And the Winners Are!

Library Blog - October 11, 2015 - 5:12pm

Many thanks to everyone who nominated items for the library to buy this year with the David Pierce Fund. His family has generously established a fund in his memory to support the purchase of fun, not necessarily academic, materials for the library each year. This year, we were able to purchase all of the items that were suggested or they had already been purchased (yay!), and the winners are:

Pierce Fund Purchases:
Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway
The Legend of Korra Book 3 (DVD) [we have Books 1 & 2 in the AV Room]
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Fighter (DVD)
Wicked and Weird: the Amazing Tales of Buck 65 by Rich Terfey

On Their Way:
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink
All The Wrong Questions: Quadrilogy by Lemony Snicket (all four book in the series)

Currently Available:
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Christopher Ware

These items will arrive at the library over the next few weeks; look for them to be on display as they come in.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s selection process! This tradition is a lovely tribute to David’s memory. I hope that everyone enjoys these great new additions to the collection.

Welcoming New Faces and New Roles: Management Leadership at Marlboro

Center for New Leadership - October 6, 2015 - 7:17pm

Lori Hanau, Community Builder.

Lori supports shifts of consciousness, individually and collectively. She does this as the founder of Global Round Table Leadership (GRTL), where she works with people and teams to build the personal and shared leadership capacities necessary to open to their innate brilliance and become the change their own visions and missions call them to be. Lori fosters group vitality through her advising, facilitation and co-creative practices, including GRTL’s Shared Leadership Framework. She is dedicated to guiding groups and individuals on their journeys to new heights of empowerment and accountability. This guidance leads to grasping the common core of our essential humanity, which naturally elevates a team’s performance and capacity to deliver more tangible impact.

Lori launched GRTL in 2002 after leaving her executive position in the manufacturing sector to pursue her commitment to support the flourishing of people and organizations.

Lori is a faculty partner and community builder within Marlboro College’s Graduate and Professional Studies management programs. She is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Social Venture Network, and on the Board of Advisors for The Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership at New York University. Lori is a founding member of the Nature Based Leadership Institute (NBLI), at Antioch University New England, and also a founding consultant of the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College. She is a contributing writer on leadership for Conscious Company Magazine. In 2002 Lori co-founded the Mindfulness Practice Center in Keene, NH, where she also resides with her better half, her Corgi, Miss Pippin.

“What most excites you about the future of the management education at Marlboro?”

“What excites me most about the future of the management education at Marlboro is the people within the present day Marlboro community who are showing up to dream, design, co-create and lead into our future together, on behalf of our independent and collective flourishing. My money and my faith is on us!! You all hearten me and remind me that ‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’ –Arundhati Roy”


Tristan Toleno, Interim Chair, MBA in Sustainability

Tristan has worked in the food-service industry for almost 20 years. For 10 years he was the managing partner and chef of Riverview Cafe, where he employed and supervised more than 400 employees. Prior to that, he trained almost 100 cooks, as he worked his way up the professional ladder to chef. Tristan has also started two new catering companies, Rigani Wood-Fired Pizza, and Entera Artisanal Catering. In January 2013, he began a term  in the Vermont House of Representatives, representing Brattleboro’s 3rd District where he uses his MBA training to advance sustainable social change throughout Vermont.

Tristan’s philosophical commitment to relationship-driven business and community systems is anchored by a willingness to serve. For many years he has been an active volunteer for many local and state organizations, including the Vermont Fresh Network, Landmark Trust, the Healthy Communities Coalition and the Brattleboro Area Chamber. Tristan’s Capstone project was on school food systems and a vision for change in local schools.

Tristan lives in Brattleboro with his wife, Susie, and their two sons, Owen and Malcolm.

“What most excites you about the future of the management education at Marlboro?”

“We can actually re-imagine the future.”


Travis Hellstrom, Interim Chair, MS in Managing Mission-Driven Organizations

Travis is an everyday humanitarian, author, entrepreneur and executive advisor. He is founder of Advance Humanity, a humanitarian consulting group dedicated to helping social entrepreneurs, social businesses and nonprofits expand their influence and make a difference in the world. Advance Humanity is also one of first dozen Certified B Corporations in Vermont alongside Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and King Arthur Flour. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia (2008-11), and a Peace Corps Fellow at SIT Graduate Institute where he received his Masters of Arts in Management. His focus was on social business and nonprofit management and he wrote his thesis on Leading Happiness: Shared Leadership and Happiness at Work in Certified Benefit Corporations.

 “What most excites you about the future of the management education at Marlboro?” “‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.’ – Jon Kabat-Zinn I’m very excited that Marlboro Graduate School, from its very founding, has bravely put itself in challenging territory. You predicted and positioned your students for the growing worldwide trends in sustainability, technology, entrepreneurship, social business and much more. You did what many of my greatest mentors have told me over the years – you didn’t get caught in the waves, you learned how to surf. As our world is changing, maybe faster than ever, we have this amazing opportunity to predict and get in front of the greatest and most powerful trends yet to come. I am honored to be on that journey with you and I know we are going to have a lot of fun learning to ride the waves together.”

Karen White

Over the past 15 years, Karen has worked with corporate and non-profit organizations around the globe, assisting them improve their project management capabilities, with a focus on information technology and volunteer-based projects. Karen originally started her professional life as a software engineer. She is certified as a project management professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a global leader in the development of standards for the practice of project management. She is also a certified scrum master.

Karen authored Agile Project Management: A Mandate for the 21st Century and the award-winning Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits, published in 2013. A former member of PMI’s International Board of Directors, Karen was the chairperson of the PMI Educational Foundation Board during the foundation’s initial capital campaign. She was recently named a fellow of the Project Management Institute in recognition of her contributions to society and the practical application of project management. Karen is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and an advocate for the American Cancer Society, in addition to being an active volunteer at the Concord Hospital Payson Center for Cancer Care. She continues to support PMI by chairing the Ethics Appeals Committee as well as adjudicating and/or arbitrating special ethics allegations upon request of the board.

