As of July 1, Allison Hooper will serve as chair of the Sterling College Board of Trustees, following Peter Chehayl who has held the position since 2017. Allison was first elected to the board in 2014 and has served as both an at-large member and vice chair. Allison made her mark as one of the first artisan cheesemakers in the country, co-founding Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. (now Vermont Creamery) in 1984, and, over the years, winning more than 100 awards and bringing French-style cheeses, butter, and other everyday delicacies to the American table. As president of the American Cheese Society from 2005 to 2008 and the founding president of the Vermont Cheese Council, Allison has been a voice for and mentor to U.S. cheesemakers. In 2015, she was named by Food & Wine, Forbes, and Fortune magazines as one of the “most innovative women in food and drink.” In 2018 she was named to the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. She and her husband, Don, live on a farm in Brookfield, VT, where they raised three sons. 

Allison says, “Sterling is a rural sanctum composed of a community who takes to heart its role in shaping the future of the planet, modeling the importance of community, social responsibility and our delicate place in the ecosystem. Uncomplicated and straightforward, Sterling fosters our innate human nature of decency, fairness and social justice. Students leave Sterling with a healthy balance of optimism to make the world better and skepticism to navigate the perils of the marketplace.”

In addition to Hooper, Sterling elected a new vice chair, re-elected its secretary and treasurer, and named three new at-large members.

Sherilyn Peterson, J.D., Vice Chair. Peterson is Of Counsel with Perkins Coie, based in its Seattle office. Her representation of death row inmates challenging Washington State’s execution protocol forced the state to change its method of execution and earned her recognition as the first civil litigator to receive the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ President’s Award. She and her husband own a home in Craftsbury Common. She was first elected to the board in 2018.

Wendy Koenig, J.D., Secretary. Koenig brings experiences as a grassroots lobbyist in Washington, DC, and as a consultant in higher education. She moved to Vermont in 2001 to lead the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, in order to advocate on the state and federal levels for many of Vermont’s private colleges and universities. Koenig is now the Executive Director of Government Relations for the University of Vermont, where she is responsible for the university’s interactions with all levels of government. She was first elected to the board in 2008.

Eric Becker, CFA, Treasurer. Eric Becker is Clean Yield Asset Management’s chief investment officer and has been engaged in social and environmental investing since 1993. Eric was a founding member of the Slow Money movement, which seeks to connect investors and entrepreneurs in the service of building a healthier and regenerative food system. He lives in St. George, VT. This marks his ninth year on the board.

Ellen Falduto, at-large member. Falduto is Chief Information & Planning Officer at The College of Wooster. Her service as a senior officer, facilitator, consultant, evaluator, and advisor draws upon her broad expertise in higher education which includes strategy assessment and development; governance; economics, pricing, and finance; design and implementation of educational and institutional initiatives; program evaluation, assessment and accreditation; strategic and sustainable information technology systems; information privacy and security; and legal and compliance issues. Currently, she serves as a steering committee member for the Higher Education Systems & Services (HESS) Consortium’s Collective program, a group of private, non-profit colleges and universities working together to create a shared, sustainable ERP platform and services operation. Ellen served on the Sterling College Board of Advisors from October 2017 until her election to the Board of Trustees in 2019.

Steven Thurston Oliver, at-large member. Steven Thurston Oliver, at-large member. Steven is an Associate Professor of Secondary and Higher Education at Salem State University. Steven is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on the ways in which contemplative pedagogy can be used as a catalyst in K-12 teacher preparation and higher education programs for cultivating greater capacity among educators to engage across human differences. Recent publications include: Zen, Contemplative Practice, and the Emergence of Black Queer Joy, Queer-spectrum and Trans-spectrum People Out of the Shadows: The Institutional Imperative for Building Inclusive Campus Communities and Our Younger Selves: QPOC Student Affairs Professionals Supporting QPOC Students. Steven was first elected to the board in 2019 and lives with his husband in Lowell, MA.

Jo D. Saffeir, at-large member. Saffeir is a Natural Resource Consultant based in Maine. For over thirty years she has been assisting nonprofits, state agencies, academic institutions and foundations achieve conservation results. Her areas of expertise include agriculture and food systems, state and federal natural resource policy, sustainable forestry, land conservation, and natural climate solutions. She provides a range of services to her clients including technical facilitation, strategic planning, academic research, administration of public and private sources of conservation funding, editing, and fundraising strategy development. She holds a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, and is an alumna of Sterling College’s Grassroots Program and first elected to the board in 2019.


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