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Winter Leadership Southeast Vermont Sessions

Leadership Southeast Vermont is an intensive interactive 10-month program. Each meeting focuses on a community theme. Through presentations, group discussions, field trips, and class projects, participants are immersed in the many aspects and complexities of the issues facing our communities.

Leadership Southeast Vermont’s government session occurred in Montpelier in December ’22. The students traveled to the State House and learned the ins and outs of Vermont’s system. This day is one of the most information packed, as there are so many aspects of the government. The students heard from each of the three branches of government; Legislative Branch: BetsyAnn Wrask - Clerk of the House, Judicial Branch: Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber, and Executive Branch: Kendall Smith - Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs and Tracy Delude – Appointments Director.

Other speakers included a representative of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and representatives from the offices of Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, and Attorney General. It was an informative day, and as always, one of our participant's favorites. The participants appreciate an inside look at the Vermont government, meeting some key players, and the opportunity to ask questions.

Communication & Media was the first session of 2023. LSEVT participants gathered at Black River Innovation Campus located in the former Park Street School in Springfield. The day began with a tour, learning about the innovative ideas that BRIC uses to promote entrepreneurship in the area. We learned about their programs, future plans, and their co-working spaces. The participants then listened to several presentations. Springfield Town Library Director, Sue Dowdell, discussed assessing the accuracy of information in the 21st century, in regard to the impact of the internet and computers. Karen Longo from Dragonfly Designs presented information about brand development and digital marketing. Mike Dion from Indelible Inc. discussed web design. Our final speaker at BRIC, Jenna Koloski, visited from the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and conversed about methods of administrating effective in-person and virtual meetings. Leadership Southeast Vermont not only wants to introduce its participants to places and businesses they may be unacquainted with, but also provide chances to work on soft skills such as communication, meeting management, and collaboration. The day ended with a tour of the new SAPA TV studio in Springfield and learning about the status of public access television in the era of streaming.

Our February session, Human/Social Services, was located in Westminster. The day began at the State Police Barracks conversing with the majority of the speakers before visiting Kurn Hattin Homes for a tour and lunch. As we are coming out of the pandemic, we learned that there are various assistance programs ending. Our speakers discussed assistance availability, and what the organizations and government groups offering assistance are doing to help those in need. We heard from SEVCA and Springfield Housing Authority and talked at length about the current housing situation in the state and more specifically our area in southeast Vermont. We also discussed food insecurity and access to affordable healthcare. Jennifer Smith from HCRS talked about finding mental healthcare in the region. Another issue prevalent in our area is addiction. Astrid Bradish-Hoyt, LSEVT participant and Assistant Director of Turning Point Recovery Center, and New England HIDTA’s Stephanie Thompson both spoke about addiction, the opioid epidemic, and treatment options available in the region.

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