Leadership & Board

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is responsible for advancing the mission of the Howard Center by:

  • representing the community to the agency
  • setting the Howard Center’s overall strategic direction
  • hiring the Howard Center’s Chief Executive Officer and evaluating the CEO’s performance annually
  • ensuring the fiscal health of the Howard Center by adopting an annual budget and reviewing its financial performance against the budget
  • ensuring compliance with all applicable policies and regulations
  • acting as ambassadors for the organization

The Board meets from 4 – 6 PM on the second Tuesday of every month except July, August and December.  There is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning of every meeting.  Please note that requests to participate in board meetings must be submitted by 5 pm the day prior to the meeting. For more information about Board meetings, please contact Lucy Mallon at 802-488-6956 or lmallon@howardcenter.org .

Boardpresident@howardcenter.org email address is provided to facilitate correspondence with Howard Center’s Board of Trustees. It is not regularly monitored so should not be used for time sensitive information.

If you are seeking services from Howard Center or information about services, please contact our Access and Intake Team, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Friday from 8:00 am – 5 pm at 802-488-6000; hcinfo@howardcenter.org. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call our 24/7 crisis line, First Call for Chittenden County at 802-488-7777. If this is a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1.


Debra Stenner, President
Meg O’Donnell, Vice President
George Philibert, CPA, Treasurer
Cyndee Cochrane Sturtevant, Secretary

Yves Bradley is the Senior Vice President of Commercial Brokerage at Pomerleau Real Estate, where he has worked since 2004.  Yves graduated from the University of Vermont in 1985 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in History.  He currently is a member of the Burlington Planning Commission, a board member of H.O.P.E. Works and CCREA (Chittenden Commercial Real Estate Association), and the outgoing ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) government relations chair for the State of Vermont.  Yves is a graduate of the Leadership Champlain Class of 2008 and of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and Champlain College’s Excellence in Executive Leadership (ExCel) program in 2010.

Daniel Calder is a Pharmacy Technician living in Shelburne. He has an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from the Community College of Vermont and has served as the chair of Howard Center’s Developmental Services standing committee, comprised of Board members, community representatives, and service area leadership.

Kathy Connolly has lived in Vermont since 1979, where she and her husband have raised their six children. Following a career in the insurance industry, she volunteered in the Burlington Community as a park commissioner, a city councilor, and a school commissioner. As a former Howard Center board member, Kathy served on several Howard Center committees and as a past president of the Howard Center Board.

Michael Couture has extensive experience in media production, including as a partner in Earth Audio Techniques, Inc., Philo Records, Inc., and Resolution, Inc. He is the founder of Michael Couture Media and an adjunct faculty member at Champlain College. Michael also works through the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County as a substance use disorder recovery coach in the Emergency Department at UVMMC. He lives in Colchester.

Kelly Deforge is a parent, Howard Center Board Member, and a passionate and dedicated advocate for accessible mental health services. She is the co-chair of Howard Center’s Family Advisory Council and a tireless advocate for children and families. Kelly, mortgage loan officer with Union Bank, also serves on the loan committee for Champlain Housing Trust.

Christina DeGraff-Murphy is the Assistant General Counsel of Contracting for The University of Vermont Health Network serving its Affiliates in both Vermont and New York with primary focus on commercial payer and value-based contracting.  She holds a law degree from Western New England School of Law (2001).  Christina works to develop genuine relationships with others naturally; driving results through cross-functional collaboration and strategic planning.  Christina currently serves on local boards, including a previous tenure as Board Chair for Vermont Special Olympics.  She resides in Franklin County with her husband and three children.

Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux is a Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of Vermont. Her work spans a number of climate hazards and severe weather, with a special focus on flooding and droughts. As the State Climatologist for Vermont, she engages directly with community groups, K-12 schools, State legislators, Federal and State agencies, and national climate organizations. She is the President of the American Association of State Climatologists, and was inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in January 2020.

Kerrick Johnson joined the Board in 2014 and serves on the Development and Communications Committee. He is the previous President of Communications, Systems, and Strategy for Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) and has served as the Central Vermont Public Service’s Director of Government Affairs and Vice President of Associated Industries of Vermont. Kerrick is on the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra Board and the Barre Congregational Church Council. He lives in North Middlesex.

