Meet the 2020-2021 VHCB AmeriCorps Members

  • Allison Betelak sits on a brick park fountain in her graduation gown with her legs crossed and is smiling

    Allison Betelak (she/her)
    Home Education Coordinator
    Champlain Housing Trust

    Allison is serving as the Home Education Coordinator with the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington. She grew up in New Hampshire but moved to Vermont while attending University of Vermont for her undergraduate degree. Her interest in service & community engagement began while studying abroad in Botswana and getting involved with community development work. She is passionate about environmental conservation and community development and so was driven to serve with VHCB because of the combined mission to lift up Vermonters. In her free time she loves to hike, travel, and read.

  • Isabel Brown is smiling, sitting in front of rocks with a blue tank top and holding a plastic water bottle

    Isabel Brown (she/her)
    Memory Care Community Enrichment Specialist
    Cathedral Square

    Isabel is serving as a memory care enrichment specialist at Memory Care at Allen Brook, a Cathedral Square location. She moved around quite a bit growing up but have lived mostly in Salt Lake City, UT, Boston, MA, Rome, Italy and Burlington. Isabel fell in love with Burlington and Vermont a few years ago when she attended her first year of college at Champlain College. Though Champlain wasn’t a good fit, Burlington was so Isabel stayed and received an Associate’s Degree through the Community College of Vermont. She is hoping to continue on to the University of Vermont to study Sociology and Film Studies in the next year. Due to the pandemic, she decided to put school off in order to explore other ways she could give back to her community and learn more about Sociology hands on. This is why she decided to apply for AmeriCorps and VHCB positions in particular. Read more!

  • Emma Cooney head shot, she is smiling wearing a black, lacey top Emma Cooney (she/her)
    Housing Support Specialist
    Committee on Temporary Housing

    Emma is serving with VHCB AmeriCorps as a Housing Support Specialist at the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Burlington. She grew up in Nebraska and moved to the East Coast five years ago. She studied theatrical stage management at Boston University and volunteered with food justice programs throughout college. After earning her BFA in May 2019, Emma spent a year working on operas around the country. Her passions include the arts, cooking, and reading. She is inspired by her many mentors and family members who have done service programs, and she is excited to learn more about human services in Vermont.

  • Dante DeNault is wearing glasses with short brown curly hair, he is smiling and sitting in front of purple and yellow flowers Dante DeNault (he/him)
    Volunteer Outreach Member & Direct Service Volunteer
    Central Vermont Council on Aging

    Dante graduated from Ithaca College with a B.S. in Communication Management and Design and a minor in Sociology. Born and raised in Latham, New York, he is delighted to call Barre City his home. As a two time AmeriCorps VISTA alumni, Dante has served with the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service and the Philadelphia Water Department leading AmeriCorps members and promoting environmental justice initiatives. Prior to that, Dante has worked with Hospicare & Palliative Care Services coordinating events, donations, and volunteers. In various capacities, he has volunteered with Code for Philly, North Carolina Coastal Federation, 180 Degrees Consulting, and Ithaca College Bureau of Concerts. His passion for service is inspired by his desire to cultivate community, sustainability, and justice. In his free time, you may find him eating, reading, tending to plants, listening to music, skiing, and hiking.

  • Courtney Dickerson stands with her gray AmeriCorps tshirt on and pink shorts with her hand on a  tree Courtney Dickerson (she/her)
    Outreach and Youth Program Coordinator
    Catamount Trails Association 

    Courtney grew up in Vermont, surrounded by farmland and forests. She would spend countless hours after school exploring nature around her house and playing in the woods. This fostered a love for the Vermont landscape and inspired her undergraduate studies at Middlebury College, where she majored in Conservation Biology, and graduate studies at the University of Rhode Island, where she studied sustainable agriculture and food systems. Courtney is excited to be serving for a second year at the Catamount Trail Association. She will be leading the Ski Cubs program, which is a youth nordic skiing program that promotes healthy lifestyles and a love of winter at no cost to participants. This program increases access to skiing in underserved communities, promoting connections to the natural world for everyone. She also assists with efforts to protect the Catamount Trail through conservation initiatives, mapping, and landowner outreach.

