Meet Our People

UVTA Staff

Russell Hirschler
Executive Director
Russell is the Executive Director of the Upper Valley Trails Alliance where he is responsible for the day to day operations as well as the future vision of the organization. He was formerly the Director of Education at Save The Bay in Providence, RI. He also served as the Development Director at the Upper Valley Land Trust in Hanover, NH and the Development Director and Program Manager at Wolftree, Inc, a science education organization in Portland, Oregon. Russell received his undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Planning from Binghamton University and his Masters Degree in Organizational Management from Antioch University, New England. Russell grew up in and around New York City and has been traveling and hiking worldwide for the last 20 years. He currently lives in Lyme, NH with his wife and two children.
John Taylor
Trail Programs Director
As a College graduate in Fish and Wildlife management, John has honed his skills during 35 years of post graduate employment in natural resource, land use and people management. With experience ranging from Fisheries Research and Land Conservation to Hatchery and Watershed Management to educator in Freshwater and Wildlife Ecology, John has worked to share his knowledge of the natural world through innovative programs, volunteerism, public liaison and outreach for all ages. Since moving to the Upper Valley in 1994, John has been engaged in exploring area trails, connecting people with the wonders of the outdoors and as a Trails Design Specialist, worked to enhance community trail opportunities throughout the region.
Sean Ogle
Trail Programs Director
Sean grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and took advantage of the incredible natural resources of the region by hiking, backpacking, and kayaking from a young age. These experiences coupled with an extremely outdoorsy family fostered a connection with the natural world and particularly the southern Appalachian mountains. After attending the University of Tennessee for Journalism, Sean was able to work in conservation in many places across the country. First he served on a trail crew with the SCA with the Florida Trail Association followed by a position as a leader for the Manchester Conservation Leadership Corps with the SCA New Hampshire Conservation Corps and finally as the project leader for Phoenix Field School in Arizona. He then returned to work with the Florida Trail Association as Field Coordinator in Tallahassee. In 2014, Sean created the Smoky Mountain Corps, a residential conservation and sustainability corps program based in North Carolina which runs conservation and leadership training crews for young adults. Sean also served as the Trail Resources Manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, overseeing trail programs within Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Randy Richardson
Development Director
Randy has strong ties in the Upper Valley, beginning with his time living in South Woodstock as a child to his more recent northern experience serving as Headmaster at the Oliverian School in Pike, NH. He received his BA from Hamilton College and MALS degree from Wesleyan University, and has spent most of his professional life in education, first as a teacher and coach and then as an administrator. Before his time at Oliverian, Randy led the Derryfield School in Manchester, NH and was a consultant at the Breakthrough Collaborative, a national program focused on educational equity. He is fully committed to the UVTA mission and fusing his love of the outdoors and the Upper Valley with his experience as an educational administrator and fund raiser. Randy currently lives and hikes with his family and dogs primarily in the Woodstock area.
Laura Romig
Program Manager
After graduating from Middlebury College in 2013 with a degree in Environmental Studies and Economics, Laura worked for Middlebury College's Alumni and Parent Programs team helping with event logistics and programming. Since then, her love of travel and the outdoors have led her to work around the world: on a dude ranch in Montana, at an eco-lodge in Tonga, and most recently on a small island in the Marshall Islands as an elementary school teacher. Originally from New York, Laura now lives in the Upper Valley where she enjoys hiking, browsing farmers markets, and drinking as much green tea as possible.

UVTA Board of Directors

Billie Audia
Managing Partner, Zermatt Legal Group
Billie Audia is the managing partner of the Zermatt Legal Group, which advises Fortune 500s, emerging companies and non-profits on intellectual property matters and commercial transactions. She is also an adjunct law professor at Vermont Law School and a published author on both legal and sports-related topics. She earned a B.A., cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts, a J.D. from the University of Denver and completed MBA courses at London Business School and advanced legal studies at Harvard Law School. As an outdoor enthusiast, Billie enjoys living in the Upper Valley. In winter months, she and her family enjoy alpine skiing as well as snowshoeing with their dog, Bode. And, since 2008 she has been a member of the ski patrol at Okemo Mountain Resort. When there is not snow on the ground, Billie enjoys hiking, sailing, cycling, participating in sprint triathlons and she captains a women’s tennis team. She serves on the boards of the Upper Valley Aquatic Center and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance.
