The Center for Rural Studies, addressing social, economic, and resource-based issues of rural people and communities since 1978
30th Anniversary Symposium Details
October 4 symposium agenda
October 4 speaker information
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October 3 community service and reception
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30th Anniversary Symposium -
Speakers and Moderators

Roger Allbee

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Foods and Markets
Roger Allbee was appointed as Secretary of Agriculture, Foods and Markets by Vermont Governor James Douglas on January 1, 2007. Prior to his appointment, Secretary Allbee had most recently served as the State Executive Director of Farm Agency Services in Vermont. He has served as a Senior International Business Consultant for agricultural trade policy and as a professional staff member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. His previous experience includes Vice President of the former Farm Credit Banks in Springfield, Massachusetts and as an Extension Specialist at Cornell University. Secretary Allbee received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Vermont ('67) and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Massachusetts. He has completed the Cornell University Agricultural Executives Program and the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Seminars. He has received numerous awards including the Outstanding Alumni Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences from the University of Vermont and the Honor Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America.

Chris Braithwaite

Publisher, The Barton Chronicle
Chris Braithwaite stumbled into journalism in 1964 and found a job with the Brampton (Ontario) Times & Conservator for $45 a week.  Subsequently, he  worked in the field at the Anderson (California) Valley News, the Portland Oregonian and the Los Angeles bureau of Newsweek while obtaining a BA in economics from Pomona College.  He went to work for the Toronto Globe & Mail on its Report on Business in 1969, dropped out to northeastern Vermont in 1970, and recovered by founding the weekly Barton Chronicle there in 1974.
Since 1997 he has worked in a dozen distant places as a media development consultant under the auspices of the International Center for Journalists and other organizations.  This work has taken him to all of the countries that once made up Yugoslavia, as well as to Albania, Sierra Leone, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Indonesia.  He is now back at the Chronicle, where they are trying to figure out what to do with him. Originally perceived as “that hippy paper,” the Chronicle has become something of an institution in its community, selling about 7,500 copies a week in a county of about 27,000 souls.

Paul Costello

Executive Director, Vermont Council on Rural Development
Paul Costello has served as the executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development since 2000. VCRD produces an annual Rural Summit, and conducts programs that help rural communities build priorities, set action plans, and develop connections to resources. In the last few years VCRD has founded and produced the Vermont Agriculture Viability Council, the Vermont Forest Products Council, the Vermont Council on Culture and Innovation, the Vermont Council on Planning, and the Vermont Rural Energy Council. VCRD has led statewide policy discussions around rural telecom and built strategies to support community-based aggregation.  Most recently, the council has launched the Council on the Future of Vermont, a statewide program seeking to ascertain Vermonters’ understanding of their state. Mr. Costello is a UVM alumnus and holds a Ph.D. in Intellectual History from McGill University. In addition to his work at VCRD, Mr. Costello is a member of the Housing Vermont Board of Directors, Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, and is president of Partners for Rural America.

Lauren-Glenn Davitian

Founder and Executive Director of CCTV's Center for Media & Democracy
Lauren-Glenn Davitian graduated from UVM with a degree in Anthropology in 1982. She
turned her interest in the stories of local community life into a campaign for public
access TV and free speech that continues today. Lauren-Glenn is a founder and executive
director of CCTV's Center for Media and Democracy ( and oversees Channel
17/Town Meeting Television, a regional government access TV channel; CCTV Productions
and Tech Services which provides communications planning, media production and technical
support to nonprofits and public agencies. She has been instrumental in the establishment of public access cable television channels across the state and is actively involved in state and national policy efforts to protect public access to new technologies. Ms. Davitian serves on the board of Vermont Access Network, a trade group of 27 public access television centers in Vermont, and serves on the board of the Nonprofit Technology Network. She received the George Stoney Award for Humanistic Communication from the Alliance for Community Media in 2007.

Dick Drysdale

Editor and Publisher, The Herald of Randolph
Dick Drysdale started in the newspaper business as a daily reporter at the Springfield Union in Springfield, Mass. after graduating from Harvard and the University of Pittsburgh with a Master’s in Public Administration. He has been guiding The Herald of Randolph since 1971 when he took over the paper from his father, John. The weekly newspaper covers 15 towns, primarily in Orange and Windsor Counties and has a circulation of 6,000. The Herald of Randolph was founded in 1874. It routinely wins awards for news and editorial writing and photography from the Vermont Press Association and the New England Press Association.