Karen lives in Weare, New Hampshire, with her spouse, her parents, and two rescue cats, in a house she and her husband constructed by themselves. Karen is also a former member of the US Army Reserves, having served as a Senior NCO during the Vietnam Era.

“What most excites you about the future of the management education at Marlboro?”

“We have such a diverse community, and yet, we have a common sense of identity. By establishing a core set of courses that reinforce the common identity, and then encouraging structured exploration of specialized concentrations, we are honoring that diversity. We are also cognizant of the agility required of organizations in this global economy. The future structure will enable the management school to be flexible in responding to the needs of its stakeholders.

Help Us Select Items for the David Pierce Fund

Library Blog - October 1, 2015 - 9:59am

David Pierce, a Marlboro College student whose tragic death in 2003 deeply impacted our community, is remembered each October. Many on campus still have fond memories of David, and a bench and apple tree outside of the Library commemorate his life and time at Marlboro. Additionally, David’s family established a fund for the Library to purchase items that are not necessarily for academic purposes, but rather for fun. Think graphic novels, current popular fiction, movies, TV series, etc. Each year, the Library buys a few more items using the fund established in his memory.

This year, we are asking for your help in choosing what to buy!

Between now and 8:30am on Monday, 10/5, email (or call, or stop by, or comment below…) with the titles of any movies, books, graphic novels, or other items you’d like the Library to add. Remember: fun, not work (though the two aren’t always mutually exclusive!).

We’ll make a list of all your suggestions, then put them to a vote. Students will be emailed a link to a survey; voting will be open through the end of the day on Wednesday, October 7th. When voting is over, we’ll rank the selections, start buying with the top vote-getter, and continue down the list as far as we can.

In the meantime, stop by the Library to see some of the items that have been bought with David’s fund in past years. They’re currently on display on the ground floor, across from the Service Desk.

Beth Ruane
Library Director

Convocation Remarks

Center for New Leadership - September 30, 2015 - 3:46pm

By Adam Katrick, current Marlboro graduate student, and Marlboro Undergraduate Alumni.

My first night in Marlboro was in 2003 just a couple miles from this building – somewhere Northwest of here in the woods just off the ridge. I was on the Forest Skills Woods trip (now called Bridges trips), and that first night we didn’t have any shelter – but it was beautiful, so we slept under the stars. I didn’t know it at the time, but to my right slept my future husband, to my left a good friend of 12 years.

I don’t know why I chose that trip. I was not from a place of wilderness or woods. Before I was a student at Marlboro I came from a place filled with cornfields and shopping malls and suburban streets and ranch houses. I didn’t like that place; that place was never home for me.

But the woods seeped into me while I was here. It certainly helped that I had an obsession with studying wolves, and you don’t find wolves in cornfields or shopping malls. But just the experience of being next to and in the woods nearly every day at Marlboro changed me and the way I think. It especially changed how I thought about community.

What I have to say about community sounds sappy. Marlboro has a phenomenal community. Marlboro boasts about it’s community. And we should. It’s a damn fine community. But when I say community, my definition might not match what you’re thinking.

Think of all of us here, in this room, in this building. This building is designed for humans. The benches that you sit on, the lights in the hallways and their switches, the stairways and carpets, the water fountain, and the doors – it’s all designed for humans, by humans. But what’s really unique about the Marlboro community is what happens when you step outside the doors of this building.

Marlboro College is surrounded and enveloped by the woods. Out there, there is a community of hundreds of different species. There are trees and foxes and streams and all sorts of things you might not even imagine. And while community is a human word, it’s not a human concept. We are mammals. We do mammalian things everyday. And there are other mammals living just outside these doors. We can and do communicate with them, even if it’s not in English.

I was in the midst of a huge transition when I went on my first Woods trip and learned to survive on the land, and then, became a college student. In times of transition, we look for wisdom. And communities hold vast amounts of wisdom. The human community at Marlboro has a lot of wisdom and guidance for these transitions. We could speak for hours with the others around us in this room and learn so much. But the larger community just outside these doors…

…well, let’s just say that all the books you could stuff in the library up the hill wouldn’t hold even a sliver of vast amount of knowledge this land holds. There have been species who have lived here generation after generation – learning to survive and thrive on these hills. All of that knowledge can bring great wisdom.

So in this moment of transition, I’m asking you to go outside. After this ceremony, I’m asking you to take off your shoes and walk out these doors and go into the woods. Go sit and talk with the trees. Walk on the trails like the foxes do. Wash your face in the pond brook at the bottom of the hill, just past the farm. You can always come back and eat cookies with your friends in the dining hall at the end of the day. But I promise you there is wisdom out there.

Marlboro has a phenomenal community. Out there, in this community, in these woods, you will find questions you didn’t even know you had. And you never know what else you might find – I found my husband in these woods. I hope that many of you, like I did, will also find a place to call home.

Now Accepting Applications for the Women’s Leadership Circle of the Upper Valley

Center for New Leadership - September 28, 2015 - 3:00pm
An invitation for women leaders
of the Upper Valley

We are now building the cohort for a facilitated Women’s Leadership Circle, to take place in the Upper Valley from January to June 2016. Applications received by October 26 will receive a $100 early bird discount.

The Women’s Leadership Circles of Vermont were developed to support accomplished women in leadership positions across sectors. Our participants have theinitiative and vision to push themselves toward greater personal and professional achievement and to grow in their roles as influential change-makers.


We build participant groups of powerful women with the awareness, experience and professionalism to create a safe place where frank discussions can happen.

WLC participants support each other to meet the challenges of leadership with clarity and confidence.

We have served high-impact leaders from Vermont’s major organizations including: Seventh Generation, New Chapter, Norwich University, Vermont Agency of Human Services, Burlington City Arts, Sugarbush Resort, Vermont Wood Pellet, Emerge Vermont, Hildene, the Vermont Land Trust, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Main Street Landing, Fletcher Free Library, JK Adams, Windham Regional Commission, Vermont Gas, US Department of Homeland Security, KSV, Champlain College, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and the Vermont Economic Development Authority.


