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Meet Our Keynote Speaker

Christal Brown (she/her)


Christal Brown, this year’s keynote speaker, is a mother, artist, educator, disciple, coach, author, and sought-after orator who inspires sold-out audiences around the country. Underwritten by Mascoma Bank, Brown’s keynote address will explore “Seizing This Moment” with a blend of her creativity, background in education, and spiritual insight. Brown’s multi-disciplinary work helps individuals, institutions, and families establish, structure, and implement their visions – her address will apply this unique experiential blend to our current moment and promises to inspire, challenge and transform. 

As the Chief Visioning Officer of Steps and Stages Coaching Facilitation and Consulting, “Coach Christal” leads transformational in-depth coaching programs that help clients achieve new heights of success, meaning, and spiritual aliveness. Brown has been featured on NPR’s The Moth, Ted X Middlebury, as well as various podcasts and conference stages across the U.S. and Zambia. 

A professional artist for over 20 years, Brown is also Founder of INSPIRIT, Project: BECOMING, and the creator of the Liquid Strength training module for dance. She knows first-hand what it means to catalyze imagination into reality. Her unique candor and ability to stand in discomfort with both vulnerability and strength allows Brown to usher in change and transformation for creatives, entrepreneurs, educators and executives.

Meet Our Speakers

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Amer F Ahmed (he/him)
Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Vermont

Dr. Amer F. Ahmed (he/him/his) joined the University of Vermont on July 1, 2021 as the Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. A nationally recognized DEI practitioner and thought leader, Dr. Ahmed leverages diverse identities, experiences, and theoretical perspectives to advance inclusive excellence and build capacity throughout institutions.  

Modeling the principles of inclusion, Dr. Ahmed uses a collaborative approach to lead university-wide strategic initiatives to build capacity and foster a culture of belonging. He oversees UVM’s identity centers, chairs the University Diversity Council, and works with the President’s Cabinet and the Provost’s leadership Team to enact change.

Prior to his time at UVM, Dr. Ahmed was the Executive Director of Equity and Inclusivity and Chief Diversity Officer at Dickinson College. In addition to holding faculty appointments and strategic leadership roles at schools including the University of Massachusetts, Swarthmore College, and the University of Michigan, Dr. Ahmed has worked as a consultative resource for institutions and organizations across the United States and Canada. His is Founder & Principal Consultant of AFA Diversity Consulting, LLC; Co-Founder of Equip, a module-based hybrid DEI training product (; and Co-Founder of Global Inclusion, a professional certification program.

Rich Arentzen
Founder, AO Glass

Rich's main focus besides glass blowing is to communicate the importance of a healthy workplace; inclusivity, equality, and a living wage all matter at AO. It is important to show that today, and beyond, one can work with a practical craft and pass on traditions of manufacturing. Rich has worked at all stages of the glass manufacturing business: as the assisting glassblower, learning fine techniques in Italian glassblowing style, as a glassblowing educator, designer of art glass, producer of lighting components by mold blowing, running production teams, overseeing orders, and so much more.

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Prince Awhaitey (he/him)
Owner, Healthy Kingdom

Prince Awhaitey is a local Vermonter who attended his school days in Vermont and has recently graduated from the UVM Nutrition & Food Science program. Prince enjoys hosting wellness workshops and catering personalized coconuts for events. The overall goal for Prince is to help Vermont to witness the benefits of coconuts and understand how to develop healthy habits. Prince enjoys performing stand up comedy, traveling, dancing, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. If you ever see Prince don't hesitate to ask him for a coconut.

Be sure to visit Prince at the Healthy Kingdom Coconut Cart at the conference! 

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Molly Betournay (she/her)
Director of Social Research and Advocacy, Clean Yield Asset Management

Molly leads Clean Yield’s social research and shareholder engagement efforts. Prior to joining Clean Yield, Molly served as the Director of ESG and Impact Investing at Pathstone Federal Street, where she led due diligence on ESG and impact strategies across asset classes.

Molly is an ardent advocate for sustainable investing and leveraging the rights of shareholders to make positive change. She has experience working on a range of environmental and social topics but has a particular interest in promoting equity and inclusion.

