MRV representative Kari Dolan, Peter MacLaren, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, MRV Chamber president Eric Friedman at Tourism Economy Day at the Vermont State House

Mad River Valley well represented at Tourism Economy Day

Last Thursday, April 12, a significant contingent of Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce members attended the Tourism Economy Day which brought more than 100 tourism and hospitality industry leaders to the State House in Montpelier, to engage with policymakers. The goal of the event was to raise awareness of the collective contributions of this sector to the Vermont economy. The day included a meet and greet with Governor Scott, a session of testimony with the Legislature, lunch with our legislators, and a closing reception featuring Vermont specialty food purveyors.



The Vermont visitor economy has a $3 billion annual economic impact and employs 11.5% of the Vermont workforce. The tourism and hospitality industry leaders came together at the State House to engage with legislators and raise awareness of the collective contributions of tourism to the Vermont economy.

The Mad River Valley was well represented at the event with a larger delegation than almost any other community in the state. Attendees included: Eric Friedman, executive director of the MRV Chamber, Kim Donahue, Round Barn Inn co-owner and board member of both the Vermont and MRV Chambers, Peter MacLaren, co-owner of the West Hill House B&B, Lori Montalbano, owner of the Yellow Farm House Inn, Molly Mahar, president of the Vermont Ski Area Association and member of the MRV Chamber, Mimi Buttenheim from Mad River Distiller and MRV Chamber board member, Diane Forrester of Sugarbush, Wendell Anderson, co-owner of the Bundy Gallery and Resort Guides.

Ski Vermont president and MRV Chamber member, Molly Mahar spoke to the importance of Vermont’s outdoor recreation to Vermont tourism and ski areas’ ongoing focus on environmental stewardship and decarbonization efforts.

“Outdoor recreation relies on sustaining a healthy and thriving environment and is vital to Vermont’s $1.9 billion outdoor recreation tourism economy,” said Mahar. “Vermont’s ski areas understand the importance of sustainable stewardship for tourism and its economic benefit to their local communities and across the state. For decades they have worked to support and enhance the state’s capacity for outdoor recreation while protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions. 




Robinson named Vermont’s direct support professional of the year

steverobinsonSteve Robinson, Warren, a team leader within the Vermont Crisis Intervention Network, a program of Upper Valley Services, has been named Vermont’s 2024 Direct Support Professional of the Year by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR).

ANCOR works to shape policy and empower community-based providers to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Robinson, chosen from more than 350 nominees for his compassion, dedication and leadership, will be honored during an awards presentation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 10, at ANCOR’s 2024 Annual Conference.

“We are all incredibly proud of Steve and his well-deserved recognition,” Patrick Frawley, Ph.D., Director of Vermont Crisis Intervention Network, said. “He has been a pivotal presence within the Vermont Crisis Intervention Network (VCIN) for three decades. Steve is calm, kind and has an uncanny ability to set people at ease – even in the most challenging situations. We are lucky to have him as an advocate for the people we serve through VCIN and as an exemplary example of the work and commitment of direct support professionals.”

Robinson’s journey began more than 30 years ago when he first took a position as a respite worker, delivering relief to home providers. He then began a role as a day program support, assisting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with their day-to-day tasks and jobs. Using the skills he learned in those roles, Robinson was later brought in as a team leader within one of the Vermont Crisis Intervention Network’s crisis residences.

During his tenure with VCIN, Robinson has created a safe and comfortable environment for over 300 people in crisis. He and his team also assist with ensuring a safe and smooth transition when individuals are ready to return home from the network.

“I’m grateful to have been honored and acknowledged. I’m happy doing what I do every day and am lucky to be able to help individuals live more full and enjoyable lives”, Robinson said. “The people who make it to 20, 30 years doing this, they are all so amazing. I am honored to work alongside these dedicated direct support professionals.”

Early in his career, Robinson and his wife became home providers themselves, now having supported the same woman in their home for 32 years. The Robinsons have welcomed two others into their home over the years - one staying for seven years, another going on 10 - ensuring everyone is met with respect, kindness, and an environment that allows them to grow, learn, and be a part of the family.

ANCOR’s annual Direct Support Professional of the Year awards recognize outstanding direct support professionals who deliver long-term services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The awards celebrate the important role direct support professionals play in ensuring that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have what they need to thrive and be included in the community.




SunCommon to plant1,200 trees in Mad River Valley

SunCommon, Waterbury an iSun company and Certified B Corporation, will host its fifth annual day of community service in partnership with the Friends of the Mad River and longtime partner, Friends of the Winooski River. Participating employees will aim to plant more than 1,200 trees to support clean and healthy rivers. Since 2019, SunCommon employees have planted more than 8,000 trees in Vermont. The tree planting takes place Friday, April 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with people gathering at 609 Dickerson Road in Moretown. According to SunCommon spokesperson Alexandra Tursi, the native trees and shrubs of Vermont play a vital role in the landscape, encouraging biodiversity and habitat conservation, stormwater management, and resilience against the impacts of climate change. Planting trees also helps to restore the river and surrounding area to a healthier condition,” she said.

SunCommon offers employees 20 hours of paid community service and advocacy time annually through its Community Service and Action Program. "Empowering employees to engage in changemaking within the communities it serves is one way of delivering on its mission to use business as a force for good,” Tursi said.