Business Management Coaching

Express your values and see around corners while building a stronger company. Access new networks of professionals and capital. Navigate critical transition periods successfully with the help of our team of successful entrepreneurial coaches who have been in your shoes.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund provides tailored business management coaching, entrepreneurial support, and training to position Vermont entrepreneurs for growth and long-term success. Our clients include Vermont-based, value-added food and agricultural, forest-related, renewable energy, waste management, and environmental/clean technology enterprises that are supplying products and services to a diverse marketplace.

Four Types of Coaching Services

We offer four types of services, each designed to meet the different needs of our clients and their desired depth of engagement. Not sure which service is right for you and your business? We will help find the right fit to suit your needs.

Deep Dive Business Coaching

Our deeply experienced business coaches combine their collective expertise by working together intensively as two- or three-person cross-functional teams to help you through structured monthly sessions over 12-18-month engagements. A mutually agreed upon scope of work is designed to take your business to the next stage of development and profitability.

Focused Business Coaching

One lead coach provides highly focused, 9-12-month long coaching services based on a mutually defined scope of work geared towards solving challenges to your business’ development, including access to the right match of capital. The Community Navigator Pilot Program helps make this offering possible.

Short-term Intensive Coaching

When emergencies arise within your business or specialized short-term coaching is best suited to your needs, we will deploy a coach to work intensively for three to four months with you. This coaching support may lead to a longer-term deep-dive business coaching engagement, or may be used as a follow-on/tune-up support if we’ve worked with you as a client in the past.

Small Group Coaching

When funding exists, cohorts of 6-8 companies each meet monthly for at least one hour, during which time a short presentation on a core business practice (e.g., marketing, strategic planning, product pricing, organizational advancement, and workforce development, etc.) is delivered, followed by a group discussion/Q&A and general check-in for peer support. In addition, each company receives two hours of 1:1 coaching support from the coach leading their cohort (supplemented as needed with our other coaches depending on your specific needs). Each cohort runs for 12 month.

Our business management coaching and training services are designed to accelerate the growth of the enterprises we work with and expand the leadership capacity of the entrepreneurs who own and manage these businesses.

We work with businesses with the following characteristics:

  • Vermont-based sustainable agriculture and food-related, forest products, renewable energy, environmental technologies, or waste systems businesses;
  • Businesses operating for 3+ years;
  • Businesses with a gross income of at $250,000+;
  • Owners/operators with at least three years of experience in this or a similar role;
  • Businesses expecting or experiencing a significant transition (e.g., revenue and/or employment growth, expanded facilities, entering new market channels, developing or expanding their management team, succession planning or implementation); and
  • Business owners who value an outside perspective and a collaborative approach to their business and their own leadership development.

Let Us Help You and Your Business

As a first step in working with us, please fill out a brief questionnaire (less than 10 minutes of your time) so that we can gauge which opportunity will best suit your needs. For questions about the process or difficulty filling out the form, email Ellen at ellen[at]

RFSI Technical Assistance Available Through Farm to Plate

Karin Bellemare unloads a delivery of potatoes at The Roots Farm Market in Middlesex. Photo by Erica Houskeeper.

Photo by Erica Houskeeper.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) and Larklea are offering Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) applicants and grantees support and technical services including RFSI application support, infrastructure capital and financial planning technical assistance, and ongoing business coaching services.

For those who are interested in any of these support services, please click here to fill out the very short survey so VSJF and Larklea can understand your project and service needs.

If you have questions about these services or the form, please contact Jake Claro (jake @ and Tad Cooke (tad @

Business Sen$e: Next Level Tools for Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners

Business Sense is a no-fluff source of information that gets right to the heart of what small business owners need: essential tools and informational resources to help their businesses grow. Written by our team of business coaches, this series shares their decades of experience in areas such as financials, operations, sales and marketing, human resources, leadership, and governance. Business Sense is designed to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners in various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, waste management, renewable energy, and environmental technology, with recommendations and practical advice to help their businesses not only survive but thrive.

Tools of the Trade – Business Fundamentals for Energy Pros

Photo courtesy of Efficiency Vermont.

Photo courtesy of Efficiency Vermont.

