Seven receive McCardell Citizen’s Awards
MIDDLEBURY — In a ceremony delayed for the past two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, Middlebury College President Laurie Patton on Tuesday presented the recipients of the 2020 and 2021 Bonnie and John McCardell Citizen’s Awards in recognition of their “remarkable contributions to the community.”
Cited at the Kirk Alumni Center event for the 2020 honors were Glenn Andres, Sadie Brightman, Emily Joselson and Amy Mason. The honorees for 2021 were Laura Asermily, Kelly Hickey and Tom Scanlon.
“This celebration is a public recognition of the historic connections between the citizens of Middlebury and the college that grew from the town leaders’ vision more than two centuries ago,” Patton said. “During the College’s Bicentennial celebration in 2000, several community members received the first Citizen’s Medals in honor of their many contributions to the quality of life in Addison County. Since then, the college has continued to host a dinner each year where it honors outstanding local citizens with medals. These awards were renamed the Bonnie and John McCardell Citizen’s Awards in 2009 to recognize their generosity and their remarkable contributions to this community for over 30 years.”
Patton noted that due to the pandemic, the college had to postpone the celebration of the 2020 and 2021 medalists, adding “we are so happy to be able to finally honor all the recipients in person! With the addition of these honored tonight, we now have awarded 87 medals to local citizens.
“These individuals have given so much of themselves so that all of us can live and grow in a stronger, healthier, safer and more connected community,” said Patton to lead off the celebration. “Their selflessness and dedication is inspiring.”
Medals have been presented to residents of Middlebury and surrounding towns for their service in fields including medicine, education, business, philanthropy, government, the arts, and civic contributions. The selection committee particularly seeks to honor those who have contributed through their volunteerism, community service and engagement of issues facing our community. Nominations come from members of the community, and a committee of faculty and staff makes the final selections. Every recipient of the Citizen’s Award receives a locally crafted medallion from Danforth Pewter.
After dinner, Patton reminded the audience that Middlebury College “is very much a product of the community that surrounds it. The college did not move here, it was born here. It was the vision and dedication of a small group of Middlebury citizens that created this college in 1800. These citizens realized that an institution of higher education would bring distinction, economic advantages, and a better quality of life to their community. Throughout the past two centuries, the town and the college have grown together, benefited from each other’s presence, and supported one another in many ways.”
Patton listed several ways in which that mutual effort is beneficial, adding, “in short, the college and the community are good citizens to each other and share a common educational purpose — i.e. Sheldon Museum, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury Community Music Center, Addison County schools, Porter Hospital Urgent Care and Habitat for Humanity. What does it mean to be a good citizen? I believe that good citizenship is about creating and managing a wise partnership between self and other, balancing multiple interests and understanding the complexities of the community in which you live. It’s about embracing different cultures and ways of thinking and being reflective about your own mindset — which is why I believe that a liberal arts education continues to be a most powerful way to foster the mindset of good citizenship.”
“The McCardell Citizen’s Award program celebrates this special relationship between Middlebury College and its community by honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the life of Addison County with no expectation of reward or recognition,” Patton said, adding, “their selflessness and dedication is inspiring.”
Patton’s comments of each honoree followed:
• Glenn Andres, professor emeritus of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, you have shared your love of the buildings of Middlebury and of Vermont with residents for over 50 years. You have been a champion of community planning, historic preservation, and thoughtful development in our beautiful state; given lectures and organized exhibitions to inspire the public to appreciate and protect their historic buildings; and served on the Vermont Advisory Council for Historic Preservation for 30 years and on the Middlebury Design Advisory Committee.
You have also served in leadership positions for many other state and local organizations, including the Center for Research on Vermont and the Henry Sheldon Museum, where you have created several exhibitions, including one on Shard Villa. Through your two books, The Walking History of Middlebury and Buildings of Vermont, which you coauthored with Curtis Johnson, you have given us comprehensive examples of the richness of our Vermont heritage, which we could so easily be blind to but for your laudable efforts to bring this important topic to the foreground.
Your love for your community has extended to numerous projects you have undertaken to make your town and this county a better place. You have been centrally involved in the ongoing adaptation and restoration efforts focused on Salisbury’s historic town hall and library, and you spearheaded the restoration of the Salisbury Congregational Church, where in 1979 you founded—and have since organized for over 40 years—the annual Summer Performance Series. Your interest in the performing arts has extended to involvement in the Middlebury Community Players and its productions, and participation in the early planning for the Town Hall Theater.
