Snelling Center graduates Vermont Leadership Institute Class of 2020

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Snelling Center graduates Vermont Leadership Institute Class of 2020

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 1:05pm -- tim

Photo credit: Johannes Otter

Vermont Business Magazine The Snelling Center for Government announced today the graduates of the Vermont Leadership Institute Class of 2020:

Al Belluche, Burlington, Burlington Housing Authority
Sarah Birgé, Middlesex, Montpelier Roxbury School District
Kirstin Boehm, Burlington, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
Karen Ciechanowicz, Milton, Champlain Community Services
Pam Cota, Underhill, State of Vermont
Elizabeth Cote, Huntington, The University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine
Morgan Crossman, Hinesburg, Building Bright Futures
Matt Dalton, Jericho, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Bryan Davis, Burlington, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
Brent Demers, Hinesburg, City Market
Elaine Haney, Essex Junction, Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development
Emma Hansen, Peacham, Thaddeus Stevens School
Sarah McClain, Lincoln, The Lincoln Standard LLC
Corrie Miller, Moretown, Friends of the Mad River
Stephanie Moffett Hynds, Arlington, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
Monique Priestley, Bradford, The Space on Main
Ashli Roberts, Berlin, The Alchemist
Debora Rolland, Hinesburg, Rhino Foods Foundation
Molly Stone, Bradford, Catamount Arts
Shalini Suryanarayana, Middlesex, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Katie Whitney, Northfield, Agency of Human Services
Jackie Zaun, East Burke, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital

The Vermont Leadership Institute Class (VLI) of 2020 experienced a year like no other after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the program’s delivery. After initially postponing sessions, the Snelling Center and VLI cohort adapted via Zoom panels and discussions, eventually adding distanced, outdoor sessions following all health and safety precautions. Nearly a year after their journey first began, the VLI Class of 2020 celebrated at a Commencement Ceremony held on August 29th at Basin Harbor in Vergennes. With only graduates and a few special guests in attendance, the event was streamed live for guests.

Xusana Davis, Executive Director of Racial Equity for the State of Vermont, provided the Commencement Address, congratulating the graduates on completion of a unique learning opportunity that leaves them well prepared to make an impact on the state of Vermont. Davis noted that leadership takes humility and strength and the ability to name a problem honestly and accurately, acknowledging when things do not go right, and knowing when to step forward and when to step back and defer to other voices.

As part of event, the Snelling Center was also honored to present the 12th Annual Excellence in Leadership Award to Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, Executive Director of Vermont Humanities and a 2004 graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute. Prior to joining Vermont Humanities in August 2018, Kaufman Ilstrup held a number of leadership positions at prominent non-profits throughout the state, and a common theme of his work has been increasing access, inclusion, opportunity and knowledge for Vermonters, resulting in the building and support of vital diverse communities. Described in his nomination as “eager to learn, an innovator and change-maker”, he has clearly made a significant contribution to Vermont and its community life, demonstrating skillful and innovative leadership and vision, embodying the award criteria set forth in honor of Jan Eastman.

Now entering its 26th year, the Vermont Leadership Institute (VLI) fosters ethical and transformative leadership, drawing on expert faculty from within Vermont and beyond, to create a learning environment that challenges participants to develop self-awareness and acquire knowledge and skills that result in strong and effective leadership. With a thought-provoking curriculum and a strong focus on building relationships, associates dive into topics such as public policy, complex systems thinking and innovation, and leadership paradigms that support diversity, equity and inclusion for all Vermonters.

As the 25th graduating class of the Vermont Leadership Institute, the Class of 2020 joins a professional network of over 1000 Vermont Leadership Network alumni, including more than 600 VLI graduates who are positively influence Vermont’s future in business, public policy, education, community development and a wide range of volunteer and non-profit sector roles.

To learn more about the Vermont Leadership Institute and the Snelling Center’s other professional development programs, please visit or call 802-859-3090.

The Snelling Center for Government is a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to fostering responsible and ethical civic leadership, encouraging public service by private citizens, and promoting informed citizen participation in shaping public policy in Vermont. For more information, please visit our website at

Source: September 18, 2020 – The Snelling Center for Government