Alignment: The program supports deep inquiry into personal and professional priorities and helps participants create a life more in alignment with their values.

Expanded capacity: Participants identify their strengths and develop an individualized plan to effectively build on their leadership abilities.

Grounded foundation: WLC supports women to embody their leadership.  Participants explore the link between personal well-being and leadership, and take action in support of their improved health.

Real-world impact: Each WLC participant practices her expanded leadership abilities in a real-world project  designed to create meaningful outcomes in alignment with personal values and aspirations.

Community: Each Circle is intentionally drawn from the same region. Circle members sustain their friendships long after the formal portion of WLC is completed, and often continue to meet as a group for years.

“Since starting the Women’s Leadership Circle, I have found that I am a more concise communicator and I have learned to shift my thinking around some of the cultural norms that women often find themselves trapped in. Redefining my relationship to the word “no” may sound simple, but it was a monumental step towards redefining my leadership and the way I walk through this world as a woman.”

– Cathleen Barkley, Executive Director, HOPE Works

Marlboro Social Media Class Converses with Noted Social Media Guru Allison Fine

Center for New Leadership - September 25, 2015 - 3:56pm
Last Friday the students in “Social Media for Social Change” had a chance to engage in a live conversation with Allison Fine, the author of three books and a noted expert on social media. The business partner of Marlboro professor Debra Askanase, Allison is the author of Momentum, The Networked Nonprofit (with co-author Beth Kanter), and Matterness. She also blogs at She also recently gave a TEDx Talk called “How I Disappointed A Marine and Learned To Lead” with topics related to nonprofit management. Debra and Allison collaborate on a business called Students had an open-ended conversation with Allison via Skype about her concept of “matterness,” a different approach to social media that helps organizations turn passive stakeholders into active participants by making individuals known, acknowledged, and invested in the organization’s success.

New Roles at the Graduate School: A Letter from Sean Conley

Center for New Leadership - September 24, 2015 - 10:14am

Dear Members of the Marlboro Community:

I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Kate Jellema as Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Studies at Marlboro College. In this role, Kate will serve as director of the Graduate School and will continue as director of the Marlboro College Center for New Leadership.

Kate began her affiliation with the Graduate School in 2010, when she came on as coordinator of our Certificate in Nonprofit Management. In short order, Kate and I worked together to develop a full graduate program in managing mission-driven organizations. She has chaired that innovative and successful degree program since its inception. Kate has also been instrumental in creating the Accelerated Master’s Track and Cross-Campus Seminars, both designed to encourage more academic connection between our Hill and River campuses.

Alongside this work, Kate and I collaborated with Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Ariel Brooks and many others to develop a robust set of professional development programs out of the graduate school. She led a team effort to secure a substantial federal grant to create Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, a six-partner policy and training consortium housed at Marlboro College; partnered with the Snelling Center to make Marlboro College the academic partner for the Vermont Leadership Institute; brought the statewide Women’s Leadership Circles of Vermont into Marlboro’s portfolio; worked with community partners to create our innovative Board Fellows program; and oversaw the progress of hundreds of participants, including many Marlboro staff, faculty and students, through our 80-hour Certificate in Nonprofit Management. More recently, Kate co-created ALIGN, a competitive program for emerging community leaders that currently attracts applicants from across the Northeast. These professional development programs now comprise the heart of the College’s Center for New Leadership.

Kate started her working life as an anthropologist and Asianist. She earned her Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins with a thesis on Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong and her PhD in anthropology and history from the University of Michigan with a dissertation on questions of memory, place and power in contemporary Vietnam. Her first teaching experience was as an adjunct professor at Marlboro College, filling in for Carol Hendrickson and Dana Howell with classes such as “The Anthropology of Socialism” and “Collective Memory and Social Amnesia.” She has received fellowships for her research from the MacArthur Foundation, the Social Science Research Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation amongst others.

To take on her new responsibilities as Associate Dean, Kate will be stepping down from her position as chair of our MS in Managing Mission-Driven Organizations (MDO). We are very excited that Travis Hellstrom will be taking over that role as interim chair for MDO. Travis is founder and CEO of Advance Humanity, a humanitarian consulting group dedicated to helping social entrepreneurs, social businesses and nonprofits expand their influence and make a difference in the world. Advance Humanity is also one of first dozen Certified B Corporations in Vermont alongside Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and King Arthur Flour. Travis works nationally and internationally with a wide variety of mission-driven clients. His Master’s thesis, completed at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, focused on the relationship between shared leadership and happiness.

October will be a transitional month as I work closely with Kate as she and I transition into our new roles. In turn, Kate will be mentoring Travis in his new role. The official baton-passing will take place on November 1st. There will be a reception to welcome Kate and Travis during the October residency at the graduate school the weekend of October 9-11; stay tuned!

Please join me in congratulating Kate and Travis on their new roles.

-Sean Conley

Certificate in Nonprofit Management Profile: Jacqueline Marshall

Center for New Leadership - September 22, 2015 - 2:02pm
The Certificate in Nonprofit Management begins in Burlington 10/2/15. Learn more and register soon to reserve your spot! Name: Jacqueline Marshall
Organization: Ch17 Town Meeting Television and CCTV Productions
Job Title: Channel Director (new title)
Certificate Year: 2014

What do you like best about your job?
It is rewarding to work for a noncommercial organization where we focus on giving the community a voice and an outlet to be heard. We support and provide them with resources and media that keeps local government transparent.

What were you hoping to get out of the certificate?
A clearer understanding of how nonprofits run and everything in between.

How did the course meet that need?
It gave me a thorough introduction and educated me in areas I was not aware of in nonprofits. I learned a lot of new information that has given me a new perspective. It is directly contributing to my new leadership role which has been critical for my career growth.

Were there any benefits you didn’t expect?
I did not expect to meet such diverse nonprofits. It gave me a better overview of this industry in Vermont.

What was your favorite workshop and why?
Sustainable Leadership / Community Engagement workshop was helpful for my new role at organization and gave me confidence.

