The Honorary Council is a network of supporters who serve as ambassadors for Howard Center in their networks of innovators/funders/experts and advise the CEO and Executive Leadership Team when their experience and expertise is needed.
Honorary Council Members
Mark Baglini served on the board of directors from 1997 through 2015. He held many positions including two terms as president, and he thoroughly enjoyed serving Howard Center and connecting with staff and clients. Mark was proud to be part of the executive search committee that led to hiring Bob Bick as Executive Director. For many years Mark also served on the board of the Vermont Foundation for Children and Families, a foundation that continues to support Howard Center’s children’s programs in many important ways.
Mark retired in 2019 after a long career in finance with IBM, and his wife Rita is a retired pharmacist. They moved from Essex to the Mad River Valley (Waitsfield) in 2015 and have loved every minute of it. They continue to enjoy skiing at Sugarbush and elsewhere, sailing on Lake Champlain, and the wonderful setting and community of the valley.
Mark and Rita have two grown sons.
Elizabeth Bassett is a former board member and chair, and likes to stay connected to Howard Center, an organization that is important to her family. After years of board service in several arenas, Elizabeth now prefers volunteering ‘a la carte,’ as both children and their families live in Colorado. Elizabeth is passionate about nature and the outdoor world, monitoring a vernal pool as part of a citizen science program at Vermont Center for Ecostudies, writing a monthly column about the outdoors for the non-profit Charlotte News, and volunteering in the natural world both in Vermont and Colorado. She is the author of Nature Walks in Northwest Vermont and the Champlain Valley. Elizabeth and her husband John live in Charlotte when they are not visiting Colorado.
Sara Byers is the second-generation co-owner of her family’s business, Leonardo’s Pizza. She serves on multiple boards, including Champlain College and the Vermont Business Roundtable, and is also a past board chair of the Lund, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and Lake Champlain Chamber.
Sara is honored to have received numerous community awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from Champlain College and the Catherine McAuley Award from Mercy Connections. Sara feels deeply connected to Howard Center’s mission through her work on the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council and the experience of a family member, who credits the Chittenden Clinic with saving her life. Sara lives in Shelburne with her husband, Kelly, and their daughter, Ella.
Todd Centybear retired from the agency in 2015 as one of as one of Howard Center’s longest-serving staff members. He was first hired by Howard Mental Health Services in 1975 as a Community Mental Health Clinician-Alcohol Treatment Specialist within the agency’s substance use division. In 1997, he became the Director of Operations, following 17 years directing various adult mental health and substance abuse program areas at Howard Center. On several occasions, Todd served as acting director, and in January 2001, he became the agency’s Executive Director.
Todd was a valuable advocate for community health organizations, such as the Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services, where he served as Board President, a member of the Executive Committee, Chair of the Contract Negotiation Committee, Vice-Chair of the Political Committee, and Chair of the Legislative Committee.
Todd is enjoying retirement and spending time with family and friends, especially with his grandchildren.
Jack Dwyer is a versatile individual with a multifaceted background in both business and community involvement. A graduate of Providence College, Jack was a Baird Center board member prior to its merger and later became President of the combined board. Jack and his wife Yve, both natives of Massachusetts, relocated to Vermont in 1967 with their three children in tow, when Jack became the regional claim manager for Aetna Casualty. The couple was drawn to Vermont’s vibrant communities and excellent school systems, making it the perfect place to raise their family.
After his time at Aetna, Jack went on to serve as the President of Vermont Transit and later as a Vice President of the Lake Champlain Chamber. He also made a significant impact in the community as Co-Chair of the United Way campaign. Today, Jack and Yve’s children Debbie, John, and Kevin still reside in northern Vermont, but Jack and Yve now reside in Poinciana, Florida. Despite their distance from Vermont, the couple continues to enjoy the state’s natural beauty and vibrant culture, spending their summers in Chittenden County where Jack continues to volunteer at UVMMC. With 63 years of marriage under their belts, Jack and Yve remain dedicated to their communities and to each other.
William Heaslip worked in the trust and investment business in Vermont for nearly 40 years. Although he formally retired in 2008, he continued to do consulting work. He and his family built a home in North Carolina, but 12 years later they decided to leave the heat and humidity of the North Carolina coast and moved to the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, near Asheville. They are enjoying their new life in western North Carolina and the location reminds them of Vermont.
“The time spent on the Howard board was a great experience for me. The staff dedication and perseverance was uplifting. I especially enjoyed leading an outstanding group of people raising funds for the addition to the Baird School.”
Lisa Schamberg grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and settled in Burlington in 1974. She received her master’s degree in teaching at the University of Vermont and taught in a special program at Burlington High School for 23 years. Since she retired, she has been involved with many community boards and various nonprofit organizations.
Burlington has been Lisa’s home for more than 40 years. She says it was a wonderful place to raise her two children, to find friends who are kindred spirits, and to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is also in Burlington where she met her husband of 35 years, Pat Robins.
She and her husband live in Burlington, Vermont.
Michael Simoneau and his wife Geri Reilly own and operate Geri Reilly Real Estate in South Burlington. An active volunteer and community member, Mike has previously served on the Burlington Boys and Girls Club Board, the South Burlington Affordable Housing Committee, the South Burlington Dog Park Committee, and the Howard Center Board of Trustees, including a term as President. Mike currently chairs the South Burlington Recreation and Parks Committee, and serves on the South Burlington Business Association Board of Directors.