John McSoley is a partner at McSoley McCoy & Co., a full service tax, accounting and business consulting firm located in South Burlington, VT. John attended Essex Junction High School and graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science degree.  He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts and the Vermont Society of Certified Public Accountants. John has served on numerous boards, including a previous tenure on the Howard Center board, and currently serves as a VSAC Board member, on Howard Center’s Finance Committee, and as a United Way volunteer.

Meg O’Donnell An attorney by profession, Meg’s career focused on health care law and policy, and included working for state regulatory agencies as well as the University of Vermont Medical Center, where she was Director of Government & Community Relations until her retirement in early 2018. Meg has extensive experience teaching health policy, and has served on a number of boards, including the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners, the Community Health Centers of Burlington, and New England Federal Credit Union.

George H. Philibert, CPA/ABV, CVA, CFF is the President of GHP Advisors, PC, a practice focused on the tax and business advisory needs of closely held businesses and their owners, business valuations, litigation support, and family accounting and advisory services. George participated on the 1994 merger committee that helped create the current Howard Center. He is a co-founder and past board president of Vermont Jump$tart for Personal Financial Literacy, Inc. and has served as a member and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Burlington Rotary Club and the Vermont Foundation for Children and Families. George resides in Shelburne.

Rep. Ann Pugh, MSW, has been a Vermont State Representative since 1993 and is Chair of the House Human Services Committee and the Child Protection Oversight Committee. She previously worked at the Baird Center for Children and Families, Trinity College, and the State of Vermont. Since 1985, she has been a UVM Department of Social Work faculty member, where she is a senior lecturer. Ann serves on numerous boards and is a member of the Board of Civil Authority and a Justice of the Peace in South Burlington. She is an advisory board member of the Chittenden County Hunger Council and a trustee of the Thomas Lawler and Jennie Christy Hayes Foundation.

Thato Ratsebe is Assistant Director and Program Manager at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont. Previously, she worked at the Population Media Center in Shelburne and the Center for Multicultural Affairs at St. Michael’s College. Formerly a radio host in her native Botswana, she became interested in human services after coming to the United States. Thato resides in Essex Junction.

Rep. Trevor J. Squirrell is Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Vermont and a member of the Vermont House of Representatives. He has been a member and Chair of the Underhill Planning Commission and the Underhill Conservation Commission and was also a member of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and a Trustee of the Jericho Underhill Land Trust. He is a co-founder of the Nordic Soccer Club and former president of the Vermont Youth Soccer Association.

Connie Stabler recently retired after 24 years as an Executive Assistant, first for the CEO of the Chittenden County Visiting Nurse Association and then for the Senior VP and Provost at the University of Vermont. Connie has served on the National Alliance of Mental Illness Vermont Board of Directors, including two years as Chair, and continues to serve on NAMI-VT’s Advocacy Committee. She has co-facilitated the NAMI Family to Family class in Chittenden County for the past nine years and has been a teacher trainer for the past five years. Connie lives in South Burlington.

Debra Stenner is a Healthcare IT professional and Principal of Four Winds Consulting. From 1987-2006, Debra held several positions at IDX Systems Corporation including Vice President Business Planning and Product Strategy – Imagecast Division. Debra lives in Ferrisburgh.


Gail Stevenson, Ph.D, retired as the Executive Director of the Vermont Council on World Affairs in 2015.  She had a long career in international higher education, including the Director of International Programs at Champlain College, the Salzburg Seminar, Middlebury College’s programs in Russia, the World Bank, and others.  She served on the Child, Youth and Family Advisory Council as a member and vice-chair from 2002-2008 and from 2008-present on the Developmental Services Standing Committee. She served on the Howard Center board from 2009- 2018, including as Board President from 2015-2017.

Cyndee Cochrane Sturtevant worked as an auditor and accountant for a Burlington CPA firm, as an instructor of business courses at Community College of Vermont, as a business/human resource manager for Salzburg Seminar, and as a high school German teacher. She is a driver for Meals on Wheels, a volunteer at Lund Family Center, a host for high school exchange students, a Girl Scout Leader, a PTO officer, and a Deacon at her church. She lives in Shelburne.

