Ellen Kahler, Executive Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Ellen Kahler

Executive Director

Bio +
Ellen Kahler became the Executive Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) in late 2005. Prior to joining the VSJF, Ellen was the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington (1990 to 2002) where her work focused on peace, human right, racial equity, and economic justice (basic family needs, livable wages, and under-employment).

She is a graduate of Bucknell University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a Master of Public Administration.

Ellen has received numerous leadership awards including: The Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial & Community Leadership from the VT Community Foundation (2015), the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership from the VT Natural Resources Council (2015) and the Jan Eastman Excellence in Leadership Award from the Snelling Center for Government (2010). Ellen was also a recipient of a three year leadership development fellowship through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (1994-1997) and was a member of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute class of 1997.

Ellen currently serves on the Boards of the Working Lands Enterprise Fund, the Vermont Workforce Development Board,  and the UVM CALS Board of Advisors. She served on the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Vermont Agriculture (2021-2023), and on the Board of Directors of the Energy Action Network (2011-2023), Red Tomato (2011-2016), Sustainable Forest Futures (2008-2012), the Clean Energy Development Fund (2009-2011), Vermont Works for Women (2007-2011), the Vermont Community Foundation (2001-2009), the Advisory Board of the VT-Small Business Development Center (2008-2009), on the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Rural Vermont Energy Council (2006-2007) and Climate Economy Council (2016-2017) and as a Commissioner on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (1998-2002).

Janice St. Onge

Deputy Director

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Janice St. Onge is Deputy Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and President of the Flexible Capital Fund, L3C (“Flex Fund”). Janice brings economic and business development as well as financial expertise to the organization, having served in the technology, financial services, higher education and state government sectors during her 25+ year career. Early in her career, Janice served ten years at Peoples United Bank in Connecticut in retail management, commercial real estate lending (managing a $21 million portfolio) and organizational development roles.

Prior to joining the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2007, Janice was the Director of the  Vermont Business Center (now the Center for Innovation & Leadership) at the University of Vermont and Technology Business Development Director for the Vermont Department of Economic Development. She received the 2001 National Tibbetts Award in recognition for her outreach work with the Small Business Innovation Research program in Vermont. Additionally, Janice was the Director of Human Resources and Senior Manager of Customer Service for Kea Technologies, an e-commerce fulfillment business in Williston.

Janice is a graduate of the University of Utah with a B.A. in Marketing and is an alumnus of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute.

Janice was a 2018-19 Fellow of the RSF Social Finance’s Integrated Capital Institute. She helped launch the Vermont Women’s Investors Network, and serves on the Vermont Small Business Development Center Advisory Board and the Clean Energy Development Fund Board. She is a founding member of Slow Money Vermont’s Organizing Committee. A Stowe, Vermont resident, Janice was co-founder of the Stowe Energy and Climate Action Network and is a former International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup Freestyle Skiing Judge.

Geoff Robertson

DeltaClimeVT Managing Director

Bio +
Geoff Robertson joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2017 as Director of Business Assistance. In this role he managed a suite of business assistance services to help Vermont business owners and management teams advance profitability, job creation, and sustainable business development. Geoff currently serves as managing director of VSJF’s DeltaClimeVT business accelerator that serves startup and seed-stage ventures focusing on climate economy innovation.

Most recently Geoff held the position of CEO at Empower Mobility, a mobile platform and software company, where he was responsible for managing business development, human resources, and finances. As the CFO at School Spring, LLC, Geoff negotiated the successful sale of the cloud based recruitment and applicant tracking system for K – 12 schools. He previously served as the Entrepreneurial Advisor at Davis & Hodgdon CPAs serving School Spring, the Vermont Food Venture Center, and many other small businesses in Vermont.

Geoff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in community development and applied economics and Master of Business Administration and from the University of Vermont. As an MBA candidate, he focused on finance and sustainable business practices and earned professional certificates in sustainable business and collaborative management (public/private partnerships). Geoff serves on the board of the Owl Research Institute and was an early member of the Stowe Climate Action Network. He lives in Stowe with his two boys and their dog and enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle.

