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Meet the VACD Team


Jill Arace
Executive Director
Jill has nearly thirty years of non-profit management and sustainable development experience, mostly overseas. She lived and worked in Thailand and Cambodia for eleven years, managing relief and development programs for several organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee and Oxfam. She returned to the US to attend graduate school, where she earned two masters degrees – one in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and the other in Economics from Boston University. After graduate school, Jill moved to one of her favorite places – Vermont – where she worked for eleven years at the Institute for Sustainable Communities managing civic participation and sustainable development programs in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, including community-based environmental action planning, school-based conservation education, environmental management training, watershed planning, solid waste management, energy efficiency, sustainable forestry, agricultural production, food security, and grassroots citizen initiatives. After she stopped traveling around the world, Jill began learning more about conservation and community development in Vermont and in the beautiful Mad River Valley, where she lives and facilitates sustainable agriculture initiatives. Jill is particularly interested in supporting local food production and building bridges between different segments of the community. When she's not busy organizing something, you may find Jill digging in her garden, walking the back roads of Vermont, practicing energy healing, or singing in a chorus.
Jeff Farber
Jeff has had a long and varied career of non-profit administration, project management, and conservation activities. He has served on the Middlesex Planning Commission for the past five years, is restoring a forgotten farm apple orchard, raising organic fruits and vegetables and managing the woodlot on his 10 acres. Before coming to VACD in 2008, Jeff served on the staff of UVM's Division of Continuing Education, where he designed and managed distance learning programs for post-graduate professionals. Jeff is also a self-employed media producer developing award-winning documentary films and projects focusing on conservation and social change issues. He brings a wide range of managerial experiences and a strong commitment to conservation work to his position as VACD's Technical Programs Manager.
Carrie Youngblood
The manager and bookkeeper of our virtual office is the current business office manager of Black River Design Architects. Carrie Youngblood is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has lived in Vermont for more than 30 years. Her previous office/financial positions have included the non-profits Downstreet Housing, VPIRG, Heaton Woods Assisted Living Facility, and Turtle Island Children's Center, as well as four years at Solar Works (now Real Good Solar). Carrie lives in Montpelier and is active in the United Church of Christ, currently a member of Bethany Church, Montpelier, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Conference where she was Moderator of the 2011 Annual Meeting. She is also the Treasurer of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra and sings in the Vermont Philharmonic Chorus.
Joanne Dion
Program Assistant
Luke Rackers
Communications Coordinator
Luke Rackers loves to help people solve problems, tell stories, inspire action, and build community. His primary passions are the arts and the environment, the importance of both having been instilled at a young age. As a two-time Goddard graduate (BA ‘09 & MFA ‘12), Luke fell in love with the Vermont landscape and culture, inspiring a move to the state in the fall of 2016. He is the founder and Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization that is dedicated to supporting the work of living composers and encouraging creativity in the 21st Century. Luke grew up on a family farm in central Missouri and designed a small urban farm in Denver, CO. He is very excited to build on his agricultural and environmental roots through his new position as Communications Coordinator for the VACD. Luke and his spouse, Tonya, live in Montpelier with their spry hound dog, Sprocket. Most of his free time is spent teaching piano and composition lessons, performing new music, keeping Sprocket out of trouble, container gardening, and enjoying the beautiful Vermont outdoors and local food scene.
Troy Dare
Rural Fire Protection Program Manager
Born and raised in Rockland, Maine, Troy grew up enjoying life on the ocean as a Rockland High School Tiger dabbling in cross country, track, drama and other theater groups. He also developed a strong passion for guitar and music. After high school he attended Vermont Technical College majoring in Civil Engineering Technology. In the summer months he worked as a Stern-man on a few lobster boats and played guitar in a few professional rock bands. During his senior year at VTC, Troy did work-study for the Vermont Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Councils Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force on the Rural Fire Protection initiative. In the spring of 1998 the VT Legislature started funding the Dry Hydrant Grant Program and Troy has worked as the Engineering Technician for that program for 15 years until the RC&D's closed their doors in 2013. Troy has now moved on to become the Rural Fire Protection Program Manager for the VACD to continue the Dry Hydrant Grant Program and help evolve the Rural Fire Protection Program to another level of service & support for Vermont communities & Fire Departments.
Susie Walsh Daloz
NRCC/VACD Agriculture Programs Manager
Susie has been immersed in agriculture and education since she graduated from Oberlin College in 2000. She has managed a diverse set of farm-based projects from a large vegetable CSA to a university-based farmer training program. At The Food Project in Boston, The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley and at various projects in between, Susie worked to connect people to their food, the land and the endlessly complex world of food systems. As the founding Director of UVM Continuing Education’s Farmer Training Program, Susie thrived on supporting aspiring farmers in building knowledge and skills for a career in sustainable agriculture. In her work at the Institute for Social and Economic Development, she brought her program management and farmer training experience to support and enhance refugee farmer incubator projects across the country. She loves the sight of steam rising from the compost pile, the satisfaction of getting hay in before it rains, the taste of over-wintered spinach in early spring and the humbling feeling that there is always more to learn about farming. Susie lives in Middlesex with her husband, two daughters and five lucky chickens.


