam’s collaborative and innovative approach for taking care of people.

“Brenda Torpy, Sarah Carpenter, and Pam Parsons have had a transformational impact on their communities and beyond,” said VCRD Executive Director Brian Lowe. “They have used their exceptional talents to support their communities, neighbors, and people all across Vermont. It is an honor to recognize these great leaders.”

Approximately 500 attendees are set to gather for the 2022 Vermont Community Leadership Summit on Wednesday, August 10 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. The award presentations will take place at 10:00am. Breakout sessions will follow, where participants will connect with fellow leaders from across Vermont to build leadership skills, share success stories, and learn from leaders of all backgrounds.

Registration is $50 per person, with options available for partial or no payment to register, if needed, by using promo code "PARTIAL" (for $25) or "FRIEND" (for no cost) at checkout. This event is meant to be accessible to all without financial barriers. The day includes a BBQ-style lunch and a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Party to close. Online registration will remain open until midnight on Thursday, August 4. Anyone interested in registering after August 4 can do so on site the morning of the event.

Register and learn more at

Please contact (802) 223-6091 or [email protected] for questions or more information.

Past Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award:
2019 – Gus Seelig
2018 – Molly and Hank Lambert
2017 – Paul Bruhn
2016 – Rick Davis
2015 – John Ewing


Past Recipients of the Vermont Community Leadership Award:

2020 – Mike Strait, Island Pond and Des Hertz, Burke Hollow
2019 – Emily McClure, Craftsbury
2018 – Shannon Barsotti, Pownal
2015 – St. Albans Community Leadership: Liz Gamache, Dominic Cloud, Emerson and Elizabeth Lynn, Warren Hamm
2013 – Orly Munzing, Strolling of the Heifers, Brattleboro
2012 – Tara Kelley/Mark Foley/Paul Gallo/Mike Smith, Rutland Creative Economy
2010 – Marcia and Al Perry, Richford
2009 – The Center for an Agricultural Economy, Hardwick
2008 – Robert McBride, Richard Ewald, Bellows Falls
2007 – Monica Greene, Alburgh
2006 – Edgar May, Springfield