Any advice for someone thinking about taking the Certificate?
Get ready to meet some awesome people! The instructors are amazing. They engage you with group exercises and by sharing their experiences. You have the opportunity to network and meet people with varying levels of knowledge from many organizations. This was helpful for me, as I am fairly new to the nonprofit world.  The Certificate in Nonprofit Management begins in Burlington 10/2/15. Learn more and register soon to reserve your spot!

Certificate in Nonprofit Management Profile: Matt Whalen

Center for New Leadership - September 17, 2015 - 3:04pm

The Certificate in Nonprofit Management begins in Burlington 10/2/15. Learn more and register soon to reserve your spot!


Name: Matt Whalen Organization: Essex CHIPS
Job Title: Prevention and Wellness Director
Certificate Year: 2014


What do you like best about your job? I love working in prevention because of the positive nature of the work. Prevention to me is all about working together to build a world that sets everyone up for success, while making sure that we all have the skills we need to make good choices when bad choices are available.

What were you hoping to get out of the certificate? At the onset, I wanted to get a working knowledge of how nonprofits function and are sustained, while building my resume. That, and a free meal or two.

How did the course meet that need? Well, beyond being able to type “Certificate in Nonprofit Management” onto my CV and resume, the course allowed me to get a glimpse into the inner workings of other local nonprofits of varying size. This perspective helped me understand that all nonprofits function differently and are sustained in different ways.

How has the certificate contributed to your work? The course provided me with a new lens through which to view my work. After the course, I had new information about everything from budget management to messaging our mission.

Were there any benefits you didn’t expect? Being able to network with other nonprofit leaders was a HUGE plus that I did not consider upon signing up for the course. You meet so many great people with so many great ideas and skills.

What was your favorite workshop and why? Other than meeting and getting to know other people, I really enjoyed the revolving door of trainers. One week you would have a to-the-point fundraiser, the next you would have an animated storyteller. I appreciated them all.

Any advice for someone thinking about taking the Certificate? Sign up before it fills up! You won’t regret it! Also, as hard as it is, make time for the online portion of the course. I always regretted not budgeting more time to connect with my classmates between courses.

 The Certificate in Nonprofit Management begins in Burlington 10/2/15. Learn more and register soon to reserve your spot!

Celebrate Constitution Day!

Library Blog - September 17, 2015 - 1:26pm

Each year on September 17th, we celebrate Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Among the many freedoms the Constitution guarantees, we’re partial to the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of expression and religion, as well as other important rights. Libraries are strong advocates of the principle of the freedom to read, supporting the concept that a vital democratic society depends on unfettered access to ideas.

Please join us on this September 17th (today!) at 2:30pm in Apple Tree for our Constitution Day event, “What Does It Take To Be an American.” Come hear the Speech Matters students give Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, a midwife and a schismatic, a second chance to make her case before the highest authority in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Instead of defending herself with creative interpretations of the Bible, as she had to do in 1637, in this rendition of the famous trial, the defendant will have access to the U.S. Constitution. Will she have better luck this time?

Doreen Kraft

Center for New Leadership - September 10, 2015 - 9:45am

This article in Vermont Woman showcases the career and leadership of Women’s Leadership Circle graduate Doreen Kraft.

“One of the first things Kraft talked about during her interview was her excitement in being a part of the Women’s Leadership Circle. This is a project initiated by Kerry Secrest, founder of Watershed Coaching, now partnering with Marlboro College Graduate School. Women interested in strengthening their leadership abilities apply for a six-month period of guided meetings where they define their goals, learn to listen, and think about the meaning of good, effective leadership in holistic terms. Kraft’s obvious enthusiasm for this program was a clue to understanding her own continued success as a leader in the arts and cultural sector here in Vermont; she respects and is willing to learn from others whose approach may be different than her own. The women who participate in the program form bonds of support and inspiration, meeting regularly after the program is over.”

Creative Collaboration: The Center for Arts and Learning

Center for New Leadership - August 31, 2015 - 9:53am

We met Irene Facciolo at Nonprofit Management Summer Camp. Irene is a musician and actress, an architect, and an educator. She is the Executive Director of the Center for Arts and Learning (CAL) in Montpelier, a consortium of several nonprofit organizations devoting to maintaining a thriving art, music and art education community in central Vermont.

CAL is its own nonprofit, and operates as an umbrella organization for participating arts organizations. This is the story of how they leveraged their collective power to buy a home for the arts, (21,000 square feet of home in downtown Montpelier), and serve as a model for other nonprofits.

Hi Irene, thanks for joining us. How did you come to be involved in this collaboration? What was the spark that led to you all purchasing a building?

I got involved in the Center for Arts and Learning through one of the member organizations, the Monteverdi Music School. My daughter was taking piano lessons with one of the faculty members and then the director of the music school asked me if I would be interested in joining their board. I joined their board four or five years ago.

The Monteverdi Music School board was approached by a couple of community members, Paul and Peggy Irons. They were taking classes at the Summit School of Traditional Music and renting space in the same building as us. Paul and Peggy have experience with commercial buildings, and had the idea that we might be able to purchase the building and have it serve a permanent home for all of these programs.

We laughed, thought it was a nice idea, but as a poor nonprofit didn’t really feel we had the resources to buy a building like this. Paul and Peggy were persistent, and we started looking at the finances to see if we could afford to operate the building. We got together with the TW Wood Art Gallery and the River Rock School and formed an informal group that began discussing the real possibilities of what purchasing the building would mean, how we would do it, and what our collaboration would look like. We formed a board from these conversations and then an organization (the Center for Arts and Learning) with the State of Vermont as a 501(c)3. From there I joined the board of CAL.


How did you finance the building?

We explored lots of different options for funding the purchase of the building and they all had a lot of red tape and bureaucracy involved. We eventually went the simplest route, which was bank financing through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union. The affordability really hinged on the three organizations advertising and including a number of other organizations and rental spaces in the building. The founding members pay “member contributions.” While keeping it affordable, we use rent from the other organizations and individual artists to contribute to the operating budget. It is the main income stream that helps us maintain the building and run it.


