AARP Vermont announces 2023 State Walking College graduates and Walk Action Plans

The local advocates who completed the 2023 Vermont State Walking College announce their Walk Action Plans

Vermont Business Magazine AARP Vermont has announced that 13 local advocates, who have completed 6-month fellowships with the 2023 Vermont State Walking College, have announced their Walk Action Plans for their communities. The fellows were recognized in a graduation ceremony last week. 

The Vermont State Walking College program is presented in partnership with America Walks, a national education and advocacy organization which works to advance safe, equitable, accessible, and enjoyable places to walk and move by giving people and communities the resources to effectively advocate for change.

"We are delighted to welcome this group of passionate local leaders who are working to improve walkability and livability in communities throughout the state," said Kelly Stoddard-Poor, Associate State Director with AARP Vermont. "We are looking forward to supporting their efforts as they start to implement their action plans in communities throughout the state.”

The 13 Vermont State Walking College graduates have developed personal Walk Action Plans, laying out goals and strategies which will guide their advocacy in the coming months and years. Additionally, AARP Vermont has provided grant funding to the nine graduates who applied for it to help enact their plans.

  • Gigi Beach will work with Johnson Elementary School to enact a Walking School Bus program to promote the benefits of walking to school and engage students in conversations around community design.
  • Christopher Beebe aims to safely connect Guilford Central School with resources located in Guilford Center through the creation of new paths, push-button flashing cross-walks, and working with local organizations and community partners.
  • Marcey Carver’s goal is to implement an integrated sidewalk system in Brandon’s village center as well as a walking connection to the Lower Plain, the Park and Ride, parks and schools.
  • Sabina Ernst will work with Jericho town officials to create a culture of walking for residents, increase advocacy for walking within town governance, and provide safe opportunities for children to walk to school.
  • Deirdre Holmes is working with the Town of Charlotte and local community partners to support walkability town-wide by supporting existing non-vehicular pathways, a trial bus stop, new crosswalks and more.
  • Alyssa Jette aims to work with town officials and local organizations in North Thetford to implement traffic calming and to increase walkability in support of healthy living.
  • Barbara Johnson’s plan is to work with local organizations and planning commissions in Shelburne to establish the “Main Street” area of Falls Road as a pedestrian hub through the use of traffic calming, wayfinding signs, and parking studies.
  • Joel Kolata’s vision is to promote transit service and bicycling connections in Burlington’s Old East End, and remove certain zoning laws to allow for a more walkable infrastructure. Kolata will work in collaboration with local coalitions, organizations and the Department of Public Works.
  • Colin Larsen, a resident of Burlington’s New North End, plans to work with local organizations, schools, and the City to establish safe and equitable walking paths across North Avenue for easier access to the parks, beaches and other amenities on the western side of the Avenue.
  • Robert Leidy’s goal is to work with the Walk/Bike Council in downtown Burlington to connect “walking islands” with safe walking and bike paths, and to build a shared use path connection to the South Burlington Downtown through the UVM campus, among other initiatives.
  • Beth Anne Royer plans to work with various local committees and the zoning department to expand and highlight Hinesburg’s opportunities to get outside and connect with the landscape on foot, and to connect the trails with the village center. 
  • Lyrica Stelle will work with state and local government as well as local organizations and advocates to increase engagement and visibility of walking in the village of White River Junction and encourage local advocacy and interest in creating a more walkable Hartford.
  • Maryann Zavez, of Randolph, will work with local organizations and individuals to implement a safer walking experience in the village for residents of all ages through enhanced crossing signage, pop-up projects, and updating sidewalk inventory.

These 13 Walking College Graduates received coaching throughout the Fellowship from the following Mentors:

  • Jon Kaplan, retired Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager with the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
  • Laural Ruggles, co-chair of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Regional Council.
  • Karen Yacos, urban planner and former Executive Director of Local Motion.

To read each graduates’ full Walk Action Plan and to learn more about them, visit

About The Walking College:  The Walking College was developed in 2014 by America Walks, with funding support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The goal of the national program is to build the capacity of local walkability and pedestrian safety advocates to improve their communities.  In 2021, AARP Livable Communities partnered with America Walks to develop and implement a series of State Walking Colleges.  More info. at

About America Walks:  America Walks is a national education and advocacy organization devoted to increasing walking and expanding walkable communities throughout the U.S. With a network of more than 30,000 individuals and 700 partner organizations, America Walks’ programs include webinar broadcasts, federal advocacy initiatives, online technical assistance, community-based workshops, the National Walking Summit, and the Walking College. More info. at

About AARP
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visitñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

Source: 11.17.2023. BURLINGTON, VERMONT— AARP Vermont