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Nearly 200 Years—Learn More About Norwich

Building Resilient Communities through Interdisciplinary Research and Design Collaboration

Tara Kulkarni, PhD, PE

J. Riley Allen is the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service. Allen’s work encompasses a focus on rate design, alternatives to traditional rate-of-return regulation, and long-range planning efforts by distribution utilities. Allen formerly served as global research manager at the Regulatory Assistance Project, senior policy advisor to the Vermont Public Service Board, and planning director for the Vermont Department of Public Service. Allen holds an MA in economics from the University of Virginia and a BA from the University of Florida.

Tyler Barnard holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Penn State University and is currently a staff engineer for Engineering Ventures in Burlington, Vt. His previous experience includes designing septic systems and performing survey work for residential subdivisions and small commercial projects. He now performs civil site design for commercial and residential projects of all sizes. Tyler has served as the membership chair on the board of directors for the Vermont chapter of ASCE since 2015 and will be the 2019–20 fiscal year president-elect. In his role with ASCE, he has helped organize social events for members across the state and assisted writing the stormwater section of Vermont’s 2019 infrastructure report card. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor recreation in the Vermont wilderness and grooving to the Burlington music scene.

Mindy Blank is the executive director of Community Resilience Organizations (CROs), a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities enhance resilience for challenges that lie ahead, whether climate change impacts, social disconnects, or economic disruptions. CROs focuses on building civic engagement and healthier, happier communities that address vulnerabilities in the climate-change era by becoming increasingly “community sufficient”—meeting their needs locally and sustainably. Mindy teaches a range of environmental courses at Green Mountain College and is the co-chair of the Academic Resilience Collaborative of the Resilient Vermont Network. She holds a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and formerly worked as an energy analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris, where she developed roadmapping processes that accelerate deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart-grid technologies. She also approaches climate change and social change through herbalism, working closely with plant medicines and teachers in Vermont, North Carolina, Peru, and Panama

Erica Bornemann was appointed director of Vermont Emergency Management in January 2017. She has been a member of VEM since 2007 in various roles, including chief of staff, Planning Section chief, and emergency management planner. Bornemann currently serves as U.S. co-chair of the International Emergency Manager’s Group and Preparedness Committee chair of the National Emergency Manager’s Association, and is an appointee to the Emergency Management Accreditation Program Commission. Bornemann holds a BA in political science from Western New England College and a Master of Public Administration from Norwich. She lives in Morrisville, Vt., with her husband and two sons.

Michele Braun is excited to take on the leadership of the Friends of the Winooski River, helping more than a quarter of Vermonters reconnect with nature and restore the Winooski to a clean, healthy, resilient watershed. She was previously head of the planning department for Northfield, Vt., where she coordinated the Town’s recovery from Tropical Storm Irene, including the buyout of eighteen properties, followed by a five-acre floodplain restoration project in the area where homes were razed. Michele has a degree in government and romance languages from Bowdoin College, and a master’s in natural resources planning from UVM. She lives in Montpelier.  

Gillian Kapteyn Comstock is the founding co-director of Metta Earth Institute and the Metta Earth project, which integrates regenerative farming, contemplative practices, community living, and sustainability education. Gillian offers mentoring, program facilitation, and leadership trainings. As a holistic psychotherapist, certified permaculture designer, and advanced yoga guide, she synthesizes disciplines to support cultural renewal, and is dedicated to creating sanctuaries for others to experience vibrant presence. With a passion for discovering the wild in mind, body, and earth, she has led yoga retreats, wilderness quests, and trainings in nature sanctuaries around the world. For more than two decades she has been a participant in the Assisi Institute community, which engages in a highly dynamic interdisciplinary investigation of Jungian psychology, creative process, mythology, and the new sciences. A mother of three adult children and grandmother of five, Gillian has lived a life immersed in cooperative community, the gift economy, and innovative social processes resonate with natural systems and wild nature.

Michael Cross is a lecturer of electrical and computer engineering for Norwich University, teaching classes in the areas of circuits, electronics, energy systems, embedded systems, and engineering design. He holds degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Vermont (UVM). His doctoral and post-doctoral research at the UVM explored the electrical, structural, optical, and electro-chemical properties of thin films and energetic nanomaterials. His professional experience includes working as a development engineer at IBM Microelectronics in Essex Junction, Vt., where he was involved in the development of state-of-the-art photomasks. He began his academic career at UVM, where he taught courses in the areas of analog and digital circuits, electronics, semiconductor physics, power electronics, and engineering design.