Whit Smith has practiced law since 1977. He provides legal representation to a range of nonprofit organizations serving individuals with disabilities, their families, and those with limited economic resources. He advises health care, community mental health, and developmental service providers throughout Vermont, including Howard Center. He also represents private healthcare providers, including mental health and substance use treatment providers.
He has represented children and adults with disabilities, and their families, in Louisiana, Texas, and Vermont. He served as class counsel in multiple suits for individuals seeking the development of appropriate community-based service programs. Working with the Southern Disability Law Center, he provided litigation consultation to advocacy groups in numerous states.
Prior to entering private practice in 1983, Whit worked for several nonprofit advocacy organizations, including the Children’s Defense Fund of Washington, D.C., the Center for Public Representation, and Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. He is a graduate of Yale University and the Yale Law School.
Whit was the recipient of Howard Center’s second Help is Here Award honoree in 2017.
Whit and his wife, Meg, live in Charlotte, Vermont.
Lisa Steele is a philanthropist and the founder and former president of Main Street Landing, a development company dedicated to the environmentally and socially responsible redevelopment of Burlington’s waterfront.
Lisa actively works with a broad range of nonprofit or¬ganizations and has been a decades-long supporter of Howard Center. Honored in 2016 by the organization with its first Help is Here Award, Howard Center’s work holds a special place in her heart. She also served on the Board of Shelburne Farms for 34 years, including a tenure as board chair.
Lisa’s background is a reflection of her strong interest in education, farming, environmental preservation, and sustainable development. Her philanthropy reflects her commitment and passion for helping people by supporting sustainable and innovative programs. Such programs include health and human service initiatives that assist individuals and families in accessing needed services, empowering them to live the lives they choose. Lisa enjoys learning about the work people do to promote positive social change and to help them connect with one another.
Debra Stenner began her career in basic science research at the Mayo Clinic and continued at the University of Vermont before moving into healthcare information technology (HCIT). Her early research resulted in several publications, including two first author publications in the National Academy of Sciences and a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research.
Her expertise includes market analysis, creative product conceptualization, strategic positioning, and motivational leadership to build high-performing teams and to maintain strong client relationships. In addition, Debra has been a consultant for several former clients and other HCIT companies and continues to provide strategic and management advice to area startups.
She is a current member of the Board of Trustees for Porter Medical Center, an affiliate of the University of Vermont Medical Center, and recent past president of the of the Board of Trustees of Howard Center, Vermont’s largest Designated Agency.
She lives in Ferrisburgh, Vermont.
Margie Stern and her husband, Peter, have been volunteers for Howard Center for many years. They were first introduced to the organization through their volunteer efforts. Margie volunteered as a parent advocate at the Baird Center before it became part of the present-day Howard Center. They were inspired by the people they met at Howard Center and the work the organization does.
Margie says that joining Howard Center’s Honorary Council provides her with the opportunity to become involved in organizations that do the kind of work she deems most important in peoples’ lives. She adds that Howard Center is certainly one of those organizations.
Margie says she and her husband are fans of Howard Center, and they look forward to doing whatever they can on the Council.
Peter Stern, M.D., is a retired anesthesiologist and has been active on several not-for-profit boards in Vermont. He has previously served on the Howard Center Board of Trustees, where he gained an appreciation and respect for the services the organization provides and for the dedication and quality of the Howard Center staff.
He has been a long-time supporter of Howard Center because of the positive changes it makes in individuals lives and, in turn, within the community. Peter recognizes that the needs for the services Howard Center delivers are now more urgent than ever.
Pat Robins was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and while still an infant, he was adopted by Dr. Alton and Helen McAuliffe Robins.
Pat graduated from Cathedral High School in Burlington and attended Saint Michael’s College, where he majored in English Literature. He attended the Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College and later moved with his family to New York and worked for the International Basic Economy Corporation for seven years.
In 1970, Pat returned to Burlington and began working in the family business, McAuliffe, Inc. He served as the CEO until the business was sold in 1996. Shortly after, he and his business partner, Larry Sudbay, formed the SymQuest Group and built it into a regional document and technology service provider. Pat retired in 2016 when the company was sold to Konica Minolta. During his time in Burlington, he has served on many local boards and committees.
Pat and his wife, Lisa Schamberg, live in Burlington and have four children and five (soon to be six!) grandchildren between the ages of two and 35.
Hanneke Willenborg is focused on driving a more equitable society while building sustainable business models. Currently she is CEO at OLLY, a fast-growing health and nutrition ‘Benefits Corporation’ based in San Francisco, CA. Prior to this, Hanneke was in several roles across Unilever’s Foods and Home Care divisions based in London, Milan, Rome, Moscow and Rotterdam. As part of her journey she was the ‘Great Brand Mother’ at Ben & Jerry’s. And most recently, she was CMO at Seventh Generation based in Vermont, overseeing the disruptive innovation and the movement building that the brand is leading in order to achieve its 2025 Corporate Conscious goals. In 2019 she was placed in the Forbes CMO Next Honoree list.
Hanneke was born and raised in the Netherlands and now lives with her husband and 3 children in California. While in Vermont, she served on Howard Center’s Board of Trustees and chaired the Board Development and Communications Committee where she initiated the organization’s recognition of World Mental Health Day and the development of the Honorary Council.
Additional Honorary Council Members