Christine McGowan, Forest Products Program Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Christine McGowan

Forest Products Program Director

Bio +
Christine McGowan came on board as the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s new Forest Products Program Director in 2016. The program is a collaboration between the Jobs Fund, the Northern Forest Center and the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board with a goal of improving value chain investment opportunities for Vermont’s forest products industry and increasing the value of sustainable forestry in the state.

Christine previously served in strategic communication roles for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation, where her efforts around the 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster and the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball helped elevate the issue of climate change’s effect on wildlife through the media. Before working in conservation, Christine was a regional reporter on Capitol Hill and a local reporter in Texas. She’s a graduate of the Ithaca College Roy H. Park School of Communication. She currently serves on the NBRC Forest Economy Program Advisory Board representing Vermont.

Originally from Albany, New York, Christine grew up working in her family’s business, Dorsey Millwork, Inc., a distributor for Andersen Corporation, a major manufacturer of wood window and door products. Dorsey Millwork sold to lumber yards, building supply stores and other home construction retailers throughout New England. Christine and her husband, Dan, reside in Stowe with two dogs, a cat, and an abundance of wildlife. Together they own Lamoille Valley Painters, a custom interior/exterior painting company that serves builders, architects and homeowners in the Stowe area. In her spare time, Christine enjoys gardening, hiking, biking and skiing.

Jake Claro

Farm to Plate Director

Bio +
Jake joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2012 to support the Farm to Plate website and Farm to Plate Network groups as well as contribute to the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. In 2017 he was promoted to Farm to Plate Director and is responsible for providing facilitative leadership and strategic coordination for the Farm to Plate Network’s work to implement Vermont’s food system plan. He manages the Farm to Plate team at VSJF and works to align activity among 350 stakeholders and increase collaboration between private sector, nonprofits, and government to strengthen Vermont’s farm and food economy for the benefit of all Vermonters.

Previously he served as an AmeriCorps member with the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) and the Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network (VECAN) as a community energy and climate action organizer. At VNRC, Jake worked closely with town energy committees across the state on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy planning issues.

Jake has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Fordham University and still enjoys, time permitting, waxing philosophical. He received a Master of Science in environmental policy from Bard College and his thesis focused on the value of ecosystem services from farmland in Vermont. Jake serves on the Hunger Mountain Coop Community Fund Committee, the Sodexo Vermont First Advisory Board, Vermont Fresh Network Board of Directors, Community Harvest of Central Vermont Board of Directors, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Advisory Committee. Originally from Sunderland, he lives in Barre with his wife Reed, two daughters and two orange cats.

Anthony Mennona

Anthony Mennona

Finance Director

Bio +
Anthony Mennona joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2012 and is the Director of Finance & Administration. He is responsible for all financial management and human resources administration and holds a proven track record for clean audits at the organization. Anthony has handled the financial management, grant administration and human resources for several Vermont nonprofit organizations over the past 11 years. From 2009 through 2012 he was the Director of Finance & Administration at the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC). Prior to his work at BERC, Anthony was the Controller at Downstreet Housing & Community Development. In addition to his nonprofit experience, Anthony has worked in finance at various private businesses including PricewaterhouseCoopers and Bolton Valley Ski Resort.

Anthony currently serves on Downstreet’s Fiduciary Committee, as Board Treasurer for the New England Randonneurs and is also a member of the Montpelier Transportation Infrastructure Committee. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Stockton University and lives with his family in Montpelier. 

Kelly Nottermann, Communications Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Kelly Nottermann

Communications Director

Bio +
Kelly joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2018. As the Communications Director, she is responsible for marketing communications, public relations, and social media for VSJF programs. She previously worked as the Senior Copywriter and then Senior Social Content Strategist at Gelia, a global marketing communications agency.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in journalism from the University of New York at Buffalo. She started her writing career as the full-time reporter and photographer for the Hardwick Gazette. She has held various marketing, writing and social media positions in New York and Vermont for companies including the Williston Observer, JapanLink Translations, Data Innovations, Quinlan & Company and most recently Gelia. At Gelia, she developed and executed a suite of social media offerings for the agency’s clients.

