2024 Forecast: What Can We Expect for Purpose-Driven Businesses?

Event Details:
When: February 8, 2024 5:00 pm – February 8, 2024 7:30 pm
Location: Kalkin Hall, University of Vermont - Central Campus, 55 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05405

Cost To Attend:
Nonmembers – Free and Open to the Public
VBSR Members – Free and Open to the Public

Registration is open

Event hosted by: Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility & University of Vermont - Grossman School of Business

Join VBSR and The University of Vermont – Grossman School of Business Sustainable Innovation MBA (SI-MBA) for an evening of food, drinks, and inspiration!

How does your business stay informed and educated on the latest developments in social responsibility?

Experts in the field and in higher education share their best projections for the year, including for Talent, People and Culture, ESG, Climate Resiliency, Supply Chain, and more. Our panel comprised of Sustainable Innovation MBA students and socially responsible business leaders will illuminate us on emerging trends and what they see coming in 2024, and “best practices” to advance social impact among potential roadblocks and maximize the potential of this moment! There will be ample opportunity for Q&A.

All Vermont business leaders and students are welcome. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with UVM SI-MBA students and alumni!

We will have plenty of time for networking and connecting with one another before and after the panel in the beautiful atrium of Kalkin Hall. There will be a cash bar, free non-alcoholic beverage options, and delicious food appetizers by Sugarsnap Catering, including gluten free and vegan options.

Meet our moderator:

Etienne Morris, Collective Engagement and Morris Recruiting & Consulting

Etienne Morris is Founder and CEO of Collective Engagement, helping leaders create highly engaging workplaces where their team members are happy, productive, and want to stay. She works with leaders who understand that focusing on employee engagement – specifically purpose, belonging, and growth – is also a key business strategy. The company evolved from her two decades working as a recruiter and career strategy consultant, most recently as President of Morris Recruiting & Consulting (MRC), a firm she started in 2012.

MRC is a Certified B Corp, a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise, and a member of One Percent for the Planet and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, where Etienne serves on the Nominating Committee.

Etienne has earned a certificate in Leadership Coaching for Organization Performance from American University and is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is currently enrolled in a PQ Coaching Program headed by Shirzad Chamine, studying Positive Intelligence.

She lives in her hometown of Stowe, VT with her husband Paul and dog Tini Weeny.

Meet Our Panelists:

Stacia Betley, Director of Sustainability and Social Impact at Mega Food

Stacia began her sustainability journey at the UVM Grossman School of Business before starting her career in the outdoor gear industry. She used a green MBA from the University of Oregon to pivot to the food industry and spent four years at Amy’s Kitchen, a California-based vegetarian and organic food pioneer. She was named one of the most promising young sustainability professionals as part of Greenbiz’s 30 under 30 cohort, and now leads sustainability and social impact at MegaFood, a B Corp and 1% for the Planet certified vitamin company based in New England.

Kristen Graf, Global Director, Environmental and Social Responsibility at Darn Tough

Kristen Graf is the Global Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility for Darn Tough Vermont where she focuses on the brand’s efforts to produce quality socks in Vermont while positively affecting the environment and the community – primarily in the areas of sustainability, DEI, and philanthropy. Kristen previously served for over a decade as the Executive Director of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), a national nonprofit focused on sustainability and equity in the energy transition. Prior to WRISE, Kristen was a member of the Climate and Energy team at the Union of Concerned Scientists and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University.

Gabbi Heath, UVM Sustainable Innovation MBA Student

“I believe sustainability must be at the forefront of business strategy for the longevity of our economy and environment. I look forward to blending my experience with a deeper understanding of how to embed environmental/socially responsible practices into business, to help affect positive change.”

Gabbi joins the SI MBA program after nine years in Customer Success within the technology space. Gabbi started her career at Google where she helped enterprise businesses build best-in-class digital marketing solutions. Gabbi later joined Patagonia where she solidified her passion for mission-driven work, and most recently spent three years building the Customer Success function at Silo, an agriculture start-up focused on food waste & supply chain efficiency. Gabbi is excited to apply a sustainable lens to her work experience and hopes to leverage the skills & network gained through the program as an opportunity to dive deeper into impactful, climate-oriented work.

Gabbi graduated from Penn State University in 2013 with a major in Marketing and a minor in International Business.

Sam Richards, UVM Sustainable Innovation MBA Student

“The purpose of the design industry is to bring beauty to our everyday lives, yet it often does so at the cost of our natural world. At SI-MBA I hope to develop the tools to improve my own company and hopefully the industry as a whole.”

Samuel joins the SI-MBA Program after six years in the home textile industry New York City. After years of honing his skills at ALT For Living and Eskayel, Samuel decided to establish his own namesake brand. Specializing in bespoke fabrics, rugs, and wallpapers, SR Home was created to bring beauty with whimsy to the design community.

Samuel earned his B.A. at Dickinson College in Art History and French.


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

Mara is an executive people and culture leader and human resources strategist with a deep passion for helping organizations build best workplace cultures. Mara currently serves as Head of People and Culture at Chroma Technology Corp., a global, high-tech manufacturer of optics for the scientific and biomedical industries. Headquartered in Bellows Falls, VT, 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 Board Chair of VBSR, as well as the Vermont State Council Director of SHRM. She holds an MS in Human Resources Management from the New School University, a BA in Communications from Queens College, City University of New York, and is a graduate of Leadership Upper Valley. Mara is a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) through SHRM and was named Vermont’s Human Resources Professional of the Year in 2020.


Thank you to our host!


Free parking is available on site in the parking lot highlighted in orange on the map below, the Faculty/Staff lot behind Votey Hall (includes spots for accessible parking).

Health & Safety

Please stay home if you are not feeling well or have been in close contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19 as outlined by the Vermont Department of Health.

All members of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility are welcome to attend for free.

Please make note of any accommodation requests when you register.


Questions? Please reach out to VBSR Education & Events Manager, Molly Rand, mollyr@vbsr.org.