• Sadie Brightman, as founder and director of the Middlebury Community Music Center (MCMC), you have played a critical role in offering opportunities for the people of Addison County to develop their musical talents. You long had a vision for a thriving local music center where you could bring together as many people as possible around the joy of music making and developing their creative potential.
When the board of the Community House put out a request for proposals for use of the building, you designed and pitched the idea of the center as a tenant, an idea that was well received by the board and soon embraced by the whole community. Founded in 2014, the MCMC has become an important artistic and educational asset in our county and beyond, offering year-round lessons in instruments and voice, classes, camps, and workshops for all ages. You have brought in talented teachers of a multitude of instruments and built a musical ecosystem where music learners and teachers can inspire one another. Believing that performance brings out the best in the students, giving them confidence and a chance to reach for new levels of mastery, you have consistently set up ways for them to perform at places such as EastView, Project Independence, Town Hall Theater, and school assemblies, among others, and in the process have augmented the quality of life for community members as well as musicians.
Along with the vision of a flourishing music center, you have loved the idea of people of all ages engaging with one another in a space where they gather around a shared interest. You relish seeing adults greeting each other’s children, making them feel like they belong, or teachers developing musical collaborations with one another and among their students. Your vision has been a gift to so many who love music, and their eager participation in the center is certainly a big part of its success.
For your tenacity and determination to create this space that has come to be such an important part of our community, we are happy to honor you tonight.
• Emily Joselson, partner in the law firm Langrock Sperry & Wool, you have long been a champion for those members of our community who are typically underserved and needful of help. Your concern for the hungry, sick, homeless, and mistreated is evident in the many local organizations that have benefited from your service as a volunteer or on their boards. You were a board member of the Parent/Child Center for over 20 years, served as a co-chair of the Addison County Hunger Council, served on the board of Addison County Home Health and Hospice, and have consistently volunteered for Standing Up for Racial Justice and the Middlebury Task Force on Homelessness.
Recognizing your dedication to just causes, Governor Madeleine Kunin appointed you to the Vermont Human Rights Commission, which you chaired from 1991 to 2000. Your care for your neighbors has extended to your law practice, where you have consistently represented vulnerable individuals and groups of people who have needed your calm strength and knowledge to advocate for them and help bring about justice.
As a dedicated, perceptive member of our community, you realized when a need to address factious disputes and incivility within our midst became urgent. You co-created a series of events in 2017 called Community Conversations, public meetings where an expert or panel of experienced and knowledgeable citizens led discussions on issues ranging from racism and gun violence to hate speech and protection for migrant farmworkers. You also saw a need in the community for a place for young people to gather and cofounded Addison Central Teens in 2008. You found space, staff, and funding to start it, an effort that included visiting every select board in Addison County and attending town meetings to garner support. You have also served on the board of Havurah, the Jewish Congregation, for almost 30 years.
You are an exemplary model of what a caring, concerned citizen should be, and for your work addressing inequality and division in our town and state, it is our pleasure to honor you tonight.
• Amy Mason, you have been a strong leader in our community, adept at organizing people and events and getting things done. As a need for your expertise has arisen, you have consistently stepped forward and addressed issues with compassion and competence. A clear example is action you quickly took with others when the pandemic hit to launch a neighbor-to-neighbor support system by cofounding Addison County Mutual Aid and serving as its countywide coordinator.
Collaborating with the United Way, you responded to the many needs of the people of our community during that difficult time with a website run by volunteers that connected our vulnerable neighbors with those who could help with everything from grocery shopping and chores to finances. Another need you recognized was for families to learn how to react to the fast-paced world of technology that was affecting their children; you responded by cofounding Parents Supporting Thoughtful Technology, a support and programming organization for families and educators around intentional technology use for children and teens.
Your leadership has truly shone through in your work as the board chair of the nonprofit WomenSafe. Taking the reins in 2016, you launched and managed a capital campaign that raised more than $1 million to expand the nonprofit’s facilities and deepen its capacity to serve people across the gender spectrum who experience sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. With your professional skills in marketing, communications, and education, you strengthened community relations with the organization, resulting in unprecedented major gifts and productive business partnerships. Your passion for helping those in crisis resulted in positive benefits for all who seek the help of WomenSafe.
In all the work you have done for our community, you have always gone far beyond just showing up to help — you have dived deep into the issues and challenges at hand and found ways to lead others toward solutions. For your dedication to your neighbors in need, we take pleasure in honoring you tonight.
