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Vermont Council on Rural Development Launches New “Climate Catalysts” Leadership Program and Invites Applications


The Vermont Council on Rural Development announced the launch of a new leadership program for Vermonters working to create climate solutions at the local level. The Climate Catalysts program will bring together 10 local leaders from all walks of life and all corners of Vermont to build peer connections, strengthen leadership skills, and receive support in developing a local project or initiative. 

“This new program is a manifestation of VCRD’s core belief in the power of Vermont towns to build a prosperous future while leading in developing local climate solutions,” said VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello. “Through this program we will Invest in and support local leaders who are thinking creatively about the climate challenge and deeply committed to developing solutions.”

The program will run from February through December of 2020 and at the core will be 4 evening sessions to convene, enjoy a meal, work together, and connect with other leaders and programmatic partners. Between sessions there will be one-on-one consultations (with VCRD staff and with cohort partners) and full group zoom meetings. Much of the program’s exercises and assignments will be focused on planning and implementing participant-directed projects. The program structure is intended to make it accessible for those potential participants already busy with the many demands of work, family, and volunteer activities.

“A strong and capable local leader is often the key ingredient in getting things done in communities,” noted VCRD Program Director Jon Copans. “This program is designed to work with new, emerging, and experienced leaders to help them take it to the next level in addressing climate change and strengthening their community.”  

 “As the convener of the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network and our annual December conference, we see tremendous value in bringing local leaders together for networking, collaboration, and leadership development,” noted Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Action Program Director/VECAN Coordinator at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. “We are excited to partner in this new program and are looking forward to connecting with and providing support to participants.”

A simple application for the program is available here - The deadline to apply is January 27. Participants are asked to apply with a project in mind that they will develop throughout the program.

Those interested in learning more can visit the program webpage here – or click here to sign up for an informational webinar scheduled for January 14 from 1 – 2:00 PM.  Potential participants can also reach out directly to Program Director Jon Copans at or (802) 225-6393 with any questions.

The Climate Catalysts Program is made possible by support from VLITE, other philanthropic foundations and VCRD’s generous supporters. 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.