Our People

Our People

Russell Hirschler

Executive Director

Russell came to the Upper Valley in 2001, where he was drawn to the amazing quality of life and recreational resources the area offers. He has been the Executive Director of the Upper Valley Trails Alliance since 2008, 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/Program Manager at Wolftree, Inc, a science education organization in Portland, OR. 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, but found opportunities to explore the mountains of New England, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana at an early age. Since then he has been traveling and hiking worldwide for the last 30 years. He lives in Lyme, NH, with his wife, two children, and chocolate lab.

Sean Ogle

Trail Programs Director

Sean grew up in Knoxville, TN, 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 Student Conservation Association 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, FL. In 2014, Sean created the Smoky Mountain Corps, a residential conservation and sustainability 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 with Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Randy Richardson

Development Director

Randy has strong ties in the Upper Valley. He grew up in South Woodstock and later served 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 lives and hikes with his family and dogs in Woodstock.

Kaitie Eddington

Program Manager

Kaitie grew up near Salt Lake City, UT, and as a child loved exploring the mountain ranges and national parks of her home state. In 2013, she began work at the Mill Hollow Outdoor Education Center as a residential cabin counselor where she worked to help the children of Salt Lake City foster a love of the outdoors. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Family Life and Human Development from Southern Utah University where her education was punctuated with weekend trips to explore the Canyonlands of the Southwest. At UVTA, Kaitie manages the Passport to Winter Fun program, a fitness incentive program designed to keep kids (K-6) physically active during the winter season. She also coordinates volunteer efforts and plans UVTA’s four annual events: the Tour de Taste, the Skate-a-Thon at Lake Morey, the Simon Pearce Dinner and the STOAKED Trail Race.

UVTA Board of Directors

Conrad Reining

Dartmouth College, UVTA Board Chair

Conrad Reining is the Associate Director of the Arts and Sciences Development Office at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. 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 U.S. 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 the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences and a BA degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dennis Stern

UVTA Board Vice Chair

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.

Vic Henningsen

UVTA Board Secretary

A long time commentator for Vermont Public Radio, Vic teaches history at Dartmouth’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 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 Deptartment of Forests and Parks, he spent more than 30 years teaching history at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. 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.

Rich Synnott

Upper Valley Aquatic Center, UVTA Board Treasurer

Rich is a consultant for the fitness, wellness and aquatic industry. 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 New Hampshire 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.

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, she found that hiking, biking and canoeing were 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 University of Vermont, and a MS in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College. She lives in Sharon with her husband, Greg DeFrancis.

Stephen Gorman

Owner, 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.

Warren Johnston

Freelance Writer

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 his home in the South Royalton and Sharon areas with his wife, Sandy, and their two rescued Tibetan terriers, Imelda and Izzie.

Beth Krusi

Consultant

Beth has lived in the Upper Valley since 1977 and has been exploring trails in the area (and around the world) for most of her life. Recently retired, Beth spends even more time outdoors with her husband and dog. She brings her work experience as director of marketing for the Montshire Museum of Science and publisher for Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) books, maps and journal to UVTA. She served on the board for Vermont Attractions Association, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Outdoor Industry Women’s Council. Access to the outdoors and trails is one of the primary assets of the Upper Valley. Beth has a BA in Environmental Studies, and a MS in Management.

Natalie Starr

DSM Environmental Studies

Natalie came to the Upper Valley 25 years ago, joining her husband who grew up in South Woodstock. After bushwhacking for years on cross-country skis in the hills of North Pomfret, South Woodstock and Hartland, she took up backcountry skiing and has enjoyed the trails and woods on Mount Ascutney most snowy winters since. When she isn’t skiing, biking, or hiking, she consults on sustainable waste management policies and programs as a principal at DSM Environmental Services. Through her work, she has helped communities and state governments make sustainable waste management decisions as they move to reduce waste and increase recycling of materials and organics. Her work has also taken her across the globe to help local governments in developing countries improve basic sanitation systems in developing countries. Natalie was asked in 2006 to become a Donella Meadows Sustainability Leadership Fellow working with fellows across the country and the world to both preserve Meadows’s legacy and to practice systems thinking to address the most pressing environmental challenge, climate change.