Over 450 local leaders working to improve life in their communities attended the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s 3rd VT Community Leadership Summit. Leaders of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences came together for skills workshops, networking opportunities, community project panels, and forum discussions to explore ways to support local leadership and democracy.

Here are links to a few Summit resources:

Report of the 2022 Summit Findings and Next Steps (pdf)
Participant List (pdf)
Photo Album
#VTCommunityLeaders Tweets
VCRD Community Leadership Awards Presented to Brenda Torpy, Sarah Carpenter, and Pam Parsons
Full Summit Program


Agenda-at-a-Glance (see full agenda here)

8:00am ~ Doors open with coffee and pastries*

9:00 ~ Summit Opening with Rajnii Eddins, poet, emcee & teaching artist

9:30 ~ Community Spark Stories: 5 minute stories of inspiration

10:00 ~ Presentation of VCRD’s Community Leadership and Lifetime Achievement Awards

10:30 ~ BREAK

*The Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VTPoC) is hosting an affinity space open to Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color participating in the Summit. This affinity space will be open throughout the day and will be staffed during lunch and at 4pm. VTPoC will have a welcoming table open from 8-9am.

Breakout session types:
[S]kills Workshops: leadership training and community engagement techniques and best practices
Action [F]orums: discuss what we should accomplish for the future of VT communities and leadership and how we work together
Community [P]rojects Panels: community leaders describe projects and share tips and techniques
[N]etworking Sessions: connect with leaders to generate new ideas and partnerships

10:45 ~ Breakouts:

S1. VUCA Leadership: Leading through Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity
Come and get reacquainted with the principles of VUCA. Then, learn a framework that disciplines thinking for a pragmatic approach to leading through all four of these aspects with confidence. Based on the latest cognitive research, the A2B Paradigm Shifter equips leaders for inspiring and empowering others to make transformational change in a VUCA rampant world.

S2. Implementing Strategies for Equitable Community Engagement
It’s more important than ever for communities to find equitable, inclusive ways to engage people. And it’s harder than ever to reach people and gain participation. It’s time for communities and leaders to rethink old engagement strategies and add some new tools to the toolbox. From pop-up events to digital platforms, deep dialogue to quick chats, this workshop will share a range of simple tips and creative ideas for engaging a broader cross-section of the community and ensuring equitable opportunities for people to participate in community projects.

S3. Raising Money: Fundraising for Community Projects
An overview of tools, tips, and best practices for fundraising for community-based projects.

F1. Demographic Change in Vermont: Creating Dialogue, Engagement, and Support
Vermont’s population is changing, and we should talk about it! Xusana Davis, the State of Vermont’s Executive Director of Racial Equity will facilitate a forum discussion based on demographic data and how community leaders can learn, grow and change…just like Vermont!

P1. Leading Systems Change at the Regional Scale: The VT Working Communities Challenge
The VT Working Communities Challenge: what is it and why are 62% of Vermont towns part of it? Learn about the Vermont approach to cross-sector leadership addressing complex, interrelated issues facing our workforce.

P2. Developing and Implementing Community-Based Climate Solutions
Our climate solutions are as varied as each community and can drive economic opportunities. Join this panel exploring various frameworks from regional approaches to community scale volunteer driven initiatives.

P3. The Creative Economy in Your Community: Integrating Arts, Humanities, and Economy
Across Vermont, communities are turning to the arts and humanities to build community connection, engagement, and boost their economy. Hear tips, strategies, and reflections from creative economy leaders from across the state on the connection between the arts, civic engagement, and the future vitality of the economy.

N1. Community Leadership and Engagement Speed Networking
Engage with fellow participants in fast paced interaction for a series of one-on-one conversations within an organized structure as a way to build an individual statewide network of leaders. Be sure to bring extra copies of your business card for this workshop!

noon ~ LUNCH

1:00 ~ Breakouts

S5. Freedom & Unity, Continuity & Change: An Introduction to Navigating Vermont’s Polarities
Polarities are seeming opposites that must actually coexist over time, for successful outcomes. And Vermont is full of them. In this interactive workshop, learn to recognize when a polarity is at the root of conflict, and how “both/and” thinking can improve understanding and lead to transformation.

S6. Effective Community Communications and Story-Telling
Stories are a powerful tool to help people connect with each other, develop understanding, share information, advocate for change, or spur people to act. In this skills-building workshop, learn the basics of storytelling for communications: what it looks like, why it is valuable, and how it can promote better connections with and within your community.

F2. Building Bridges: Boosting Civic Engagement and Building Community Connection and Unity
A forum conversation on successes and challenges around civic engagement and community connection and strategies to build connection, unity, and engagement for the future.

F3. Inviting and Engaging New Leadership
A forum conversation on successes and challenges in inviting new leadership and strategies to engage the next generation of community leaders.

P4. Creative Community Place-Making: Events, Pop-ups, Design, and Access
A panel of community leaders will share stories of place-making initiatives and events that have helped to boost community connection, wellness, access, and fun in their communities.

P5. Implementing Local and Regional Housing Solutions
Creative Local, Regional, and Statewide Efforts to Create More Housing Options in Vermont.

