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 Kelsi Cross at 802-488-6956 or kcross@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.


Kelly Deforge, President
Yves Bradley, Vice President
Cyndee Cochrane Sturtevant, Secretary

Headshot of Heather Blackman smiling with the forest behind Heather Blackman is the Network Manager of Managed Care Contracting with the UVM Health Network. She has extensive experience in the healthcare field working with various industry constituents (e.g., insurance companies, patients, clinicians) across numerous functional areas: leadership, contract negotiation, business marketing, sales, training and service. She values teamwork, open communication, and whole-heartedly believes that trust is the foundation for any working relationship. She was born and raised in Vermont with time spent living in New Mexico, Montana and Tennessee. She experiences peace, healing and growth when surrounded by nature. She enjoys learning about astrology and generally any ‘self-help’ topics and consciously making time to read, cook, puzzle and spend time with her husband, four children and chocolate lab.

Yves Bradley, Howard Center Board Member Vice President, is a Partner at V/T Commercial and has been a commercial real estate broker 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 CCREA (Chittenden Commercial Real Estate Association), and is the past 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 Certified 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.


Andrew Collier was appointed to the deputy commissioner role at the Department of Liquor and Lottery in 2021. He spent 11 years serving the Department of Public Safety (DPS) as a State Trooper. He grew up in Colchester, Vermont, then moved to Westfield, Massachusetts, before returning to the Green Mountains. Now a resident of Chittenden County, he serves on his local Town Development Review Board and State Natural Resources board (NRB). Andrew and his wife and daughters live in Westford.

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. She has rejoined the board and serves on the Human Resources committee and the Developmental Services standing committee.

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. 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 President, 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, is a mortgage loan officer with Union Bank.


Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux is a Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography & Geosciences at the University of Vermont. She is an expert on climate change science and climate hazards, 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 immediate Past President of the American Association of State Climatologists, was inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in January 2020 and invited by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Program to speak at the United Nations COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. In December 2022, she was appointed to a three-year term on the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

Jodi Girouard is a Vermont author who published a memoir entitled Living With the Neighbors. It is a work of her journey to heal, to accept, and to survive her mental illness. She has been published in a collection of essays, Much Madness, released in November 2019. She has previously published two books of poetry, won several writing contests, and has been published online. She has a website where she writes poetry daily. Jodi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and English and has previously taught.

John McSoley retired in 2021 after forty plus years in accounting, most recently as a partner in South Burlington, VT based McSoley McCoy & Co.  He graduated from Essex Junction High School and the University of Vermont.  He 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.  He and his wife Donna have three grown children.

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, New England Federal Credit Union, and the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Amanda Peden, CDFA® With a passion for helping others and extensive industry experience, Amanda has planted her feet as a Financial Planner and Managing Associate at Commonwealth Financial Group in Burlington. She takes to heart the idea that proper financial education leads to individual freedom and long-term success.

Amanda has wanted to get more involved with the Howard Center for a number of years as she understands the impact this organization has on our community. She has a strong desire to make an impact on individuals and families who struggle with substance use and mental illness.

Ann Pugh is a social worker by profession whose multi-faceted career in both the nonprofit and governmental sphere included clinical social work to children and families, program development and administration, college teaching, and electoral politics. Ann’s connection to Howard Center has roots both in her first job when, in 1976, she moved to Vermont to take a job as social worker at the Josephine B. Baird Children’s Center and subsequently as a board member of Champlain Drug and Alcohol Services. In May 2022, she retired from teaching at the University of Vermont, Department of Social Work with emerita status. From January 1993-January 2023, Ann was a state legislator representing the city of South Burlington, serving as chair of the House Human Services Committee.  Ann has long been a volunteer serving on agency, city, State, and national boards and currently also serves on Vermont’s federally CAPTA-mandated Vermont Citizens Advisory Council.

Thato Ratsebe is Associate Director and Programs Manager at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont. Previously, she worked in Manitoba, Canada connecting immigrants with employers. She also worked at the Population Media Center in Shelburne and the Center for Multicultural Affairs at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. Thato worked internationally designing and implementing community-based programs in various countries in East Africa. Formerly a radio host in her native Botswana, she became interested in human services after coming to the United States. Thato resides partially in South Burlington.

Mat Robitaille is a Senior Vice President and the Vermont Regional Vice President at TD Bank, America’s most convenient Bank, based in Burlington, Vermont. Mat graduated from Northern Vermont University at Lyndon with a B.S. in Business Administration in 2000. He is a graduate of the Leadership Champlain program and a recipient of the Vermont Business Magazine Rising Star Award. Mat has served as a Board Member for the Milton Community Youth Coalition and as a Mentor Family for the University of Vermont Neonatal Clinic. In his spare time, Mat enjoys flying hot air balloons and camping with his family. He and his wife and twin sons live in Milton.