She currently serves as president on the board of directors of Four Seasons of Early Learning, a non-profit early education organization offering nature-based preschool, infant and toddler care in Greensboro Bend as well as serves on the board of the Buffalo Mountain Food Coop in Hardwick, which carries both natural and conventional foods, and the board of The Civic Standard, focused on bringing people together in Hardwick. Previously, she served on the board of the Northeast Kingdom Arts Council (NEKarts), which manages the programming and preservation of the historic Hardwick Town House.

Kelly grew up surrounded by farms in Western New York so she fits right in on her husband’s family farm, Snug Valley Farm, in East Hardwick. The Nottermanns produce grass-fed beef, pasture raised heritage pork, grass-fed lamb and five acres of pumpkins. She lives with her husband Ben, son, dog, an undisclosed amount of chickens and a growing flock of sheep in Hardwick.

Kurt Ericksen

Operations and Human Resources Manager

Bio +
Kurt joined VSJF in 2024 as the Operations and Human Resources Manager. In this position Kurt is responsible for supporting the Executive Director in managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, including core responsibilities of human resources, organizational development, operations, administration, special projects management, and collaborating with program directors to ensure robust internal communications and sharing of knowledge and information among all staff.

A native Vermonter, Kurt comes to VSJF with almost 20 years of experience in the environmental and sustainability business realms. His experiences range from working as a federal regulator in pollution prevention and response in the Port of New York; collaborating with industry, state, and federal resources to protect coastline during the BP Spill of 2010, to overseeing the day-to-day operations at Vermont Compost Company while doubling production and sales over a 5-year period.

Kurt is excited to bring his diverse background, passion for sustainability and love for the state of Vermont to the VSJF team to contribute to pursuing mission excellence. Kurt lives on 50 acres in the foothills of the Worcester Range where he spends his free time hiking, swimming, kayaking and hobby farming with his wife and their two husky mixes.

Becka Warren

Food Security Roadmap Project Manager

Bio +
Becka joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2019 as the VT Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021 – 2030 Coordinator and Editor. In 2021, she started leading a collaborative, statewide process to achieve Priority Strategy #24: “Develop a Vermont food security roadmap, centered around a thriving food system and inspired by community-based responses to food insecurity and disruptive events.” As the Food Security Roadmap Project Manager, Becka led a Farm to Plate project team, involve food insecure individuals as well as farmers in the planning, and investigate questions including, but not limited to, affordable housing, health care, transportation, siting of retail grocery stores, food distribution, and ensuring the continued production of food in Vermont.

Becka was part of the Food & Farm team at Vital Communities in Hartford, VT for 10 years, collaborating with current and future farmers, businesses, schools, and partners to support farm viability and keep our landscapes working. Her diverse career in food system advocacy includes project development and management, programming for youth and adults, hands-on food education, farm labor, food council development, and more, in Seattle and Vermont. She is a writer and editor who created and wrote the pioneering environmental advice column Ask Umbra at from 200.

Becka grew up first in New York City and then in one of Vermont’s smallest towns, and then fled to Seattle for many years before returning to the landscape and farms of Vermont. She lives in the Upper Valley. 

Jessica Poulin, VSJF Farm to Plate Network Assistant

Jessica Poulin

Farm to Plate Network Assistant

Bio +
Jessica joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2024 as the Farm to Plate Network Assistant. They support the Farm to Plate Network team in administering and coordinating Topic Exchanges, Communities of Practice and Priority Strategy teams. This includes outreach, communications, report creation, research, and data tracking and visualization, so that the Network collectively can advance progress on achieving the goals of the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030, so that Vermonters have access to healthy local foods, through the interconnected issues of economic development, ecological health, and social connectivity.

Previously, Jessica worked in the sustainable, equitable transportation realm, interning for the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition. There they contributed to a variety of sustainable transportation projects, and community engagement strategies. At Local Motion, they ran a statewide e-bike lending library program and organized educational workshops focused on vulnerable road user safety and biking skills, aiming to broaden access and remove barriers to active transportation. Jessica’s diverse work experience also includes extensive work as an educator, supporting students with special needs in Vermont schools, as well as teaching English as a foreign language in South Korea.