Emily Davis is a regional planner at the Windham Regional Commission, leading their efforts in natural resource, water quality, and watershed planning in the 27 towns of the Windham region of southeastern Vermont. She has received degrees in both geochemistry and ecological design, enabling a holistic way of uniting environmental processes, creative thinking, and community-based resilience. Through her involvement and leadership in local watershed groups, she works to incorporate creative placemaking and community development practices into more conventional watershed planning activities.

David L. Deen is now retired from all employment effective January 2019. He served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1991 to 2019 in various leadership positions, including as vice-chair of Ways and Means, and chair of both Fish and Wildlife and Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources. He was elected 10 times by the Democratic Caucus to serve as the at-large member of the House Rules Committee. From 1998 to 2017, he served as river steward for the Upper Connecticut River Watershed, and worked for the Connecticut River Watershed Council. The river steward is responsible for public education and advocacy concerning issues affecting the river in both Vermont and New Hampshire. From 1989 to 2017, he served on the Vermont Connecticut River Watershed Advisory Commission. As the commission’s founding chair of the, he worked closely with the counterpart New Hampshire Commission to create the Connecticut River Joint Commissions. From 1983 to 2010, he owned and operated the Strictly Trout Flyfishing Guide Service, “because of my love of the out of doors and fishing.” At that time, it was the oldest professional flyfishing guide service in Vermont. He also served in the Vermont State Senate, becoming the first Democratic state senator from Windham County, and served as clerk for both the Education and Natural Resources and Energy committees.

Joshua Faulkner is a research assistant professor for the University of Vermont (UVM), where he coordinates the Farming and Climate Change Program in the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He does applied research and outreach on soil, water, and nutrient-related issues across the state, and provides technical assistance to farmers on practices and innovative solutions to improve the management of these resources in the face of a changing climate. He has worked on conservation issues in the Chesapeake Bay, New York State, Vermont, and West Africa. He holds a BS from Virginia Tech and an MS and PhD from Cornell University, all in soil and water-resource engineering. He grew up in rural Southern West Virginia on a grass-based beef farm, and currently raises pastured pork on a small farm in Starksboro, Vt.

Gus Goodwin is the conservation coordinator for the Nature Conservancy in Vermont. In this role, he works at the intersection of land protection, stewardship, and conservation science. He is a graduate of UVM’s Field Naturalist Program, having studied the relationships between geology and biodiversity. Prior to joining the Vermont Conservancy, Gus worked for the Nature Conservancy in California and the Adirondacks on a wide range of projects, including botany, wildlife tracking and road ecology, and conservation planning.

Tara Kulkarni is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and founding director of the Center for Global Resilience and Security (CGRS) at Norwich University. She has over 15 years of experience spanning state government, management consulting, and academia. At Norwich University, she actively engages her classes, research apprentices, and undergraduate research fellows in the areas of green infrastructure, sustainable water resources management, and climate-change-related disaster resilience through engineering innovation and environmental security. Her recent publications include a book on water resources planning. Her professional service includes mentoring junior civil engineering faculty through the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), contributing to Vermont’s infrastructure report card, and serving in leadership roles in professional committees and boards. She leads CGRS research-linked service initiatives in energy resilience and environmental security, including the Resilient Vermont Network and the Dog River Conservancy.

Lilly Hancock is the ecological designer at Bio-Logical Capital, a land investment, development, and conservation company that creates mixed-use plans for large landscapes that integrate renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, water stewardship, and human habitat. With a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Brown University, she brings rigorous scientific training and inquiry to the Bio-Logical Capital team. During her doctorate work, Lilly studied steppe and desert systems and the evolution of traits that enable plants to live in hot, arid environments. She has traveled extensively in Australia, South America, and the American southwest, identifying species and conducting ecological surveys to better understand plant biodiversity, niche evolution, and habitat structure. Her work contributes to a broader understanding of how we can sustainably grow crops in arid, marginal lands that are underutilized and becoming more prevalent with climate change.

