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Steering Committee

VAHC Steering Committee

VAHC receives guidance from our Steering Committee regarding our policy positions, advocacy, strategic planning, and fundraising goals. The Steering Committee’s input is invaluable to the work we do at the Coalition.

Jess Hyman, Co-Chair

Jess joined the Steering Committee in 2019. She is Associate Director of Statewide Housing Advocacy Programs at Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), where she focuses on tenant education and outreach efforts, helping municipalities plan for more inclusive, affordable housing, and developing creative ways to raise awareness about fair housing law with the goal of eradicating housing discrimination in Vermont. A former community journalist, food systems researcher, and director of the Vermont Community Garden Network, Jess has spent more than two decades supporting community development and food security efforts. She has a Master’s in Community Development & Applied Economics from UVM and is active in her Old North End neighborhood of Burlington, serving on the Wards 2 & 3 Neighborhood Planning Assembly and volunteering with HANDS (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors).

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Owiso Makuku, Co-Chair

Owiso is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Main Street Landing, and brings her vision and passion for serving and improving communities – of which housing is a critical component – to the position. She received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT and went on to serve in the Peace Corps as an agriculture volunteer in the Dominican Republic, an experience which both informed her path in life and led her to interest in housing.  Post-Peace Corps, she pursued and received dual Masters degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning from MIT in Cambridge, MA. Owiso has spent most of career in the public sector – Cambridge (MA), Burlington (VT), NYC and Detroit (MI) — but also worked in the private sector on Cambrian Rise, the equivalent of a new neighborhood in Burlington, VT. She is a positive-minded, people-person who enjoys reading, skiing, skating, wine-tasting, sudoku puzzles and a good joke, among other things.

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Robert Little, Vice-Chair

Robert Little is the Director of Community Development at RuralEdge, which serves the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. In that role, he oversees resident services, community engagement, and communications. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from St. John’s Seminary in Boston and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Providence College. Prior to working in affordable housing, he spent a decade in a variety of ecclesial ministries throughout New England. Robert has a passion for building communities through learning from people what matters most to them and using that as a catalyst for service and engagement opportunities. In his free time, Robert likes to golf and spend time with his young family.

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Marion Major, Secretary

Marion Major joined the Steering Committee in the fall of 2020. She is a lifelong Vermonter and grew up in Westminster in a family very engaged in the community. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies from UVM, Marion worked a couple years as a farmer and cheese maker, interned with VT Land Trust, worked with a local solar company, and at a small café before working with the Windham Regional Commission as a planner. With the WRC, she managed grants for the energy programs, facilitated region and town planning, coordinated the Transportation program, and assisted with the brownfields program. Joining the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust team as the Outreach and Marketing Coordinator, Marion works on engaging, communicating, and fostering the relationship with our community. She enjoys bringing a creative lens to the position. She and her young family live in Westminster.

Michael Redmond, Treasurer

Michael joined the Steering Committee in the fall of 2020. He became Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven in October, 2018 after nearly 20 years at the Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield, New Hampshire where he served as Vice President for Advancement, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer, among other roles. Prior to his time at the Crotched Mountain Foundation, Michael held leadership positions at nonprofit organizations in New York including Grand Street Settlement, MDRC, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor and the New York City Private Industry Council. Michael’s career has been grounded in care-based organizations serving diverse communities, individuals, and families in need.

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Amy Demetrowitz, At Large Member

Amy Demetrowitz became the Chief Operating Officer at the Champlain Housing Trust in 2021 after working at the organization, first as the Director of Homeownership and then the Director of Real Estate Development, since 1994. The Champlain Housing Trust is the largest community land trust in the country with a membership over 3,000. As Director of Real Estate Development, Amy participated in all phases of the development of both affordable housing and community development projects including budget development, grant-writing for project funding, permitting, hiring of architects and general contractors, and construction oversight. As the COO, Amy is responsible for supervising the Homeownership, Real Estate Development, Property Management and Resident Services departments.  Amy has served on Housing Vermont’s (now Evernorth’s) Board of Directors since 2007.

Heather Starzynski, At Large Member

Heather Starzynski became executive director of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont in May 2021. Heather has held community development positions with IFF, a regional CDFI in the Midwest which is focused on economic development in commercial and residential community assets, and NeighborWorks America where roles included working with large Midwest real estate developers and later, oversite of the grants portion of their federal appropriation to approximately 245 organizations across the country. She grew up in a small rural town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and her education includes a Master’s in Public Administration, and she has completed coursework and the comprehensive exams toward a PhD in Economics.    

 

Kevin Loso, At Large Member

Kevin joined the Steering Committee in the fall of 2020 and is the Executive Director of the Rutland Housing Authority and Housing Initiatives Inc., providers of affordable housing solutions and high quality resident services to the Rutland community. He has worked for non-profit health and housing organizations for nearly 30 years, including positions with the American Cancer Society and Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR). While at VNAHSR he helped establish Rutland Health Services and the Rutland Health Foundation, where he served as their first Executive Director.

Lindsay Thrall, At Large Member

Lindsay joined the steering committee in December of 2021.  She works for Evernorth as the Connections Program Manager. Evernorth’s Connections Program supports initiatives to improve the lives of affordable housing residents including programs to address food security, digital connectivity, and community-building. Lindsay comes to Evernorth with a background in clinical healthcare, program development, and management through her prior work as an occupational therapist. Prior to obtaining a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from the University of Utah in 2011, Lindsay completed an AmeriCorps VISTA year serving people with disabilities in Logan, Utah. Lindsay lives in East Montpelier.

Martin Hahn, At Large Member

Martin Hahn is the executive director of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. VCEH’s mission is to help ensure that people living in Vermont have a safe, stable, affordable home and, if homelessness occurs, it is brief and rare and during which everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Previously, Martin was the housing director at the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the executive director at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier and Downstreet Housing & Community Development. He has served on numerous boards including Good Samaritan Haven, Montpelier Bridge Community Media, and HomeShare Now. Martin lives in Graniteville with his family.

Michelle Kersey, At Large Member

Michelle is the Vermont Early Childhood Fund Grant Manager at Building Bright Futures. She has more than two decades of experience working for mission based organizations, including nearly six years working for affordable housing nonprofits. Michelle is passionate about social justice and ensuring equitable access to resources for everyone. She recognizes that having a stable, secure home impacts all aspects of a person's life, and strongly believes that housing is a human right. Michelle holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, fishing, mowing the lawn, and renovating a home in Chelsea with her partner, John.

Patricia Parker, At Large Member

Patricia joined the Steering Committee in the winter of 2017.  She is the Home Access Program Coordinator at the Vermont Center for Independent Living. She graduated from Endicott College with a degree in Business Administration and from the State University of New York-Brockport with a degree in Liberal Studies. Patricia has worked at VCIL since 2011, initially hired to work with VCIL’s Meals on Wheels program and working with Home Access since 2014.  Prior to joining VCIL, Patricia owned and operated a photography studio for 23 years in the Montpelier area.  Patricia attends several housing meetings, does research, and has developed relationships with a variety of partners in the housing field to better understand and improve affordable, accessible housing for Vermonters with low incomes.

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