Alison DeFisher, Marketing & Communications Manager
I’m a recent transplant to Vermont. I came to work for United Way because I wanted to invest my nonprofit marketing and communication skills into helping people in this community thrive.
In my role, I work with our entire staff and community partners to tell the story of United Way’s work and build our brand. My favorite part of the job is traveling within our region to meet a variety of people who are excited to share how our work has impacted them.
I’m a 2008 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and have spent the last eight years working for nonprofit and government organizations, including three years with United Way of Greater Cincinnati. My experience includes branding, strategic messaging, design, special events, social media and media relations.
In my free time, I enjoy exploring New England, reading great books, yoga, hiking and planning my next DIY home project. I live in Jericho with my husband, Will, and our two dogs.
Life motto: “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”
Amy Carmola, Director of Community Impact
I lead United Way’s strategic investments to strengthen our community and improve people’s lives across Northwest Vermont.
I work with United Way staff, volunteers, and partners to identify needs and opportunities to advance community-defined priorities through funding high-performing programs, driving community engagement and collaboration, mobilizing volunteers, and investing in strategic initiatives to create systems-level change.
I completed my doctoral degree at University of Vermont, where I studied lifespan development and community psychology, and joined United Way in 2003. My favorite part of my job is working with – and learning from – many people who care so deeply and who bring tremendous energy, expertise, and creativity to the work of realizing a shared vision for our community.
Every day, I am inspired by the power of optimism and collaboration, and by the great work being done by so many.
Buddha Rai, Donor Relations Assistant
My work is to provide regular support to the staff to accomplish our organization’s goals. I am passionate about helping other people and want to make a difference in people’s lives.
I truly believe that “education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” Quoted by George Washington Carver.
Cari Kelley, Workplace Donor Relations Manager
I am the Community Campaign Manager and have been with United Way of Northwest Vermont since October 31, 2016. In my role, I work with businesses and their employees on workplace campaigns and education on the work of United Way. I truly love the ability to talk with CEOs, executives and employees about the impact that we have on our community and answer their questions.
I came to United Way after more than 10 years at the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, where I ran all of the Leadership Development and Workforce Education programs. Before that, I was the Development Director at Make-A-Wish, and Membership Development and Event Management at the Home Builders and Remodelers Association. All of this experience has given me the ability to build the relationships necessary to help businesses understand the work of United Way.
I truly enjoy playing the guitar, knitting, taking my adult tap class, traveling and spending time with my blended family, with my partner, Greg, and our five children. I am currently on the board of Destination Imagination, and try to engage as much as possible in my local community of Grand Isle.
Cindy Elcan, Director of Administration & Operations
I am a middle-aged female, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend. My passion is music and I am currently studying classical piano. I thrive on exercise.
As a colleague on the United Way team, I celebrate and honor the talents and differences in all people that make them uniquely successful in their work. I help facilitate this by making sure resources and culture support them - our greatest asset. My favorite part of working here is the people who care so much about improving lives.
In my life there has always been food, shelter, transportation and someone who loves me. Because my life is so richly blessed, I can use these gifts to advocate for human kindness and equity, and volunteer time with those who are often marginalized - the homeless – those with intellectual disabilities - those who have been incarcerated.
In 2016, I earned a master’s degree through the study of what leadership means for me, and how to support others to be the best they can be. I want to be a trusted resource, accountable and a faithful person who openly shares my life journey.
Connie Beal, Working Bridges Innovation Manager
My role is to help employees connect with community resources and supports, right at their workplace. Through the Working Bridges Employer Collaborative, I help hardworking Vermonters access resources that can help with things like housing, transportation, child care, food, health care, legal issues and more. My favorite part of this collective impact work is supporting resilient employees in achieving greater financial capability. I hold a master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Vermont and maintain my Information & Referral Specialist (CIRS) credential. Prior work experience with Vermont 2-1-1, community nonprofits and the public sector help me navigate resources with employees and build connections with partners across sectors. I refuel by hiking and camping, playing with my young children, and by working in our Hugelkultur garden with my wife.
Danielle Williams, Coordinator of Volunteer Recruitment, RSVP & Foster Grandparent Programs
I recruit volunteers ages 55 and up for our RSVP and Foster Grandparents programs, while building positive relationships with organizations and individuals in Northwest Vermont. I believe very strongly in the importance of volunteering, and being aware and a part of what’s going on in the community you live in. My passion for nonprofits is what originally got me interested in United Way. I volunteer with the Travis Roy Foundation, where I dedicate quite a bit of time outside of work. I spend my summers relaxing at my partner’s camp or rollerblading on the bike path, and my winters playing pond hockey wherever I can find ice!
Deborah (Debbie) Bergen, Accounting Supervisor
As the Accounting Supervisor, I ensure the community campaign funds are applied accurately and accounted. I also manage accounts payable, accounts receivable as well as many other various accounting tasks. I love witnessing the collaboration between United Way and community partners to achieve the best outcomes for our community. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. When I’m not at work, I love to cook, bake, read and work on puzzles of all kinds.