Anne Margolis is the renewable energy development manager for the Vermont Department of Public Service, where she works on policies, programs, and tools to advance the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan’s goal of transitioning to 90 percent clean energy across all sectors—electricity, transportation, and heating/cooling—by 2050. Anne previously managed the department’s Clean Energy Development Fund and directed solar, wind, fuel-cell, and energy-storage initiatives for Clean Energy States Alliance. She serves as an alternate on the Vermont District 3 Environmental Commission and is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Branden Martin is involved in a variety of projects at Stone including stormwater practice evaluation and design, stream and bank restoration, illicit discharge detection and elimination, and agricultural water and waste management. During his professional career, he has gained broad knowledge in various engineering disciplines and is readily able to apply his experience to the task at hand. he is fully versed in retrofit planning and design, topographic surveying, watershed assessments, hydraulic and hydrologic modeling, engineering-plan development, and cost estimating, and has experience with geotechnical assessments as relating to the identification of bank stabilization techniques.

Raquel Mattos is a 15-year-old Latina freshman from Essex High School. She loves to be involved in rallies for immigrant justice and other important problems such as climate change and women's rights. Raquel is extremely excited to speak at this conference and she cannot wait to share her ideas and thoughts.



George N. McCain Jr. is a project manager for McCain Consulting, Inc., providing civil engineering and land use planning services across central Vermont. A licensed Professional Engineer in Vermont, he brings his experience working in a variety of civil engineering, construction, and project management roles along with his master’s degree from the UVM and a bachelor’s from Clarkson University. 



Elena Mihaly is a staff attorney working in CLF’s Clean Air and Water Program and Resilient Communities Program. Elena’s work focuses on developing and implementing law and policy solutions to protect public health, enhance community climate preparedness, and ensure all communities have equal access to a clean and healthy environment. Before assuming the role of staff attorney, Elena was a legal fellow for two years at CLF working in the Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice Program, where she helped launch CLF’s Legal Food Hub, a project connecting farmers and food businesses with lawyers who have agreed to provide free legal services related to business-law matters. Elena received her JD, summa cum laude, and Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, where she was articles editor on the Vermont Law Review. Elena holds a BA in Environmental Science from Colorado College. She is licensed to practice in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. When she’s not fulfilling her CLF duties, Elena is managing her 120-acre farm and forest property in Norwich, Vt., or exploring the natural world through climbing, skiing, or trail running with her husband and cattle dog.

Sue Minter is the executive director of Capstone Community Action, a community-based non-profit dedicated to furthering social, economic, and climate justice. She has spent the past 30 years working as a professional planner and policy maker at the local, state, national and international levels. She is the former president and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont (2017–18), and the former secretary (2015) and deputy secretary (2011–2014) of the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Following the historic flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, she received the appointment of Vermont’s Irene Recovery Officer, responsible for implementation of state recovery and resilience programs and activities. She served as a State Representative in the Vermont legislature from 2004–2010, and in 2016, won the nomination of Democratic candidate for Vermont Governor.

Julie Moore is the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), the state agency with primary responsibility for protecting and sustaining Vermont’s environment, natural resources, wildlife and forests, and for maintaining Vermont’s beloved state parks. Moore was named to that position by Governor Phil Scott in January 2017. As ANR secretary, Moore shapes Vermont’s environmental agenda, focusing on water quality, the forest economy, and the importance of conservation. She currently serves on the boards of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. She earned a BS in civil engineering, cum laude, from the University at Buffalo and an MS in environmental science and policy from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. She is a registered professional engineer in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Lyn Munno is the director or Watersheds United and supports community watershed groups around Vermont. She holds a masters of environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and has worked for many environmental and conservation organizations, including the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and, most recently, EarthWalk Vermont. She lives in Montpelier on the North Branch of the Winooski with her husband, two boys, and her dog.


Lev Natan guides social-impact leaders to choose their paths of courage and wisdom. He has been catalyzing change as a coach, consultant, teacher, circle facilitator, and sound healer for more than 10 years. He is on track to complete a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership in August 2019, and is certified as an integrative sound and music practitioner through the New York Open Center’s Sound & Music Institute and an empowerment life coach through the Empowerment Institute. Lev walks a path guided by teachings of courage and wisdom from around the world, with a focus on his heritage in Jewish mysticism and his commitment as a Pipe-carrier and Sundancer in the Lakota tradition.

