VSA Vermont (VSA VT) employs three full-time staff and up to 40 part-time artist-instructors.
Judith Chalmer, Executive Director
Judy Chalmer stands on a shining patchwork of wet paving stones on an autumn day with willows and golden leaved trees buffering the quiet courtyard where she stands from the bustle of traffic in the distance. She wears a maroon raincoat crossed by a shoulder bag’s black strap, rays of smile lines spreading over her face.
“Every day my work at VSA VT is a dream come true. Joy leads the way in the arts and the arts lead the way in inclusion. I think loving one another, respecting one another and making beauty are the best things human beings can do. That’s what we do at VSA Vermont, every day.”
Judith Chalmer, M.F.A., has been the full-time Executive Director of VSA VT since 2005. She is the author of a book of poems, Out of History’s Junk Jar. Her poems and her essays have appeared in journals such as Nimrod International and anthologies such as Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America. She is co-translator with author Michiko Oishi of two books of poems in Japanese and English. In 2001 she was the creator of a dance/narrative with oral histories, “Clearing Customs/ Cruzando Fronteras/ Preselenje,” on the lives of immigrants in central Vermont, the author and performer of “Don’t Go In There!” a one-woman comedy on racial and ethnic consciousness in central Vermont.
Contact Judy. Phone: 802 871 5002
Peggy Rainville, Director of Children’s Programming
Peggy, Rainville, a brightly smiling woman, looks up from a gleaming desk in a yellow room with a bulletin board and a turquoise table lamp on a purple bookshelf behind her. Wearing a purple floral shirt, sitting on a purple chair with a purple jacket draped upon it, she gives the impression of a flower on a sunny day.
Peggy has a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She has been with VSAVT since 2000, when she began teaching in Start With The Arts. In 2006 she became director of the statewide program. In 2009 Peggy became a full time staff member as the Director of Children’s Programming. She has extensive work teaching children of all ages, as well as working with adult learners. She supervises the staff of 12 statewide Start with the Arts instructors and keeps in touch with 42 participating childcare providers, plus alumni each year. Peggy also is a teaching artist in the Start with the Arts program. She supervises and oversees VSAVT’s other children’s programs that serve children K-8 as well. Through her years of work at VSAVT she created innovative partnerships such as the summer collaboration between Start With The Arts and the Franklin-Grand Isle Bookmobile, which grew into our statewide Start with the Arts Summer Library Outreach program, as well as “Aha! Adaptive Horses and Arts,” art programming in conjunction with therapeutic horseback riding programs. She is committed to our mission and to encouraging joy, creative self-expression and professionalism.
Contact Peggy. Phone: 802 871 5418
Katie Miller, Development Director
Katie miller stands against a white backdrop in this black and white photograph. She smiles behind large black-rimmed glasses , a white scarf worn around her neck.
“To bring the joy found through self-expression in the arts to all people is a truly magical thing that I am honored to be a part of. An artist myself with a background in non-profit management, this position gives me the unique opportunity to support the mission through both sides. Working at VSA is a dream come true!”
Katie holds a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology, an MA in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art Design, and a graduate certificate in non-profit management from Marlboro College. She’s also a trained RBA facilitator. She has years in program development, communications, and fundraising at youth-focused organizations in the arts and beyond. When not at the VSA you’ll likely find her with either a camera or spatula in her hand and her dog at her side, finding some way to be creative.
Contact Katie. Phone: 802 871 5043
Heidi Swevens (nee Pfau), Volunteer Coordinator and Adult Program Manager
Heidi Pfau, stands relaxed, hands resting partly in the pockets of her jeans, illuminated in sunshine, wearing a brilliant blue shirt in a peaceful grove of trees.
“I am an artist and social worker with passion for exploring creativity, building community, and sharing joy. I have worked in human services for over fifteen years having earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Vermont in 2001. Today conversations are classrooms so I’m always learning. I believe it is a privilege to listen to people’s stories, and I have learned invaluable lessons and shared many laughs with those who teach me every day.”
Toby MacNutt, Program Manager
Toby MacNutt smiles thoughtfully in this close up portrait. Toby is wearing a grey shirt with a silver tie, silver hoop earrings, and blue-rimmed oval glasses.
Toby MacNutt graduated with a BA in Anthropology from UVM, where he also received training in Universal Design for Learning and sampled a wide range of classes related to identity, body, health, and communication. He has taught or presented in contexts including the Society for Disability Studies annual conference, Yale’s Transgender Awareness Week, Middlebury College’s Clifford Symposium (2015, “The Good Body”), medical and mental health services trainings, and teachers’ conferences.
He is a published author & poet, a textile artist, and an internationally-recognised dancer and choreographer. Toby has studied adaptive/integrated dance with AXIS Dance Company, Candoco Dance Company, and Stopgap Dance Company, and performed with Heidi Latsky’s GIMP Project.
Toby started teaching dance and improvised expressive movement for VSA VT in 2013. Currently, he manages and teaches in the high school performing arts program, and recently launched VSA VT’s first ever mentoring program. Additionally, he coordinates the Arts Connect graduate course and occasionally teaches textile arts (weaving and dyeing) in the adult arts program.
Contact Toby. Phone: (802) 857 5653.
Lisa Aschbacher, Regional Coordinator
Lisa Ashbacher, VSA Regional Coordinator for Southern Vermont, smiles surrounded by four children in VSA VT’s Start With The Arts program.
Lisa Aschbacher brings more than 3 decades of experience in arts education and community based arts administration including three years teaching in VSA VT’s Start With The Arts program to her role as Regional Coordinator for the southern part of Vermont.