Paul Gillies

Vermont Institute for Government
Partner, Tarrant, Marks and Gillies Law Firm

Paul is a partner in the Montpelier law firm of Tarrant, Marks & Gillies. He is a former Deputy Secretary of State (1981-1993), member and chair of the Berlin Selectboard (1993-1998), and presently serves as moderator for the town and town school district of Berlin. He wrote a history of Berlin, edited the Records of the Vermont Council of Censors with D. Gregory Sanford, and a Book of Opinions with James H. Douglas. He wrote/compiled the pamphlets of the Vermont Institute for Government, where he serves as Chair of the Board.

Dan Gillmor

Author of We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People (2004; O'Reilly Media)
Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Director of the Center for Citizen Media
At the newly created Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Dan Gillmor is working to help create a culture of innovation and risk-taking in journalism education, and in the wider media world. He is founder and current director of the Center for Citizen Media and previously founded Grassroots Media, Inc. From 1994-2004, Gillmor was a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's daily newspaper, and wrote a weblog for He joined the Mercury News after six years with the Detroit Free Press. Before that, he was with the Kansas City Times and several newspapers in Vermont. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Vermont ('81), Gillmor received a Herbert Davenport fellowship in 1982 for economics and business reporting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. During the 1986-87 academic year he was a journalism fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he studied history, political theory and economics. He has won or shared in several regional and national journalism awards. Before becoming a journalist he played music professionally for seven years.

Helen Labun Jordan

Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture
Helen Labun Jordan is an agricultural development coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. She received her graduate degree from UVM's Department of Community Development & Applied Economics in 2005. While there, she worked at the Center for Rural Studies on a variety of projects, including grantwriting, an economic development study of northern Vermont, the Young Entrepreneurs in Agriculture conference and sustainable and local foods marketing for Sodexo both at UVM and preparing materials for their national marketing division. Ms. Labun Jordan was previously the Director of the Creative Communities Program at the Vermont Council on Rural Development and an organizer for the Central Vermont Localvores. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Vermont Foodbank and the Board of the Adamant Coop.

Jane Kolodinsky

Co-Director for the Center for Rural Studies
Professor and Chair of the Community Development and Applied Economics Department (CDAE) at the University of Vermont
Dr. Kolodinsky has been a faculty member at the University of Vermont since 1987 and is now Professor in and Chair of Community Development and Applied Economics and Co-Director of the Center for Rural Studies. She specializes in applied economics- the application of the concepts of demand, consumer behavior, and marketing principles to improve consumer wellbeing. Recently, she has been researching and exploring issues of obesity. Dr. Kolodinsky has over 150 academic papers and presentations to her credit, and has garnered competitive grant funds totaling over 1 million dollars from over 40 different sources. Dr. Kolodinsky has been recognized for her teaching and public service, and in the continued development of CDAE as a multidisciplinary department relevant to community needs here in Vermont and beyond.

Jim Leddy

UVM Board of Trustees, Vermont Agricultural College Board
State President, AARP Vermont
Former State Senator (D-Chittenden)
Jim Leddy is a member of the UVM board of trustees, serving on the Vermont Agricultural College Board. He is the volunteer state president of AARP Vermont, chairs the AARP Vermont Executive Council and serves on AARP’s National Policy Council. He served eight years in the Vermont Senate where he chaired the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. He was lead sponsor and a key player in Vermont's enactment of one of the country's most significant proposals on health care reform. He previously served as executive director of the Howard Center for Human Services in Burlington from 1980 to 2000.

Andrew Meyer

Managing Partner, Vermont Soy, LLC & Vermont Natural Coatings, LLC
President, Hardwick Enterprise Group, LLC
Andrew Meyer is as managing partner in Vermont Soy, LLC and Vermont Natural Coatings, LLC and president of the Hardwick Enterprise Group, LLC, specializing in the promotion of innovative value added and agriculture food based businesses. He is the founding member of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, a nonprofit, whose mission is to create a healthy food system in the greater Hardwick area. He is partner in North Hardwick Dairy, an organic family dairy farm. He worked as agriculture legislative assistant for U.S. Sen. James Jeffords and operated a congressional legislative consulting firm in Washington, DC.  Andrew is a 92’ graduate of the University of Vermont with a B.S. in environmental studies. 

