Meet the Board
Wesley Balda (2018), Professor of Management at the Robert P. Stiller School of Business, Champlain College
Wes Balda is Professor of Management at the Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College in Burlington. Wes previously worked as Assistant Dean for Portland programs at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and Executive Director of the Oregon Business Institute, and before that as Executive Director of the Centre for Advancing International Management [AIM Centre] and Professor of Management at St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies. Earlier, he led executive management and doctoral programs at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management in Claremont, California as well as serving as the founding Dean at the George Fox University School of Management. He held an agency head position in local government, served as a destroyer officer in the U.S. Navy and piloted law enforcement helicopters in southern California as a sworn police officer. He received his PhD in History from the University of Cambridge, focusing on organizational sustainability, and has taught and published in crisis management, general management, and leadership areas in the United States and international universities for nearly thirty years.
Lawrence Barber, CFM (2017), Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group (VBSR Board Treasurer)
Lawrence (Larz) Barber, CRPC®, ChFC® is a Vice President with Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management in Burlington and specializes in socially responsible investing and comprehensive financial planning for individual, corporate and non-profit clients. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch in 1997 Larz helped start and grow many SR companies in Vermont including Northern Power Systems (where he was VP of Field Services), Ski Tuner/Grindrite, Vermont Ginseng Products, Mad River Rockets, and Maya Computer.
Russ Bennett (2018), Northland Design & Construction (VBSR Board Secretary)
Russ is the owner/founder of Northland Design & Construction, since 1978. Northland has a long history of designing and building energy efficient high end residences, as well as working with businesses of all kinds (restaurants, food production, manufacturing, retail) to design and build them the facilities they need to grow and continue to be successful. Northland also works on the planning and design and artistic direction for the largest outdoor music festivals in the country. Russ is a landlord and past owner of Scoop Shops. He has served on many boards and was a Director and President of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce and the chairman of the Waitsfield Planning Commission. He played a vital role in procuring funding for public bus service in the Mad River Valley.
David Blittersdorf (2016), AllEarth Renewables
David is the founder of NRG Systems, his first entrepreneurial venture that grew into an internationally recognized leader in wind measurement technology. In 2004, David stepped down as CEO of NRG Systems to start AllEarth Renewables, a company dedicated to the development, manufacture and deployment of residential-scale, grid-tied renewable energy systems. David has been active with the VBSR Policy Committee on energy-related issues and has worked on energy- and healthcare-related legislative issues. He currently serves on the boards of the following local and national organizations: the Distributed Wind Energy Association, Renewable Energy Vermont, the Small Wind Certification Council, the Energy Co-op of Vermont, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, the Canino School of Engineering Technology at SUNY-Canton, and the U.S. division of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas. Prior to 2010, he served for 16 years as treasurer and one year as president of the American Wind Energy Association. He currently lives in Charlotte in a home completely powered by renewable energy sources.
Mike Burak (2016), Burak Anderson & Melloni PLC
Mike is a founding member of the Burlington law firm of Burak Anderson & Melloni PLC. His practice focuses on complex business and commercial litigation, as well as the protection of intellectual property rights. He has extensive experience in the representation of consumer owned and public entities as well as matters involving corporate governance and closely owned corporations. Upon graduation from Harvard Law School, Mike became a law clerk to the Honorable Sterry R. Waterman, Senior Judge of the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals. After his clerkship, Mike entered private practice in New York City, first with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson, and later with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. At those firms, Mike’s principal activities included complex litigation in securities, mergers and acquisitions, and other business-related areas. Mike returned to Vermont to serve as General Counsel to the Vermont Public Service Board. Subsequently, he was appointed by Vermont’s governor to be the state’s first Director for Public Advocacy immediately after that position was created by the Vermont legislature. In such capacities he acquired expertise in all aspects of utility regulation and energy law. Since his return to private practice as a founding partner of Burak Anderson & Melloni PLC, a substantial portion of his practice has been related to utility matters.
Yola Carlough (2018), Business Development, B Lab
Yola joined B Lab in 2011. Her work in the area of Community Development facilitates entry into the B Corp community for businesses that commit to high standards of transparency, accountability and performance, and brings momentum, through membership growth, to the global B Corp movement that redefines success in business and builds a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy. She also manages a private consulting initiative in the field of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. From 2007 to 2011, Yola held the position of Director of Sustainability at Burt’s Bee developing, integrating and monitoring innovative strategies to achieve the brand’s sustainability/CSR goals. As Executive Director of the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, Yola worked to create meaningful partnerships with non-profit organizations with a mission to drive innovative, positive change through systemic and replicable models that seek to eliminate the root cause of social and environmental problems. Prior to joining Burt’s Bees, Yola was Director of Social Mission at Ben & Jerry’s in Burlington, VT where she managed pioneering environmental and socially conscious directions for the company’s domestic and international business.
