The Excellence in Leadership Award is presented in honor of Jan Eastman to a Vermont Leadership Institute alumnus/alumna who, since completing VLI, has made a significant contribution to Vermont and its community life, and has demonstrated skillful and innovative leadership and vision.
In keeping with Jan’s vision, the recipient demonstrates effective leadership through innovation, collaboration, and inclusion, being able to see the big picture while acknowledging and appreciating the importance of each individual contribution to the whole. The recipient of this award shares Jan’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of leaders and establishing new paradigms for effecting positive change. Most importantly, the recipient shares Jan’s passion and energy, humility and humor, commitment to public service and dedication to Vermont. Jan Eastman was president of the Snelling Center for Government from 1992 to 2006, and was the founder of the Vermont Leadership Institute. Jan resides in Peacham with her husband, John Marshall.
The Nomination Process
Letters of nomination are accepted from Vermont Leadership Institute alumni, with a final decision made by the Snelling Center’s board and staff. The award is announced and presented at the VLI commencement in June.
The 2015 Recipient: Cheryl Hanna
Professor Cheryl Hanna was an expert on constitutional law, the U.S. Supreme Court, and women and the law. She received her BA degree in sociology and anthropology, magna cum laude, from Kalamazoo College and her JD degree, cum laude, from Harvard University. Upon graduation, she served on the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and then as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore before joining the Vermont Law School faculty in 1994. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of California-Hastings College of the Law and at Seattle University School of Law. Professor Hanna’s scholarship focused on the social status of women and girls in the United States. She was the co-author of “Domestic Violence and the Law: Theory and Practice” (Foundation Press), the leading casebook on violence against women. Her extensive scholarship has been published by the nation’s leading law journals, including the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Michigan Journal of Gender and the Law. Her work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as by The New York Times, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Glamour Magazine, CSB News, and Fox News. She was a frequent commentator for the media, including Vermont Public Radio, WCAX-TV 3 News, and Seven Days.
In 2001-2002, she was a fellow at the Snelling Center for Government with the Vermont Leadership Institute. Professor Hanna served on the Council for the Future of Vermont and the Girl Scout Council of Vermont, where she was active in both the local and national organizations. She was the Chairperson of the board for the Snelling Center for Government. She chaired the Association of American Law Schools’ Section of Law and the Social Sciences, served as an advisor to the Vermont Judicial College, and as a member of the Vermont Gender Bias Study Implementation Task Force. She also served on the board of trustees of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She frequently trained leaders in Vermont and elsewhere on ethical decision-making and was an advisor to the Vermont Legislature.
Susan Henry has dedicated her career of over 20 years at the Community College of Vermont to broadening the avenues by which Vermonters access higher education.
Starting as part-time faculty, Susan subsequently served as Coordinator of Academic Services, Dean of Enrollment, and Executive Dean of the College. She has worked to increase CCV’s music and performing arts offerings, and to advance CCV’s enrollment services, program delivery, communications, institutional research, and development initiatives. Susan has expanded scholarship opportunities for CCV students, including emergency assistance funds and a new statewide student leadership scholarship program. She has helped secure funding for programs to provide enhanced services for military veterans and to increase the rates of Vermont high school students transitioning to college.
Susan holds a B.A. cum laude from the University of New Hampshire and a M.A. from the University of Oregon. She is a 1998 graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute, and the 2002 recipient of the Jackie Gribbons Leadership Award from Vermont Women in Higher Education.
Susan plays folk harp, and loves paddling, swimming, and walking the trails of Vermont and the Adirondacks. She and her husband Sture Nelson are longtime residents of Burlington.
Tom was born in Burlington, Vermont on May 4, 1954 and became a resident of Shelburne in 1982. He was educated in Taft Elementary School and Burlington High School, Burlington, Vermont; Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, A.B., magna cum laude, 1976; Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York J.D., 1979. Vermont Leadership Institute (Snelling Center for Government) Class of 1997. Law Clerk to Hon. Albert W. Coffrin, U. S. District Court Judge, District of Vermont, 1979-1980. Attorney and counselor at law with Little, Cicchetti & Conard, P. C., Burlington, Vermont, 1980-2002; of counsel, Little & Cicchetti, P.C., Burlington, Vermont, 2003–present. Chair, Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection, 2007-2008. Town Moderator, Town of Shelburne, 2002–present. Member, Vermont House of Representatives, 1992-2002 sessions, with service on Committees on Fish & Wildlife, Ways & Means, Judiciary (Chair, 1999-2000), Judicial Retention, Joint Fiscal, and interim study committees. Chair, District 4 Environmental Commission, 2003-present; Chair, Shelburne Board of Civil Authority, 2011- present; current or former member of the following governing boards: University of Vermont; Shelburne Zoning Board; ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (past Board Chair); Visiting Nurse Association,; The Converse Home; Cathedral Square Housing Corp; the Vermont Center for the Book; the Snelling Center for Government; Chancellor, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont 1995 – present; Member House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, 1997- present. Married to Susan M. Keelty Little of Shelburne; two daughters, one son and one grandchild.
