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Vital Communities Honors Upper Valley Mentors at The 5th Annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration

May 17, 2016 11:56AM ● By Kirsten Gehlbach
Vital Communities will honor a dozen Upper Valley mentors at its 2016 Heroes & Leaders celebration. The annual event, now in its fifth year, recognizes community leaders who have made significant positive impacts in the region and serves as a benefit for the Leadership Upper Valley program of Vital Communities.

“The Upper Valley is a special place because of the people who care so deeply about our community,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Tom Roberts. “The 12 mentors we’re pleased to honor this year have invested their time and energy to provide guidance and inspiration to our region’s current and future leaders.”

This year’s Heroes & Leaders honorees are:

Jim Alexander, Former Lebanon Chief of Police

Barnes Boffey, Aloha Foundation

Tommy Clark, Grassroots Soccer

Carol Dunne, Northern Stage

Peter Faletra, Crossroads Academy

Dan Jantzen, Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Shirley Jefferson, Vermont Law School

Joe O’Donnell, Geisel School of Medicine

Peggy O’Neil, WISE

Susan Reeves, Colby-Sawyer College

Gay Sabin, Grantham Village School

Fred Thomas, SCORE

The keynote speaker is Elizabeth Sawin of Climate Interactive. The sold-out celebration will be held Thursday, May 19, at The Queche Club in Quechee, Vermont. Learn more at

Leadership Upper Valley is a 10-month leadership training program aimed at educating and inspiring community members to better serve the Upper Valley by developing their knowledge, skills, and networks. The program is open to people who live or work in Vital Communities’ 69-town service area. Applications for the 2016–17 session are being accepted until June 1. Apply online at For detailed bios of the Keynote Speaker and Mentors, go to

Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive. A biologist with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years.


Jim Alexander has spent his career helping and uplifting people both in his community and his work. Jim began his 25-year police career in the Upper Valley, culminating in the role of Chief of Police of Lebanon.


Barnes Boffey has many passions. Significant among them is his love for the work and the vision of the Aloha Foundation. Summer 2016 will be his 24th and final summer as the Director of Camp Lanakila and his 55th all together.

Tommy Clark is a pediatrician and former professional soccer player. He conceived the idea for Grassroots Soccer after living and playing soccer in Zimbabwe.

Carol Dunne has directed many acclaimed productions as the Producing Artistic Director of Northern Stage. She joined Northern Stage in 2013 and has helped to reimagine and reshape the company in its new home, The Barrette Center for the Arts.

Peter Faletra received a PhD from Boston University where he was a teaching fellow in the accelerated medical school program. During his doctoral years, he co-founded a successful biotech company and invented a novel method of producing large amounts of antisera for medical and scientific use.

Dan Jantzen has been a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock management team since 1990, serving in a variety of leadership positions. In his current role as Executive Vice President for Operations and Chief Operating Officer, he oversees operations across the D-H system. In 2012, he was named one of the “100 Hospital and Health System COOs to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Shirley Jefferson, a Selma, Alabama native, received her BS in Public Administration from Southeastern University and her JD degree from Vermont Law School. As the law school’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity, she provides leadership and guidance for individual students and student organizations.

Joe O’Donnell has been an Upper Valley resident for most of the time since 1969, when he arrived in Hanover to attend Dartmouth Medical School. He trained in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute from 1976–78 but soon returned to become chief of oncology at the White River Junction VA Hospital.

Peggy O’Neil has been the Executive Director at WISE since 2003, working to support Upper Valley people and communities impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Susan Reeves is Professor and Dean at the School for Health Professions at Colby-Sawyer College. A retired employee of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, she served the organization for 35 years, specializing in oncology nursing. Susan joined the adjunct faculty at Colby-Sawyer in 2003 teaching Biomedical Ethics.

Gay Sabin has been a beloved teacher for over 47 years as well as an award-winning supervisor and mentor, and an active leader in many educational associations. Although she has officially retired, Gay is still serving as a substitute teacher at the Grantham Village School where she has taught since 2002.

Fred Thomas, at age 89, personifies the mission of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), an organization dedicated to providing counselors, advisors, and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners and for which he often volunteers five days a week.

For more information, contact Stacey Glazer, Leadership Upper Valley Manager, [email protected] or (802) 291-9100 ext. 102.

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