Bill Neukomm is the executive director of COVER Home Repair, Inc. Located in White River Junction, COVER organizes 325 volunteers annually to undertake urgent home repairs and weatherization projects for low-income homeowners in the Upper Valley. COVER is equipped with two pickup trucks, two tool trailers, one box truck, and one large storage locker of standby tools for emergency use. The COVER volunteer network consists of community, business, school, and religious leaders as well as a network of skilled tradespersons. COVER is also a member of Upper Valley Strong, a coalition of organizations that worked on recovery efforts after Irene and exists today with better capability to respond to the next disaster. His previous work in the nonprofit sector includes site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity Boston, founding executive director for the Chelsea Neighborhood Housing Services, and field service officer for the NeighborWorks New England office.

Lauren Oates moved to Vermont to assist the Town of Waterbury in their flood recovery efforts following Tropical Storm Irene. From there, she transferred to Vermont Emergency Management to continue her work on hazard mitigation and resilience initiatives and planning efforts across the state. As program manager, Lauren works across state agencies, with regional and local partners, and with Vermont’s many natural-resources-focused nonprofit organizations to make the state a cleaner, safer, and more resilient place to call home. One of the more significant initiatives she has participated in has been the successful multi-stakeholder approach to buyouts of flood-damaged and flood-prone properties following Tropical Storm Irene, under which nearly 150 properties were acquired and demolished. In her spare time, Lauren serves on the executive committee of the Sierra Club Vermont and enjoys spending ample time in the woods—be it on wheels, skis, or running shoes!

Simon Pearish is an assistant professor of biology at Norwich University. During his first year on the faculty, he joined the coalition of researchers, conservation workers, and concerned citizens that are looking for solutions to the eutrophication of our lakes and streams, including Lake Champlain. His work on treatment wetlands challenges Norwich undergraduate students to combine science and engineering to overcome one of the most pressing issues of our time; water security. Whether constructed in natural areas, in an urban setting, or in the form of an island floating in the middle of a lake, treatment wetlands promise to improve water quality, while providing natural beauty and improved habitat for wildlife. 

Laura Perez has more than 15 years of experience in community organization and program development, including fundraising, education, and outreach with a goal of enhancing community wellness. Her baccalaureate education focused on the politics of poverty at the domestic and international levels and community education as a force for social change. She recently graduated from Norwich University, earning an MBA with a strategic organizational leadership focus. She is personally and professionally committed to creating a safer, happier, and healthier place for us all to live, play, and work.

Based in Vermont, Rebecca Purdom teaches environmental law and climate change at Emory University School of Law, law as a framework for entrepreneurial business in the Sustainable Innovation MBA (SIMBA) at UVM, and a course for scientists on communicating science to policy makers at Stanford Medical School. She has helped set up innovation legal projects in East Africa, environmental monitoring projects in Brazil, and on watershed enhancement and sustainable agriculture in Vermont. An advocate for access to justice and education, she teaches workshops and works at the intersection of law, policy, technology, and sustainability.

Todd R. Sears is the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Emergency Management Director. Previously he was a critical infrastructure planner and chief of community engagement for Vermont Emergency Management (VEM). Todd is from Collinsville, Conn., where he graduated from high school in 1979. After receiving an NROTC scholarship to the University of South Carolina, he was commissioned in 1986 with a BA in International Studies and Philosophy. After several years on various warships he attended the Naval Postgraduate School and received an MA in Strategic Planning in 1991. In 1992, he served at the Atlantic Intelligence Command in Norfolk, Va., where he worked as a Russian Navy analyst. He then became Intelligence Director for to Amphibious Squadron TWO and deployed to the Mediterranean. In June 1997, he reported to Naval SpecWarDevGru in Dam Neck, Va., as director of intelligence. In 2002, he transferred to the Joint Analysis Center, Molesworth where he served as Chief of Counterterrorism, and deployed to Kosovo as Commander of the U.S. National Intelligence Center. He retired from the Navy as a commander in July 2005, lived in England, and taught critical thinking and analytic methodology internationally until returning stateside in 2011. He is married 19 years to his wife, Carol, and they have three remarkable boys. He likes running ultramarathons, philosophy, writing, reading, folk music, and cooking. He doesn’t like cities and small dogs. Or snow.

Representative Amy Sheldon of Middlebury, Vt., holds a BA in economics from Middlebury College and an MS in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont. She is a consulting Natural Resource Planner and River Scientist at Landslide Natural Resource Planning, Inc. Amy is also a senior faculty member at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), based in Lander, Wyo. Amy served on the Middlebury Planning Commission for ten years, on the District 9 Environmental Board for Act 250, and on the Board of the Middlebury Area Land Trust before being elected to the Vermont House in 2014. In her first biennium in office, she served on the Fish, Wildlife and Water Committee.