Launched in February 2024, this 18-month business coaching program is designed to improve executive business skills and enhance core operations for 12 builders / contractors in the energy efficiency and renewable energy business (this includes home performance and weatherization contractors, renewable energy and energy-efficiency oriented builders, electricians, and energy audit businesses).

Participants are learning to master a proven framework for building and sustaining their energy services business, recruiting and retaining their workforce, and capitalizing on Vermonter’s growing interest in renewable energy and energy-efficiency oriented solutions that address the global challenge of climate change.

Funding for this coaching program was made possible by the State of Vermont, Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems.

Our VSJF Business Coaches

Our business coaches provide support, advice, leadership training, and access to extensive network contacts to help business leaders like you recognize ways to improve the effectiveness of your business. Helping our clients explore and prepare for the right match of growth capital (e.g., debt, equity, royalty financing) for their scale and stage of business helps Vermont businesses not only survive but thrive. As part of the wind down of each client engagement, we can assist you in establishing an on-going Advisory Board, so you can continue to benefit from the expertise of outside advisors.

Gabriel Cole

Bio +
Gabriel Cole has worked in food and farming his entire life, starting with a year of culinary school at Essex Tech. He is a co-founder and executive of a social impact catering company in Oakland CA, called Just Fare. At the start of the pandemic, his company pivoted from mostly catering to workplaces to a non-profit model. They have served over 400,000 dignified meals (using organic ingredients and providing living wages and benefits to employees) since the start of the pandemic. With 100 employees, Just Fare plans to become employee-owned in 2023.

Prior to founding Just Fare, Gabriel was the Global Food Program Director at Airbnb, an Executive Chef for Bon Appetit Management Company at Google’s HQ, and worked as an Advisor for a number of West Coast SBDC’s. He also worked as a chef at Cafe Shelburne, Waterworks, Iron Wolf in Burlington, and Firefox Inn in Stowe.

He has coached hundreds of food and farming entrepreneurs and believes that food and farm entrepreneurs are the fabric of our food system. They have the ability to drastically alter the climate crisis and put us on a trajectory to building healthy soil, people, communities and food systems for generations to come.

Born and raised in Vermont but spending the last 20 years in California, Gabriel is a new resident to Addison County and excited to participate in the bread basket of Vermont’s thriving agricultural area. He plans to continue growing his food and farming knowledge by turning ten acres of degraded Vergennes clay into an educational permaculture and carbon sequestration farm.

Peter Cole Vermont Business Coach

Peter Cole

Bio +
Peter Cole is the founder and principal of Cole Consulting and has been in private practice as an organizational development consultant since 1994, focusing on strategic assessment and planning, business development, executive coaching and leadership development. The foundation of the work Peter does is built on developing and integrating emotional intelligence – understanding ourselves, understanding others and cultivating connection through the practice of behavioral flexibility. Before going into private practice, Peter spent 16 years in the energy management industry, pioneering energy conservation and renewable energy efforts for commercial and industrial businesses. He founded and led a number of successful businesses and community-based organizations. He has held senior management positions in large and small companies, including directorships in IT, customer service and in sales & marketing, as well as COO and CEO. With a love for growing collaborative teams, Peter’s focus has been helping teams find their strength-based sweet spot, enabling them to scale rapidly while staying grounded in their core values.

Carolyn Cooke Vermont Business Coach

Carolyn Cooke

Bio +
Carolyn Cooke is a dedicated business and brand champion, whose roles have included co-founder and president, general manager, and vice president of sales within innovative, market leading companies and has unique expertise in pioneering start-up products and brands. In 1998 she co-founded ISIS, an outdoor women’s wholesale clothing company. In her role as president and CEO, she oversaw all aspects of the business from brand platform and product development to sales and marketing strategy. She is well versed in bank and equity financing and in 2011 led a successful sale of the company to American Recreation Products. Since leaving ISIS, she has been the finance director at Vermont Works for Women, the co-director of the 2-day Full Circle Festival and the director of sales & marketing at AllEarth Renewables, an innovative solar energy company based in Williston, Vermont. Prior to founding ISIS, she spent 12 years with Karhu/Merrell, and as the vice president of sales, was a key player on the small team that transitioned Merrell from a niche telemark ski boot company to a worldwide footwear brand. She has served on numerous industry and community boards and is the current board chair of Vermont Works for Women, a nonprofit organization offering training for women and girls to develop economic independence.
Beth Gilpin, VSJF Business Coach

Beth Gilpin

Bio +
With 30 years’ experience providing HR, executive search and general recruiting services to Vermont growth companies and non-profits, Beth Gilpin is passionate about helping employers find, attract and retain the right people at all levels of an organization; navigate the complex world of HR and employee relations; and simplify and/or create processes, policies and procedures aligned with the organization’s values and supportive of the desired workplace culture.