Rep. Trevor J. Squirrell is retired from many years in Non-Profit leadership and is currently 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. In his role as a member of Vermont’s General Assembly he serves on the House Appropriations committee, Chairs the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, and is a member of the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee.

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 earned an MBA from the University of Vermont, 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 in Middlebury, Vermont, and as a high school German teacher in rural Maine. Cyndee was elected as secretary to the Howard Center Board of Trustees and also serves on the finance and audit committees. She is a Trustee for the Vermont Foundation of Children and Families. Cyndee also serves on the Lund Board of Trustees as treasurer, and on Lund’s finance and executive committees.


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. In his career Bob has worked in residential programs for children with developmental and mental health challenges, doing outreach with individuals struggling with opiate use, and as a family trainer and educator. Over the years he has and continues to serve on numerous boards and committees related to mental health, substance use, and developmental disabilities.  

Catarina Campbell, M.Ed

Director Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Catarina (they/them) is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Howard Center. They come to the role with a background in grassroots organizing, trauma-informed advocacy, and affinity-based programming at community centers in the United States and Brazil. Previously, Catarina served as the Director of the SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program and the Coordinator for Programs and Leadership at the Women & Gender Equity Center at the University of Vermont.

Catarina has also served on the boards of the Vermont ACLU and the Woven Collective. Honoring and celebrating our right to be embraced for all of who we are, Catarina strives to bring joyful and meaningful connection to their communities by tending to interpersonal connection as a conduit for social change.

Beth Holden, MS, LCMHC, LADC

Chief Client Services Officer

Beth Holden is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of Vermont. She holds a Master of Science degree in community counseling from the University of Vermont. She has worked as a clinician, supervisor, and administrator in the mental health and substance use fields with adults, youth, and families for 30+ years. Prior to becoming Chief Client Services Officer, Beth held the position of Director of Home and Community Services, as well as serving in the Children’s Co-Director role in the state designated agency system. She has specialty training in emergency mental health services, co-occurring disorders, trauma integrated practice, managing suicidality and supervision. Beth is a believer and supporter of community mental health services and provides leadership in her agency developing increased competencies for all staff providing integrated services, trauma informed practice, and suicide care. She is level two trained in EMDR, a certified state of Vermont Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) trainer and has been a clinical supervisor for 25+ years. Beth is an experienced presenter and provides workshops on many topics related to trauma-informed practice and mental health. She has also served an instructor for the UVM Graduate Counseling Program and taught classes on trauma-informed care and counseling children and adolescents. She previously served her disciplines on the Vermont Addictions Professionals Association Board and the UVM Graduate Counseling Program Advisory Board.

Matt MacNeil, EdD

Director Evaluation and Outcomes

Matt MacNeil is the Director of Evaluation and Outcomes for Howard Center.  Matt has worked in the Vermont Designated Agency System since 2003 and held varying rolls including Residential Counselor, Outpatient, School Services and Crisis Clinician.  A Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Vermont, Matt also has clinical experience in Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona.  He is currently the co-chair of the statewide Scoring and Metrics Committee and a member of the Agency of Human Service’s Institutional Review Board.   Inside Howard Center, he has served as co-chair of our staff wellness committee (HC4Me) since 2015.  Matt holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Saint Michael’s College, a master’s degree in Human Development Psychology from Harvard University and a doctorate in Education from the University of Vermont.

Sandra McGuire, MBA

Chief Financial and Operations Officer

Sandy is the Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Howard Center. After an extensive national search, Howard Center’s Board of Trustees appointed Sandy as chief executive officer, effective June 1, 2024.

Sandy 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. She received her Therapy Dog Team Certification in 2019 and provides service to our community with her team member, Lucy.

Simha Ravven, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Ravven is the Chief Medical Officer of the Howard Center, Assistant Clinical Professor in Law and Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and past President of the Vermont Medical Society.

Dr. Ravven was a studio art major as an undergraduate at Hamilton College and decided to pursue medicine after serving in the United States Peace Corps in Morocco. She graduated from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and completed her residency in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She went on to train in Forensic Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and continues to serve on the faculty there. Dr. Ravven is Board Certified in General Adult and Forensic Psychiatry. Her passion is caring for adults with serious mental illness and contributing to research and policy on the intersection of law and mental health.

Dr. Ravven has received numerous professional honors and recognition, has presented extensively at conferences and symposia, and has published research, chapters, and books.

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