VCDA Fall Conference
Vermont Communities at a Turning Point:
Community Development Forum Discussions
A virtual event focused on some of the most pressing issues of our time: Building Welcoming Communities; Community-based Housing Solutions; Community Climate and Resilient Solutions and Workforce Development and Career Training
December 7, 2021 | 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Register Below for Zoom Link | Download the Full Agenda
As we look back at 2021 and ahead towards 2022, Vermont communities are at a turning point. Communities face major decisions and challenges as we address critical issues for the future and decide how to spend federal dollars coming into the state. Join the VCDA Board and community and economic development partners from across the state on December 7th on Zoom to:
Registration is free, donations to VCDA welcome!
- Join facilitated discussion forums focused on some of the most pressing issues of our time including: Building Welcoming Communities; Community-based Housing Solutions; Community Climate and Resilience Solutions; and Workforce Development and Career Training.
- Hear from an expert working on each topic to share reflections and context on the topic
- Engage in a discussion of opportunities, challenges, and needs in each arena.
Registration is free, donations to VCDA welcome!
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray
Recover Stronger: From Crisis Comes Opportunity
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray (pictured right) will share highlights from her statewide Recover Stronger Tour. Over the last five months, this tour brought together Vermonters from all 14 counties for community conversations on the future of Vermont including more than 29 communities and hundreds of Vermonters from more than 60 different organizations, businesses and nonprofits serving our communities. Learn more about her tour at https://ltgov.vermont.gov/recover-stronger
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray is Vermont’s 82nd Lieutenant Governor. Molly was born and raised on a vegetable and dairy farm in Newbury, Vermont, still operated by her family today. Following her graduation from the University of Vermont, where she competed as a D1 cross-country skier, she moved to Washington to serve as a Congressional aide to Representative Peter Welch. She later attended Vermont Law School and served as a law clerk to Vermont’s judge to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the Honorable Peter W. Hall. Molly went on to support the U.S. Government and international partners in launching the International Code of Conduct Association, working to launch the Association’s human rights monitoring program and lead human rights monitoring missions in East Africa, Nigeria and Iraq. Most recently, she served Vermont as an Assistant Attorney General. Molly is the fourth woman in Vermont’s history to serve as Lieutenant Governor.
Facilitated Breakout Discussions
Option 1: Building Welcoming Communities (Presentation from Xusana Davis, State of Vermont Director of Racial Equity)
Xusana Davis serves as the State of Vermont’s Executive Director of Racial Equity. She was appointed to the position in June 2019 by Governor Phil Scott. She works with state agencies to identify and address systemic racial disparities, ensure that equity goals and objectives are incorporated throughout the State's operations, and provide strategic and policy guidance on equity issues. Prior to joining the State of Vermont, she served as Director of Health & Housing Strategic Initiatives at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and as the Director of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council. She holds a Juris Doctor with a concentration in International Human Rights Law from New York Law School, where she also directed a civil liberties education program for low-income youth and youth of color. She studied Anthropology and Philosophy at Fordham University, earning the Rev. J. Franklin Ewing, S.J. Award for writing on the relationship between global human rights violations and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Xusana is first-generation in the U.S., and proud to be a Spanish-fluent Latina who approaches her work from a multicultural perspective.
Option 2: Community-based Housing Solutions (Elise Shanbacker, Addison Community Trust)
Elise Shanbacker currently serves as the Executive Director of the Addison County Community Trust, a non-profit organization in rural Vermont dedicated to providing safe, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents. ACCT owns and manages over 700 permanently affordable homes, encompassing apartments, single-family homes, and mobile home parks. Elise also serves on the Board of the Vermont Community Development Association and the Vergennes Partnership, and is a former Board member of Habitat for Humanity of Addison County. Previously, she was a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, with a focus on workforce and economic development. A native of Washington, DC, Elise first fell in love with Vermont as a student at Middlebury College, graduating in 2007 with a BA in Sociology. She also holds a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Option 1: Community Climate and Resilience Solutions (Jon Copans, VCRD)
Jon Copans has been a member of the team at the Vermont Council on Rural Development since 2017, and now serves as Director of Climate, Leadership, and Innovation. He worked previously for the State of Vermont as Deputy Commissioner of the Public Service Department and at the Department of Environmental Conservation, and for eight years served in Congressman Peter Welch’s Vermont office. Jon grew up in Brattleboro, graduated from Macalester College, and currently lives in Montpelier with his wife and three children.
Option 2: Workforce Development and Career Training (Alex Beck, BDCC)
Alex Beck has been in the field of workforce development for nearly a decade, and under the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC)'s leadership championed the design and creation of the Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence. He has experience creating and/or managing regional workforce programs such as the Southern Vermont Young Professionals, High School Pipelines and Pathways Program, BDCC Internship Program, Bridge to Brattleboro, and Southern Vermont Career Expo. He has organized adult workforce trainings in partnership with regional employers, and facilitates employer engagement in State workforce resources such as the Vermont Training Program. As the Welcoming Communities program manager, his focus now is on supporting immigrant and BIPOC workers through the Welcoming Communities project, and played a pivotal role in Brattleboro's recent designation as a refugee resettlement community.