Beth has had the good fortune to work with clients across a diversity of industries, including: consumer products (food, furniture, technology, and clothing); hospitality; technology services and products; and professional services (IT, accounting, and wealth management).

Before running her own consulting practice, Beth served as HR Manager for Rossignol Ski Company and Skis Dynastar; Merrell Footwear and Karhu/Trak Skis; and Vermont Country Cyclers (d.b.a. Travent and Four Seasons Cycling). Beth keeps a foot in the outdoor product/activity side of her career by introducing others to the beauty of backcountry skiing through weekend clinics and tours at Bolton Valley.

Jean Kissner

Bio +
Jean Kissner is a proven leader of operations, project management and IT with over 25 years experience in a variety of fast growing consumer products and eCommerce consulting companies, including Country Home Products, Competitive Computing, Juno Rising Inc. (ISISwomen’s clothes).

In her VP roles, Jean successfully positioned organizations to grow smoothly by defining and implementing a wide variety of operational/IT projects, including enterprise/web systems, cloud, plug-in and custom applications, systems integrations as well as numerous process improvement efforts. Throughout change initiatives, Jean mentored and supported staff to improve their skills and increase throughput at the same time.

Jean’s consulting practice, Excellence in Operations, focuses on collaborating with growing or changing organizations who want to improve the quality, effectiveness & efficiency of their operations by improving staff skills, updating processes and/or selecting/implementing new tools and systems. Recent projects have included selecting/implementing enterprise computer systems, roles/responsibility and process reviews as well as department assessments. She has also trained organizations on converting strategy into solid tactical plans through the use of cascading goal setting.

Her education includes a MBA from University of Vermont and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cornell University. Certifications include: Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Manager of Quality & Organization Excellence (ASQ).

Linda Markin

Bio +
Linda Markin has over 40 years experience as a financial professional in both private manufacturing businesses and non-profits. Linda’s skills and experience include accounting, managing investment portfolios, financial analysis, budgeting, cost accounting and pricing, strategic planning, inventory control, production planning, and both leading and working collaboratively with teams.

Most recently Linda was Chief Financial Officer of Preservation Trust of Vermont 2017 through 2021. There she reorganized the general ledger and financial statements, revised the budgeting process and coached the new President in understanding the organization’s finances. Linda served as CFO during her 22 year career at Concept2 from 1988-2011. She was a key leader in transitioning the international distribution system from a dealer network to direct sales; implemented, with a team, two software system changes to enable growth and provide for increasing complexity; and developed a system for selling in foreign currency and hedging the risk. Linda also served as Director of Finance and Administration at the Vermont Community Loan Fund from 2011 to 2015 and Business Manager for Wall/Goldfinger, a custom furniture shop, from 1980 to 1988.

Linda has coaching and teaching experience as the financial professional on a team for the Women’s Small Business Program, as instructor of personal finance for Woodbury College, and for VSJF’s Peer-to-Peer Collaborative. She works best in a collaborative environment and knows that diversity of skills, lived-experience, and opinions creates the best outcomes.

Linda has always found time to volunteer for community boards including the High Meadows Fund, Vermont Works for Women, Center for an Agricultural Environment, Public Assets Institute, and Samara Fund at VCF (formerly Samara Foundation of Vermont).

Lawrence Miller Vermont Business Coach

Lawrence Miller

Bio +
Lawrence Miller is an independent consultant operating as Five Vine Consulting, LLC. From 2014 through 2016 he was senior advisor and Chief of Health Care Reform for former Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. From 2011 to 2014 he was Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Lawrence started his career as the founder and brew master of Otter Creek Brewing, in Middlebury, Vermont. After the successful sale of Otter Creek in 2002, he worked as an independent small business advisor. From 2008 through 2010, he was CEO of Danforth Pewter. Lawrence also supported the development of the Flexible Capital Fund and VSJF’s peer to peer advising services (then named the Peer to Peer Collaborative). He currently serves on the board of the National Bank of Middlebury, and has previously served on the boards of VSJF, the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Vermont Economic Progress Counsel, Clean Energy Development Fund, Vermont Brewers Association, and the Brewers Association of America.