• Laura Asermily, you are by nature a true coalition builder who knows how to bring people together for action. Since you arrived in Addison County in 1998, you have worked to make our community a better place by facilitating conversations, supporting those affected by alcoholism and addiction, and fighting climate change.
One of your first actions on moving to Bridport was to organize “open space” meetings where residents could gather to have respectful debates over the divisive issue of whether to send the seventh and eighth graders to Middlebury Union Middle School. You also recognized a need in Addison County for addiction services, and in 2003 founded the longest-running chapter of Alateen in Vermont, attracting participation from Burlington to Rutland. You have served as the state’s Alateen coordinator and have been in leadership positions with Al-Anon at the local and state levels, continuing to help those whose lives have been ravaged by the disease of alcoholism.
Your concern for our environment has resulted in a long history of working to make our community aware of how serious a problem climate change is. Asking what actions could be taken, you founded the Earth Day Fair—which became the Middlebury Co-op’s Spring Festival—to raise awareness about global warming. You trained volunteers to conduct home energy audits for the Home Energy Challenge and founded the ACORN Network and ACORN Renewable Energy Co-op, serving as its manager for several years. Appointed Middlebury’s energy coordinator, you implemented the town climate action plan and formed the Middlebury Energy Committee. Realizing you could do more good for your community through town governance, you ran successfully for the town selectboard, served two terms, and have been an inspiration for other women running for office.
Your many actions taken for the benefit of your neighbors and our environment are a shining example of what a faithful public servant can accomplish, and we honor you tonight for all you’ve done.
• Kelly Hickey, you took your strong background in art and put it to good use for your community when the downtown was struggling through massive construction and the pandemic. You realized how demoralizing it was for residents to see businesses leaving empty storefronts on Main Street, so you conceived of a plan to bring light and energy to this distressing scene. You created Bundle, an innovative way to use these empty spaces, and later village greens, for pop-ups that ranged from storytelling events to art shows to writing workshops to classes on hand-drawn mapmaking. Into the chaos permeating the downtown, you brought creation and fulfillment to your neighbors in Addison County.
By 2021, when the grant-funded project wrapped up, you had developed and marketed 80 Bundle events as well as advised individuals, entrepreneurs, community groups, and government agencies on successful pop- up programming. An outcome of your dedication was the opportunity to become a design team member for the United Way’s “Reimagine Addison County” task force.
And your work for the residents of Middlebury didn’t end with Bundle. You are constantly looking for ideas to enrich our downtown area in ways that will bring people joy. You have collaborated with Find Your Wings, an interactive, community-driven public art installation project whose goal is to enhance Middlebury’s beauty and appeal while simultaneously serving as an economic driver. You have found ways to bring the community together and have helped forge links between artists, nonprofits, grant makers, and businesses. You are the kind of citizen who makes people feel excited to belong to a community project.
For your positive energy in finding ways to stimulate our hopes and enthusiasm as well as our economy during what have been very challenging times, we are pleased to honor you tonight.
• Tom Scanlon, you saw a need in Addison County during the pandemic and took the action required to fill that need. As COVID-19 was taking lives and a vaccination became available, you collaborated as the adjutant of the American Legion Post 27 with the Vermont Department of Health and Porter Medical Center to set up vaccination clinics at the Legion. Realizing that you had a space large enough to accommodate social distancing and serve many people at once, you offered the Legion as a place where residents could feel comfortable coming to receive their vaccinations. And come they did. Between January 11 and June 18, 2021, more than 19,300 vaccinations were administered, with more than 300 people a week receiving their doses. You were always the first to arrive each day and the last to leave, opening and closing the building, making sure the parking lot was plowed and salted when necessary, and making sure the building was clean. In no small part, due to your efforts your neighbors were made safer and fewer lives were lost.
But these actions were consistent with your deep desire to serve your community. You also are an active volunteer for many organizations, including the Middlebury Sports Commission, Addison Regional Planning Commission, Addison County Transportation Advisory Committee, Town of Middlebury’s Public Safety Committee, and Addison County Local Emergency Planning Committee. You serve as the emergency management director of the town of Salisbury, where you live. You are generous with your talents and your time, and as a result, our community benefits from all that you do for us.
You are a true example of a faithful public servant who cares deeply for his neighbors and their welfare, and we are happy to honor you tonight.
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