Sterling College is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees. Through the work of our trustees the College is able to fulfill its mission of environmental stewardship and meet its aspirations for the future.
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees includes Jonathan Larsen, Chair; Catherine Donnelly, Vice Chair; Wendy Koenig, Secretary; and Peter Chehayl, Treasurer.
Board of Trustee Biographies
Deborah Alfond ’13 is an alumna of Sterling College, graduating in 2013 with a BA in Sustainable Agriculture. She splits her time between Florida and Maine, where she grew up. She joined the Board of Trustees in October 2014.
Eric Becker is Clean Yield Asset Management’s chief investment officer. Eric joined Clean Yield in 2009 after 16 years as an analyst and portfolio manager for Trillium Asset Management, where he co-managed the fossil-fuel free Green Century Balanced Fund. Eric was the founder of Slow Money Boston and a founding member of the national Slow Money Alliance. He is also a founding board member of The Carrot Project, a sustainable agriculture finance organization.
Eric serves on the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative’s Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group and Finance Cross-Cutting Team. Eric holds a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Haverford College and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute. He lives in Strafford, Vermont where he pursues his beekeeping hobby.
Marian Burros has been writing about the politics of food, food safety, health and agriculture for newspapers in Washington and New York for more than 40 years. She spent 27 years at the New York Times, retiring four years ago, and continues to write for the Times and other publications, particularly about sustainable agriculture and, most recently, about Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative, Let’s Move.
In 2008, Marian’s feature article in the Times about agricultural innovation in the Hardwick area set off a wave of publicity about food systems in the Northeast Kingdom.
Marian has maintained a long association with Vermont, and lives part-time in Craftsbury Common. In her short time on the Board, Marian has provided invaluable assistance in planning and promoting Vermont’s Table, Sterling’s new summer farm-to-table program.
Peter Chehayl, Alumni Parent ’06, M.B.A., graduated from Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) with a BS in Management Science in 1970. After receiving his MBA from the University of Michigan, he enjoyed a thirty-year career in financial positions, culminating as chief financial officer of Centennial Communications, a $700 million company. He has also worked at Coopers & Lybrand, The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and Sprint. He is a CPA.
Pete served on the board of directors of Madison River Communications, a $200 million rural local telephone company until its acquisition by Century Tel in April 2007.
He has also served on the boards of the National Hemophilia Foundation and the Kansas City Institute of Art. While Naples, FL. is their primary residence, Pete and his wife Liz have a home in Albany, Vermont. Their son, Daniel, graduated from Sterling.
Matthew Allen Derr is the 11th President of the College. Prior to taking up his new role at Sterling, President Derr served as visiting fellow with the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), an alliance of 13 selective, independent, colleges that works to strengthen learning in the tradition of the liberal arts. President Derr came to the GLCA from his post as Interim President of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, having led an alumni effort to revitalize and reopen the college, an effort that raised more than $20 million in giving and transferred assets of over $50 million.
In 2011 President Derr was awarded the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Chief Executive of the Year award for the Midwest for his work on behalf of Antioch and the GLCA.
Earlier in his career, President Derr served in fundraising and enrollment roles at Earlham College, Connecticut College, The Boston Conservatory, and for twelve years at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. The Sterling College Board of Trustees appointed Mr. Derr from a large pool of highly qualified applicants because of his demonstrated expertise in institutional advancement, enrollment planning, and most significantly his background in institutional planning at similar institutions.
President Derr holds a Bachelor of Art in History from Antioch College, an M.S.W. in Community Organizing from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and has further studies at the George Heyman Center for Philanthropy at New York University.
Matthew and his partner Julian Sharp moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Craftsbury Common in August 2012.
Richard Detweiler, Ph.D. is the president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), an alliance of thirteen selective, independent, colleges and universities that works to strengthen learning in the tradition of the liberal arts: creating analytic thinkers and engaged citizens. He also holds an appointment as a foundation fellow at Oxford University’s Harris Manchester College. Rick is a social psychologist specializing in intercultural relations with advanced degrees from Princeton University (M.A., 1972 and Ph.D. 1973).
Previously Rick was a distinguished fellow and interim president of the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, DC; president and professor of psychology at Hartwick College in New York where he is president emeritus); and vice president and professor of psychology at Drew University in New Jersey. He served as Peace Corps volunteer in the Eastern Caroline Islands from 1968-70, and subsequently as a Peace Corps trainer. Professionally he has been an active researcher, consultant, and author in higher education, institutional planning and research, intercultural relations, international education, and psychology. He has published dozens of articles related to higher education, psychology, and intercultural relations, and speaks frequently on issues related to the future of higher education and the values of the liberal arts. He was a founding dean of the higher education Frye Leadership Institute, and has served as a board member of many higher education organizations.