Steve Gaughan
Dartmouth College
Steve works at Dartmouth College in Hanover. He owes much of his love of trails to growing up running and biking on trails designed by renowned landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead and John Charles Olmstead in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In his role with the Corps of Engineers, he develops mapping applications and spatial data in support of the Corps' water resources mission. Steve is a graduate of Middlebury College (B.A., Mathemetics), and is an avid hiker, trail runner, mountain biker and backcountry skier. He also enjoys fishing and sailing.
Lucy Gibson
DuBois & King
Lucy has lived in the Upper Valley for nearly 30 years, and enjoys trails of all kinds and in all seasons, including hiking, skiing, mountain biking and canoeing. Growing up in northeastern Ohio and spending summers in Algonquin Park, hiking, biking and canoeing have always very gratifying pastimes. Professionally, she is committed to helping communities become more walkable and bikable in her work as a transportation planner and engineer. She is currently working on active transportation plans for over a dozen communities in Vermont and beyond, and has also worked nationally on projects advocating redirection of transportation projects in favor of promoting clean, active and sustainable mobility. She has a BS in Civil Engineering from UVM, and a MS in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College. She lives in Sharon with her husband, Greg DeFrancis.
Eric Goldwarg
Hershenson, Carter, Scott & McGee, P.C.
Eric is an attorney at Hershenson, Carter, Scott & McGee, P.C., in Norwich, where his practice focuses on criminal defense, family law, and general civil litigation. He has a special interest in real property litigation, and published a scholarly article on ancient roads in northern New England. Eric’s professional interests grew from his personal interests, which include lots of time in the woods and on local trails, running, skiing, fishing, and bird hunting over his English setters, Birch and Rode. Eric graduated from Middlebury College (B.A., environmental studies) and Vermont Law School (J.D.). He lives in Hanover with his wife and their young son.
Stephen Gorman
Owner, The Art of the Wild
Photographer and writer Stephen Gorman's work focuses on understanding the connections between nature and humanity: how we depend on the ecosystems around us to sustain our material and spiritual lives, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work, and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world around us. Stephen holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University, where he focused on the human dimensions of natural resource management; and a Bachelor's Degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University, where he focused on American environmental history and the history of the North American Frontier. he lives with his wife in Norwich, VT.
Byron Haynes
Haynes and Garthwaite Architects
Byron is a partner in the firm of Haynes & Garthwaite Architects located in Norwich. He is a graduate of Colgate University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. For the last 28 years he and his wife Debbie have lived in Norwich, where they raised their sons Grant and Evan and three white dogs. Byron is passionate about road biking, mountain biking, hiking in all seasons, cross country skiing, telemark skiing and gardening. At the age of 7, he started backpacking in the Adirondacks and shares his enthusiasm for those mountains, the White Mountains and the back country in general, with his entire family, who are all ADK 46ers. A long time member of the Norwich Trails Committee Byron is a dedicated trail builder.
Vic Henningsen
Resident, Thetford Center, VT
Vic is a regular commentator for Vermont Public Radio and teaches history at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth. He fell in love with the outdoors during early summers in the White Mountains and quickly developed lifelong enthusiasms for hiking, x-c skiing, cycling, and kayaking. After working in the Whites and for five seasons on Mt. Mansfield as a Green Mountain Club caretaker and ranger-naturalist for the Vermont Dept. of Forests and Parks, he spent more than thirty years teaching history at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Vic earned his B.A. in history at Yale, a master’s in history at Stanford, and a doctorate in history of education at Harvard. Parents of two adult children, Vic and his wife, Susan McCaslin, live in Thetford Center.