Connor Stedman is an ecological designer, farm-business planner, and climate-change educator based in western Massachusetts. As lead agricultural designer at AppleSeed Permaculture, Connor works to grow viable, climate-resilient, place-sourced farm economies and communities. He is lead faculty at the Omega Institute’s Center for Sustainable Living and an affiliate instructor and advisor in the University of Vermont’s innovative Leadership for Sustainability program. Connor holds an MS in Ecological Planning from the University of Vermont and speaks around North America on regenerative agriculture, farm viability, and climate-change solutions.

Ned Swanberg is the Central Vermont regional floodplain manager for the Rivers Program of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Ned manages and, providing community leaders with access to community maps, data, and incentives for flood resilience. He is a certified floodplain manager and holds an MST in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England.

Becky Tharp manages the water quality program at Watershed with a particular focus on research and development of existing and emerging water treatment technologies. Becky holds a BA from Harvard University, an MS from the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, and a PhD from the UVM Plant and Soil Science Department, where she studied stormwater pond functioning and design in the context of ecological systems and interactions between the natural and built environment.

Ed Thomas is an expert on working with communities and people to help prevent foreseeable processes of nature becoming disasters. He has worked on recovery operations for over 200 disasters, assisting individuals, businesses, farms, and communities to carefully craft acceptable efforts to recover as quickly as possible, while striving to relocate damaged properties and develop environmentally acceptable solutions. Ed, a widely published author and frequent lecturer, is the president emeritus of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. He is an elected fellow of the American Bar Association (ABA) Foundation, and a member of the ABA Disaster Response and Preparedness Committee and the ABA State and Local Government Law Section’s Resilience Task Force. In addition, Ed serves on the Steering Committee of the Climigration Network and Advisory Committee of the Natural Hazards Center of the University of Colorado. He is a member of the National Institute of Building Sciences, and the Association of State Wetland Managers. He also serves as the senior legal liaison to the Association of State Floodplain Manager’s No Adverse Impact Committee. During his career at HUD and FEMA, Ed served as the president’s representative and the federal coordinating officer. He manages a private practice of Law, Edward A. Thomas Esq., LLC and lives with his wife in the floodplain of beautiful Marina Bay Massachusetts.

Graham Turk is a member of the innovation development team at Green Mountain Power (GMP). His work involves designing and executing innovative pilot projects, which test new technologies and business models. These efforts contribute to GMP’s larger mission to transform our energy system into one that is more distributed, carbon-free, and community-centered, while reducing costs and increasing reliability for customers. Prior to GMP, Graham completed a Fulbright grant in Sweden on peer-to-peer solar energy markets. He holds a bachelor’s in computer science from Princeton University.

Jared Ulmer is the climate and health program manager at the Vermont Department of Health. He collaborates with state, local, and non-governmental partners to increase preparedness for climate-related health impacts in Vermont and to promote health improvement through appropriate climate-change mitigation strategies. Jared is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and previously worked as a consultant helping communities improve public health through transportation systems, community design, and urban forestry.

Alissa White is a graduate student interested in climate resilience, ecosystem services, and outreach programming. She brings fifteen years of experience in education and agriculture to her research at the University of Vermont. Recently, Alissa conducted a survey across the northeastern U.S. to highlight how farmers are adapting to increasingly extreme weather associated with climate change. Her newest project explores how ecosystem services influence farm management decisions. Alissa works closely with extension and applied research projects to support farmers.

Sarah Wolfe is the network director for EAN, working with network members and partners to expand our collective impact on renewable energy adoption and emissions reduction in Vermont. A native Vermonter, she spent four years in California working for Sunrun, a national residential solar company before moving to Vermont to serve as Clean Energy Advocate for VPIRG. At Sunrun, she was the senior manager for National Campaigns, focused on managing campaigns to support state-level residential solar policy across the country.

Theresa Wood is currently a state representative in the Vermont General Assembly. Prior to her work in the legislature, she worked in human services and health care and is an active community volunteer. It was in this capacity that she was tapped to lead ReBuild Waterbury, her community’s long-term recovery committee following Tropical Storm Irene. Working with an advisory committee, volunteer coordinator, case manager and construction manager, she led efforts to raise over $1 million and assist 105 families, including her family, to recover from the devastation left behind in August 2011.



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