Molly holds a B.A. in linguistics from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

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Alex Beck (he/him)
Welcoming Communities Manager, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation

Alex Beck (he/him) is a Brattleboro resident, and holds a MA in Service, Leadership, and Management from SIT Graduate Institute. He has extensive experience in workforce and community development, youth engagement, and social entrepreneurism in rural economies in the U.S and abroad. Alex has resided in Windham County since 2012, and has been at BDCC since 2015. He helped establish the Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence, and facilitates the creation, organization, and distribution of regional workforce and education opportunities for Vermonters throughout the Windham region.

In his current role as Welcoming Communities Manager, he is the initiative director of the Southern Vermont Working Communities Initiative, and is charged with ensuring our region's systems are supportive and inclusive of New Vermonters and those with immigrant backgrounds.

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Greg Bove (he/him)
Director, Sourcing & Procurement, Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Greg has worked at Cabot Creamery Cooperative for 8 years holding various roles in supply chain and operations. In his current role as Director of Sourcing & Procurement, his team is responsible for securing all raw materials and ingredients used in supporting production of 5 regional production facilities. Greg is currently engaged as a member of a cross functional team, funded by an NE-DBIC grant, aiming to support the development of sustainable packaging solutions. Greg’s team is working collaboratively with Cabot’s flexible film suppliers to assess the current state of barrier cheese film, and to inquire what is possible in the future.

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Trevor Braun (he/him)
Engineer, Concept2

Trevor first started working for Concept2 in 2004 and has had several roles in his nearly two decades with the company. He has served as a mechanical/design engineer developing several products among the company’s recent releases. He is also a facilities manager for Concept2 and has overseen several renovations to the building and property. 

Sustainability is a driving factor in both the designs he has driven and the way Concept2’s facilities are built and function. Braun is a leader in getting the company as close as possible to having a zero-carbon footprint factory.
Braun serves on several local boards in his community and is a volunteer firefighter in his hometown.

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Martha Bruhl (she/her)
Owner, Fog Valley Farm LLC

My name is Martha Bruhl. I founded Fog Valley Farm, a craft cannabis edibles company after graduating from the University of Vermont in May 2022. As a local Vermonter I’ve always appreciated the craft food industry and the care people in the state put into their products. I’ve grown up baking and discovering how good food starts with quality ingredients and attention to detail. When I learned the adult-use cannabis market was set to open a few months after I graduated, I threw caution to the wind and decided to launch my own business. Was I young? Yes. Did I have experience in business? No, not beyond running a nail salon out of my bedroom at eight years old, thanks mom for being my best customer! But was I passionate and excited? Absolutely, and out of that passion Fog Valley Farm was born. I’ve been learning as I go and I am proud to say Fog Valley Farm is currently serving sixteen local dispensaries with carefully crafted and infused “Take and Bake” cookie doughs, for a fresh baked cookie at home and more product ventures are on the horizon!

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Mellisa Heather Cain (she/her/they)
Facilitator & Community Connector at Iceberg Consulting, LLC

Mellisa Heather Cain of Iceberg Consulting, LLC is a Visual trainer and Facilitator who offers experiential workshops and meeting facilitation that focus on group development, engagement, communication and understanding. With a unique style rooted in her background in international education, conflict transformation, and the arts, Mellisa makes sure the needs of all participants are welcomed and embraced. In addition to teaching, Mellisa offers graphic recording of meetings and events of all sizes. 

Mellisa holds a M.A. in Intercultural Service, leadership & Management with a focus on Conflict Transformation from the SIT Graduate Institute, a B.A. in Peace studies from Manhattan College, is a graduate of the Women’s Small Business Program at Mercy Connections and holds a TEFL certificate. After working in over a dozen countries, she has called Burlington, VT home since 2012. 