  • Chrissy is laughing on a dock over water. Her arms are behind her back and she is wearing a white tank top

    Chrissy Doherty (she/her)
    Shared Equity Coordinator
    Champlain Housing Trust

    Chrissy is currently serving as the Shared Equity Coordinator at Champlain Housing Trust. She grew up in Queens, New York, and graduated from University of Vermont in May 2017 studying Environmental Studies, Community Design, and Anthropology. When she isn't serving, she loves making bagels, growing flowers and food, and riding her bicycle. She's excited to be a part of VHCB because she thinks thoughtful conservation is a powerful tool in making Vermont more equitable and enjoyable.

  • Benjamin Gress is in the snow wearing a blue beanie and sunglasses and is rolling a snowball in his black gloves Benjamin Gress (he/him)
    Farm & Forest Community Coordinator
    Montpelier Parks & Trees

    Benjamin is serving as the Farm & Forest Community Coordinator at Montpelier Parks and Trees. He grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia Pennsylvania and after living in the city for the past six years he is excited for the change of pace and to join his sister in the beautiful Green Mountain State. In his spare time Benjamin enjoys making music, frequent hikes and meals with his partner, skiing in the winter and spending time with his family. In May of 2020 he graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and is thrilled to apply his learned skills in a way that can positively affect change, and improve the lives of the residents of Montpelier. Benjamin believes that through his service with the VHCB he can help preserve and foster the amazing outdoor recreation culture of Central Vermont and improve the lives of local seniors through the produce grown at the FEAST community farm. 

  • Andrew Gribbin is smiling wearing a blue t-shirt and green flannel Andrew Gribbin (he/him)
    Aging in Place Coordinator
    Montpelier Senior Activity Center

    Andrew was born and raised in Montpelier and graduated from Montpelier High School before completing his B.A. in Anthropology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. He will be serving his AmeriCorps term in his home town at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center as their Aging in Place Coordinator. Andrew was drawn to VHCB AmeriCorps for the opportunity it provides to have a direct and positive impact on the Central Vermont community. When not serving, Andrew can be found rooting for the New York Yankees, New York Giants, and St. John’s Red Storm (college basketball), depending on the season.

  • Sarah Hooghuis is standng in the snow in dark wash jeans & a black puffy jacket. She is smiling and holding her camera Sarah Hooghuis (she/her)
    Environmental Education & Outreach
    Audubon Vermont 

    Sarah graduated in 2017 with a BA in Environmental Studies from Skidmore College and moved up to Vermont soon after. She has five years of experience as an environmental educator, having taught in the desert, on mountains, on farms, and now a 250 acre nature center. Although she is from southwestern Connecticut, Sarah considers Vermont home and have fallen in love with the natural landscapes and communities. She decided to serve with Audubon Vermont through VHCB AmeriCorps because of her desire to become an accomplished naturalist and share the small wonders of the natural world with students. During her service, Sarah will lead hundreds of students from all over the state in place-based, environmental education programs at the Green Mountain Audubon Center, manage the Counselor-in-Training program and Adopt-A-Trail program, and coordinate two community science initiatives: Climate Watch and Phenology. She is eager to be a part of a nationally recognized environmental organization and to learn from seasoned naturalists. 

  • Bekah Kuster is smiling into the camera, she is long curled red hair and is wearing a gray and white sweater Rebekah Kuster (she/her)
    Community Energy Coordinator
    Vermont Natural Resources Council

    Rebekah (Bekah) is currently serving as VNRC’s Community Energy Coordinator, helping to support and foster town energy committees across Vermont. Bekah grew up in a cohousing community in southwest Colorado where she formed a deep connection to the natural world and her passion for environmental work began. Bekah graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Community and International Development. She designed her studies at the University of Vermont to focus on understanding the interplay between environmental policy, and community development and organizing. Bekah previously worked as a Canvasser for Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) where she educated Vermonters on VPIRG’s anti-plastic legislation campaign. Most recently, she interned with Shelburne Farms, helping to facilitate place-based and experiential learning opportunities for elementary-aged students. In her free time, Bekah enjoys exploring the outdoors with friends, eating delicious gluten-free baked goods, and playing the ukulele.

