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Southern Vermont Economy Summit
May 23, 2023

Featured Speakers

Rob Riley President, Northern Forest Center
Keynote Speaker

Rob Riley joined the Northern Forest Center in 2007 to lead development of programs emerging from the Center’s Sustainable Economy Initiative. He assumed leadership of the Center in spring 2008. Rob has guided the Center to become the respected regional innovation and investment partner it is today and launched the Center’s first impact investment funds to support the Millinocket Housing Initiative  and Lancaster Main Street Fund.

Rob led the creation of the Northern Forest Board Forum  and the Rural Development Innovation Group, a partnership with the Aspen Institute and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. He is particularly proud of the Center’s team and its ability to bring expertise and resources to help Northern Forest people and communities while advocating for the region at the national level. The New Hampshire Union Leader included Rob in its 2003 list of Forty Outstanding Leaders Under 40 in New Hampshire.

Prior to joining the Center, Rob served as director of MicroCredit-NH, an award-winning statewide community economic development program. Previously, Rob founded and served as executive director of Main Street Plymouth, Inc., which received New Hampshire’s “Main Street Program of the Year Award” in 2000. Other experience includes directing Youth Programs at Sagebrush Arena in Hailey, Idaho, and farming and logging in Andover, Vermont.

Carrie Simmons
Executive Director, Stowe Area Association

Session: The Missing Link: Connecting Recreational Assets to the Local Economy

Carrie is a leader, strategist, and creative problem-solver with expertise in values-driven,integrated brand, and marketing approaches. She is the executive director of the Stowe Area Association, outwardly known as Go Stowe, serving approximately 250 business members by promoting the Stowe, Vermont brand through effective public relations, social media strategies, as well as and operating a visitor information center and central reservations service for hotels and inns. Prior to Go Stowe, Carrie was the owner and creative director of New Ground Creative, a creative firm that built brands through engaging design, dynamic campaigns, and authentic messaging. Carrie finds inspiration in travel, singing, reading, and time spent outdoors with her family. She is currently a board member of Stowe Vibrancy, an appointed official of Stowe Arts and Culture Council, an Executive Board Member of the Vermont Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and core partner with Lamoille County’s Working Communities Challenge. Engage with Carrie @

Richard Amore, PLA/AICP
Planning and Outreach Manager, VT DHCD 
Session: ‘Steal This Idea’ Workshop: Actionable Strategies for Main Streets of All Sizes

Richard Amore is a landscape architect, urban planner, and community builder who blends his experience in community development, landscape architecture, and placemaking to spark revitalization of Vermont’s downtowns and village centers. He serves as planning and outreach manager for the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development where he works with downtowns and villages across Vermont and helps them plan and build prosperous, walkable, and inclusive communities.

Joanne Randall, MBA
Principal, Leap Year Strategies

Session: Marketing Fundamentals for Businesses and Organizations

An MBA in Strategic Leadership, Joanne Randall has spent her career working in management and business. Her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration is from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire and her MBA is from New England College. She is a Coach, Consultant, and Marketing expert.

Her background includes management, sales, marketing, retail, human resources, and small business social media development. Joanne has over twenty-five years of experience in the marketing field. Joanne specializes in content marketing strategy consultation and marketing plan creation and execution for clients. Joanne has been a business and marketing guest lecturer at numerous New Hampshire universities, businesses, and Chambers of Commerce. Joanne frequently hosts marketing seminars and serves as a guest lecturer around New England.

She is the creator and host of previous radio shows such as NH Women in Business Radio and Marketing Mojo Radio. Joanne is the author of the popular children’s books, “The Adventures of Largo and Shelby” and “The Adventures of Largo and Jack”. She currently manages operations for her business, Leap Year Business Strategies and is an adjunct Professor of Marketing and Business.

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Emma Spett
UVM Office of Engagement, Data Maven & PhD Candidate 
Session: ‘Show me the numbers:’ Data-Informed Community and Economic Development

Emma Spett is a Vermont-based researcher, educator, and student exploring the theory and practice of building resilience. She is a graduate research assistant at the University of Vermont's Office of Engagement and Institute of Rural Partnerships, and her work is concerned with the governance and management of data resources for community development. She also consults on research projects related to co-creation and collaborative governance, flood management and mitigation, and transboundary water management.

Jenna Koloski
Community Engagement and Policy Director, VCRD

Session: Increasing Local Engagement Practices to invite and encourage participation

Jenna Koloski is the Community Engagement and Policy Director at the Vermont Council on Rural Development where she works with communities around the state to support their work to bring the community together, identify key priorities for the future, and line up volunteers, leadership, and resources to move priorities forward. She also facilitated statewide policy discussions to determine key policy and programming goals for the future of the state. Jenna attended McGill University before moving to Vermont and receiving her Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. She currently serves as the President of the Vermont Community Development Association, a member of the Vermont Creative Network Advisory Board, and a member of the board of the Remedial Herstory Project. She lives in Huntington, Vermont.

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Ted Brady
Executive Director, Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT)
Session: Increasing Local Engagement-- practices to invite and encourage participation (Community)

Ted Brady is the Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), a statewide non-profit, nonpartisan organization with the mission of serving and strengthening Vermont local government. Brady served as Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in the Scott Administration.  Previously Brady was appointed by President Obama as the Vermont and New Hampshire State Director for USDA Rural Development, where he oversaw the administration of more than $1 billion in housing, business, and community development loans and grants.  Brady spent more than a decade working as a community and economic development liaison in U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s office, both in Washington, D.C. and in Vermont.

Lilias Ide
Communication and Education Director, Kingdom Trails

Session: The Missing Link: Connecting recreational assets to the local economy 

Lilias Ide is the Communication and Education director at Kingdom Trails,  a multi-use, 100+ mile trail network and nonprofit organization in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom, Lilias is very happy to be home after much exploring around the world. She enjoys doing the work of supporting outdoor recreation opportunities to encourage physical, mental, environmental, and economic wellness for her local community.

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Lukas Ray
Community Collaboration Director, Kingdom Trails 
Session:  The Missing Link: Connecting recreational assets to the local economy 

Lukas Ray is the Community Collaboration Director at Kingdom Trails, a multi-use, 100+ mile trail network and nonprofit organization in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. He holds a B.S. in Recreation Management and M.A. in Appalachian Studies, both from Appalachian State University. Lukas has been engaged in outdoor recreation and tourism development for 5 years, working in West Virginia for a National Heritage Area before coming to KT. Prior to his work in outdoor recreation, Lukas assisted in managing disaster recovery services in Tennessee and West Virginia. Lukas has experience in rural tourism development, community building, collaboration, marketing, storytelling, and nonprofit administration. A native of North Carolina, Lukas currently lives in Lyndonville, VT with his partner Mikayla and their two dogs, Alaska and Jetty.

Kevin Chu
Executive Director, Vermont Futures Project

Session: ‘Show me the numbers:’ Data-Informed Community and Economic Development

Kevin grew up in Vermont and is looking forward to growing old here too. Prior to the Vermont Futures Project, he worked at the University of Vermont for 6 years in positions focused on admissions, academic advising, communications & strategic planning, and community economic development. Kevin currently serves on the State Workforce Development Board, UVM Medical Center Board of Trustees, and the Boston Fed Working Communities Challenge Steering Committee.

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Peter Twachtman
President, Lark Hotels
Session: Extending Your Workforce Options:  J1, H2,  H1B, and other ways to find workers for your business in the new workforce reality

Peter Twachtman's bio coming soon!

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