Selig and Maclure receive awards at VCRD’s Community Leadership Summit

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Wed, 08/14/2019 - 9:31am -- Denise Sortor

500 Vermonters from over 140 different towns gathered at Vermont Technical College to hear from 60 different presenters and to continue a statewide conversation about how we can nurture great leaders in our local communities. Vermont Council on Rural Development’s 2nd Annual Vermont Community Leadership Summit features skills workshops, case studies of success, and facilitated conversations about recruiting and supporting great leaders. As part of the day’s events, VCRD presented its Lifetime Achievement Award and Community Leadership Award.

Gus Seelig

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Gus Seelig. Under his leadership, VHCB has invested $370 million in state funding to develop or rehabilitate 13,000 affordable homes, to conserve 740 farms comprising 167,000 acres, and 267,600 acres of natural areas and recreational and forest lands, and to restore 71 historic community buildings. Gus previously served as the Executive Director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, a low‐income advocacy and community development organization. Gus has also served on the Affordable Housing Program Advisory Board for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. He is a past chair and current board member of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Vice‐Chair of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. He is Town Moderator in Calais, Vermont.

“In his careful way, Gus embodies for so many of us many of the best ideals as Vermonters—conservation of the land married to strong town centers, and housing with dignity for all members of the VT community,” said VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello.  “Gus is a collaborative engineer and peerless champion of the people, buildings and land of Vermont.”

Emily Maclure (left in photo, with Kit Basom)

The Community Leadership Award was presented to the owner and operator of the Craftsbury General Store, Emily Maclure. Emily has owned the store since 2012 with Kit Basom. She grew up in Orleans Vermont, but spent a decade living in Los Angeles as an event organizer. Emily is vice chair of the Craftsbury Planning Commission, Co‐Chair of the Center for An Agricultural Economy Board and one of the proud hosts of the Annual Craftsbury Block Party. When VCRD produced the Craftsbury Community Visit process in 2015, Emily served as Community Visit Chair. She and her partner Evan Karp recently had a daughter, their first child Esmé, and are enjoying all the fun new adventures of parenthood.

“Everywhere she goes, Emily builds community through food and fun, along with her positive energy and can do spirit,” noted Paul Costello. “Emily’s leadership skills were on full display during our Community Visit in Craftsbury as she rallied people together to get big things done.”

“For every Vermonter we highlight with these awards, there are dozens of others working tirelessly in support of their towns,” concluded Costello.  “We host today’s summit to bring many of those leaders together to learn from one another and to conspire together about how to strengthen our towns and our state. At VCRD we feel fortunate every day to work with such committed and high caliber individuals from all across Vermont.”

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.

Award Winner Biographies

Gus Seelig

Gus Seelig has served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board since its inception in 1987. Under his leadership, VHCB has invested $370 million in state funding to develop or rehabilitate 13,000 affordable homes, to conserve 740 farms comprising 167,000 acres, and 267,600 acres of natural areas and recreational and forest lands, and to restore 71 historic community buildings. Prior to his work for the Board, Gus served as the Executive Director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, a low-income advocacy and community development organization. Gus has also served on the Affordable Housing Program Advisory Board for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. He is a past chair and current board member of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Vice-Chair of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. He is Town Moderator in Calais, Vermont. In 2010 Mr. Gus was presented with the Art Gibb Award by Smart Growth Vermont for safeguarding Vermont values and our unique landscape. He received a B.A. from Goddard College in 1976 and completed the Harvard University’s Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government in 1995.

Emily Maclure

Emily Maclure has owned and operated the Craftsbury General Store since 2012 with Kit Basom. She grew up in Orleans Vermont, but spent a decade living in Los Angeles as an event organizer. The sense of community is what brought her back to the NEK and also what drives her career. Today, everywhere she goes, Emily builds community through food and fun, along with her positive energy and can do spirit! Emily is vice chair of the Craftsbury Planning Commission, Co-Chair of the Center for An Agricultural Economy Board and one of the proud hosts of the Annual Craftsbury Block Party. When VCRD produced a Craftsbury Community Visit process in 2015, residents identified Emily as an organized person who could best act as the Community Visit Chair to serve as the touchstone during the process and the coordinative leader after the event. Emily served as the keystone of this community effort which brought almost 200 residents together and set three goals for the future: Advancing Land Protection; Improving Cell Service and Broadband Access; and Building a Partnership between the Schools and the Community—along with arts and child care initiatives that sprang from the energy of Emily and the Craftsbury community. She and her partner Evan Karp recently had a daughter, their first child Esmé, and are enjoying all the fun new adventures of parenthood.

Past Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award:

2015... John Ewing

2016…Rick Davis

2017…Paul Bruhn

2018…Molly and Hank Lambert

Past Recipients of the Vermont Community Leadership Award:

2005... Al Stevens, Wells River

2006... Edgar May, Springfield

2007... Monica Greene, Alburgh

2008... Robert McBride, Richard Ewald, Bellows Falls

2009... The Center for an Agricultural Economy, Hardwick

2010... Marcia and Al Perry, Richford

2012... Tara Kelley/Mark Foley/Paul Gallo/Mike Smith, Rutland Creative Economy

2013... Orly Munzing, Strolling of the Heifers, Brattleboro

2015... St. Albans Community Leadership: Liz Gamache, Dominic Cloud, Emerson and Elizabeth Lynn, Warren Hamm

2018… Shannon Barsotti, Pownal