Mark Redmond: A Lifeline for So Many

Mark Redmond Headshot, outdoors wearing a collared shirt.


“I truly cannot remember one nonprofit organization that has taken on as much for a community as has the Howard Center.”

ESSEX, VERMONT – I am the executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services and have been in this position since February 2003. Taking this position at that time as an “outsider” (I had been working in Connecticut prior), I knew I had a tremendous learning curve in terms of understanding the system of care in Chittenden County and the State. Howard Center played such a key role in this. Many of them have since moved on or retired, but I will always be incredibly grateful to Howard Center leaders such as Todd Centybear, Steve Dale, Catherine Simonson and of course Bob Bick. They went out of their way to guide me through the maze of agencies, regulations, HIPAA, and funders. If I have achieved any level of success at Spectrum in the last 20 years, I owe much of that to the leadership at Howard.

I personally believe that few people outside of the human services community in Chittenden and Franklin Counties have any inkling of the breadth of services provided by Howard Center. They may know one part of it, i.e., disability services, street outreach, and they may actually believe that that part of Howard is much or all of what the agency does, but they could not be more mistaken. I have worked in this field for 42 years and I truly cannot remember one nonprofit organization that has taken on as much for a community as has the Howard Center.

My personal interactions have been primarily with Howard’s Street Outreach team, because that is where Spectrum intersects with the agency to the greatest degree. In fact, the late Matt Young, previous leader of Howard Center’s Street Outreach Team, was one of the first social services professionals to whom I was introduced when I arrived as executive director. He impressed me right from the start, as did his coworkers, and I still hold Tammy Boudah, the current team leader, and those on that team with the highest regard. They are doing the hard work, out on the streets, with some of the most difficult cases imaginable. They interact very well with our own housing and drop-in staff. Burlington is going through a particularly difficult time right now and it would be ten times harder without the Howard Center Street Outreach group at the ready.

As executive director I am also the one at Spectrum with the responsibility of advocacy, including testifying in various committees on the issues that are relevant to our mission and clients. This is another area for which I appreciate the Howard Center. They have the expertise and an understanding of the history of these issues, why certain bills were passed, what the ramifications were then and now, and if changes are warranted. I have testified in a legislative committee more than once with a Howard Center staff member by my side. I know that having their voice and Spectrum’s voice aligned on an issue is very effective at convincing legislators.

The leadership and citizenry of Chittenden and Franklin Counties owe a great debt of gratitude to the Howard Center. I hope every person who lives in these two communities recognizes and appreciates the excellent work being done by this organization. It is literally a lifeline for so many.