How long did the process take?

It was about three years from when we formed the board to when we finally purchased the building. We did a lot of talking and a lot of figuring out. All the organizations have the same goal. Not the same resources, but the same goal, a permanent, downtown location for their nonprofit organizations. They all want to be part of Montpelier, and all loved the idea of creating a special center that can be more than the sum of its parts.


What were your priorities once you opened the space?

My number one priority has been to keep it affordable for artists and other creative people. I don’t want to create a renovated space that is too expensive for people to afford. Number two is to have programming either through the center itself or through the member organizations that will bring people into the building so that it’s a very lively building. We want the building to be more and more active. Thirdly is to renovate the building. One half of the building is from the 1930s and one half is from the 1950s. The Diocese built and maintained the building, but it hasn’t been upgraded in 20 years. Only a third is handicap accessible. There is energy efficiency work, handicap accessibility work, and deferred maintenance. Raising the profile of it visually is important. It’s a plain building and doesn’t have some of those beautiful natural architectural features on the outside. We’re going to have to work to make it more beautiful.


These organizations came together around this shared vision, but how is the organization structured now? Does each organization still have their own board of directors and staff? How is everyone connected in this collaboration?

Each organization is it’s own nonprofit with their own board of directors. The structure is that each of the three member organizations send two members of their board to join the Center’s board. We’re talking about changing that and expanding it, hoping to include outside members on the board. The power of this whole structure is that we are inclusive and right now it feels too narrow to me.


Beyond the space, what else has happened because of this collaboration?

I have been hired as the executive director. We have written two grants so far to upgrade the facilities, have gotten one and are waiting to hear on the other one. A lot of programming grants require us to be handicap accessible so we need to tackle that first. We would really like to become partners with organizations around us, like the Senior Center next door, the Studio Arts Center in Barre, a group from Waterbury, networking on all organizational levels, reaching out and seeing what other places do. We don’t want to duplicate work, but learn from how they collaborate.


Hindsight is 20/20. Is there anything you wish someone had told you before you started this process? Any advice you have for folks considering it?

One thing I wasn’t accustomed to was how much talking you have to do to make a collaboration happen. I come from the for-profit world, and I’m not used to all the variety of approaches to making something happen. I’m used to someone having funds and then hiring me to the job. In this collaboration we didn’t have the funds, we didn’t know what we were doing, and we had to figure out the vision and how to agree. It’s a very different model of working together than to have a client. The board is essentially its own client.


You have successfully purchased the building and completed that aspect of your shared vision. What are you taking on next?

I’m hoping that the space can be used more as a facility focused on arts and education, and that we can get funding for programs that bring people in the door, like expanded music workshops.

One of the jewels in the physical plan is the space where the gallery is now; the old elementary school portion. We would like to be able to provide a multipurpose space so that outside groups can come in for performances. There are a lot of groups in our area that utilize the schools, and it’s not always a good financial deal for the school. I would love to be a space for rehearsals and for performances. I’m not interested in creating a space that is elitist or competing directly with our neighbors. I really want to fill a need that is out there that hasn’t been filled yet.

Huzzah! It’s That Time of Year Again!

Library Blog - August 28, 2015 - 3:20pm

Welcome, new students, staff, and faculty, and welcome back, to those returning! We’re so excited to see the campus teeming with life once again! We’ll open for the Fall semester on Sunday, August 30th at 12:30pm and look forward to seeing new students with their peer adviser groups on Sunday from 1-3 pm.

Hervidor, the Library Tea Kettle

You probably know that once the library opens for the semester, we’re open 24/7 until after the Fall Finals period. You can come in, study, socialize, borrow/return books, work/print/scan/copy in the computer lab, have a cup of tea, or do whatever else you wish (subject to the College Handbook and the Library Honor Code, of course) whenever it tickles your fancy.

There are certain things, though, that you can only do when staff are on duty. These include: borrowing reserve readings; borrowing DVDs; picking up holds or interlibrary loans; and getting into the Plan Room.

Staffing will be a little atypical during the first couple days of the semester:

  • Sunday, 8/30: 12:30pm – 5:30pm
  • Monday, 8/31: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Tuesday, 9/1: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm; 6:30pm – 11:00pm
  • Wednesday, 9/2: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm; 6:30pm – 11:00pm
  • Thursday, 9/4: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Thereafter, our Service Desk schedule for Fall 2015 will be:

  • Sundays: 12:30pm – 5:30pm; 6:30pm – 11:00pm
  • Mondays-Thursdays: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm; 6:30pm – 11:00pm
  • Fridays: 9:00am – Noon; 1:00pm – 4:00pm

We’ll always list changes to our schedule — building or Service Desk — on this blog, in the Town Crier, and on the library’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. If you ever have questions (about hours, staffing, or really, anything at all!), please stop by, email us (, or call x221 (802-258-9221).

We are looking forward to working with you this year!

Beth Ruane
Library Director

Building an Outcomes-Based Foundation for the Emerging Vermont Creative Network

Center for New Leadership - August 28, 2015 - 9:43am

by Zon Eastes

Imagine a framework in which groups of Vermont creatives share ideas—in real time and virtually, at a number of places in the state. Or imagine a framework in which mutual goals leverage support—legislatively and financially. Or think of a context in which peer-to-peer learning is encouraged and evaluated, thus supporting individual or organizational capacity building.

The Vermont Arts Council, currently marking its fiftieth anniversary, has been partnering with other Vermont agencies to frame up the Vermont Creative Network (VCN). The fifty-year moment provides any organization with a poignant opportunity to look at, say, the next fifty years. And that is what the Arts Council is doing this year.

As VCN is still emerging, here’s a long-ish tagline: Vermont’s extensive creative and cultural assets plus ingenuity and a collective spirit equal the Vermont Creative Network: fueling a healthy creative economy and quality of life that we all enjoy.

After initial network concepts were tested on nearly two dozen Vermont thought-leaders, a tour of twelve communities across the state produced next-step ideas and carefully considered concerns for the network. Discussion sprang from a Results-Based-Accountability-inspired outcome statement: Vermonters have a right to live in healthy, vibrant communities with engaging opportunities to learn, work, and prosper.

