Board of Trustees

HOME > Our School > Board of Trustees

The role of the Board of Trustees is to determine and oversee policies that support the mission of the school and to ensure the school’s fiscal stability. This includes the hiring and evaluation of the Head of School, appointing standing and ad hoc committees, overseeing the lease and facility use, fundraising, and strategic planning. Equally important, Board members serve as ambassadors for the school community.

Overview of the HMS Board

HMS Trustee Candidate Information Form

Ellie Pennell

Board Chair

Ellie has worn several hats as a member of the Hilltop staff for 10 years – from Children’s House classroom aide to starting and directing the Toddler Program. She is thrilled to continue serving the Hilltop community in a new way as not only a board member, but also In-Coming Chair. Ellie holds two Montessori teaching certificates at the Infant/Toddler and Children’s House levels, as well as a BA in Psychology from Miami University, and a Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland. She is now transitioning to a new role at an educational non-profit, The Aloha Foundation, as the Director of Hive Camp for 7-12 year old girls. With her husband, Andrew, Ellie has 3 teenage children, the youngest of whom is a Seventh Grade student at Hilltop. She loves running with her dog, hiking, anytime near a beach, and feels so lucky to call Vermont home.

Asher Pucciarello

Outgoing Board Chair

Asher is co-director of The Children and Parents Project (CAPP), where he has been part of the team since 1995. At CAPP, Asher provides individual, couples, family, and group mental health counseling for children, teenagers, and adults as well as consultation for educational and mental health providers and organizations. He attended Antioch Graduate School, where he received an MA in Counseling Psychology.

Asher lives in Westminster West with his wife, Re, and their three children. Finnegan graduated from the Middle School in 2021, and Oona and Esmé are in Hilltop’s Upper Elementary. Asher has been inspired by Hilltop’s demonstrated commitment to help children sustain their curiosity for lifelong use, to develop meta-cognitive skills so that their strong minds can be channeled, and to develop a solid sense of who they are in community.

In order to further his mission to work with others to create and support healthy, accessible spaces for children’s minds, and out of gratitude for his children’s education at the school, Asher joined the board in hopes of giving back to the Hilltop community.

Todd Fahey

Treasurer

Todd is the proud parent of Sage in the Lower Elementary. He lives with his wife, Lindsay, and Sage at their home in Newfane, Vermont. Todd and family moved to Vermont in September 2015 after spending approximately ten years in the Boston area. Prior to that, he lived in the New York metro area following being raised in upstate New York.

Todd is an administrator at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and is currently serving in the role of Director of Radiology, Oncology, Comprehensive Care and Biomedical Engineering. Prior to moving to Vermont, he worked for nine years at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with a focus on education, training and emergency preparedness. Todd obtained his B.S. degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Cortland and his M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Hofstra University in Long Island.

In their free time, Todd and family can be found skiing every weekend in the winter (where Todd will soon be struggling to keep up with Sage). Other seasons will generally find them doing something outside. Owing to having the nearest family at least three hours away, they also will often be found as impromptu Airbnb hosts or sitting in traffic on the Mass Pike or New York State Thruway.

Vanessa Long

Secretary

Vanessa is the mother of Uri in the Lower El. She has a BA in Women’s Studies & Public Policy from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a Masters of Science in Management & Health Care Administration from Marlboro College Graduate School in Brattleboro.

Vanessa is proud to be part of Hilltop Montessori’s first graduating sixth grade class from the Austine Campus, and is even more excited that her children are able to enjoy the benefits of Hilltop as well.  She believes that her Montessori education strongly prepared her for her current profession as an independent employee benefits and human resources consultant, where she works with around 100 different organizations, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In this job, she helps people in all areas of our community navigate health insurance, disability, and financial risk, while also providing comprehensive HR solutions at the organizational level. Prior to her work in New England, Vanessa worked managing clinical services for Planned Parenthood in Texas, developing a nationally recognized Teen Clinic and working to provide health care to marginalized communities.

