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Heroes & Leaders Celebration to Honor 10 Upper Valley Visionaries

May 03, 2015 06:15PM ● By Kirsten Gehlbach

Leadership Upper Valley alumni celebrate at last year’s Heroes & Leaders Dinner honoring Upper Valley Women Leaders. From left to right: Gordon Ehret, Hypertherm, Leadership Upper Valley Class of 2013, Alex Jaccaci, Hypertherm, Leadership Upper Valley Board of Governors, Lori Shipulski, Sotheby's Realty, Leadership Upper Valley Class of 2012, Genevieve Verlaak, Sotheby’s Realty

Vital Communities will honor 10 “Upper Valley Visionaries” at its 2015 Heroes & Leaders Celebration on May 7. The annual celebration recognizes significant community leaders and serves as a benefit for the Leadership Upper Valley business leader training program from Vital Communities

Former and longtime Vital Communities Executive Director Len Cadwallader is the keynote speaker for the evening. This year’s honorees include:

Barbara Ragle Barnes, Founder, Upper Valley Educators Institute

Barbara Ragle Barnes has dedicated her career to improving the quality of education in the Upper Valley. She helped create and launch a hands-on science program that ultimately led to the creation of the Upper Valley Educators’ Institute (UVEI), the highly regarded teacher preparation program in Lebanon.

Matt Bucy, Developer, White River Junction

Matt Bucy, a child of the ’60s, spent his early days in Casper, Wyoming. He arrived in New England and was employed at the company that was making the first digital synthesizer. Matt is perhaps best known for his purchase and renovation of the former Tip Top Bakery, now called Tip Top Building.

Dick Cyr, Founder, David’s House

Dick Cyr served his country as a Marine and has considered many places “home.” No experience has been more rewarding to Dick than fulfilling his role as a father to his three sons; the youngest, David, was adopted as a toddler. During David’s three-year battle with leukemia, Dick met many families struggling to be with their hospitalized children and helped create David’s House, so families have a home-away-from-home during the most difficult of times.

Van Chesnut, Executive Director, Advance Transit

Van Chesnut, an Indiana native, moved to the Upper Valley in 1987 to become the executive director of Advance Transit. His leadership and guidance developed the fledgling transportation company into one of the finest fare-free, fixed-route bus systems in the entire United States. Van has helped create public–private partnerships in the Upper Valley to make Advance Transit an integral component of the region’s transportation systems.

Dick Couch, Co-Founder, Hypertherm

Dick Couch worked for Creare as a project engineer after graduating from Dartmouth in 1965, then launched his career in a garage across the street with Creare’s president at the time and Dartmouth Professor Robert Dean and co-founded Hypertherm. Their objective was to apply ultra-high temperature technology to industrial problems. Of Hypertherm’s 112 patents in the fields of plasma cutting and pollution control, Dick invented 42. In 2002, Fortune Magazine ranked Hypertherm, with 1400 associate owners, 12th in its list of Best Companies to Work for in the United States. Hypertherm was also recognized as one of the best large companies to work for in the state of New Hampshire.

Robert Dean, Founder or Co-Founder of 11 Upper Valley companies

Dr. Robert C. Dean Jr. moved to the Upper Valley and became a professor of engineering at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and is now professor of engineering, emeritus. He is the founder or co-founder of 11 Upper Valley companies that have all flourished in the field of advancing technology. They include names that many in the region will recognize—Creare, Hypertherm, Creare Innovations (Spectra/Dimatix and sold to Fuji, Verax, Synosys (PerSeptive Biosystems), Synergy Research Corporation, Synergy Innovations, Simplex, NanoComp Technologies, Synticos, and Sunfyr.

David Goudy, Executive Director, Montshire Museum

David Goudy served as the executive director of the Montshire Museum of Science for 34 years, retiring in March 2015. He came to the Upper Valley in 1981 and, together with a highly dedicated staff and community of supporters, transformed a fledgling museum into a nationally recognized center for science learning. Under his leadership, the Montshire has been celebrated for its innovative approaches to delivering science education to rural schools and families. In addition to his role at the Montshire Museum, David has served the Upper Valley community in volunteer capacities with the Howe Library, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, Dartmouth Hitchcock, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

Jake and Liz Guest, Owners, Killdeer Farm

Liz and Jake Guest have owned and operated Killdeer Farm in Norwich since 1980. They now operate over 30 acres of organic vegetables, 14 greenhouses of bedding plants and organic tomatoes, a successful farmstand, and a CSA with over 400 members. Liz and Jake both have long histories as visionaries and activists in the growing and promoting of local and organic food.

Carol Langstaff, Founder, Revels and FLOCK Dance Troupe

Carol Langstaff’s life combines music, movement, and storytelling with fostering community. As the daughter of singer and theater director John Langstaff and traditional-music collector Diane Hamilton, Carol’s creative apprenticeship began in childhood and widened with extraordinary teachers. She has a special talent for channeling groups of people into theatrical extravaganzas such as Revels, co-founded in 1971 with her father, and FLOCK Dance Troupe, founded in 1999, where she directs seasoned performers and eager amateurs. She also is co-founder of Strafford’s Creative Preschool, the Upper Valley Food Co-op, the Earth and Arts Camp, and Connecticut Riverfest.

Jim Varnum, Retired President, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital

Jim Varnum served as president of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital from 1978 until his retirement in 2006 and was founder and president of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance from 1983 to 2006. He is currently an emeritus professor at the Geisel School of Medicine. Jim led Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover throughout the planning and building phases for the new medical center and its historic move to Lebanon. The new Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, a $228 million project, opened its doors in October 1991, one of the few new medical centers in the United States at that time.

The celebration will be held Thursday, May 7th, at The Queche Club in Quechee, Vermont. Tickets are $90 per person and can be purchased at or by emailing [email protected].

Keynote speaker Len Cadwallader has spent most of his professional career in nonprofit management, serving as Vital Communities’ Executive Director for 11 years. He was a founding member of the Hanover Affordable Housing Commission, which worked with Twin Pines Housing Trust and a private developer to create Gile Hill on land donated by the town of Hanover.

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