  • Eliza stands in a field, she is smiling and wearing a bright orange vest while soil sampling Eliza Letourneau (she/her)
    Stewardship Technician 
    Green Mountain Club

    Eliza is serving as the Stewardship Assistant at the Green Mountain Club. She grew up in Vermont, taking a brief foray to North Carolina to study Environmental Science at Duke University. After graduating in 2019, she moved back to Vermont to serve as the Conservation Technician at the Franklin County Natural Resources Conservation District through the ECO AmeriCorps program. Through her ECO service, she came to see the importance of balancing open working lands, forested lands, and wetlands across the state to support not only the ecology of Vermont but the food systems, recreation, and more that make up the state’s nature-based culture and economy. She hopes to continue to support this balance during her service with GMC helping to monitor and maintain property boundaries along the Long Trail and Adirondack Trail and writing Land Management Plans.

  • Georgia looks into the camera, her hair is back and the sun glows behind her Georgia Michalovic (she/her)
    Project Assistant
    Twin Pines Housing

    Georgia was born and raised in the Upper Valley and will be serving with Twin Pines Housing as Project and Resident Outreach Assistant- part of the 2020 VHCB AmeriCorps cohort.

    As daughter of an architect and realator, the process of building, buying, and sustaining homes holds particular significance. She comes to Twin Pines with experience in garden design and maintenance from her time developing WheaFarm at Wheaton College and looks forward to weaving equitability, environmental stewardship and community development together this year at Twin Pines.

    Georgia is passionate about movement, expressivity and the outdoors - and will be completing a Wilderness First Responder course in November!

  • Anastasia is taking a selfie of her holding a bird, she is smiling and wearing her gray americorps t-shirt Anastasia Mickiewcz (she/her)
    Environmental Educator
    Vermont Institute of Natural Science

    Anastasia is serving in her second year at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) as an Environmental Educator. After graduating from Castleton University with a degree in Ecology, she stayed in Vermont to further a career in wildlife handling and environmental education. After volunteering at ECHO in Burlington the opportunity for an AmeriCorps position at VINS became available, and she jumped at the chance. Her first year of serving was such an incredible experience, she didn't have to think twice about signing up for a second term. Outside of service she enjoys spending time in nature and hiking with her dog.

  • Jack is smiling into the camera wearing a blue tshirt and an AmeriCorps buff headband around his neck Jack Minich (he/him)
    Land Management Coordinator 
    Vermont Land Trust

    Jack is currently serving a second year as Land Management Coordinator for Vermont Land Trust in Brattleboro, Vermont. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012 and has since worn many hats in education, trail work and environmental restoration and is currently working towards his graduate degree in Conservation Biology at Antioch University-New England. The position serving at Vermont Land Trust aligns with his interests in conservation, invasive plant ecology and public outreach. Outside of service and studying, Jack spends his time mountain biking in the region and going for walks with his partner and their dog, Tugg

  • Lilla is smiling and in the driver seat of a boat on the left side of the picture, she is wearing a bright yellow life vest and blue button up shirt. THe wind is blowing her hair

    Lilla Fortunoff (she/her)
    Environmental Educator
    North Branch Nature Center

    Lilla was born in South-Central Alaska and lived there until she moved to Vermont at age 14 and attended U32 high school in East Montpelier. Lilla graduated from UVM in 2018 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Geography (which really means she studied the way that places and spaces create and affect relationships of all sorts!) Since 2015, Lilla has spent her time working at summer camps in the woods of Vermont, teaching marine ecology and outdoor leadership programs for 7-12th grade students on an island in Penobscot Bay, Maine, and teaching environmental ethics and leading backcountry expeditions for high-schoolers in Colorado. She’s thrilled to be back in Central VT serving as an Environmental Educator with North Branch Nature Center where she gets to facilitate kids building relationships with the world around them. Lilla loves laughing really loudly, swimming in all types of water bodies, and baking and eating chocolate-y treats.

  • Sonya is laughing in with a mountainside behind her - she is wearing a black shirt and black cardigan Sonya Padden (she/her)
    Daystation Specialist
    Committee on Temporary Shelter

    Sonya is serving as the Daystation Support Specialist at the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington as a VHCB AmeriCorps member. She graduated in 2019 from Colorado College where she studied Sociology and grew passionate about working with people and understanding the complexity of our social world. This year she is eager to learn more about and aid in the efforts to increase housing opportunities for individuals in Vermont.