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Bill Calfee (he/him)
Founder and Chief Visionary Officer​, Myti

Bill stewards the mission and vision of Myti by supporting and empowering the Myti team. The Myti team is developing an online buying process with a human touch that keeps money in local communities everywhere, encourages people to know their neighbors, and benefits the local character and connections of villages, towns, and cities. Bill launched and managed two previous successful businesses: Water Works, Treatment Services and Equipment in Manchester, VT, and Peak Energy Solutions, a building science company in Dorset, VT. He created the possibility for him, his wife, and his child to sail safely across 4000 miles of the open Pacific Ocean, the culmination of 23,000 miles of ocean sailing. He planned, built, and managed systems for wiring, plumbing, medical supplies, emergency gear, rigging, sails, navigation (both electronic and manual), weather, ocean currents, and communication. Bill is well prepared to take on Myti, another infinite, complicated, ambiguous project.

Rooney Castle (he/him)
President/CEO, Rhino Foods

Rooney has been a member of the Rhino Foods team for the past 12 years. As part of the 2nd generation of a family business, he has had the privilege of exploring many areas of the business including spending his first year in manufacturing, the heart center of the organization. While a career in the family business was never the plan growing up, the more time he spent in the business the more he realized that secret sauce of Rhino isn’t in the cookie dough, it’s in the values and culture upon which the company is built. Rhino operates on the notion that companies are well positioned, and therefore, have an obligation to create innovative solutions that drive positive social change. Leading with a human centered approach, Rhino has a long history of living into its purpose of impacting the manner in which business is done. As the current President & CEO, Rooney’s focus is on maintaining and enhancing the culture that has been established by “Rhinos” past and present. He recognizes the privilege that has afforded him this position and is deeply committed to, first, examining that privilege, and second, using the associated power and influence to dismantle cultures and systems that promote injustice and suppress humanity.

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Doug Cavett (he/him)
Team Leader and Mental Health First Aider at Rhino Foods

Doug is a Team Leader and Mental Health First Aider at Rhino Foods who helped develop and chairs the "Rhinos for Recovery" group with two of his fellow employees.

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Simeon Chapin (he/him)
Head of Social Imapct ,VSECU

Simeon Chapin is the head of social impact at VSECU/NEFCU, two Vermont credit unions that merged this year, and has over a decade of experience driving business, brands, and engagement toward social good. Simeon specializes in business development and manages strategy and execution, measurement, public and community relations, impact investing, and philanthropy. With a creative, integrated, and rigorous approach, Simeon brings people together to propel positive change and culture forward. 
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Emily Doyle (she/her)
President & Co-Founder, Ursa Major Natural Care LLC

Skincare entrepreneur / Mom / Dog-lover / Nature enthusiast / Lover of life
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Marlena Tucker-Fishman (she/her)
Co-Owner, Zenbarn Farms

Marlena was born in Queens, and grew up in Piscataway NJ.  She spent her early career as an educator and youth mentor working with some of the hardest to reach young people facing hardships such as poverty and homelessness as well as working with young people with learning differences and autism.  She also founded a wellness and healing studio Zenbarn Studio, founded and ran her own nature-based childcare center before joining forces with her husband Noah to launch Zenbarn Farms, a cannabis brand and retail store.  She is co-owner at Zenbarn Farms and continues her work toward environmental and social justice where she has launched The Cannabis Generation, a not-for-profit initiative to support BIPOC people to get job training and skills to enter the cannabis industry.  Marlena is also a mother of two, an avid dancer and amateur karaoke singer. 
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Myra Flynn (she/her)
Producer/Reporter in Engagement Journalism, Vermont Public

Myra Flynn joined Vermont Public as an engagement producer in March 2021. Raised in Vermont, Myra Flynn is an accomplished musician who has come to know the lay of dirt-road land that much more intimately through touring both well-known and obscure stages all around the state and beyond. She also has experience as a teaching artist and wore many hats at the Burlington Free Press, including features reporter and correspondent, before her pursuits took her deep into the arts world. Prior to joining Vermont Public, Myra spent eight years in the Los Angeles music industry. 
Melissa M. Houser, M.D. (she/they)
Executive Director, All Brains Belong

