Community Heart & Soul Staff
Our staff is devoted to building brighter futures for small cities and towns across America through developed trainings and practical resources. Using their wealth of knowledge and experience with field-testing our Community Heart & Soul model, they are able to provide invaluable assistance and on-the-ground support for communities around the country.
Carol is a Vermonter who plays a mean game of Scrabble and has a soft spot for rescue dogs. She holds a Master of Business Administration and bachelor's in business finance from the College of Saint Joseph. She co-owns Ridgeback Properties, a rental property business. An active community member, her service includes a term on the board of Dinners with Love, a nonprofit that connects hospice agencies with local restaurants to provide free, delivered meals to caregivers and their loved ones. She joined Community Heart & Soul in 1998. She and her husband look forward to visits from their son and enjoy family, friends, biking, and kayaking.
Kyla is Vermont born and raised, growing up she took full advantage of her rural environs riding horses. She’s also a digital native and brings to Community Heart & Soul an intrinsic understanding of all things digital from website development, customer acquisition strategies, and content creation for web and social. Prior to joining CHS she helped travelers discover and connect with new places and people all over the world as brand manager for VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Kyla holds a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and began her career with Amnesty International USA in Washington D.C. When she’s not working, you will find her walking her dog or playing in the garden.
When it comes to community engagement, Caitlyn practices what Community Heart & Soul preaches. She serves on the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee and previously was chair of the Land Management Planning Committee in New Gloucester, Maine. At CHS, she shares her expertise in community planning, public participation and nonprofit marketing. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Colorado. Her master’s is in Community Planning and Development from the Muskie School for Public Service at the University of Southern Maine.
Alexis joined Community Heart & Soul from Paonia, Colorado where she was immersed in small-town life, serving as Project Coordinator for the North Fork Valley Heart & Soul project. She was also Associate Publisher at High Country News, Chamber of Commerce President, and on the board of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. Alexis received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Globalization and Natural Resource Management, and holds a certification in Project Management from San Francisco State University.
Jane Lafleur became our Senior Director in June 2020 and leads a team that works with our partners, coaches, and champions to take Community Heart & Soul to significantly more small cities and towns across America. Prior to this she led the development of all our Heart and Soul towns in Maine as an independent contractor. Lafleur also practiced community development, planning, citizen engagement and civic leadership training and educational programs throughout Maine and the US. Her work included community facilitation, town planning, walkability and place-making training and audits and other community assessments, as well as coaching Community Heart & Soul teams through the two-year community development process. Lafleur has worked with communities, community organizations and the public as a facilitator, teacher, coach and leader. She has received the Professional Planner of the Year Award from both the Maine Association of Planners and the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association, as well as other honors.
Sara wins the prize for coming to Vermont from furthest afield. Prior to joining Community Heart & Soul, she lived on the island of Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean where she was Director of Programming and Training at United States Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean. She also served in the same role in Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and was also a Program Officer for the Australian Agency for International Development's Governance for Growth. Sara's bachelor's degree is from Brown University and her master’s is from the University of Hawai'i-Manoa and the East West Center in Manoa. She enjoys traveling, being near the ocean, and spending time with family.
Rachel is a native Vermonter who crochets so quickly the needle hums and the yarn smokes! To the great benefit of her co-workers, organization is her hallmark. Prior to joining Community Heart & Soul she was Registrar at Burlington College. Rachel’s degree is in Liberal Arts from Trinity College. She enjoys being with family, cooking, spending time outside, and hiking with her dog.
Erik is a connector who has focused his career on advocacy and community service. His expertise in grant administration, capacity building, and strategic planning has served many causes and communities including in the areas of child abuse prevention, HIV/AIDS, cancer awareness and research, public health, and grassroots advocacy. In addition, he has served as a bilingual case manager, community organizer, and fundraiser for a number of organizations. Erik’s background includes his most recent post as Associate Program Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation where he oversaw grantmaking in the areas of access to care and behavioral health. Erik serves on the board of the Chinook Fund, a nonprofit that supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social. and economic justice. Erik is a devoted fan of his alma mater, the University of Arizona, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He is an avid traveler and concert goer with his partner and pup!
Mark joined Community Heart & Soul in July, 2020 and brings a range of strategic marketing and operational skills that reflect past leadership roles at technology firms and nonprofit organizations. He previously served as Director of Marketing and Planning at Casey Family Programs, one of the nation’s largest operating foundations, and Director of Marketing with Visio (Microsoft). Mark grew up in South Burlington, VT, and attended the University of Vermont before moving to Seattle to pursue his MBA at the University of Washington. After over 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, Mark and his wife fulfilled their long-term goal of returning to their home state of Vermont. Since then, Mark has worked as a marketing consultant for mission-driven organizations and led marketing at a solar energy startup. Mark is thrilled to be back in Vermont and eager to promote the benefits of living in towns and small cities by leading the expansion of Community Heart & Soul.
Leanne, whose career started in the klieg lights of Broadway, combined her stage presence with her love of small towns and now holds audiences rapt as she shares her passion for Community Heart & Soul. Leanne has an extensive background in community revitalization including coordinating the Vermont Downtown Program. She was Director and CEO of Erie Downtown Improvement District in Erie, Pennsylvania, where her work included redevelopment of Erie’s Waterfront. In Warren, Pennsylvania, she was Executive Director of Warren Main Street and in Arizona was Executive Director of the Lake Havasu Uptown Association and was appointed to the Arizona Downtown Advisory Council.
Before joining Community Heart & Soul, Joan directed the Center for Community Engaged Learning at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT. In this role, she served as an instructor, faculty consultant, student philanthropy advisor, AmeriCorps supervisor, and liaison to local communities. Her work focused on developing projects and partnerships bringing students, faculty, and community organizations together to advance the democratic traditions of volunteerism and civic engagement. Joan holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and English as well as a master’s in Education. In 2017, she earned her doctorate in Education with a focus on organizational leadership and policy. During the short Vermont growing season, she enjoys digging into the dirt and coaxing beautiful things out of the earth to nourish family, friends, and neighbors. Year round, she is on a mission to visit each and every town, city, and gore (there are 251) across the “Brave Little State” she calls home.