Words to live by: Always be kinder than necessary – James M. Barrie
Dillon Boisvert, Human Resources & Operations Associate
I serve as a member of the administration and operations team that supports the main office. My primary role falls under the categories of recruitment, retention and recognition. I ask myself everyday: how can I enable the best work to support United Way of Northwest Vermont’s mission and vision? My background is in psychology and organizational innovation and I also hold a Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. I enjoy the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented team on a daily basis. The people at United Way of Northwest Vermont are some of the most compassionate and driven individuals that I have ever worked with and that only serves to make my job that much easier.
Ellen Biddle, Director, RSVP & Foster Grandparent Programs
As the director of two vibrant volunteer programs, I am dedicated to helping Vermonters ages 55+ find meaningful ways to use their skills, experience and passion to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.
When I am not at work, I am an avid reader, adventurous home cook, suburban gardener and voracious traveler but am happiest when spending time with my opinionated teenage daughter exploring the wilds of Vermont.
Words to live by: “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” -- CS Lewis
Eric Boehm, Director of Finance
As Director of Finance for the United Way, I provide strategic financial leadership, run the day-to-day accounting and finance functions of the organization, and serve as a senior member of UW’s leadership team. I joined United Way in 2017 and am excited to bring my 10+ years of nonprofit management experience to working in my local community. The majority of my experience has been in financial management of organizations operating both nationally and internationally and while this has been rewarding work, I am energized by the opportunity to work in and with the community that I live in.
Outside of work, I serve on the board of City Market as well as volunteer at local and national nonprofit organizations. I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University.
Originally from South Burlington, I left to go to college in Colorado and subsequently moved to Washington, D.C. where I met my wife, started our family, and spent 10 years working in various roles in the nonprofit sector.
I live in Burlington with my wife and two boys. When I’m not working, I love spending time on Lake Champlain and in the woods either skiing or running.
Jeff Haislet, Data Coordinator
I have the pleasure of working with all of the departments at the United Way of Northwest Vermont. As data coordinator, I help the United Way make informed decisions through data analysis. I build systems and connect people through data.
At work, you will likely find me working in spreadsheets, communicating insights learned through data analysis, or interconnecting our internal systems.
Outside of work, you will find me skiing in the winter and mountain biking during the summer.
Jesse Bridges, CEO
I truly believe that leadership can play an important role in solving many of our community’s most pressing issues, but as I look forward with excitement about the opportunities before us, I look to our staff, our volunteers/donors, and our community. Leadership is about opening the doors to success and allowing others to walk through. My job is to foster a supportive and constructive environment that embraces equity through inclusive decision making and mindful daily actions.
My belief is that strong collaboration and building social capital in our communities can make a real difference in the quality of life for us all. I enjoy connecting donors, partners, volunteers, and staff with our exceptional work. We make community better together.
Outside of work, I stay active running and snowboarding with my main hobby being a love for the kitchen that I share with my two young daughters. My family motto is: “What are we going to eat and when are we going to eat it.”
John Cronin, Director of Donor Relations
My real work is connecting people in the community to causes that are important to them, and to work hard to make sure they feel joyful about their gift. I love watching our volunteer Impact Teams and Community Investment Committee do their thing. They are why I come to work each day – they inspire me and allow me to have complete confidence that our family’s gift is translated into real solutions. They make me feel secure that as gaps in service or new needs emerge, someone will be there to identify them. This is also why United Way of Northwest Vermont is in our will.
My connection to United Way began as a Keyperson for one of our largest workplace campaigns and continued as a volunteer on the Keyperson Training Committee. I’ve also served as a Loaned Executive and our Community Campaign Manager.
Outside of work I am a husband, father, musician, artist, cook, and dishwasher. Also a leaf catcher and cloud reader.
Favorite movie: The Princess Bride
First volunteer experience: I was a prep cook in a convent for many years (Sister Alvarez, you should see how quickly I can peel a potato now! I think you would be proud).
Leah Soderquist, Community Impact Manager
In my role, I am dedicated to increasing transportation options for older adults as a key strategy for successful aging. I accomplish this through inclusive community planning, creative partnerships and volunteer mobilization. It’s my passion for the community engagement process and the role universal design can play in solution-seeking that inspires my work at United Way.
I studied environmental education and environmental policy at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Prior to college, I was an apprentice at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop learning the craft of boatbuilding and shaker furniture construction on the coast of Maine.
I moved to Vermont in 2010, originally intending to stay just for the summer; but, once I got a taste of life in the Green Mountains, I knew I needed to make Vermont home. When not adventuring outdoors, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen with friends and family testing out my latest batch of fermented foods.
Lisa Jensen, Working Bridges Initiative Director
My role is to educate and empower employees to connect with community resources and achieve stability. I work in partnership with employers as they test new workplace practices and policies to help their employees with a focus on job retention, productivity and advancement.
