After a brief stint on the ill-fated Mondale presidential campaign, Tiffany worked as a middle and high school history teacher and at NYC Outward Bound, where she developed a deep passion for helping young people discover & develop their passion and voice. Upon moving to Vermont, she joined Vermont Works for Women where she served as executive director for 17 years. She left that post in 2015 to lead Change The Story VT, a multi-year, systemic approach to improving women’s economic opportunity. She lives in Burlington with her partner and two sons, whose feet have now grown far too large for their mudroom.
Melody Walker Brook
Melody is an Abenaki educator, activist, and artist. She is a citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Band and currently serves as the chair of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. She received her master's degree in history from the University of Vermont. She is an operations manager and adjunct professor at Champlain College and was previously an adjunct professor at Johnson State College teaching Native American History and Culture and Native American Spirituality. Within her community Melody has focused on cultural revitalization and concepts of personhood.
Katherine has been teaching at Harwood Union High School since 1981. She co-founded PH International (formerly Project Harmony) which strives to create a world where individuals and communities collaborate across borders to meet global challenges. Katherine is a 2016 recipient of a Rowland Fellowship, the 2016 Foundation for Excellence in Education Award and the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Vermont Teacher of the Year. She and her wonderful husband, Jared, live in Fayston and have two children, Celia and Parker.
Trevor is founder and CEO of Inntopia, a travel technology company based in Stowe. He’s also a musician who can often be found playing various venues in Stowe and the surrounding area. Trevor is a graduate of Middlebury College, and lives in Stowe with his wife Karen, son Park, and daughter Sierra.
Rusty was raised in Stowe, and lives up the road on Elmore Mountain. In New York City he worked as assistant to William J. Doyle of Doyle New York Auction House, and extensively in television, theatre, and film. He’s toured New England 21 years in THE LOGGER, his original one-man comedy show. He writes and produces for businesses and teaches and motivates students.
Ali is a passionate and dedicated community leader. He is the Family Outreach Coordinator and Parent University Manager in the Burlington School District, and is deeply engaged in the community in everything from the the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity to the West African drumming and dance association he co-founded, Africa Jamono. He studied international law at the University of Mauritania in Africa and was recently elected to Burlington City Council, being the only person of color and first New American on the council.
Blair is co-owner of Elmore Mountain Bread, New American Stone Mills and Fire Tower Pizza. She was born and raised in Johnson, Vermont. After attending college and culinary school in Washington State and working with several chefs on the front line of the the blossoming localvore movement, she returned to Vermont with her husband. In 2004, they took over Elmore Mountain Bread a wood fired bakery and stone mill. She has been covered in flour ever since.
Tyler is a jack of all trades who works with an amazing team to build closed loop recycling systems, that are used to utilize plastic to its fullest potential. Tyler believes that plastic, and waste as a whole is under utilized. He has grown Filabot into a household name in the 3D printing market while changing our relationship with plastic. Tyler has been honored with the rank of Eagle Scout, Forbes 30 under 30, Rising Star Class of 2016, and Cutest Couple Award with his darling Whitney Trudo. Tyler is a proud to be a mechanical engineer and business management dropout.
Sarah has worked at the intersections of community development and natural resources management for more than a decade. She has worked across the US from Washington DC, to the small rural towns of the Rocky Mountains. She's the executive director at the Center for an Agricultural Economy, in Hardwick VT, and serves on the Boards of the Vt Community Foundation, the Public Assets Institute and the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative. She's also the mother of an extremely energetic toddler, and a rather harassed cat. She lives in East Montpelier.
Michael and his wife, Valerie Wood-Lewis, founded FrontPorchForum.com in 2006, driven to help neighbors connect and build community. More than half of their state participates daily. Born and raised in Indiana, Michael graduated from the University of Illinois with a masters in engineering and an MBA. He and Valerie met while working in Washington, DC, married, and have been raising a family in Vermont for the past 20 years. When not working on FPF, you can find Michael hanging out in their Five Sisters neighborhood, coaching youth sports, or enjoying Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.
Kat Wright, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, delicate yet powerful; gritty but highly emotive and nuanced, has been described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. Add to that voice enough stage presence to tame lions, and the combination of feline femininity proves immediately enchanting. There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should.
We will also have two high school speakers, the winners of TEDx speaking competitions at Stowe High School and Peoples Academy in Morrisville. The names of these speakers will be announced closer to the event.
Host - Susanne Schmidt
Susanne is a standup comedienne, master storyteller and producer for The Moth. She has appeared in The Boston Women in Comedy Festival, The Toronto SheDot Festival and named the “Best of the Valley Voices” by The Academy of Music Theater and New England Public Radio. Susanne is a teaching artist at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, a graduate professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the mother of two amazing young men who would prefer that she stop talking about them on stage.