We met with about 750 Vermonters in this process. Forums were structured so that participants addressed three questions about their communities: Where are you now? What’s your vision? What are some specific steps that would ensure your vision? After report-outs, concepts and values were organized by participants under naturally occurring headings—like Communications, or Marketing.

All thoughts, scribbles, and ideas have been retained, nothing has been lost in this process and all of the input that we have received is highly valued and appreciated. Additionally, an online survey has been completed by 150 Vermonters.

Back in the office, we analyzed the information we have collected and agreed as it organized itself into six central areas of focus:

  • Community
  • Education
  • Funding
  • Leadership (human investments)
  • Resources (technological and space investments)
  • Visibility

This small list will likely become the Network’s Action Agenda—a guidepost for the intelligence, energy, and sentiment provided by so many Vermonters working in the creative sector and economy.

Next comes our strategic planning process. Nine Vermonters representing diverse creative sector voices will gather to establish 8-12 key goals in support of our working population level goal. And taking another cue from RBA, each goal will reveal a set of strategies and measures. This document will guide the Network through its initial phases of growth. We will also be considering how we can use the Collective Impact rubric to generate ideas, energy and results for Vermont’s creatives, their communities and their economies.

VCN is pleased to announce its inaugural annual gathering and conference, the Creative Network Summit, to take place at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, on November 4 and 5. Workshop sessions, keynote addresses, networking opportunities, and more are on the schedule.

The work of the Vermont Creative Network is inspired by several highly effective models and best practices: the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, Collective Impact models, and Results-Based Accountability, to name a few.

The Council’s Network partners include the Emergent Media Center of Champlain College, Common Good Vermont, the Vermont Department of Libraries, and the Vermont Downtown Association, a program of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Network is currently funded by the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation.

For more information about VCN, visit Feel free to also contact Zon Eastes @ or Liz Ruffa @

My Marlboro Story:  A story of becoming

Center for New Leadership - August 23, 2015 - 11:03am

by Jodi D. Clark, Commencement Address

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Marlboro and I are tightly interwoven.  I began as a student, then staff, then staff again, then student again, and now faculty.  We have been going steady with some brief times apart for almost 25 years.  Marlboro and I began together with my first journey northward from Connecticut to visit the undergraduate campus as a suburban high school senior dreaming of trees, mountains, farms, snow, and deeper community than I knew was possible.
In my beginning as an undergrad, I was terrified of the sound of my own voice.  Ever since grammar school when I was picked to be part of a quartet of girls to sing for our fourth grade, mandatory choral concert, I was absolutely fraught with anxiety by speaking, but particularly singing in front of “everyone.”  I tried to make my voice sound bad or too quiet as the teacher went around the class seeking the right voices for the parts.  I didn’t want to stand out.  I didn’t want to sing a “girl’s” part, being the unabashed tomboy that I was.  And yet, despite my best efforts to obscure my voice, I was still selected and I still sang, though I felt mortified the whole time.
At Marlboro undergrad, I began the long process of discovering my voice. Even singing wouldn’t release its grasp on me as I allowed myself to be dragged into the small choral ensemble by my dear friends.  I simply couldn’t stay away from singing with my people, despite my fear.  With a bit of guidance from my very musical friends, I discovered my more natural vocal range, tenor. Singing in my natural range allowed me to give more of my voice to the notes and even start feeling strong doing it. Upon entering the MDO program, after a great deal of community work away from Marlboro, I had come to a place of peace and deeper strength with being out in front speaking in many circumstances as a teacher and theater performer.  I was emerging as a leader in multiple communities while also feeling a need to get some grounding, additional tools and skills after a series of soul draining professional experiences.  As for singing, I would still commonly say, “I love to sing, but I’m terrified when I do it.”
In my time with the MDO program, so much of my work has focused on further developing my voice and leadership in community.  Cultivating a shiny new community toolkit with project management, outcome measurement, fundraising, systems thinking, social media strategy design, facilitation and emboldened presentation skills definitely helps.  However, I came in to the program already carrying some of my most powerful community tools.  I simply wasn’t quite aware of them or how best to use them. Marlboro provided me with multiple reflective mirrors in the form of amazing colleagues, mentors, and kindred spirits who helped me see, cultivate, and embody more of my strengths.
I am a connector. I love to play match-maker.  One of my favorite things in the world is to have people from my different worlds meet each other and then start co-creating something new and exciting that wouldn’t have been possible before. For my Nonprofit Practicum project, I had the audacious idea to design and host a collaboration conference for two communities that I have worked in and wished would share with each other more. I co-designed and worked on the project with my dear friend and fellow student, Cassandra, someone who shared my desire to see more collaboration between our beloved Vermont and New Hampshire.
I am a teacher and co-learner.  The design of this conference was fully informed and guided by Cassandra’s and my love of co-learning.  We used a framework which empowered the participants to co-create their own learning experience with the aid of a facilitator.  They were the presenters and experts for their own sessions they designed that day.  They would embody the type of collaboration that could be possible at the conference itself.  We were so excited by this concept, and our potential attendees were inspired by our excitement.
I am a daughter.  As the conference date began to draw near, my father’s health was rapidly declining.  He had been fighting a losing battle with prostate cancer for several years, but this year was the downward turning point.  We came up with two implementation plans, one with me being present and one without me, just in case.  On the day of the conference, I arrived knowing that at any second, I could potentially still be called to Connecticut for my father’s passing.  I saw Cassandra in the parking lot of the Grad. school.  We hugged and greeted each other.  She was thrilled I was feeling I could be there.  And then my phone rang.  It was my brother.  My father was showing the signs that he was going to pass that day.  I needed to go.
I am a dynamic duo partner.  The design and implementation for our conference embodied my favorite way to work. I thrive in close partnerships with one other person to idea bounce, share responsibilities, champion each other, be playful with and hold each other accountable with compassion.  In my opening remarks just before I left the conference, I made certain to name how mine and Cassandra’s working relationship and friendship were key ingredients to the birth of and execution of the event.  It was also why we knew that if I had to leave or couldn’t be there at all, the event would still be a success.
I lead with my heart.  As attendees arrived to the conference, I greeted them, let them know how excited I was for the day ahead of them and how I wished I could stay with them.  Then I named what was going on for me and why I was leaving shortly.  Of course everyone understood.  Some people shared stories of their parents’ passing, which I so appreciated.  One person, whom I’d previously had a slightly dubious opinion of, showed up to be the most compassionate and loving toward me.  I was told later that the connection to me and all I was holding, lasted throughout the event for all the participants.  All the other program designs happened as well.  But the day ended with the group gathering again, by their own design, to offer their hearts out to me and my family across the miles in a healing closing circle.
There is so much more I carry.  I guess, but never consistently know which pieces of me will be most needed, will be of the most service.  I don’t always see my gifts.  What I have come to discover is many of the aspects of myself which make me feel the most vulnerable are exactly the ones I need to call upon and step into fully in service to my communities. My courage, my love, and my voice are foundational to how I show up anywhere. I have also come to discover that all of the amazing beings around me whether they are these beautiful complex humans or the mountains, the trees, the bears, or the waterfall I recently spent an afternoon with, all of them mirror to me what it is I carry and what I can offer to them in service.  You all are my best teachers.  Thank you for singing with me.

