Over 500 current and emerging leaders from towns and cities throughout Vermont came together at the Making It Happen! Vermont Community Leadership Summit on October 1, 2018 at Castleton University to learn new skills from each other and statewide experts, to address key community issue areas, and to frame new ways Vermont can systematically support community progress. New, young, and emerging leaders participated along with veteran school and select board members, planning and conservation committee participants, local project organizers, students and all who are working to improve the economies and quality of life of their communities.

2018 Lifetime Leadership Award

Hank & Molly LambertOn October 1, 2018, VCRD presented the Community Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award 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 began her work in Vermont communities in 1986 when she served on the South Burlington City Council and at the same time was Executive Director of the Downtown Burlington Development Association. She went on to serve as Executive Director and Manager of the Church Street Marketplace, an award-winning business improvement district in the heart of downtown Burlington; Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in the cabinet of Governor Howard Dean, the first woman to hold the position (the state’s Downtown Program was implemented during her tenure); and after 7 years as President of the Vermont Captive Insurance Association, Molly was appointed State Director of USDA Rural Development for Vermont and New Hampshire by President Barack Obama. Since retiring in 2013, Molly served as Interim Director for Building Bright Futures, a statewide organization dedicated to early childhood development. She also took on the interim role for the United Way of Northwest Vermont in 2017. Hank has over 35 years of experience serving Vermont municipal governments in the fields of management, transportation, and alternative dispute resolution. His experience includes service as town manager of Manchester VT, Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs, and Director of the Vermont Local Roads Program. Since retiring in 2007, he has served in interim management positions for St. Albans Town, Hinesburg, Huntington, and the City of Winooski and has conducted a number of dispute resolution sessions for VT municipalities. Molly and Hank are active participants in the Swanton Enhancement Project, a citizen-led community and economic development initiative, that hosted a VCRD Community Visit in 2015 that they co-chaired. Molly and Hank are a great team, working together for Swanton and also in so many roles supporting Vermonters. The positive impacts of their work probably touches every single community in Vermont.

2018 Community Leadership Award

On Monday, October 1, 2018 VCRD presented its 2018 Vermont Community Leadership Award to Shannon Barsotti, local chair of the Empower Pownal process, Shannon Barsottico-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. At every opportunity she listened to her neighbors and worked to rally behind common initiatives. Empower Pownal has evolved into Discover Pownal, which promotes the growth and development of Pownal’s local businesses and farms, social organizations, land stewardship, and outdoor recreation through outreach, education, and community events. Discover Pownal and the task forces working locally with Shannon’s support are bringing unity and progress to this great Vermont town. Shannon is also co-owner of Longview Farm in Pownal where she and her family raise lamb for sale in the tri-state region.

Snapshots of VCRD’s 2018 Making it Happen! Leadership Summit:

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