Jennifer Chiodo (2018), Managing Principal, Cx Associates
Jennifer Chiodo has over 35 years of experience creating and managing new approaches to garnering energy efficiency in the business sector while overseeing the implementation of thousands of energy efficiency, commissioning and measurement and verification projects. She has fostered the development of Cx Associates into a widely recognized leader in the areas of energy efficiency, commissioning, and evaluation, measurement and verification of energy efficiency projects and programs as well as a socially responsible business that puts peopleand the planet ahead of profits. Ms. Chiodo is actively engaged in addressing global warming through building energy efficiency and her volunteer work on her town energy committee and as Advocacy Chair on the Board of the Vermont Green Building Network. Ms. Chiodo was instrumental in the development of Efficiency Vermont, managing the Business Energy Services Division from start-up through the successful fulfillment of the first contract term. During Ms. Chiodo’s 10 year stint as a project manager and electrical engineer in San Francisco, she developed a keen awareness of the value of energy codes, training and enforcement as well as a deep knowledge of the commercial building sector.
Mark Curran (2018), Black River Produce
Mark moved to Vermont in 1974 at the age of 20 and opened a natural food market with Steve Birge in 1978. The market quickly morphed into Black River Produce which currently has 200 employees with a strong focus on bringing local products to market. He is married to Margie Straub and they have four sons. He has served on numerous state and local boards including "Vermont Fresh Network," "Vermont Ag and Forest Product Development Board" and "Working Lands Enterprise Board."
Jed Davis (2017), Director of Sustainability, Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Jed Davis is Director of Sustainability for Cabot Creamery Co-operative. Jed enjoys a lifetime involvement with agriculture and cooperatives and over two decades of service in the cheese world. In 2008, he was named Cabot’s first Director of Sustainability and his efforts continue to center on helping Cabot realize its own understanding of “Sustainability” – “Living within our means and ensuring the means to live.” Jed, his wife Elizabeth, and their small “herd” of four children live in Waterbury, Vt. Cabot Creamery is owned by the dairy farm families of the Agri-Mark co-operative, and is proud to be a certified B Corporation.
David Epstein, AIA, LEED AP (2016) Managing Principal, TruexCullins Architecture + Interior Design
David is the managing principal at TruexCullins (TXC) and a long-time VBSR member. TXC has four areas of focus: Workplace, Home, Resort, Education and Interiors. David co-leads the Education and Workplace Studios. David’s passion is creating engaging 21st Century learning environments. He has designed created master plans and school facilities in over 35 countries. To learn more about David or to read his education blog Digital Crayon, visit David Epstein’s Bio.
Bret Hodgdon (2016), Partner, Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs
Since being admitted as Partner in Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs in January 2005, Bret Hodgdon has had a key role in the firm’s growth into one of the area’s most innovative public accounting firms. His daily embrace of new technologies has resulted in efficiency improvements not only for the firm but also for many of the firm’s corporate clients. Bret is one of Vermont’s only accountants with the designations of Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA) with expertise in fraud prevention, corporate investigations and forensic accounting. He also serves on the board of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. Originally from Hardwick, VT, Bret is a graduate of Lyndon State College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and Business Administration. Since 1998 he has worked with a variety of clients providing audit, tax and consulting services in a number of specialized areas such as non-profit organizations, the construction industry and wholesale/retail.
Chris Miller (2018), Social Mission Activism Manager, Ben & Jerry's (VBSR Board Vice Chair)
Chris Miller currently serves as the Social Mission Activism Manager at Ben & Jerry's, a unique position in the corporate world, where he develops consumer facing activism campaigns that support the company's progressive values. Before recently joining Ben & Jerry's, Chris led the sustainability work at Seventh Generation. In addition to his for-profit experience, Chris directed Greenpeace USA's national climate campaign and served on the staff of then Congressman Bernie Sanders. When he's not working, Chris enjoys the outdoors, eating lots of local food, and has recently tried his hand at running marathons. He currently serves on the board of Car Share Vermont.
Sara Newmark (2016), DIrector of Sustainability, New Chapter (VBSR Board Chair)
Sara Newmark is the Senior Director of Sustainability at New Chapter, Inc. of Brattleboro, Vermont. New Chapter is a manufacturer of Non-GMO Project Verified whole-food dietary supplements, made with organic ingredients. Sara ensures that all actions by New Chapter live up to its high standards of ecological stewardship, from product sourcing and packaging to New Chapter’s philanthropic efforts. Sara sits on many boards including the Coalition for Supplement Sustainability, the American Herbal Products Association and is chairman of the largest statewide network of socially responsible businesses, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
Leslie Nulty (2017), Focal Point Advisory Services
Leslie Nulty provides financial and management consulting advice to co-ops and small businesses via her own business, Focal Point Advisory Services. In addition, she serves as Executive Vice-President of Energtek-North Country, Inc., developing a new initiative to deliver compressed natural gas to small and medium-sized businesses and eventually residences, as well. Prior to this latest undertaking, from 2007-2014 Leslie was instrumental in building the East Central Vermont Community Fiber-optic Network, which has brought municipally-owned state-of-the-art fiberoptic telecommunications services to the residents, businesses and community institutions of the 24 participating towns. These rural towns now have access to as much as 400 Mbps symmetrical services. Leslie was formerly the General Manager of Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, VT, and, prior to that, Controller of a venture capital fund in Central Europe. Leslie earned her M.Sc. in Economics from Cambridge, University and has more than 35 years’ professional experience in financial analysis and business restructuring. She is a former VBSR Treasurer, member of the VBSR Finance Committee and also a member of the Public Policy Committee. Leslie lives with her husband in Jericho Center, Vermont where she cultivates a substantial organic garden in the summer, and skis in the winter.