Warren Johnston
Freelance Writer, Sharon, VT
Warren Johnston has lived in the Upper Valley since 2002. He is a writer and editor and recently retired from the Valley News after more than 13 years. He was in the newspaper business for 37 years — at small papers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi and with the Tampa Tribune and the Las Vegas Sun. He grew up in Atlanta, and at an early age began hiking the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina. He hikes, snowshoes and skis regularly near their home in the South Royalton and Sharon areas with his wife, Sandy, and their two rescued Tibetan terriers, Imelda and Izzie.
Brenda Petrella
Owner, Worthy Labs, LLC and Brenda Petrella Photography
Brenda Petrella has been a resident of the Upper Valley since 1999, when she moved to the area to earn her PhD in molecular biology at Dartmouth College. Quickly falling in love with the quality of life of the Upper Valley, she decided to pursue her scientific career locally. After running a molecular kidney cancer research lab at the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Service in White River Junction, she served as the Biosafety Officer and Lab Sustainability Manager for Dartmouth College. Her passions for the outdoors and for science inspired her to start Worthy Labs, a consulting group striving to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint research laboratories while supporting a safe and productive research environment. When she's not consulting, she spends time pursuing her passion in landscape photography as a way to inspire people to spend more time outdoors and away from their electronic environments. She enjoys exploring trails with her wife and pups, biking, rowing, and gardening.
Conrad Reining
Dartmouth College
Board Chair
Conrad Reining is the Associate Director of the Arts and Sciences Development Office at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. In this position he helps ensure that more than 40 academic departments and programs have the resources necessary to carry out a wide range of research, teaching, and service activities. Between 2001 and 2013 he was the Eastern Program Director for the Wildlands Network, where he was responsible for coordinating conservation planning, outreach and fundraising for a large portion of eastern North America. A major focus of his work was the development of a trans-border network – a Wildlands Network Design – of linked conservation areas in the Northern Appalachians of the northeastern US and southeastern Canada. As a board member of Two Countries, One Forest (2C1Forest), he has supported the development of a comprehensive conservation strategy for the Northern Appalachians. He also collaborated with more than 20 other organizations to establish the Staying Connected Initiative, which is dedicated to conserving critical habitat linkages in the Northern Appalachians. He is co-developer of a framework for measuring and monitoring landscape connectivity at large scale, and was part of a team that identified best management practices to reduce the impact of transportation infrastructure on wildlife in Vermont. Conrad holds a Masters degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences and a BA degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dennis Stern
Resident, Lyme, NH
Dennis’s fondness for the outdoors dates to the 1950’s and the many summers he spent hiking, camping and canoeing in the north woods of Wisconsin, his home state. He and his wife Barbara live in the foothills of Lyme where their family has built a network of trails. Before retiring to the Upper Valley in 2009, he worked for 28 years at the New York Times. From 2010 to 2014 he was VP of operations at Vermont Law School. He is a graduate of Haverford College and New York University School of Law.
Rich Synnott
Upper Valley Aquatic Center
Rich moved to the Upper Valley two years ago and is the Executive Director for the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction. He has been in the fitness and wellness industry for 35 years and has served as the Director for many of the largest and most prestigious health and wellness clubs’ in New England. He’s been a featured speaker at industry conferences, has provided consulting services for clubs throughout New England, and has written numerous articles for trade publications. His recreational interests include hiking, biking, snowshoeing, backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering. Rich has served on many boards to improve the health, fitness and recreational opportunities in the communities in which he has lived and worked including Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, and the Economic Redevelopment Committee for Green Airport in Rhode Island. He is a past President of the New England Health and Racquet Sport Association, past President of the New England Fitness and Wellness Network and has served on the NH Dance for Heart committee. More recently, Rich worked to develop the South Shore Initiative into a self-sustaining resource to fight the growing childhood obesity epidemic by bringing exercise and fitness programs back into local schools. He and his wife Heidi reside in Quechee.