Deborah Markowitz

Vermont Secretary of State
Deborah Markowitz was elected Vermont's 37th Secretary of State in 1998. Secretary Markowitz is the constitutional officer chiefly responsible for Vermont's elections, the State Archives, professional licensing and business registrations, and for providing educational assistance to Vermont's local officials. She is the first woman to be elected Secretary of State in Vermont and is currently serving her fifth term in office. She is a UVM graduate of 1983. During her tenure, Secretary Markowitz has made it a priority to improve Vermont’s democracy and promote good citizenship. Her "Citizen's Guide to Town Meeting," and "Moderator’s Handbook" help Vermonters participate more fully in their annual town meetings. Secretary Markowitz has helped schools throughout Vermont bring civics education into the classroom at all levels by providing teachers with curriculum materials including a comprehensive mock-election program, materials on Vermont's Town Meeting Day, resources on Vermont's legislative process and age-appropriate information about Vermont's history, culture and geography. With the sponsorship of Vermont's business community, these materials are offered to schools free of charge, and are being used by thousands of Vermont's school children.

Travis Marcotte

Agricultural Development Services Director, Intervale Center
Travis Marcotte is the Director of Agricultural Development Services at the Intervale Center in Burlington. He oversees the Intervale farm incubator program, a statewide farm business planning program and a new collective farm marketing program. Before coming to the Intervale Center, Mr. Marcotte worked in agricultural and enterprise development in Central America and the Caribbean. He has also worked with Yellowwood Associates in Vermont and helped coordinate a University of Vermont overseas education program. Mr. Marcotte has a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont and a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis. He grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte and now lives in Fletcher.

Allan Matthews

Farm Enterprise Coordinator, UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Allen Matthews is the Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Farm Enterprise Coordinator. He splits his time between coordinating business planning and enterprise analysis with Extension's Farm Viability Enhancement Initiative and various farm based research studies. Mr. Matthews is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. A sixth-generation farmer for the 25 years before coming to the center, he and his family had farmed specialty vegetables, small grains, and hay in rotation, along with managing four greenhouses in southwestern Pennsylvania. Mr. Matthews is very active in the local food system community and served as a farmer representative on the NE SARE technical committee and the NE Sustainable Agriculture Working group for several years. His past SARE research and work with the family's vegetable farm have been highlighted nationally, most recently in “The NEW American Farmer.” With a master's in Community & Organizational Development, he has also worked part time off the farm, where he established alternative market alliances with farmers, restaurants, consumers, food system advocacy programs, and successfully linked agriculture with economic development.

William (Chip) Sawyer

Senior Outreach Professional and State Data Center Manager
Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont
Chip Sawyer joined the CRS staff in April, 2001. He specializes in outreach and technical assistance in support of local decision-making activities in Vermont, including municipal government, community planning, and local entrepreneurship. His activities include project management, outreach and training, community profiling, data analysis, grant management, and survey design and implementation. Sawyer is also chair of the steering committee for the Vermont Land Use Education and Training Collaborative. He holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Vermont (MS '03) in natural resource planning.

Fred Schmidt

Founder and Co-Chair of the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont
Associate Professor in the Community Development and Applied Economics Department (CDAE) at the University of Vermont
Dr. Fred Schmidt is Associate Professor in the Community Development and Applied Economics Department and Co-director of the Center for Rural Studies. In 1978, Dr. Fred Schmidt founded the Center for Rural Studies to address social, economic, and resource-based issues of rural people and communities. Over three decades, Dr. Schmidt built a comprehensive resource for rural development in Vermont with his forward thinking and pragmatic demeanor. With his vision, CRS (with its partners) has built an immense information base oriented to local decision making and planning and provides resources to rural entrepreneurs. He is former board president of the Community Transportation Association of America, a national organization that represents several hundred rural and small city transportation systems. Dr. Schmidt served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia from 1963 to 1965 and has also worked in Mexico, the former USSR, Uganda, Kenya, Honduras, and Scotland on projects reflecting local control, rural and agricultural development, and health and social service delivery.

Meghan Sheradin

Executive Director, Vermont Fresh Network
Meghan Sheradin is the Executive Director to the Vermont Fresh Network. She hold a Masters in Applied Economics and Community Development from the University of Vermont. Meghan serves on the Vermont Sustainable Agricultural Council and lives in Huntington, VT.