Catherine Donnelly, Ph.D. is a Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Vermont. She currently serves as the Associate Director for the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese and previously served as the Associate Director for the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, a research consortium between Cornell University and the University of Vermont.
Cathy and her husband, Scott, own The Lakeview Inn, on Caspian Lake in Greensboro. The Lakeview Inn supports Vermont’s working landscape by providing a study center to promote local and regional food products produced by small-scale food entrepreneurs.
Sterling holds a Senior Dinner on the beautiful grounds of the Inn each spring.
Bob Durand is President of Durand and Anastas Environmental Strategies, Inc., an environmental permitting and government relations business he founded in 2002 located in Boston, MA. Their clients include Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits. Bob is the former Secretary of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a cabinet post where he managed the environmental agencies for two Governors. As Secretary, Bob founded the first statewide Biodiversity Initiative, a national model.
Bob served in the Massachusetts State Senate as Chairman of the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee and as Democratic Majority Whip. He is the author of the Rivers Act, Community Preservation Act, and Brownfields Act. Bob has received numerous environmental awards, including The Environmental League of Massachusetts Lifetime Achievement Award, The Trustees of Reservations Charles Eliot Award for Land Conservation, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in Public Policy. Bob and his wife Nancy live in Hardwick, VT and Marlboro, MA. They are both realtors for Pall Spera Co. Realtors. They have six grown children between them and have an organic garden. Bob owns a camp and a woodlot which he manages in the Lowell Mt. Range and loves hunting, fly fishing, canoeing and cross country skiing in the Northeast Kingdom. He is passionate about Vermont’s quality of life.
John Elder, Ph.D. holds a doctorate and M.Phil. from Yale University, and a B.A. from Pomona College. He taught English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury from 1973 to 2010 and at the Bread Load School of English from 1980 until 2012. John’s main areas of interest as a teacher have included American nature writing, romantic and modern poetry, Basho and the haiku tradition, and the history of conservation in America. His three most recent books (Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa) form a sequence combining discussion of literature, description of the Vermont landscape, and personal memoir. He has received National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Fellowships and was named the Carnegie/CASE Vermont Professor of the Year award in 2008. He’s currently working on a book about the role of literature in conservation
John and his wife Rita live in the village of Bristol, Vermont. They operate a sugaring operation with their grown children in the nearby hills of Starksboro. As owners of forested land, they are especially drawn to Sterling College because of its combination of an interdisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis on the practical skills of stewardship.
Melissa Fisher ’00 is the outgoing Chief Operating Officer for Friends of the High Line – the non-profit conservancy group dedicated to preserving and maintaining the High Line as an innovative public park visited by millions of New Yorkers and tourists each year.
Melissa discovered what she calls “the profound connection between people and plants” as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, where she helped found the Dartmouth Organic Farm. She made the inspired decision to transfer in her senior year to Sterling College in order to further focus on sustainability and place through the context of experiential education. Melissa is fluent in Swahili, rides a motorcycle, and spent four years fixing up a Brooklyn brownstone with her husband, Thabo, and their friends. She and Thabo are now bound for Virginia, where they plan to begin work on an exciting land development project on Thabo’s grandfather’s farm.
Judy Geer graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Ecology and a new favorite sport: Rowing. She went on to compete on three US Olympic Rowing Teams in ’76, ’80 and ’84. In 1983, she earned a Masters in Engineering from Dartmouth and then joined Concept 2, which had been started in 1976 by Dick Dreissigacker (now her husband) and his brother Peter. She is currently a member of the Marketing and Communications Team. In 2009, Judy and Dick purchased the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and turned it into a non-profit with a mission that combines lifelong sports, sustainability and stewardship. Judy was a member of the Morristown School Board for over 15 years, and has also been active in Early Education. She currently serves on the boards of the New England Nordic Ski Association and Vermont Natural Resources Council.
Judy and Dick live in a cabin in Albany, VT from May until the firewood runs out—usually December—and spend the rest of the year in Morrisville, VT. Their kids are skiers, rowers, and biathletes, and Judy has long since given up trying to keep up with them.
Kenneth Gibbons is the former President and CEO of Union Bank and the chairman of Union Bankshares, the parent company of Union Bank. He began his banking career in 1965 in Massachusetts and has worked in all areas of banking over the years. In 1975 Ken moved to Vermont, and joined Union Bank in 1984 as Vice President of Commercial Lending. He has served on many committees of the Vermont Bankers Association and is a past Chair of the Association’s Board of Directors. He has also been actively involved with the American Bankers Association and in 2011 he received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Vermont Small Business Administration.