For 16 years Hal Cohen has been the Executive Director of Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC) which employs over 200 people and has a budget in excess of eighteen million dollars. Headquartered in Berlin, Vermont, CVCAC serves over 18,000 people a year from numerous sites in Washington, Lamoille and Orange counties covering over 2,000 square miles in largely rural communities.
CVCAC is dedicated to helping low-income people become economically self-sufficient. In its 46 years of operation, CVCAC has gained a reputation for leadership in program development, particularly in economic and job development and in family services.
Hal’s professional and civic involvement has included sitting on a number of local and state boards such as the Vermont Council on Rural Development, the Central Vermont Workforce Investment Board, the Vermont Workforce Development Council, Food Works, EarthWalk Vermont and the Central Vermont Hunger Taskforce.
Hal has an M.A. in counseling psychology from Antioch New England Graduate School and an M.S. in nonprofit management from the New School for Social Research. He resides in Middlesex, Vermont, with his wife, Shelley Barsanti Cohen, VLI’03.
Hal Colston’s lifelong interests of social justice and entrepreneurship have been blended in his career path. For seventeen years after college (University of PA, 1975), he worked in Philadelphia as a manager and a chef, relocating to Vermont to teach at the New England Culinary Institute. He then transitioned from food service to social services, beginning with Chittenden Community Action. Joining Lutheran Social Services in 1996, Hal founded the Good News Garage program, to address the need of transportation equity for people in economically distressed communities. Good News Garage has become a national model with locations in several other states.
During his VLI year (2003-04), Hal was inspired to create a new non-profit. NeighborKeepers, which launched in January 2006, is an inclusive community built on meaningful relationships that generate Circles of Support, empowering families to create a sustainable path to adequate resources. In January 2011 Hal was appointed by Governor Shumlin as executive director of the Vermont Commission on National and Community Service.
Hal has received much national recognition for his work and service, including the Peter F. Drucker Non-Profit Management Innovation award (1999), and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from St. Michael’s College (2000). He is the only known VLI alum to have been a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Hal has been married 33 years to Beverly Colston, with three children, Marissa, Alex and Craig. He lives in Winooski, Vermont.
Ellen Kahler has been the Executive Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) since 2005. The VSJF provides sustainable development grants, loans and business assistance to entrepreneurs and organizations connected to Vermont’s food system, forest products industry, biofuels and renewable energy industry, in order to create high quality jobs in the green economy.
Prior to joining the VSJF, Ms. Kahler led the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington for twelve years, winning statewide attention with the Vermont Job Gap Study and the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, around the issue of basic family needs, livable wages, and under-employment.
Ms. Kahler received a three-year leadership development fellowship through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (1994-1997) and was a member of the VLI class of 1997. She currently serves on the boards of the Clean Energy Development Fund, Sustainable Forest Futures, the Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Council, and Vermont Works for Women. She served on the Board of Directors for the Vermont Community Foundation from 2001 to 2009.
Ellen holds a BA in Political Science from Bucknell University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
The 2009 Recipient: Tim Donovan
Tim Donovan is the 7th Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges system created in 1963. He rose through the ranks of the state colleges system, becoming president of CCV in 2001.
His accomplishments there include expansion of CCV’s collaborative partnerships with high schools, development of extensive distance learning programs, improvement and ownership of several CCV facilities, including the 65,000 square foot flagship facility currently under construction in Winooski and the recent purchase of the former Woodbury College campus on Elm Street in Montpelier. Enrollment at CCV has grown more than 40 percent during Donovan’s tenure as president.
While administrative dean for CCV, Donovan led the VSC’s strategic technology planning initiative, which introduced a new integrated administrative information system for the colleges. He is known as a leader in the adoption of technology for academic and administrative uses in the VSC.
Longtime residents of Montpelier, Donovan and his spouse Mary Tharp have two grown children.