Victor Morrison, VSJF Business Coach

Victor Morrison

Bio +
Victor has diverse management experience ranging from working as the Financial Operations Manager for IBM’s Semiconductor Manufacturing Division to serving as CFO for SkiTuner/Grindrite, a small manufacturer of ski and snowboard tuning equipment, to CFO/VP of Finance and Administration for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the CFO and later CEO of the Elan Ski and Snowboard Company to President of American Flatbread, and more recently as the CEO and COO of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. At Dr. Hauschka, he was instrumental in securing B-Corp status.

Victor currently works locally as a financial and management consultant, focusing on sustainable business strategy development and executive management coaching. Victor has enjoyed being part of the VSJF business coaching team and working with companies to help them address business strategy and management skill building. He has authored articles on a wide range of subjects such as: “Emotional Self-Control: A Leaders’ Perspective on Staying Cool under Pressure.” He is known as an effective leader and supportive coach skilled in guiding executives and team members in building trusting relationships.

Kathy Murphy, VSJF Business Coach

Kathleen Murphy Moriarty

Bio +
Kathleen Murphy Moriarty has forty plus years of strategic brand marketing and communications expertise – building, executing and evaluating messages, products and programs for internationally recognized consumer brands in higher education, specialty outdoor, snow sports, sporting goods, and destination travel/resort industries and state government.

Murphy Moriarty is well versed in small business environments as well as in large corporation structure and government service; adept in planning and logistics, communications, team building, project management, budgeting, and financial analysis. Brands and businesses to which she has contributed include Bolton Valley Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Stowe Mountain Resort and Vermont Ski Areas Association in the snowsports industry; Tubbs Snowshoes, in which she held an equity partner position as well as served as COO/general manager responsible for multiple brand strategic and financial planning, operational/manufacturing execution, and sales/marketing management.

With a personal goal to diversify her career track and pursue professional growth opportunities, Murphy Moriarty served as Chief Marketing Officer for the State of Vermont within the Agency of Commerce and Community Development as the central authority for state marketing activity and the “steward of the Vermont brand.” There she supported marketing and outreach activities within individual state agencies and departments by providing strategic expertise and tactical support to amplify the Vermont brand across the agriculture, travel and tourism, forests and specialty wood products and expand the Made in Vermont program.

Murphy Moriarty was most recently the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Norwich University, the nation’s oldest private military college and birthplace of ROTC. The university recently celebrated its bicentennial anniversary, marking the 200th year milestone in a five-year Forging the Future fundraising campaign that raised over $100 million for new buildings, scholarships, and technology enhancements. In the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the university’s enrollments remain strong, and the brand has garnered national visibility for the university’s focus on student mental health and well-being.

Murphy Moriarty is exceptionally skilled in the product to market process from research to product/program development, sell in to sell through, POP/merchandising, advertising, public relations, crisis communications and ROI analysis. She has successfully launched and directed many first to market concepts and products, including entering new markets in Europe, Asia and Scandinavia. Murphy Moriarty is well versed in small business environments as well as large corporation structure and government service; adept in planning and logistics, communications, team building and culture creation, project management, budgeting, and business analysis.

Thanks to the generous support of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Vermont Department of Economic Development’s Vermont Training Program, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, we are able to competitively price these services, allowing us to provide top quality advisory services at below-market rates to help companies stay and grow in Vermont.

VSJF Vermont Sustainability Funders

Become a Funder

Are you interested in funding one of our programs or services? We are seeking funders to achieve our sustainable economic goals as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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VSJF Vermont Sustainability Clients

Become a Client

Are you interested in becoming a client to grow your business, industry sector, or replicate one of our approaches? We offer a suite of services for businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.
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Become a Partner

Are you interested in partnering with us to build a thriving economic, social, and ecological future for Vermont? We invite collaboration from diverse stakeholders in all areas of our work.
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