Our Staff

Staff
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Our Staff


Staff
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Raquel Aronhime (she/her/ella)

Director of Education & Evaluation

Raquel brings a passion for adult experiential and cross-cultural learning as well as deep community connections to her role. Previous to joining Mercy Connections, she worked as a Community Impact Manager at United Way for almost a decade, and in international development and education.

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Lisa Falcone (she/her)

Executive Director

Lisa leads the Mercy Connections team with compassion at the center of her work. She advocates for thriving, inclusive communities where all people are seen, valued and engaged. Before coming to Mercy Connections, Lisa worked for many years across sectors in higher education, government and business.

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Heather Gilbert (she/her)

Program Coordinator

Heather brings incredible compassion and dedication to her work, which is focused on personal development programs. She has been with Mercy Connections in a number of roles since graduating from the Women’s Small Business Program at Trinity College in 2000. Heather is currently working on her Master’s at UVM in Education Leadership.

Mary Hall
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Mary Hall (she/her)

Senior Accountant

Mary is multi-talented, has an infectious laugh, and is an attorney licensed in Vermont and Texas. She handles the accounting for the organization, and also inspires and instructs our students in all things financial with the Start Up program.

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Maeve Keating (she/her)

Administrative Coordinator

Maeve is a master juggler, and brings years of diverse job experience to her position at the center of the organization. Maeve’s warm smile greets everyone who comes to Mercy Connections. She has a Sociology degree from UVM. 

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Melissa Lang (she/her)

Program Coordinator: ELL, U.S. Citizenship & Tutoring

Melissa orchestrates our U.S. Citizenship Preparation and Academic Tutoring Program and teaches Pens & Pages, an adult reading and writing group. She brings 30 years of teaching experience and incredible dedication to her role. She’s especially interested in advocating for refugees, immigrants, and asylees.

Joanne Nelson (she/her)
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Joanne Nelson

Director of Justice & Mentoring

Joanne (known to friends as ‘Jo’) believes her greatest accomplishment is service to people living on the margins. Jo has more than two decades experience working in higher education, including positions in university advancement and student affairs/campus ministry. 

Maxine McGowan
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Maxine McGowan (she/her)

English Language Learning Instructor

Maxine is a passionate advocate for English Language Learners and their families. She has more than 10 years of experience teaching English in the K-12 setting with specialized training at the intersections of literacy and second language acquisition. Maxine believes collaboration, empathy, creativity and tenacity are the keys to empowering English Language Learners inside our community. She has a MS in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from The University at Albany and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Literacy from NYU.

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Kelly Moran (she/her)

Justice & Mentoring Coordinator

With compassion and authenticity, Kelly works with justice-involved individuals and advocates for disenfranchised communities. She has 20 years of experience working with diverse populations both locally and internationally. Kelly is currently working toward her MSW at Simmons University.

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Caroline Olson (she/her)

Americorps VISTA

Always helpful and cheerful, Caroline is working to complete an independent research project focusing on community engagement and placemaking.  She has background in sustainability and community development.

Ashley Sandy
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Ashley Sandy (she/her)

Marketing Instructor

Ashley is the founding owner of the Vermont-based branding firm, LONDON Middlebury, which offers a wide range of branding, marketing, and research services to enterprises from entrepreneurial to international firms, non-profits and academic institutions. She loves to share her knowledge with womenpreneurs in our signature Women's Small Business Program, Start Up.

Alana Shaw
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Alana Shaw (she/her)

Finance & Operations Director

Besides her official duties, Alana wears many hats at Mercy Connections, including furniture assembler,  guitarist/accompanist for staff singing parties, and guru for all things IT-related. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with more than 30 years of experience in accounting and has spent many years as a financial statement auditor specializing in nonprofit organizations.

Marissa Strayer-Benton
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Marissa Strayer-Benton (she/her)

Director of Development

Marissa is passionate about connecting people to a meaningful cause for positive change. She is  a fundraising pro with 15 years of experience working in non-profit management roles. She adores the Mercy Connections family.

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Victoria Tamas (she/her)

Program Instructor

Victoria brings her passion for empowering journeys into the Mercy Marketplace and Vermont Community Leadership Training classes that she teaches. She draws on a diverse career with experience as a public policy analyst, educator, and clay artist.

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Claire Wheeler (she/her)

Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Having operated her own successful business for many years, and worked with Mercy Connections as an instructor for the Women's Small Business Program, Claire is uniquely well-suited to lead the entrepreneurship programming. She shares her sharp wit and excellent strategic thinking with the organization.