  • John Plummer stands in the snow with an orange AmeriCorps ball cap and a Green Mountain Club fleece vest on John Plummer (he/him)
    Outreach and Field Coordinator
    Green Mountain Club

    John grew up in New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire, where he studied Business Administration. After college, John worked for a few years in technology project management, however it did not take long for him to get called back to the woods. Having grown up in scouting and becoming an Eagle Scout, John spent lots of time backpacking in his formative years. In the course of leaving the corporate world, John hiked the Long Trail in 2015, the Appalachian Trail in 2017, and then served as a Green Mountain Club caretaker in 2018. As GMC’s Group Outreach & Field Coordinator, John provides support to the Long Trail and its field staff, organizes service trips, and provides organized groups with the information and guidance that they need to have a successful trip on the Long Trail System. John served in this role last year and has come back to the GMC for a third term as an AmeriCorps member. John enjoys backcountry skiing, rock climbing, running, and making art.

  • Amanda Powell (she/her)
    Resource Specialist
    Good Samaritan Haven

    Amanda is currently serving as the Homeless Support Specialist at Good Samaritan Haven in Barre, Vermont. She is originally from Laredo, Texas, a border city located along the Rio Grande. She spent the past four years pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology at Stanford University in California. During the end of her senior year, the university had to shut down due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. After a temporary quarantine at a cattle ranch in Wyoming, she road tripped across the country to move to Vermont for the remainder of the online school year. After graduating, she was so impressed with the way Vermont handled the pandemic that she decided to stick around for at least a year. She became a VHCB AmeriCorps member after happening across an ad on Craigslist for the position. Read more

  • Jed stands in front of an info table with a plaid shirt and khakis and an americorps pin Jed Sass (he/him)
    Connections Coordinator

    Jed grew up in White River Junction, VT before attending Middlebury College where he received a BA in Geography and a minor in Spanish. After graduating in the spring of 2018, he coached soccer and managed community recreation programs outside of Wellington, New Zealand before most recently teaching third grade at a charter school in the South Bronx of New York City. He is currently serving as the Connections Coordinator at the Burlington office of Evernorth, a nonprofit that serves the low and moderate income people of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to find affordable housing and community investments. In his role, he collects insights into the needs of residents and interact with them as well as partner organizations to provide essential services and programming within our properties. Jed chose VHCB as a first step towards a possible career in planning and community development and ultimately serve to help make the places we live in more vibrant, equitable, and socially connected. In his free time, he enjoys staying active through sport as well as exploring Vermont’s swimming holes and restaurant scene with family and friends

  • Ellie takes a selfie in the woods, she has a blue and pink head band in her curly hair and her gray americorps t-shirt on Ellie Schiappa (she/her)
    VHCB Program Leader
    Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

    Ellie is currently serving as the VHCB Team Leader in Montpelier in her second year of AmeriCorps. She grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania and graduated from Slippery Rock University in May 2019 with a B.S. in Geography and a minor in communications. After volunteering abroad, she decided to stick closer to home to give back to her community. She moved to Vermont to serve her first AmeriCorps term with the ECO AmeriCorps program. As she moves into her second year of service, she is excited to continue serving her new community of Montpelier and support this year’s VHCB AmeriCorps members as they provide vital capacity to their host site organizations. Her service is inspired by her fellow AmeriCorps members and their passionate dedication to bettering their communities and improving the lives of Vermonters.

  • Luna Shen Luna Shen (she/her)
    Shelter Service Coordinator
    John Graham Emergency Shelter

    Luna went to Middlebury College and graduated in February 2020 as a Sociology major. She is serving a second term at John Graham Housing and Services, located in Vergennes. She is a Shelter Services Coordinator, supporting home-insecure and low-income folks to access, maintain, and resolve essential needs such as food-security and safe and affordable housing. This term one of her main focuses in her service is creating a culture of anti-racism at her host site, which will positively affect the services John Graham Housing and Services offers to their clients. Outside of serving, Luna spends time making art, moving her body whether it be dancing alone or snowshoeing, and connecting with her friends. She serves because Addison County is her community and she sees her service at John Graham Housing and Services as an incredible opportunity to express and practice her deeply held value of “being with” others.