P6. Watershed Moment: Accessing Unprecedented Funding Opportunities In Your Community
Local and State Leaders Share Different Approaches to Accessing and Using New Funding Opportunities.

N2. World Cafe: Challenges and Opportunities for Vermont Community Leaders
A series of informal conversations about challenges and opportunities for local leaders and community volunteers today. Participants will move between different topic tables based on interest.

2:30 ~ Breakouts

S7. Having Necessary Community Conversations: Racism in Vermont
Community leaders will gain an understanding about how to approach and sustain conversations about racism and white supremacy cultural norms. Experiences, resources, and practices will be shared for community leaders to explore and pursue in their process to enable necessary community conversations about racism in Vermont.

S8. Sustainable Leadership for the Long Term: Avoiding Burnout and Fostering Delegation and New Leadership
Come and learn a framework for leading in a way that cares for humanity and feeds our souls. Learn the formula for drawing stakeholders’ attention to what moves people to make a shift of perspective, to be compelled to action. And practice a coach approach to developing leaders at all levels and corners of community.

F4. Encouraging Community Cooperation: Connecting Municipal and Community Volunteers for Local Success
A forum conversation discussing successes, challenges, and strategies to best connect and coordinate municipal leadership and community volunteers.

F5.  Lessons Learned in COVID Response and Recovery: Where do we go from here?
A forum conversation on how we can proactively identify and apply some of the lessons learned the past two years.

P7. Developing and Reimagining Community Gathering Spaces: Community Centers, Co-Working Spaces, Public Green Space, and More
Community leaders share creative local projects bringing community together in new ways.

P8. Youth Driving Change: Youth-Led Community Initiatives Around the State
The past two years have amplified the need for youth and adults working together in their communities to create systemic change. This session will be facilitated and led by youth from across VT on their experience and perspectives on driving change in their communities.

P9. Please Don’t Go!: Attracting, Supporting, and Retaining New Residents
Learn how state and local leaders are attracting and supporting new residents. With many people considering Vermont as a possible long-term home for many reasons, while still others might not see Vermont as a place to put down roots, towns and leaders can learn about resources and lessons learned from a variety of perspectives from around the state.

N3. BYOI (Bring Your Own Ideas): Connecting with Peers and Resource Leaders
A networking opportunity to share your community project/initiative/idea with peers and resource providers and ask for advice, resources, and strategies to move your idea forward.

4:00 ~ Conclusions and Action

4:15 ~ Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Party!


Presenters, Facilitators, Moderators, and Panelists include:

  • Belan Antensaye, City of Burlington Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Department
  • Laura Cavin Bailey, VT Council on Rural Development
  • Alex Beck, Southern Vermont Working Communities Challenge
  • Ted Brady, VT League of Cities and Towns
  • Jessica Brodie, Vermont Recreation & Parks Association
  • Tayt Brooks, VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development
  • Katie Buckley, VT League of Cities and Towns
  • Carrie Caouette-DeLallo, Chelsea Arts Collective
  • Sarah Carpenter, Vermont Housing Finance Agency
  • Rae Carter, EmpowR
  • John Castle, VT Rural Education Collaborative
  • Michelle Caver, VFW Post 782
  • Susan Clark, Slow Democracy
  • Maura Collins, Vermont Housing Finance Agency
  • Adrianna Corbett, Student
  • Paul Costello, Independent Consultant / Facilitator
  • Liz Dallas, Vital Leadership Coaching
  • Sarah Danly, White River Valley Consortium
  • Xusana Davis, Vermont Office of Racial Equity
  • Johanna de Graffenreid, Vermont Creative Network
  • Sara Defilippi, VT Dept. of Tourism and Marketing
  • Cindy Delano, Barton Giving Garden
  • Megan Durling, East Burke School
  • Rajnii Eddins, Poet, Emcee, Teaching Artist
  • Jordyn Fitch, CATV
  • Maisie Franke, Student
  • Jeff Gephart, Town of Rochester
  • Parwinder Grewal, Vermont State University
  • Lindsey Halman, Up For Learning
  • Meg Hammond, Generator
  • Charlie Hancock, Town of Montgomery
  • Rich Holschuh, Atowi Project
  • Becky Holt, Vermont Story Lab
  • Mark Hughes, Vermont Racial Justice Alliance
  • Jeannie Jenkins, Bennington County
  • Alyssa Johnson, VT Council on Rural Development
  • Jenna Koloski, VT Council on Rural Development
  • Saudia Lamont, EmpowR
  • Danny Lang, REclaimED
  • Seth Leonard, Vermont Housing Finance Agency
  • Jamison Lerner, Johnson Family Foundation
  • Ana Lindert-Boyes, Student
  • Brian Lowe, VT Council on Rural Development
  • Keith Marks, Next Stage Arts
  • Geoff Martin, Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission
  • Maeve McBride, CPG Enterprises
  • Kate McCarthy, Vermont Community Foundation
  • Luke McGowan, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • King McMillan, Fight For Kids Foundation Inc
  • Stephen Michon, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Julie Moore, VCRD Board
  • Baird Morgan, Pittsford Village Farm
  • Jon Michael Muise, USDA Rural Development
  • Devon Neary, Rutland Regional Planning Commission / Rutland City Alderman
  • Pam Parsons, Richford Health Center
  • Auishma Pradhan, Student
  • Thato Ratsebe, AALV
  • Curtis Reed, VT Partnership for Fairness and Diversity
  • Aly Richards, VCRD Board, LGK
  • Emily Rosenbaum, Working Communities Challenge Lamoille County
  • Kim Rupe, Vermont Council on Rural Development
  • Tino Charles Rutanhira, Vermont Professionals of Color Network
  • Rebecca Sanborn Stone, Community Workshop LLC
  • Jessica Savage, VT Council on Rural Development
  • Olivia Scharnberg, Student
  • Gillian Sewake, St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce – Discover St. Johnsbury
  • Laura Sibilia, Vermont State Legislature
  • Katherine Sims, Vermont State Legislature
  • Misty Sinsigalli, USDA Rural Development
  • Dawn and Greg Tatro, Jenna’s Promise
  • Eli Toohey, Greater Barre Working Communities Challenge
  • Brenda Torpy, Champlain Housing Trust
  • Paul Toth, Vital Leadership Coaching
  • Don Turner, Town of Milton
  • Dora Urujeni, Community Asylum Seekers Project
  • Janine Valcour, University of Vermont Gund Institute
  • Weiwei Wang, Vermont Professionals of Color Network
  • Sarah Waring, USDA Rural Development
  • Becca Washburn, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Marshall Webb, Shelburne Farms
  • Nicol Whalen, Arlington Common Ground
  • Kate Whitehead, Danville Train Station Committee
  • Sherry Winnie, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Financial Sponsors