With her partner Ben, Vanessa loves to cultivate vegetables and fruits around their home in Putney, make delicious food, and enjoy science fiction and good writing.

Marta Bernbaum

Member at Large

Marta grew up shuffling between the Maine Coast and the Colorado Rockies as a kid. She now lives in West Brattleboro, up high off of Sunset Lake Road, with her husband Josh and son Finn, who is in Upper Elementary. She has a Fine Arts Degree with a focus in working in glass, which has evolved into glass art teaching and offering lessons through Airbnb Experiences (both virtual and in person). During her free time she plays ukulele, does graphic design for a few different nonprofit groups of which she is a member, and can usually be found gardening on her three acres. Being a participant in the local “Hortidorks” group as well as being steeped in her family’s landscaping business, it is hard to keep her out of the dirt. She’s hoping to continue her efforts with Kegan on the grounds work that she has been a part of for the past few years, and is excited to work the overgrown areas into something bright and vibrant again!

Elizabeth Fisher

Member at Large

Elizabeth is the mother of Nicholas, now grown, and Cara, who is a Middle School student at Hilltop. Cara and Elizabeth share their West Brattleboro home with a Bassetoodle, a Bischapoo, two kittens, and a variety of Dust Bunnies. As a child, Elizabeth lived on the Islands of Jamaica and Trinidad, where she observed troubling racial and socio-economic divisions; she developed a lifelong interest in seeking understanding and reconciliation between people of differing races and cultures. She attended The School of International Service, at American University, where she received a B.A. in International Relations; and went on to receive an M.Div from Yale Divinity School. She served as an Ordained Pastor to United Church of Christ (UCC) congregations in the D.C. Metro Area, Connecticut, and VT., for 18 years.

After adopting her son from Moldova, she moved to Brattleboro to study at SIT where she earned an M.Ed in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in 2001, and for the fifteen years thereafter, she was a teacher for immigrant and refugee children in the Greenfield Public School System. Since Cara began at Hilltop, Elizabeth has enjoyed volunteering in her daughter’s classroom. She was also involved in forming the Parent Anti-Bias Committee. She also volunteers as a Guardian Ad. Litem for Foster Children in Windham County, and is an active member of the Guilford Community Church. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, biking, photography, and gardening.

Andrea Lemon

Member at Large

Originally from Chicago, Andrea Lemon fell in love with New England 30 years ago when she first came here for college. She studied French Literature and obtained degrees from Wesleyan University and Middlebury College.

Andrea was fortunate to graduate just as the World Wide Web emerged, since there were surprisingly few jobs available for French majors. Web design proved a good match for her interests in communication and graphic design, and she’s worked in the field ever since. Since 2011, Andrea has worked for BuildingGreen, a Brattleboro-based online resource for sustainable architecture and design professionals, and she currently holds the role of Design Director.

Having had a tour with other neighbors during the construction of the Arts Barn, she was impressed with Hilltop’s educational offerings and is excited to be contributing to the school’s efforts at this time.

She lives with her husband Ted just up the road from Hilltop in a cutting-edge Passive House. The house consumes far less electricity than a similarly-sized conventional house and stays comfortable year-round.
Andrea’s other interests include meditation and creative writing.

Lysa Mosca

Member at Large

Lysa is the awe-inspired parent of Amber and son-in-law Jarmal and grandparent of Layla, Elijah, and Laylani. Lysa was called to Vermont some time ago as a young art maker and observer of Bread and Puppet Theater in Plainfield. Through these connections, she found her way to Goddard College to engage in participatory and self-directed learning in radical social psychology and liberation theology, earning a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. Lysa relocated from Massachusetts to Vermont with her family 10 years ago.

For the past 20+ years Lysa has been learning and unlearning in the fields of mental health, wellness, and social service organizations, specifically the impact of systemic oppression and collective trauma on people and community.