Ken and his wife, Janet, reside in Hyde Park, enjoy boating on Lake Champlain, and keep busy by volunteering in the Morrisville area. Some of the non-profit groups Ken has donated his time and expertise towards include the Craftsbury Community Care Center, the Johnson Friends of the Arts, the Hyde Park Improvement Association, the Bliss Library Fund, The Village of Hyde Park, the Hyde Park Water & Light Department and the Lamoille Business and Educational Training Alliance. He also has a thirty-plus year association with Copley Hospital and has served on the Boards of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Education and Health Buildings Finance Agency.
Thaddeus Guldbrandsen, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Center for Rural Partnerships and a member of the faculty of Social Science and Environmental Science & Policy at Plymouth State University. He is co-author of the award winning book Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics (NYU Press 2007) and several other articles and book chapters on topics related to globalization, local democracy, regionalism, sustainable development, and social inequality.
Thad has been instrumental in helping to develop the Northern Forest Higher Education Resource Network (NFHERN). Formed in 2009, NFHERN is “a diverse group of college faculty, administrators and community advocates committed to strengthening the ties between rural universities and the communities we serve.”
Sterling is a member of NFHERN’s steering committee, and Dean Pavel Cenkl has worked closely with Thad to build up the organization. Former Sterling College president Will Wootton recently attended NFHERN’s second annual meeting, and participated in a roundtable of college and university presidents from across the region.
Ann Guyer has recently retired from thirty years as CEO and president of Professional Communication Systems, Inc., a national direct marketing firm serving the top publishing, nonprofit, educational, legal and healthcare organizations. Currently, Ann is a senior volunteer consultant to the Center for Women & Enterprise in Boston, helping developing, changing and emerging businesses. A lifelong artist, collector of art, supporter of several arts organizations, AIDS concerns, political initiatives and athletic organizations, she is a former trustee of Montserrat College of Art, active in governance, finance, and development committees.
She has been a member of the Arts and Business Council of Boston auction committee, a participant in the Gifted Women’s Initiative of Ambassador Swanee Hunt, and a seven-time award recipient of Top 100 Women Owned Businesses by Babson College and The Commonwealth Institute. Ann’s ongoing affection for Vermont began over 20 years ago when she commenced a decade of autumns studying and painting its landscape.
Allison Hooper was one of the first artisan cheesemakers in the United States. Hooper and her business partner Bob Reese co-founded Vermont Butter & Cheese Company in 1984 and started bringing the everyday cheese and dairy delicacies of France to the American table. As president of the American Cheese Society from 2005 to 2008, Hooper has been a voice for and mentor to U.S. cheesemakers. Today Vermont Creamery creations have won more than 100 awards nationally and internationally over the past 29 years including the US Small Business Administration “Small Business of the Year” for Vermont in 1996.
When Allison is not selling or teaching about cheese coast to coast, helping with milking at the farm, or entertaining food bloggers, she can be seen riding her bike to work or on Vermont roads with her husband, Don. They enjoy gardening, haying, raising a few steers, and general dubbing on their 62 acre hill farm in Brookfield. They have three sons: Miles, Sam, and Jay.
Wendy Koenig, J.D., has a broad range of experience relating to higher education, politics and business. She entered the lobbying realm as an associate with The Direct Impact Company, a grass-roots lobbying firm in Virginia. While there, she tracked and monitored legislation and gathered support for defense appropriation issues. Wendy later joined R.H. Perry & Associates, a higher education executive search & consulting firm based in Washington, DC. There she engaged in all aspects of the search process, including proposal research and candidate interviewing.
Before joining the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, she served as Director of the Manhattan office of Brain Trust, an innovative staffing agency for the IT and new media fields. Currently, Wendy is the Federal Relations Officer for the University of Vermont.
Wendy graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. in Foreign Language (Spanish) and received her J.D. from Catholic University of America.
Jonathan Larsen holds a B.A. and an M.A.T from Harvard, and worked for several years as a correspondent and an editor at Time Magazine.In the early 1970s, he served as Saigon bureau chief, covering among other things the disintegration of the U.S. Army and the corruption of the South Vietnamese government. From 1974 through 1978, Jon edited the national biweekly, New Times. When it folded in 1979, he was named a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and followed that up with the editor’s position at Village Voice in the early ‘90s. Jon is currently working on a memoir.