The 3rd Vermont Community Leadership Summit is made possible by the generous support of:


  • Vermont Humanities, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
  • Northfield Savings Bank
  • VELCO – Vermont Electric Power Company
  • Vermont Community Foundation
  • The Alchemist
  • The Alchemist Foundation
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
  • Cabot Creamery Coop
  • CCTV Productions
  • National Life Charitable Foundation
  • Preservation Trust of Vermont
  • Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation
  • Union Mutual of Vermont
  • UVM Office of Engagement
  • Vermont Economic Development Authority
  • Vital Leadership Coaching
  • VT Digger


Join Us as a Sponsor!

On behalf of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), we invite you to partner with us as we encourage emerging and existing leaders! In democracy, all citizens are called upon to lead – where leaders step up, towns achieve great things. Local leadership is the key ingredient in building unity, setting direction, and achieving progress. The Summit will help support leaders, and identify what should be done to better encourage, inspire, and train leaders with the skills they need to succeed. Your business can be part of leading Vermont into a brighter future! Sponsors will receive recognition through a variety of channels, based on their level of sponsorship. Click here for more about sponsorship and entitlements.

Outreach Partners

Thanks to the following organizations and businesses who signed on as “Outreach Partners” and actively shared the Summit information through their networks:

  • AARP
  • Addison County Development Corporation
  • Bennington RPC
  • Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
  • Building a Local Economy
  • Burlington Community Justice Center
  • Burlington Young Professionals
  • Capstone Community Action
  • Center for an Agricultural Economy
  • Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation
  • Central Vermont Young Professionals
  • Chamber and Economic
  • Development of the Rutland Region
  • Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
  • Common Good VT
  • Deparment of Housing and Community Development
  • EmpowR
  • Energy Action Network
  • Franklin County Industrial Corporation
  • Green Mountain Economic Development
  • Hunger Free Vermont
  • Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce
  • Lake Champlain Islands Economic Development Corporation
  • Lamoille Economic Development Corporation
  • Leadership Champlain
  • Milton Artists Guild
  • Mount Ascutney Regional Commission
  • NEK Collaborative
  • North Country Hospital Community Health Team
  • Northern Forest Center
  • Northwest Regional Planning Commission
  • NVDA
  • Preservation Trust of Vermont
  • Rising Stars Alumni Facebook
  • Rutland Young Professionals
  • Southern Vermont Young Professionals
  • Springfield Regional Development Corporation
  • The Root Social Justice Center
  • Two Rivers – Ottauquechee Regional Commission
  • UVM Center for Rural Studies
  • UVM Extension 4-H Program
  • VBSR/Vermont Change Makers Table
  • Vermont 211
  • Vermont Arts Council
  • Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Vermont Commission on Women
  • Vermont Community Development Association
  • Vermont Community Loan Fund
  • Vermont Creative Network
  • Vermont Future Project
  • Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
  • Vermont Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government
  • Vermont League of Cities and Towns
  • Vermont State Colleges
  • Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Vermont Youth Conservation Corps
  • Vital Communities
  • VMBA (and trails and greenways)
  • VT Community Justice Network
  • WCC Teams
  • Windham Regional Planning Commission
  • Womens Business Ownership Network

Video captured at the event:

Morning sessions includes welcome, plenary performance, and spark stories:

News story about the Summit by GNAT TV:

Pre-Summit story by GNAT TV:

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