Dr. Houser is a board-certified family physician with a clinical focus on providing primary care for neurodivergent patients across the lifespan. She is the Founder and Executive Director of All Brains Belong VT, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in Montpelier, VT that uses universal design principles to provide healthcare, social opportunities, and neurodiversity-related education.
Fauna Hurley (she/her)
Senator Welch’s Business Liaison

Fauna Hurley has served as Senator Welch’s Business Liaison for over three years, helping Vermont businesses, trade groups, and associations navigate federal agencies, legislation, and import/export issues. She also supports the work of the state’s Regional Development Corporations and member-based business groups. In addition to economic development, she supports the Senator’s work on childcare and early childhood education. Prior to her work with Senator Welch, Fauna worked as a fundraiser for nonprofits and campaigns, and she spent several years as the Director of Revitalizing Waterbury. An Oklahoma native, Fauna lives in Burlington and enjoys cooking, traveling and being outdoors with her two young kids and spouse.

Rick Johnson (he/him)

Rick Johnson is CEO for Voi, Inc., a technology company focused on reducing suicide and other behavioral health issues. Prior to this he was the Director of Operations/Finance/Strategy of the Population Health Collaboratory at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. He also worked for Cubic Corporation as a senior military analyst in the U.S. Naval War College’s Wargaming Department. Rick previously worked as the Associate Director of The Dartmouth Institute at Dartmouth College, a Vermont Assistant Attorney General, an associate in a large private law firm in Boston, and as clerk for the Vermont Supreme Court.

Rick retired in June 2015 as Colonel in the United States Marine Corps after 34 years of service. His last position was as the Military Advisor to the Department of Defense’s Deputy Inspector General of Overseas Contingency Operations.

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Jovial King (she/her)
CEO Urban Moonshine & Silt Botanica 

Jovial King is an entrepreneur, wellness activist, and native Vermonter. She grew up in a geodesic dome house with back-to-the-land parents, many cold water stream baths, and a deep love of nature. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and despite her parents’ anti-capitalist influence, she was selling wildflower bouquets at the local farmers market by the age of 8. She attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and went on to study herbal medicine before moving back to Vermont to start her first business. 


Jovial founded Urban Moonshine in her kitchen in 2009 and grew it into a nationally distributed brand. The business developed a cult following for their line of organic bitters, herbal tonics, and seasonal wellness supplements. Urban Moonshine earned national press and industry awards for its stellar branding and innovative products.  As CEO, she oversaw a fast-growing team and double-digit growth. She sold Urban Moonshine to Traditional Medicinals, a California-based tea company, in 2017 and, in an unforeseen turn of events, re-acquired the company in 2023.


Jovial is also the founder of Silt Botanica, a Nordic Inspired Bathhouse that will be opening in Spring 2025. She lives with her husband and two sons in Burlington, Vermont.

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Ashley Laporte (she/her)
Vice President of Purpose & Impact, Burton

Ashley believes companies must play a role in solving the biggest social justice issues of our time. She is the Vice President of Impact & Purpose at Burton, leading the brand’s work to advance People, Planet and Sport, and has the privilege of leading the teams delivering on the company’s commitments to Sustainability and Climate, Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), Snowboarding Advocacy, and Strategic Giving. Before joining Burton, Ashley was a Director at RALLY, an advocacy agency tackling a range of social justice issues. At RALLY, Ashley co-lead the corporate practice, helping brand’s build impactful issue advocacy strategies.

Ashley has deep corporate issue advocacy experience from her time leading the Integrated Marketing team at Seventh Generation where she helped drive the brand’s participation in the 2019 Youth Climate Strike, resulting in the company closing its office and donating its TV airtime in solidarity with the Movement. Her team also led the creation of “Believe in a Seventh Generation”, which launched after the State of the Union in 2020, and received coverage in the New York Times and AdAge’s Top Give Creative Brand Ideas You Need to Know Right Now. Ashley lives in Vermont with her partner Luis and their dog Otis.
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Molly Lawrence (she/her)
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, King Arthur Baking Company

A designer, banjoist, and improv enthusiast, Lawrence currently serves as King Arthur Baking Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. Drawing on her many years in the field (and fields!), she is responsible for advancing the company’s social impact work by establishing and managing programs aligned with their vision to inspire and share the joy of baking, building stronger and healthier communities. She focuses on advocacy & movement building, community engagement & stewardship, and impact partnerships & programming.