I'm passionate about building relationships to create positive change for people within workplaces and in our community. Some years ago, I worked as a manager in non-profit organizations in Boston and Vermont and received an MPA and BS from the University of Vermont.
Mary Pelkey, Coordinator of RSVP & Foster Grandparent Programs
I have the pleasure of connecting volunteers ages 55+ with meaningful volunteer opportunities. I enjoy building strong partnerships with community leaders, schools, day cares and various community organizations. I am confident that by working together to address important needs, we can create strong, healthy communities. I believe Franklin, Grand Isle and Chittenden Counties can be positive examples for all other counties in Vermont of what can be accomplished when community members care enough to make a difference!
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. I especially love going on cruise vacations with my husband!
One of my favorite quotes: “There are hundreds of languages in the world….however, a smile speaks all of them!”
Megan Bridges, Community Impact Coordinator
I connect people to volunteering opportunities in our community nonprofits. Mobilizing volunteers is a key element in United Way’s work to build a stronger Northwest Vermont. I am passionate about people helping each other to make our community a great place to live.
My introduction to United Way was in the workplace through the community campaign. After donating for a few years, I had the opportunity to twice be a keyperson and really learned about United Way’s impact in the community. I was thrilled to join this team several years ago and be able to contribute to the mission to improve people’s lives.
Paul Chapman, Community Impact Manager, Franklin & Grand Isle Counties
My role as Community Impact Manager is to be out learning about the community and to support the efforts to make sure all people in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties meet their full potential.
I love being part of the community and working with community members from youth to older adults. It is such a privilege for me to witness the strengths and care that folks bring to solve problems for their community and an honor to be invited to join in the effort.
While I grew up in Wolcott, Vermont, I carry my love of Vermont and community with me wherever my feet land. I believe that most community problems can be solved by bringing our neighbors together to find the best solution. I love working with the United Way and all the partners across county lines!
Raquel Aronhime, Community Impact Manager
I manage the work that supports UNWVT’s program funding investments in many of our valued community programs. This means working year-round with our volunteer Community Impact Team as well as our community partners to support and enhance our collective work. I enjoy building bridges for effective communication and collaboration, and appreciate that my many years of living and working abroad allow me to bring a cross-cultural perspective to my work. I am happiest when I’m learning or facilitating the learning of others, particularly in areas of diversity and inclusion, education and training or asset-building towards resilience.
Prior to joining United Way, my experience included work in international development through Tetra Tech in Burlington and through the U.S. Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. and abroad. I’ve worked as a recruiter, a language teacher, and as a case worker with Cuban and Haitian migrants and refugees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay. I hold a Master of Intercultural Management degree from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, and a B.A. in French and Spanish from Wake Forest University.
Outside of UW, my focus is on two fascinating young humans—my kids –and on singing and acting when there’s a stage available. I love good conversation, yoga, my guitar lessons, and summer potlucks when my husband does the cooking.
Ruthann Hackett, Donor Relations Manager
Who could ask for a better job!? I meet new people and foster relationships by sharing how United Way works collaboratively to make a positive change in people’s lives. My work at United Way began more than 10 years ago as a United Way volunteer and it has led to a very rewarding career.
Outside of work my favorite pastime is cooking and baking – there is no better place to be but in the kitchen with family and friends. I’m a wife, mother of two beautiful grown daughters and enjoy any time I can get enjoying the lake!
Sandy Menard, Administrative Assistant
I am an administrative assistant for United Way and for the Foster Grandparent and RSVP programs. I provide clerical assistance for our staff who are out in the community; whether in Chittenden, Grand Isle or Franklin counties. I provide support in the background to help co-workers perform their duties.
My favorite part of my job is meeting challenges to make deadlines. I have many years of experience and a BS in accounting. I enjoy crossword puzzles (not the New York Times) and tatting. Making mistakes is what makes me human.
Sarah Allerton, Working Bridges Resource Coordinator
I am the newest Resource Coordinator for the Working Bridges arm of this amazing organization, connecting people with what they need to address challenges in their personal lives so that they may be more successful in their work lives. I will also be using my deep roots in Franklin County to grow the initiative northward.
I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group of people to make a direct and tangible impact on the lives of people in our communities. My past experience with environmental science, literacy, education, and developing personal relationships is a foundation I rely on to inform effective and meaningful community service.
When not at work, you will most likely find me spending time with my family and friends, running, reading, hiking, camping, and spending as much time as I can out on the water in this most beautiful part of the world.
Trezanra Robertson, Coordinator of Volunteer Management
As Coordinator of Volunteer Management, I enjoy working with people and helping them find meaningful balance in their lives. I believe in the positive societal impact that the 55+ age demographic brings to community through volunteerism.
My many interests include—but are not limited—to vegetable gardening, cooking, taking long scenic walks and skiing. I also enjoy binge watching HGTV and Project Smoke as well as spending time with my precocious one-year-old son.