He currently serves on the boards of Yestermorrow, Cambridge College and the Larsen Fund. He served on the Natural Resources Defense Council for over 20 years, and was conferred with honorary trustee status. On the Cambridge College Board, in Massachusetts, he has served six years as chairman.
For many years, Jon judged for the John Oakes Award, a recognition given for environmental journalism. He lives in New York City and Moretown, Vermont.
Jake Oudheusden ’12 was an Outdoor Education major and had strong interests in Sustainable Agriculture, completing the entire Draft Horse Program with Rick Thomas. Through the work program he worked in Admission, with the Draft Horses, and four continuous semesters with the residence life program. After graduating from Sterling, Jake began working for admissions full-time as the Assistant Director of Admissions.
After two years in admission for the College, Jake moved back to Derry, New Hampshire to help his parents with their function hall.
Jake now lives in Manchester, New Hampshire and works for his parents, while taking on a few other work opportunities, including a part-time position at Brookvale Pines, a farm in Fremont, from which Sterling recently just purchased a new team of horses.
Elizabeth Schmitt is a registered nurse in Kansas City, MO. She holds her AB in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, a BS in Nursing from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Divinity, Ministry from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Her roots are in Vermont, as she grew up in Craftsbury Common.
Robert Shelton, J.D., is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College and Harvard Law School. He was a senior partner in the law firm of Venable LLP, practicing in its Baltimore and Washington offices. In the course of his career Bob has represented banks, hospitals, electric utilities, various corporate entities and a number of educational institutions, including Johns Hopkins University.
He was an officer in the United States Naval Reserve and in 1974 he served as Associate Special Counsel, House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry, regarding the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon. Bob currently is a partner in the firm Shelton and Carey and is engaged in the development of electric power projects in South America and the Caribbean.
Tom Stearns began gardening at an early age at his family home in CT. Prior to completing a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Prescott College in AZ, he began saving seeds. A hobby was born in 1996 in Vermont, when Tom began sharing these seeds with others through a small seed flyer. High Mowing Organic Seeds has since expanded into one of the leading organic seed companies in the U.S., supplying both home gardeners and commercial growers.
Tom’s vision has always been to create a company that would help support the re-building of healthy food systems, first in Vermont, followed by the rest of the U.S. He has also taught numerous workshops since 1996 on many topics such as ag. education, economics, community supported agriculture, genetic engineering, plant breeding, local food systems, sustainable business, investing and more. His informal, personal style, ability to explain complex issues and infectious enthusiasm makes him a popular and inspiring speaker. In addition, he has served on the board of several agricultural organizations, most notably as the current President of The Center for an Agricultural Economy since 2008. He lives on 50 acres in Vermont, with his wife Heather, and their two girls, Ruby and Cora.
Dave Stoner, M.B.A, earned his B.S. from Indiana University and his Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He has enjoyed multiple careers: 27 years with Towers Watson, concentrating on international consulting assignments in the area of human resource management; 5 years with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), serving as Executive Director; and 10 years of volunteer work as a Partnership Consultant to the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan.
Dave enjoys retirement by working on his woodlot and serving on a number of local and regional boards concentrated on education, health care, and economic development.
He and his wife, Jenny, have lived in Brussels, London, Lahore, and several cities in the USA. They currently reside on the Common in Craftsbury, Vermont, and spend the summers on Caspian Lake in Greensboro, Vermont. They enjoy three children and seven grandchildren, who live in Maryland and New Hampshire.
Julie Wormser ’86 is the Executive Director of the Boston Harbor Association, a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting a clean, alive and accessible Boston Harbor. She was born in Salem, MA, and grew up three blocks from the ocean.
After studying forestry and agriculture at Sterling College, Julie finished up her bachelor’s degree in biology at Swarthmore College. She later received a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. For a brief period in the early 1990s Julie served on the Sterling College faculty, teaching a range of subjects and leading an Expedition group before returning to Massachusetts to work in land conservation.
Julie’s career is devoted to environmental stewardship, with a focus on activism and policy. Prior to her position with the Boston Harbor Association, Julie managed the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans program for the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, leading a team of people with backgrounds in marine biology, public policy, law, business and communications. Julie and her husband, a Unitarian minister, now live in Cambridge, MA, with their young daughter and a flock of backyard chickens. Although she claims to have no depth perception, Julie regularly uses a kick scooter to zip around the Boston waterfront.
David Behrend ’60
Susan C. Bryant
Marvin Brown, Alumni Parent ’85
George J. Hill, M.D., D.Litt., Alumni Parent ’85
Jackson Kytle, Ph.D.
Peter Albert McKay, J.D. ’63
Virginia de Ganahl Russell
Mark Schroeder, Ph.D.