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Eliza Leeper (she/her)
Mission & Customer Manager, Vermont Creamery

Eliza Leeper is Vermont Creamery’s Mission & Customer Manager. A member of the VC Leadership Team, she is involved in all facets of the business operations.  She oversees the company’s sustainable business strategy, B Corp certification, and community initiatives. In addition, she manages customer logistics and works closely with the Vermont Creamery sales team to deliver on growth through new business development. She is a member of the VBSR Education & Events Committee as well as the Organizing Team for the Vermont B Corp Collective.  Eliza lives in Montpelier with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys outdoor adventures, gardening and live music.

Kate Whelley McCabe (she/her)
Owner, Vermont Evaporator Company


Kate Whelley McCabe grew up in central New Hampshire. After studying English and Economics at Wellesley College, Kate attended law school at George Washington University and spent her first decade as a Vermonter practicing law. Kate now owns and operates Vermont Evaporator Company, the premier online source for DIY maple syrup making tools, equipment and information. 

Kate and her husband, children and dogs have the great good fortune of living on ten acres in Montpelier, Vermont. 

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Mari McClure (she/her)
President & CEO, Green Mountain Power

Green Mountain Power President and CEO, Mari McClure, has enjoyed many distinguished career milestones. Prior to joining GMP, Mari was an attorney at Vermont’s largest law firm, Downs Rachlin Martin and was a standout NCAA Division I basketball player at the University of Buffalo, where she was captain of the team. Mari also served as Chair of the Governor’s Pandemic Employer and Technical Support Team and is leading innovation at GMP to benefit customers, being recognized by Business Insider and featured in Time magazine for her transformative work in Vermont.
Erik Monsen (he/him)
Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Vermont

Erik Monsen’s career has crossed disciplinary (engineering, management, economics) and geographic (US, Germany, UK) boundaries on his journey from designing better aircraft to designing more entrepreneurial organizations and communities. Building on experience as an aerospace engineer and business consultant in U.S. and European aerospace organizations, he endeavors to support technology, business, and community organizations to become more entrepreneurial and to create new value for society and the planet.  Most recently, he is collaborating with a university and community partners to explore the design of technology ventures and entrepreneurial ecosystems both in the small towns of Vermont and in other rural regions across the U.S.
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Michael Moriarty (he/him)
Chief Growth Officer at Gardener’s Supply Company

Michael Moriarty is the Chief Growth Officer at Gardener’s Supply Company, the nation’s leading gardening brand.  Previously, he held various leadership positions at Stanley Black & Decker, overseeing Product Management, Marketing, and Sales.  As Chief Growth Officer, Michael helps to promote the company’s mission of making gardening accessible to all because gardening nourishes the body, elevates the spirit, builds community and makes the world a better place.
Morgan Nichols (she/her)
Community Liaison and Constituent Services Representative, Rep. Becca Balint (VT-AL)

Morgan Nichols is a Constituent Services Representative and Community Liaison for Congresswoman Balint’s team with a focus on economic and workforce development, rural economic development, post-secondary education, arts and culture, and food security. She resides in Burlington.
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Alison Nihart (she/her)
Rights & Democracy

Alison joined the Rights & Democracy staff after 5 years as a member leader, board member, and member of the Vermont Leadership Committee. She spent 9 years working for the University of Vermont, most recently as Strategic Implementation Specialist for UVM Extension. She has worked on state legislative electoral campaigns and while at UVM was a leader in the staff union, UVM Staff United. She holds an M.S. in natural resources from the University of Vermont. 
Shabnam Nolan (she/her)
Executive Director, King Street Center