What’s on Lysa’s heart these days are deep questions about equity and justice which she believes are foundational to an ecology of collective care and at the core of our basic goodness. Lysa is inspired by the natural curiosity that is embodied in young children, along with opportunities for deep listening, inquiry, and engaged lifelong learning.

Lysa loves family meals, walkabouts, playing with her grandchildren, and being in connection!

Joslyn McIntyre

Member at Large

A native of Western Mass, Joslyn and her husband Jon live in Guilford with their identical twin daughters, Phoebe and Eliza, who spent 3.5 years enjoying the incredible experience of Children’s House.

Joslyn is a freelance copywriter working with innovative companies from Silicon Valley to Stockholm. She possesses a BFA in art photography/ceramics from Syracuse University, which has proved to be a whimsical choice, although she remains a lifelong photography enthusiast and pottery fan.
She has a strong interest in brand storytelling and uses it to help Hilltop spread its story to a wider audience. Joslyn also participates in the anti-bias work that makes Hilltop such a special and ideal place to raise thoughtful citizens of the world. In her down time, she cherishes adventures with her family, gardening, exploring the woods, loitering at the farmers market, experimental cooking, and crafting with her kids. One day, she hopes to learn to sew.

Caitlin Senni

Member at Large

Caitlin is an Ada Comstock scholar at Smith College, studying Linguistics and Psychology, with hopes to conduct research on how trauma intersects with linguistics and then move on to a Masters program in Speech-Language Pathology. 

After her daughter Simone joined Hilltop’s toddler program in 2016, they both quickly fell in love with the community. Prior to her work on the Board, she was an aftercare assistant at Hilltop, and has consistently volunteered for the HMS Equity and Anti-Bias Work Group. Caitlin hopes to further her commitment to social justice through participation on Hilltop’s Board of Trustees, and to continue to watch Simone—and the Hilltop community—thrive because of its growing vibrancy, diversity, and loving inclusivity.

Caitlin and Simone live in Saxtons River, Vermont. There, she and Simone enjoy having goofy dance-offs, reading together until their discarded book pile topples over, and writing chalk letters to each other in the driveway. 

Dora Urujeni

Member at Large

Dora earned her Master’s Degree in Peace Building and Conflict Transformation from the School of International Training, and a Bachelor’s Degree and Graduate Diploma in Educational Psychology from the University of Rwanda. She is a former Member of Parliament in Rwanda. She was the Director of Memos, an NGO dedicated to educating youth and community members about non violence and genocide prevention. She was deeply involved in the Truth and Reconciliation processes in Rwanda, and was a lead organizer of international exchange programs and logistics coordinator for field studies courses with those visiting from Smith College, Johns Hopkins University, Zen Peacemakers, and the School for International Training, among others. She was a visiting fellow at the Greater Falls Community Justice Center, supporting and developing programs aimed at providing restorative justice alternatives to incarceration. She is skilled at leading circles for conflict transformation and harm repair. She first joined the Hilltop community as a parent to her young son who started in the Toddler Program and is now in the Birch Room.

Larisa Volkavichyute

Member at Large

Larisa lives in West Brattleboro with her husband, Robin, and their two sons, Kolya (in Lower Elementary) and Leva (in Children’s House), plus their dog and two cats. In addition to her recent board work, Larisa has been the Children’s House Birch Room parent representative for the last few years.

She received a BA in Literature from Petrozavodsk State University and attended the School for International Training, where she received an MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management. Some highlights of Larisa’s career have been working for the International Projects of Russian Red Cross in Karelia and her work as a Senior Administrative Officer at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Moscow.

Once her children were born, and after 15 years of work in the field of non-profit management and international development, Larisa embraced her life-long passion of making art, illustration, and jewelry and launched a small business. She also created and curates a popular Winter Craft Market in the Stone Church, a local independent music venue, owned by her husband.