VB5 Team

Janet McLaughlin, Executive Director

Janet been working for a more equitable society for nearly two decades in nonprofit programming and philanthropy. She joined VB5 from the Vermont Community Foundation, where she headed its Food and Farm Initiative, an effort to connect more Vermonters with healthy local foods. Previously, she spent 9 years at the DC-based Share Our Strength, where she was the national director of Cooking Matters, its food skills education program for low-income families. She is also the treasurer of the board at Pine Forest Children’s Center.

Contact Janet: (802) 448-2095 | Email

Sherry Carlson, Senior Director of Community & Workforce Strategies

Sherry is an integral voice and advocate for young children. With an “advocacy by doing” philosophy, she has been an effective driver of universal prekindergarten, school/community partnerships, and early childhood workforce initiatives. She has leveraged her consulting roles with VB5, the Early Learning Partnership of Chittenden County, and the Northern Lights Career Development Center for Early Childhood Professionals to facilitate change. Sherry joined the VB5 team full-time in the fall of 2017 and leads the Quality Program Expansion and Workforce Development Initiatives for VB5. Before beginning her consulting career in 2008, Sherry spent over 20 years as the director of the Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA Early Childhood and Family Programs.

Contact Sherry: (802) 877-2420 | Email

LouAnn Beninati, Director of Child Care Viability Strategies

Throughout her career LouAnn has focused on advocacy, consulting, and teaching with a goal toward workforce development for the child care profession. She most recently worked as a STARS coordinator and prior to that she was the director of Robin’s Nest Children’s Center in Burlington.  In her current role, she supports the development of networks using a collaborative, community approach to increasing the quality and viability of Vermont child care programs.

Contact LouAnn: (802) 578-5087 | Email

Lorraine Vernet, Strategic Initiatives Manager, Child Care Viability

Lorraine’s considerable experience in the child care profession has positioned her well for her work on child care viability strategies. Previously, she served as the resource development specialist for the Lamoille Family Center (2000-2013), the Lamoille Starting Points coordinator, and was a member of the Lamoille Building Bright Futures Council. Earlier on and for over 2 decades, she was a center director, a preschool teacher and a toddler teacher. 

Contact Lorraine: (802) 760-8878 | Email

Didi Harris, Strategic Initiatives Manager, Northern Vermont

Didi is a strong advocate for enhancing professional opportunities for child care providers and increasing high-quality care for Vermont’s young children. As a strategic initiatives manager, her support and leadership will focus on the northern Vermont region. She has 30 years of experience in the early childhood field having held teaching and administrative positions in a variety of settings including 20 years at the Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA.

Contact Didi: (802) 343-7450 | Email

Sharron Harrington, Strategic Initiatives Manager, Southern Vermont

After serving as the regional manager for the Bennington, Brattleboro and Rutland regions, Sharron is now the strategic initiatives manager for southern Vermont. Previously, she was the resource development and referral specialist for Bennington County’s Community Based Child Care Support Services housed at BCCCA/ Sunrise Family Resource Center. She has been an active member of the Quality Task Force Committee of the Bennington Building Bright Futures Council and the statewide Professional Preparation and Development committee. Prior to this work, she was a toddler and preschool teacher, advertising sales director and professional photographer.

Contact Sharron: (802) 681-8382 | Email 

Rachel Hunter, Community and Program Support Specialist

Rachel has been an advocate for young children in Vermont for nearly 20 years. She is the owner and teacher of a registered family child care program, is the leader of a Starting Points Network and is the president of the Springfield Booster Club supporting children’s athletics. She has sat on many committees and advisory boards including the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality Affordable Child Care, and she successfully supported many programs as a VB5 early childhood mentor. Rachel has a background in business management and marketing.

Contact Rachel: (802) 546-1151 | Email

Tanya LaChapelle, Community and Program Support Specialist

Tanya joined VB5 in 2016 as an early childhood mentor for center-based programs. For Tanya, mentoring was a vital extension of her work supporting strong business practices and early childhood professionals. For many years, she served as a teacher and director at Robin’s Nest Children’s Center. She also worked in the public-school setting and for Head Start, and is a current member of the Building Bright Futures Council of Chittenden County. As a community and program support specialist, she is eager to impact the capacity for quality programming across the state.

Contact Tanya: (802) 999-9931 | Email

Brenda Metzler, Community and Program Support Specialist

Brenda has been actively engaged in early childhood education for almost 30 years—as a classroom teacher of children from birth through kindergarten, as a program director and as a program mentor. Brenda has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College. In addition to supporting young children as they grow, learn and develop through play and discovery in nurturing and stimulating environments, Brenda also thoroughly enjoys supporting other early childhood educators through mentoring, technical assistance and formal instruction.

Contact Brenda: (802) 291-3992 | Email

Chris Nelson, Community and Program Support Specialist

Chris has been involved with the early childhood profession for over 20 years as the owner and educator of a 5-star home-based program, the first program in the state to achieve stars. She has provided support to peers and the profession as an instructor, a professional development specialist for the Council of Professional Recognition, a qualified observer for the Northern Lights career ladder and a member of the VtAEYC board. In 2016, Chris was recognized as an Early Childhood Superhero as well as a VAEYC Magnificent Mentor. Her current role as community and program specialist allows her to continue her passion of working with the profession to ensure all children have the opportunity for high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education.

Contact Chris: (802) 327-3033 | Email

Jen Severance, Community and Program Support Specialist

Jen has worked in the early childhood field for over 20 years as a teacher, director, mentor and, most recently, as a STARS assessor. She has been active in the early childhood community, working with the Peer Review Project as a mentor and as an adjunct instructor for CCV. She joined VB5 to continue her work advocating for increasing access to high-quality early childhood programs.

Contact Jen: (802) 391-9722 | Email

Erin Roche, Program Development and Evaluation Manager

Erin joined VB5 in 2017 to develop and implement systems to transform VB5 to a data driven organization. She brought with her expertise from 9 years of community-based research and evaluation at the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont. She has published widely in areas of child health (especially childhood obesity), rural economic development, and quality of life. She was a Peace Corps Fellow and Transportation Research Fellow while completing an MS in Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont. Before moving to Vermont in 2006, she provided go-to-market strategies for technology companies and spent 3 years traveling, primarily with the US Peace Corps in the South Pacific.

Contact Erin: (802) 382-0825 | Email

Cathy Reitz, Data and Administrative Coordinator

Cathy tracks and disseminates financial and programmatic information, identifies challenges and outcomes, and provides support to ensure effective use of technology by VB5 staff. Her contributions to the team allow VB5 programs to ensure positive results for Vermont’s youngest children. Over the past 15 years, she has worked with Bloomberg Financial Markets in the role of database management and with organizations such as PrO Unlimited and Vermont Community Foundation in support of financial operations. She has also held volunteer board positions including at Evergreen Preschool in Vergennes. Her experience helps VB5 ensure that the data it follows is timely and accurate and the service related to data and technology for VB5’s team is a top priority. She is a graduate of the Snelling Center Early Childhood Leadership Institute Class of 2016.

Contact Cathy: (802) 870-0418 | Email

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