Shabnam Nolan is currently the executive director at King Street Center, which has a mission to empower youth to explore their talents and find their voice through learning, play, and opportunity. Prior to this role, she was the communications director for the ACLU of Vermont and also worked for child advocacy organizations and a health care foundation doing child health programming in Vermont and Virginia. Shabnam's experience working on behalf of low-income children and families spans over a decade and she is skilled in systems strategy, communications and media relations, and policy advocacy, and brings with her deep knowledge and continued learning in building practices and systems with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at its core.
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Hillary Orsini (they/them)
Chief of Staff and Interim Chief Equity People and Culture Officer, Vermont Foodbank

Hillary Orsini, MSM, is the Chief of Staff and Interim Chief Equity People and Culture Officer at the Vermont Foodbank. Before joining the team at the Vermont Foodbank, Hillary was a Portfolio Manager at Efficiency Vermont, leading the Efficiency Excellence Network, behavioral energy savings portfolio, and pilot initiatives. 

Hillary has also worked as a nonprofit consultant specializing Results-Based Accountability, Collective Impact, and strategic planning. In this role they helped organizations develop metrics that truly tell the story, measure impact, and contribute to a culture of continuous learning. 

Hillary has served on the boards of Spectrum Youth and Family Services, the Howard Center, the Vermont Foodbank, and the Pride Center of Vermont. In their free time, they perform standup comedy and parent two girls under four.

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Jacob Deva Racusin (he/him)
Director of Building Science and Sustainability, New Frameworks Natural Design/Build

Jacob Deva Racusin is Director of Building Science and Sustainability with New Frameworks Natural Design/Build. As a consultant, designer, and educator, Jacob merges his passions for ecological stewardship, relationship to place, and social justice. Jacob is also an Embodied Carbon Analyst and BEAM Trainer and Co-Developer with Builders For Climate Action. Jacob has authored two books and numerous articles, and instructs on topics of building science and climate impact. An active member of the Carbon Leadership Forum, Jacob is engaged in code and policy development, professional training, and other initiatives supporting the transition to a more just industry.

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Mara Neufield Rivera (she/her)
Head of People and Culture, Chroma Technology Corp.
Vice Chair, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR)
Vermont State Council Director, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)

Mara is a senior human resources strategist and executive partner with a deep passion for helping organizations build best-in-class workplace cultures. Mara currently serves as Head of People and Culture at Chroma Technology Corp., a high-tech Vermont manufacturer of optics for the scientific and biomedical industries. Chroma is 100% employee-owned, a Certified B Corporation, awarded the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Business of the Year, Vermont Business Growth Award, and recognized over several years as a Best Places to Work in Vermont and Best for Workers by B Labs. Mara also currently serves as the Vermont State Council Director for SHRM, and the Board Vice Chair for VBSR.

For over 25 years, Mara has held HR leadership positions in and consulted for a breadth of company structures ranging from multi-billion dollar global, publicly-traded enterprises to not-for-profit organizations, ESOPs, and small private firms. She has helped establish people and culture best practices in a variety of industries including cosmetics and luxury consumer goods, professional consulting services, biotech, general contracting, manufacturing, and arts and entertainment. She holds an MS in Human Resources Management from the New School University and a BA in Communications from Queens College, City University of New York. She is also a graduate of Leadership Upper Valley. Mara is a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) through SHRM and was named Vermont Human Resources Professional of the Year in 2020 by the SHRM Vermont State Council.

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Sam Roach-Gerber (she/her)
Vice President, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET)

As Vice President of Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), Sam consults with hundreds of entrepreneurs every year. Sam started the Female Founders Speaker Series in 2016, and created and co-hosts Start Here: "A podcast sharing the stories of active, aspiring, and accidental entrepreneurs." Sam serves on the board of Vermont Works for Women, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, and is a member of the Vermont Seed Capital Fund Investment Committee, and the Burlington Telecom Innovation Fund Investment Committee. In 2018, Sam was named one of Vermont's Rising Stars. In 2020, Sam was the recipient of Vermont's ATHENA Leadership Award. 

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Will Stevens (he/him)
Outreach Representative, Senator Bernie Sanders

Will Stevens is an outreach representative for Senator Bernie Sanders and covers agriculture, forestry, small business, economic and workforce development, hunger/nutrition, and other issues. Prior to joining the Sanders’ team in January 2022, he and his wife Judy were commercial organic vegetable farmers for forty years and are currently in the process of turning the operation over to their daughter.  Will and Judy live in Shoreham with their two Covid-era cats.