Hanneke Willenborg grew up in the Netherlands where she received a Master’s of Business Economics. She began her marketing career at Unilever in 1996 and has worked for the company in the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, US and UK. From 2008 to 2012 she worked at Ben & Jerry’s, and she is currently the CMO for Seventh Generation. Hanneke is the founder of Sunlight Water Centres, a women-owned social enterprise based in Nigeria.

Honorary Board of Trustees

Mark Baglini
Elizabeth Bassett
Todd Centybear
Jack Dwyer
William Heaslip
James Leddy
Karen O’Neill
Marna Tulin, Ph.D

Executive Leadership Team


Bob Bick, MA

Chief Executive Officer

Bob is the Chief Executive Officer of Howard Center. Prior to joining Howard Center as Director of the organization’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, he was Executive Director of Champlain Drug and Alcohol Services. In 1994, he played a key role in the merger of that agency and the Baird Center for Children & Families with Howard Center. His previous posts include four years of clinical and program leadership positions with adult and adolescent residential, outpatient and shelter programs throughout New England for Marathon House in Providence, Rhode Island.

Bob  currently holds numerous local, state, and regional service appointments, including serving as President of the Board of the Vermont Care Network (previously Behavioral Health Network of Vermont),  the Advisory Committee of the Green Mountain Care Board, the Governor’s Criminal Justice and Substance Abuse Cabinet, the Steering Committee of the Vermont Health Care Innovation Program (VHCIP), the Burlington Service Executive Committee of the Burlington Police Department, the Vermont Certification Board and as vice president of the board of the New England Institute of Addiction Studies. A licensed substance use counselor, Bick holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hartford and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Catherine Simonson, LICSW

Chief Client Services Officer

Catherine is the Chief Client Services Officer at Howard Center. She joined the organization 24 years ago to help start a school social work program and has enjoyed a variety of leadership roles as a licensed clinical social worker. Catherine currently oversees and directs all client services for Howard Center which impacts 16,000 community members annually. Catherine is also leading the integration of services across the agency designed to improve outcomes and the experience for people seeking support from Howard Center. Current community leadership roles include serving on the Board of the UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice and acting as Co-Chair of the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance Treatment and Recovery Work Group.

Simha Ravven, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Ravven comes to Howard Center from the Brattleboro Retreat where she has served as Senior Medical Director and as Interim Chief Medical Officer. Additionally, she is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine; president-elect of the Vermont Medical Society; member of the Vermont Department of Mental Health Ten Year Planning Think Tank; member of the Vermont Board of Medical Practice Medical Marijuana Review Board; associate editor, Harvard Review of Psychiatry; and serves on the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Human Rights and National Security Committee. She holds ABPN (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) Certifications in Adult and Forensic Psychiatry.  Dr. Ravven graduated from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, completed her psychiatric residency at Cambridge Health Alliance and served as a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. She completed her Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at Yale University. Dr. Ravven has received numerous professional honors and recognition, has presented extensively at conferences and symposia, and has published research, chapters, and books.

Sandra McGuire, MBA

Chief Financial and Operations Officer

Sandy is the Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Howard Center. She joined the organization in 1999 and has been in several roles since, including leading the effort for Howard Center to become a licensed Child Placing Agency. Sandy holds a B.S. in psychology from Virginia Tech and an M.B.A. from Champlain College. She currently oversees all Howard Center business operations to include Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Information Management, Administrative Support Services, and Facilities. In her current role, she also serves as President of the Vermont Foundation for Children and Families Board an organization that supports Howard Center programming. Sandy received her Therapy Dog Team Certification in 2019 and will be providing service to our community with her team member, Lucy.

Standing Committees

Our standing committees provide valuable feedback about agency services and initiatives, invite guest speakers for education across varied subject matter, and provide an opportunity for engagement with others who may receive agency services or their family members. Committee membership includes people receiving services, family members, community members, board members, and agency staff.

If you are interested in learning more about the Board, Standing Committees, or volunteering at special events, please click on the button below.

Board, Standing Committee & Special Event Volunteer Opportunities