Meet the VACD Technical Staff


Clarice Cutler
DEC RCPP Conservation Planner, Middlebury
Born and raised in VT, Clarice returned to VT in 2015 after living in Oregon and Washington for six years. While out west, Clarice wrote her undergraduate thesis on the distribution of conservation easements in the US and directed a cooperative weed management area. Clarice is transitioning to VACD/NRCS from the Vermont Land Trust where she conducted annual easement monitoring and supported new farm projects. Clarice is looking forward to continuing to work with conserved farmers at VACD. In her spare time Clarice can be found exploring the mountains and waterways of the northeast with her husband Jonnie and dog Khoda.
Tucker Malone
South Lake Champlain Cartographic Technician, Rutland & Middlebury
Tucker is a 7th generation Vermonter who grew up on a small dairy farm in Franklin County. His experience dairy farming sparked a passion for agriculture and conservation. He followed this passion to Johnson State College where he majored in Biology. Along the way taking many courses with a conservation focus. While at Johnson Tucker completed an internship with Cold Hollow to Canada as their Mapping Specialist Intern. After graduating in May 2017 Tucker followed his passion for conservation to VACD as a Cartographic Technician in the Middlebury Field Office, where he assisted land treatment planners in creating maps to aid in the implementation of land treatment plans. This experience sparked a deeper interest in Land Treatment Planning. In December Tucker was able to transition to Land Treatment Planner in the St. Albans Field office, where is able to work closely with farmers to implement land treatment plans in the North West Region of the state.
Stephanie Drago
Strategic Watershed Cartographic Technician, NRCS State Office
Stephi is recent a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois and has bachelor’s degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies. For the past year, she has been an ECO AmeriCorps member serving with the NRCS in Colchester making map products for programs staff and assisting with easement monitoring. She hopes to pursue a career in water resource management and fluvial geomorphology with a focus on geospatial analysis. She is excited to begin her position with VACD as the Strategic Watershed Cartographic Technician and looks forward to developing her GIS skills and broadening her understanding of watershed management.
Keegan Griffith
Cartographic/Land Treatment Planner
Keegan Griffith grew up in New York and after high school he spent a year in Finland as an exchange student and used it as an opportunity to experience Finnish culture before starting college at Plattsburgh State University. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Plattsburgh State. After which he began a graduate program at the W.H. Miner Institute and the University of Vermont in the plant and soil science department. His project looked at erosion and nutrient runoff from corn silage production on some research plots planted with a winter rye cover crop. Cover crops, Keegan says, "are like a fridge, they keep the nutrients fresh for the spring." In his free time, he can be found outside riding his bikes or hiking. Keegan is looking forward to exploring the area and making new friends.
Joseph Bondi
Wetlands Restoration Technician
Joe Bondi is a recent graduate of the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. He graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, focusing on ecology and organismal biology. For the past two years, Joe has served as an ECO AmeriCorps member with a local non-profit in Northwestern Vermont and in the NRCS state office in Colchester. Joe has a passion for wetlands and forest ecosystems and spends most of his time exploring their wonders. He is excited to bring his passion to the VACD team and help get things done in NRCS’ Wetland Reserve Easement Program. In his spare time, Joe enjoys exploring Vermont’s mountains, spending time with friends, and hanging out with Champ by the lake.
Julia Grey
Conservation & Easement Program Assistant
Julia received her masters degree in historic preservation from UVM, and has a varied background in customer service, insurance, and nonprofit work. With an undergraduate background in cultural anthropology, Julia has spent time abroad researching indigenous Andean cultural practices in northern Chile. She has held internships in conservation easement monitoring and preservation planning, and most recently authored a historic context of village greens throughout Vermont. She hopes to use her position at VACD to further the goal of building sustainable communities in Vermont. While not at work, you may find her hiking and cross country skiing with her husband and their two little girls or in her bee yard.