Sas Stewart (she/her)
Founder, Adventure Dinner


Sas Stewart is a serial entrepreneur passionate about creating spaces that foster joy, acceptance and celebration—a pursuit she has manifested over her 20 years in hospitality.

Most recently, Imbibe named Sas one of the 75 Inspiring People Influencing The Way You'll Drink in 2023, and in 2019 she was named one of the top 50 entrepreneurs to watch in the US. Sas and her projects have been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Food and Wine, Outside Magazine, Sift, Bloomberg, Imbibe, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications.

Sas currently owns Adventure Dinner, an events company that hosts and curates unique food and drink experiences around Vermont. Prior to launching Adventure Dinner, she was the co-founder of the award-winning distillery Stonecutter Spirits and Highball Social (cocktail bar).


She is a graduate of the SBA Emerging Leaders program, and holds a B.A in English from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in Sustainable Planning and Development from Pratt Institute.

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Mickey Wiles (he/him)
CEO & Founder, Working Fields

Mickey Wiles is the CEO and Founder of Working Fields, a mission-driven staffing agency that supports individuals with barriers to employment predominately people in recovery from substance use addiction or past convictions.

Mickey has a long career in the private sector business community where he held various leaderships roles starting with a Boston high tech, firm Microcom, Inc.  He then moved to Vermont in 1995 where he continued in leadership roles with Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and Burlington Labs.  Mickey also held the position as the Executive Director of the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County.

Mickey is a person in long term recovery and was provided a second chance after spending time in Federal Prison.  For the last sixteen years Mickey has dedicated his work to helping others who want a second chance after a life of addiction and/or criminal convictions. 

Mickey is on the Board and Executive Committee of VBSR, the nation’s first business association of businesses for social responsibility.  Most recently Mickey has become a member of the initial Board of Directors of Vermont Roots & Wings Alliance, an organization dedicated to supporting the drug court system and participants in Vermont.  Mickey’s work is perfectly suited in this role from both his personal story as well as his experience with other Non-profit Boards.

Programming Partners 

The Sustainable Innovation MBA (SI-MBA) at the University of Vermont is the leading program for emerging changemakers who believe business can — and must — become a force for good. Our accelerated, 12-month program integrates sustainable business practices across disciplines, focusing on the tools needed to manage business today and lead through change tomorrow. Sustainable Innovation MBA graduates jump back into work with the knowledge and skills they need to become change agents in fields as diverse as impact investing, sustainable development, mission-driven marketing, supply chain management, nonprofit management, and other socially responsible business functions.

During the full-time, on-campus program, SI-MBA students gain unique access to Vermont’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students learn from sustainable business leaders working to transform business into a force for good. The SI-MBA experience is capped off with a practicum project, where students work on consulting engagements within sustainable businesses across Vermont, the US, and beyond.
The Vermont B Corp Collective is a community of Certified B Corps based in Vermont engaging, connecting and fostering collaboration among B Corp businesses, our employees, and the greater community of people and businesses to drive positive social and environmental impact. We share a mission to work together to ensure our people and planet thrive by using Business as a Force for Good.
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The Vermont Professionals of Color Network exists to build opportunities to improve the experience, representation and success of BIPOC professionals and businesses in the state of Vermont. We believe that prosperity, in all definitions of the word, starts with opportunities to climb the economic ladder, and that a prosperous BIPOC community is a good thing for ALL of Vermont.
Our mission is supported by three pillars:
1. Promoting BIPOC professional development: with the goal of driving in a new era of professional mobility.
2. Supporting BIPOC entrepreneurship: with the goal of empowering BIPOC organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources, community and talent to stimulate and sustain economic growth.
3. Empowering BIPOC youth: with the goal of building capacity for young adults of color to access early career experiential opportunities, menteeship opportunities, and critical life-changing moments to ensure that young BIPOC people can reach their full potential.
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