Board of Trustees

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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.

As with all non-profit boards, the principle of shared governance is paramount; namely, the Board must stay out of the daily running of the school and allow the Head of School to manage that work. This includes the hiring, firing, and management of staff, and curriculum content and management, neither of which the Board is involved in. 

As stated in the Student & Family handbook, “Direct communication with teachers is often the best way to more fully understand the work of the child.” The same is true for communication with the Head of School. Thus, prior to reaching out to a trustee about a concern, you are encouraged to speak directly with the staff member and the Head of School. However, if you have an interest in learning more about Board service, or have an idea to share that could fit with long-term strategic planning for the school, please do not hesitate to reach out to a Board member. 

For more information about the Board of Trustees, please see below.

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 continues to serve the Hilltop community as the board Chair. Ellie holds two Montessori teaching certificates at the Infant/Toddler and Children’s House levels, and a Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland. She now works for The Aloha Foundation as the Director of Hive Camp for 8-12 year old girls and non-binary youth. With her husband, Andrew, Ellie has 3 teenage children, the youngest of whom just graduated from Hilltop. She loves running with her dog, hiking, anytime near a beach, and feels so lucky to call Vermont home.

Nancy Dickson

Incoming Board Chair

Nancy Dickson is an alumna of Hilltop from its early Congregational Church and High Street days; a mother of three; a spouse to a Montessori-trained middle school teacher; and a daughter of Tonia and Whit Wheeler. Nancy joins the Hilltop board eager to contribute to a school that dominated her family’s dinner table conversation for most of her childhood.

In her professional life, Nancy serves as the Director of Professional Learning at the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, where she strives to provide responsive and relevant professional development opportunities to CAIS’s 90 member schools and over 6000 CAIS school employees. Prior to joining CAIS, Nancy worked at a number of independent schools in San Francisco, New York City, and Baltimore, serving in roles ranging from English teacher to Director of Admissions to Upper School Principal, and earned her MA in Private School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia.

Nancy lives in Wallingford, Connecticut with her husband, Elliot, and their three elementary-aged children, but remains a Vermonter at heart. She returns to Brattleboro regularly to spend time with her parents and recharge. In good weather, she’s outside gardening or watching countless kids’ soccer games (in bad weather, too). She also loves DIY home improvement projects — when they run smoothly.

Geneva Morse

Incoming Board Chair

Geneva Morse’s twin sons, Emery and Bennett, are in Children’s House, where the family has also happily taken on weekend and vacation care of the prized classroom rabbit, Cocoa Cinnamon Bun Bun. Geneva’s career has been built in the Human Resources and Recruitment field; after scoffing at a college career counselor who advised her to pursue HR based on a personality assessment, she has savored building, developing and engaging with teams of people throughout her career. She currently works for a renewable energy consultancy based out of Denmark, where she leads HR for the Americas region.

Geneva is a graduate of Smith College who has lived in Washington DC, Philadelphia and Boston before moving to Vermont in 2017. Geneva and her family are residents of Guilford, where her husband, Skye, grew up. Her family enjoys biking, hiking, visiting much-loved bakeries and coffee purveyors, and reading many books. The Morse’s are proud to be part of the thriving 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 Brattleboro, 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 VP, Hospital Ambulatory Services. 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.

Todd and his family are extraordinarily thankful for the entire team at Hilltop. The school served as a “rock” throughout the pandemic, allowing uninterrupted schooling and social contact for Sage. This has proven invaluable. In his free time, Todd can be found chasing Sage around on the slopes, playing outdoors and traveling.

Caitlin Senni

Secretary

Caitlin is an Ada Comstock scholar at Smith College. There, she studies psychology and education in a developmental psychology lab that focuses primarily on language. After Smith, she plans to move onto a Ph. D program in psycholinguistics and cognition.

Caitlin’s daughter Simone joined the toddler program at Hilltop in 2016. They have since found their place in the community which now feels like home to them. Caitlin has both worked and volunteered at Hilltop and continues her work through trusteeship. She hopes to continue the work of the Equity and Anti-Bias workgroup, in terms of growing the community’s diversity and inclusivity, and by prioritizing these ideals in our next strategic plan. 

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.

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 just completed 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 she began 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!

Juliette Carr

Member at Large

Juliette is the mother of two students in Children’s House. She works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in primary care and integrative medicine at Grace Cottage Family Health. She also writes and teaches nationally on topics related to herbalism and integrative medicine. She is involved in numerous social justice and professional organizations, most recently founding and coordinating West River Valley Mutual Aid and serving as Co-Chair of the Legislative Advocacy Committee of the American Nurses Association-Vermont, among others, and has earned awards for her advocacy work. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and skiing with her family.

Louisa Conrad

Member at Large

Though she was born and raised in NYC, She has spent most of the past 20 years in Vermont and in 2010 Louisa started Big Picture Farm in Townshend, VT with her husband Lucas Farrell. Big Picture Farm is a small hillside dairy and farmstead confectionery selling confections and cheese to thousands of stores across the country. In addition to being 100% solar powered they are very proud to be Animal Welfare Approved and practice sustainable and regenerative forms of agriculture. She graduated from Middlebury College and has an MFA from CalArts.

She is mom to Maisie who will be entering her 4th year at Hilltop as an older in the Willow Room this fall and Minna who will start her second year in the Toddler Room. She loves how happy and confident her kids have become as Hilltop students and looks forward to diving deeper into the Hilltop community by being on the board.

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.

Shelley Lockyear

Member at Large

Shelley is the owner of The Nutmeg, a hospitality business in Wilmington, VT. She is the mom of Harry who is in Lower Elementary and the wife of Paul. Before emigrating to the US in 2011 Shelley was general manager of a restaurant in London and prior to that was a journalist in South Africa.

Shelley’s interests are in equity and diversity. She loves Vermont and is grateful everyday that she has the privilege of living in this great little state.

Asher Pucciarello

Member at Large

Asher lives in Westminster West with his wife, Re, and their three children. Finnegan graduated from the Middle School in 2021, and Oona and Ezra are in Hilltop’s Middle School. Asher has been inspired by Hilltop’s demonstrated commitment to help children sustain their curiosity for lifelong use and to develop a solid sense of who they are in community.

Asher is a mental health counselor at The Children and Parents Project, 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.

Asher tends to have fun working with others and all the more so when that work is aimed at creating and supporting healthy, accessible spaces for children’s minds. For this reason and out of gratitude for his children’s education at the school, he continues to participate on Hilltop’s Board.

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 entering Lower Elementary.