Summer Camp a Success!

Center for New Leadership - August 11, 2015 - 1:06pm

On July 24th the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College hosted the second annual Nonprofit Management Summer Camp. 55 nonprofit “campers” converged on Brattleboro from far and wide, representing Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington DC, Maryland, and Vermont. For many, this was their first time attending a Marlboro event.

Campers spent the day making new professional connections and taking part in high-impact workshops. Topics included Breaking up the Meeting, Creative Ways to Gather Data, Difficult Conversations, Volunteer Management, Online Fundraising and Crowdsourcing, and Leading From Your Strengths. Most importantly, perhaps, campers learned the Vermont handshake and that excellence in nonprofit management can be a whole lot of fun.

The team at the Center for New Leadership is already looking onward to next year: Save the date for The Third Annual Nonprofit Management Summer Camp on July 29th, 2016.

Active Learning with Rob Williams

Center for New Leadership - August 11, 2015 - 5:17am

Who are you Rob? What do you do for work? And what’s this we hear about yaks?

I am a Mad River Valley based writer, musician, historian, perfesser, and Vermont’repreneur. My day job? I teach communications, new/digital/social media, journalism, and environmental studies around greater Burlington at UVM, Champlain College, and Saint Michael’s College and, of course, Marlboro College down in southern Vermont when they invite me. And yes, I moonlight as a yak guy – having raised yaks here for six years on a farm, I now am co-proprietor of our YakItToMe mobile BBQ wagon during the May – October months. Find us on Facebook at YakItToMeVT.


What programs do you teach in at Marlboro?

I am teaching what I call “story coaching” at Marlboro, which is orchestrating a conversation in which I show professionals how to learn how to harness new digital and social media tools to share stories about their organizations doing good work in the world.

You are presenting at the upcoming “Active Learning Symposium” in Burlington on August 18th. What is Active Learning?

It has become the norm for today’s students to arrive with two or more mobile devices and 24/7 connectivity.  Instead of discouraging or “controlling” this access to information, emerging pedagogies are embracing this change in ways that enhance and engage students in new ways.  I will share examples of new strategies in action in international studies in China, using apps to create digital conversations and other ways to leverage mobile technology to expand beyond the classroom.  This session will also be interactive, and participants should be prepared to bring their own devices and experience an example of this work first hand.

How does Active Learning inform your teaching style?

I try and get all of my students to be as “hands on” as possible – reading and discussions are all well and good, but tackling RELEVANT issues by becoming a publisher of stories, a producer, whether it is blogging, using social media, or picking up a mobile phone or video camera, makes learning come alive. For example, in my UVM policy course last spring, we explored the thorny question of Vermont marijuana legalization through readings, films, and conversations with the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative (VTCC). Students read the Governor-commissioned 2014 RAND report on options for legalization, prepared and presented public position presentations on the various options, and produced a final paper in which they advocated for a specific option based on our class research. In our Public Communications class, meanwhile, students learned how to market a local event that they themselves co-curated. We called it the “Burly Ama-Slam,” an amateur music series at the Skinny Pancake, and I assessed student marketing teams on how many folks they got in the door through their varied marketing efforts – just like a real world professional experience.


Where can folks learn more?

Visit our Action Coalition for Media Education web page (ACME at We have a whole host of information and free resources for 21st century media literacy education and related learning. And contact me any time at

Thanks Rob!

Find Rob on Facebook and Instagram as DrRobWilliams, Twitter @freevtyakker, and YouTube as robwilliamsmedia

Gail Makuch wins Runner-up in Business Planning Competition

Center for New Leadership - August 11, 2015 - 5:13am

What brought you to Windham County?

GM: I grew up in Connecticut and first came to Vermont as a skier. I fell in love with this area and moved here over a decade ago because of the warm and friendly people, the abundance of nature, and the atmosphere. It just felt like this was where I was supposed to be. Living in Vermont has solidified my love of gardening and being outdoors and has inspired me to become a beekeeper a few years ago. Of all the things I do, that’s what people remember about me the most.

Where did you get the idea for your business?

GM: The Certificate in Nonprofit Management was definitely the spark that gave me the idea to start this in the first place. I took the Certificate as a way to assess if I should pursue a career in the nonprofit sector – to explore options, learn more, and to get a solid foundation. Something Andy Robinson said in one of those classes stuck with me. He said, “if you are considering starting a new nonprofit, ask yourself if you would serve an unfilled niche, or if are there already other organizations that are doing the same thing. Should you start something new or partner with existing organizations?”