Jacob Park (2017), Professor, Green Mountain College
Jacob Park is Professor of Strategy, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Director, Sustainable MBA Program at Green Mountain College. He currently serves as the Chair of VBSR Program Committee and as a member of Local First Vermont Advisory Committee. He serves on Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies Investment Committee of the Nairobi, Kenya-based Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund and as one of the lead authors of the United Nations Environment Program Global Environment Outlook Report. He lives in West Pawlet.
Avram Patt (2016), Down Patt Consulting
Avram recently served over 16 years as the General Manager at Washington Electric Co-op, a consumer-owned rural electric utility that has been an early leader in promoting energy efficiency and developing local and renewable power supply sources. He previously served as Director of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, administering anti-poverty programs including the Low Income Weatherization Program. Through his new business, Down Patt Consulting, he is available to assist and advise in the areas of energy policy and program development, non-profit strategies, and the cooperative business model. Avram is a member of the Goddard College Board of Trustees and has served on a number of government, co-op, non-profit and association boards at the local, state and national level. He represents the Lamoille-Washington District in the Vermont House of Representatives and enjoys playing in a Klezmer band in his free time.
Duane Peterson (2017), Co-President, SunCommon
Duane has a varied background. A social entrepreneur, he's on his 7th career with stints as a medic, police officer, non-profit manager, political campaigner, justice department official, legislative director and values-led business practitioner. The common thread: organizing people to take meaningful action towards positive change. He moved to Vermont in 1996 to help Ben use Ben & Jerry's as a force for social change. After 12 years there as Ben’s Chief of Stuff, Duane left to launch his latest venture -- SunCommon -- to make it easy and affordable for homeowners to help repower Vermont with clean, safe, in-state energy. A Benefit Corporation and a Certified BCorp, SunCommon is Vermont's largest solar business with almost 100 workers. Duane has been a part of the VBSR community since 1996 and his wife Laura served as VBSR’s Program Manager back in the day. He’s a member of the Social Venture Network and serves on the Boards of the Howard Center and VPIRG.
Markey Read (2016), President, Career Networks
Markey has worked for the past 20 years providing leadership development, team building, and professional employee development services to employers and individuals throughout Vermont with the company she founded, Career Networks. She has been a member of VBSR for 12 years, and has attended and spoken at VBSR Conferences. Markey is a current member of the VBSR Program Committee and is the DEVO Committee Chair. Throughout her involvement at VBSR, she has participated on various other committees. She has served on the board for the VT Association for Psychological Type and the VT Consultants network. Markey was also the chapter coordinator for WBON in Williston, and is currently a member of the American Society of Training and Development.
Frank Sadowski (2018), Partner, Gallagher, Flynn and Company, LLP
Frank Sadowski joined Gallagher, Flynn and Company (GFC) in 1997 to establish the Human Resources Consulting Division, now Gallagher Flynn Human Resource Services, LLC, one of the largest human resources consulting and executive recruiting practices in Vermont. Prior to GFC, Frank was the Principal of Sadowski Consulting Services in South Burlington for seven years. Before that, he was Human Resource Manager for Boise Cascade’s paper mill in Sheldon Springs; Assistant to the President of the University of Vermont; and Chief of Economic Development Planning in the Vermont State Government. Frank received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Cornell University, attended Harvard Divinity School as a Rockefeller Fellow, and earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. He has received Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Outside the firm, Frank helped create Burlington’s Ronald McDonald House and the Lake Champlain Waldorf School. He has served as a trustee of the Pine Ridge School and president of the Vermont Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development. He recently graduated from Episcopal Divinity School with a Masters of Divinity degree, focusing on business ethics and issues related to faith and spirituality in the workplace.
Margi Swett (2018), Owner, Vermont Trophy and Engraving
Margi Swett is majority owner of Vermont Trophy and Engraving. Born in Central Ohio, she learned about Vermont in a 3rd grade Social Studies project and knew she wanted to move here from that moment. After stints in banking and economic development in the Midwest, she moved to Vermont with her husband Steve in the 1980’s to takeover Vermont Trophy and Engraving. She has experience working with small businesses, often minority owned and many distressed, to help stream-line their processes, get their books in order and match them with experts from the business or educational community. She also has Board experience with Habitat for Humanity and is a firm believer in the “buy Vermont” ethic.