  • Cecil smiles into the camera, they have short black hair, clear glasses, and spiral earrings

    Cecil Siebold (they/them)
    Project Coordinator
    Groundworks Collaborative

    Cecil grew up as a dependent of a service member in the U.S. Army and lived around the U.S. and Bavaria. They graduated in Marlboro College in Southern VT in May 2020 with a degree in Visual Arts and a focus on food systems and community engagement. They gained valuable understanding of how everyone plays an important role in a system through educating about food systems and leading projects to allow for a stronger local food system. They also lived & studied within an intentional community for a semester where they learned the importance of using their skills to strengthen their community and the necessity in learning from others. Cecil is currently serving in their first year of service with the Groundworks Collaborative as a Project Coordinator. In their free time, they enjoy sewing (mainly masks right now), painting and making art. They also enjoy being outside and camping and enjoy looking back on the memories of living outside traveling through California for 5 months. They serve to use their ability to help those in vulnerable positions during a particularly stressful time. As someone who has needed help in the past, they strive to lift other members of their community up towards success like they were.

  • Alex Stephanson hiking and looking over the mountain ledge with a blue backpacking backpack

    Alex Stephanson (he/him)  
    Field Technician
    Southern Vermont Office of the Nature Conservancy 

    Alex is currently serving as a Stewardship Technician for the Southern office of The Nature Conservancy of Vermont in his second term as an AmeriCorps member. He attended college in Vermont from 2013 to 2017 but has returned in 2020 after a three-year stint in Rhode Island. Over the years he has worn many hats, working previously as a science and mathematics tutor, construction laborer, and facilities management professional, among other roles, but is happy to be currently trying to make the young-conservation-professional hat fit sturdily on his head. When he’s not pulling invasive species or monitoring conservation easements, Alex is usually riding a bike, reading a good book, or baking a nice loaf of bread.

  • Benjamin is picking an apple with a blue and orange polka dotted mask, a striped shirt and a green flannel with his americorps pin Benjamin Smith (they/them)
    Volunteer & Services Coordinator
    Groundworks Collaborative

    Benjamin is currently serving their first term with AmeriCorps as the Volunteer and Service Coordinator with the Foodworks food shelf at Groundworks Collaborative. They grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and got their BA in Anthropology/Sociology from Kalamazoo College, Michigan. After graduating in 2019, Benjamin moved back to Pittsburgh and worked as a habilitation aide for adults with special needs for a year. In their free time, Benjamin enjoys dancing, cooking, and watching cartoons. Drawn to Vermont for its focus on community, Benjamin moved to Brattleboro with their partner at the beginning of September and is super excited to get involved with their new community. They believe everyone deserves reliable and consistent access to quality food and are thrilled to be helping those in Windham County reach this goal.

  • a selfie of Celeste, she is smiling with her mouth closed into the camera. She is wearing her new dark green americorps long sleeve shirt and her MALT branded baseball hat

    Celeste Venolia (she/her)
    Environmental Education & Stewardship Specialist
    Middlebury Area Land Trust

    Celeste is currently serving at the Middlebury Area Land Trust as an Education and Stewardship Specialist. She is from Western Massachusetts and obtained a MS degree in Biological and Environmental Sciences from the University of Rhode Island in 2019. Celeste was inspired to serve by a desire to grow as an outdoor educator while getting the opportunity to better understand small environmental non-profit management. Outside of service, she loves hiking, knitting, reading, yoga, cooking/baking, and contra dancing.


  • Kira is smiling in a community garden, with a green tshirt and high waisted shorts Kira Wilson (she/her)
    Field Assistant & Volunteer Coordinator
    The Nature Conservancy - Montpelier

    Kira is currently serving at the Nature Conservancy as a Stewardship Technician in Montpelier. She grew up in Queens, NY and graduated from Union College in June 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecology and a minor in Anthropology. When Kira was in high school she had the opportunity to intern for The Nature Conservancy through their Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program and it drew her into the world of conservation. Being from the city, she is very excited to be living in Vermont where she can more easily access and enjoy natural spaces. Kira is passionate about nonprofit work and conservation so service with VHCB was a natural fit for her.