Jessica holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, Sustainable Development and Climate Change from Antioch University, New England, and a Bachelor’s degree in English from Knox College. Originally from central Vermont, they now live in Chittenden County, where they enjoy growing root vegetables and beans in their home garden.

Esther Erbe

Office Manager & Events Coordinator

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Esther joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2022 as the Office Manager and Events Coordinator.

She leads office operations and provides programmatic support to the Farm to Plate Network, the Forestry Products Program, the DeltaClimeVT business accelerator, and VSJF through meeting and conference planning, and special projects.

Esther holds a master’s degree in food studies and was drawn to relocate to Vermont for its strong, decentralized food system. She has worked for diversified and livestock farms in administration, growing, and fulfillment positions. Prior to living in Vermont, Esther worked as a volunteer coordinator at the San Antonio Food Bank where she led educational tours and projects for thousands of visitors on the food bank’s 40-acre fruit and vegetable farm.

Esther lives in Montpelier with her family and enjoys all things creative and athletic, especially running, swimming, hiking, cooking, and sewing. 

Sydney Lucia

Grants & Fund Development Manager

Bio +
Sydney joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2022 and is the Grants and Fund Development Manager. She is responsible for applying for and overseeing state, federal, and foundation grants as well as VSJF’s fundraising efforts.

She holds a Master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in French and European Studies from the University of Vermont. She started her career working in international relations for a federal agency in Washington, DC. She was lucky enough to work in seven European countries for several weeks at a time and put her French degree to good use.

Prior to joining VSJF, she worked as a grant manager for a school district in Vermont, where she successfully brought in federal and state funds for students experiencing homelessness and managed millions of dollars in COVID-19 grants. Before that, she was the Administrator for a busy academic department at Dartmouth College.

With family rooted in South Burlington, Vermont and in Germany, Sydney grew up with a love of her home state and an appreciation for the wider world. She lives with her husband and their rescue dog, Brownie, in Winooski. She enjoys practicing yoga, creative writing, and baking.

Laura Brill, VSJF Bookkeeper Headshot

Laura Brill

Bookkeeper & Contracts Manager

Bio +
Laura joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2022 as the Bookkeeper and Contracts Manager. Her role is to support the work of the Finance Director, and is specifically responsible for the bookkeeping and contracts management at VSJF.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware and dual master’s degrees in Art Conservation and Art History from NYU. She is currently enrolled in the accounting program at CCV, and is a certified Quickbooks Online ProAdvisor. Since moving to Vermont in 2007, Laura has worked for the Shelburne Museum, Cedar Circle Farm, Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center, and New Frameworks Design Build. Her various roles in these organizations including art conservator, office manager, event registration director, and bookkeeper have prepared her for the financial and contractual record keeping work that is essential to support the wide range of dynamic and multifaceted programs at VSJF.

Laura lives in Plainfield, VT with her wife Julie and their rescue cat Cider, where they have cultivated the land they tend to support biodiversity, native and medicinal plants, and wildlife.

Leah Rovner, New England Feeding New England Project Director at VSJF

Leah Rovner

Director, New England Food System Planners Partnership

Bio +
Leah joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund in 2023. On behalf of the New England State Food System Planners Partnership, she supports collaborative efforts across the 6 states to expand and fortify the region’s food supply and distribution systems so that by 2030, 30% of the food consumed in New England is produced within New England.

Leah worked at America’s Test Kitchen for 9 years running test kitchen operations for all media-related production. After moving to Maine, she spent several years in specialty retail sales at Whole Foods Market, transitioning into grant writing and strategic consulting for several local food businesses. In the past year, she acted as Project Manager for Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative, which oversees the USDA Farm to School program in Maine. Leah is excited to join the partnership and build upon its work thus far in revitalizing the regional food system where she was raised and now lives with her wife, Courtney, and two kids, Frannie and Reuben.

Leah holds a degree in Media & Communications from Muhlenberg College and a publishing certification from the Columbia School of Journalism. She is passionate about local food and is obsessed with cooking; to offset eating, she enjoys running with her dog, Annie, strolling through farmer’s markets, and exploring Maine’s coast with her family.

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