It made me step back and think if perhaps instead of starting a new organization I could help existing nonprofits better fulfill their missions with the knowledge and skills I already have. That was the spark that made me reconsider starting a new nonprofit. Would a new organization do more good, or would I be diluting the impact, donor base, and momentum of organizations already doing the same thing? There is already so much great collaboration among our nonprofits in Windham County. I thought about how I could have the most widespread impact on many organizations, then decided to start Gail Friday.

What does Gail Friday do?

GM: I saw a need for nonprofits and small businesses to have more help with backend business tasks like using data and assessments, data visualization, and grant writing and reporting. For example, there might be a fundraising opportunity that requires data collection or compilation. It would be great for an organization, but they could miss out on it because they do not have the time, the budget or the staffing to get it started. So I saw a need for organizations to be able to hire someone on a project basis to take advantage of opportunities and make them successful. It is a low-risk way for an organization to take on a new endeavor. If it is successful, and depending on their short and long-term needs, they can continue Gail Friday’s services or hire staff to take it forward.

Tell us more about the data visualization aspects of the business. How do you help organizations?

GM: I focus on data and information management tailored to the unique needs of small to medium sized businesses and nonprofit organizations. That includes surveys and data visualization like infographics. My goal is to provide information and illustration that can be used for marketing or PR, grant proposals, impact measurement, annual reports, and communicating with donors in nonprofits, mission-driven business, and small business. Data visualization is actually very complicated. There are ways that our brains are wired to take in information, and different people have different learning styles. If you present someone with a huge table of three columns and twenty rows you might think it looks manageable, but if you want them to compare different aspects of it, like comparing the largest sources of giving over multiple years’ time, it’s almost impossible for them to do so.

A weather map is a good example of data visualization. In a newspaper you will often see these maps with different colors representing the intensity of something, like the temperature in each town. It’s a way that your brain doesn’t have to think about and compare the specific numbers. You can understand the information just by the visual.

I will work with people to help them see what they want to evaluate, the best way to gather new or use existing information, and then what is the best way to display that information. I have an anthropology and customer service background, so I love people as much as I love data.

You were runner up in the Windham Regional Business Planning Competition in the Startup/New Business Category. What was the competition like?

GM: There were judges for each category who reviewed our business plan based on criteria such as likelihood of success and job creation (whether direct or indirect). The process was very involved and competitive. One of the best things about the competition was hearing that the judges thought that Gail Friday was a great idea, that I should definitely pursue it, and to keep changing it as I go. Learning that my business plan should be thought of as a living document was really helpful. Just because right now I am doing something in a certain way doesn’t mean that it is set in stone. Knowing that I can, and should, keep refining the plan is actually very liberating.

In addition to the Certificate, what other programs have you been a part of at the Center for New Leadership?

GM: I was also a Get On Board Fellow in the Board Leadership Institute, did the Results-Based Accountability class, attended Nonprofit Management Summer Camp, and took the Social Enterprise workshop. If I look at all the Marlboro programs as a whole they’ve really helped me learn the concepts and the tools that will help me use my existing knowledge to help others through my own mission-driven business. Marlboro programs have given me a solid foundation to understand and implement these kinds of services, and most importantly gave me knowledge of the unique needs, concepts, and challenges of the social sector. And have really reinvigorated my passion for working with the nonprofit community. The encouragement and support that I’ve received from the Marlboro community, including leadership and staff and other program participants, has been remarkable. I feel like that’s helped keep me going in pursuing and fine-tuning this idea.

After going through the Board Leadership Institute I was recruited to be on the board of the United Way of Windham County. Last week I found out I was voted in with 100% support. I really am honored to serve our community. Now I’m on the steering committee of the Board Leadership Institute, so since I’ve gone through I can come back and help to make it even better.

Meet the Graduates from the Women’s Leadership Circle Chittenden County

Center for New Leadership - August 6, 2015 - 1:05pm

Graduates Include:
Cathleen Barkley, 
Jessica Hyman, Doreen Kraft, Stephanie Lowe, Sarah McCall, Kate Paine, Erika Schramm, Beth Sightler, Rubi Simon, Leanne Tingay, and Rebecca Towne

This June marked the close of the first Chittenden County based Women’s Leadership Circle. “I am honored to have been able to work with such an outstanding group of women leaders in Chittenden County, and I am humbled to have gotten a window into the profound contributions that each and every woman makes in their communities,” said Program Director Kerry Secrest.

Interested women are encouraged to apply for the next WLC in Chittenden County. Applications are due on August 3rd, 2015. Learn more at

Create Vision by Hanging Your Clothesline

Center for New Leadership - July 10, 2015 - 3:22pm

By Julie Fahnestock, Founder and Sustainability Storyteller at B Storytelling and Marlboro MBA in Managing  Sustainability Alum. First published at

Moving across country can be one of the most stressful times in your life. My husband and I made the move from New England to South Florida in 2014 and I give major thanks for how seamless our realtor made our transition. She helped us find our fabulous condo in two short days and under budget. But that’s what realtors are supposed to do. What made our experience exceptional was how relaxed she was. It was like she was an old, reliable friend I can call at the drop of a hat. So, when I opened my mail box this week and found a generic, cookie cutter, albeit glossy and pricey looking flier from her newly established realty company—called Unique Realty–I was shocked. Nothing about the ordinary, characterless flier communicated uniqueness. I was saddened because I know that her story is about friendship, trust and fun.

And, I get it. It happens to all of us; especially those of us set out to change the world. I call it the to-do list tragedy. It’s when our to-do lists cause us to rush around, and forget to be intentional about our stories. When you’re starting a company it’s tempting to outsource content for your brochures or website, for example, to Fiver (don’t get me started on the atrocity of cheap, generic content of Fiver) or via a cheap template. But you should avoid–no–run, as fast as you can away from this temptation. Because it won’t be you. It won’t communicate your voice, or the change you want to see in the world. And, it definitely will not give you the results you want. (Investing into great content is a business strategy. Great, strategic stories are meant to benefit your bottom line. But more on that in a couple of weeks.) At the end of the day, your story is all you have. It’s how you make meaning, bring your vision to others and how you attract new customers or clients. Don’t let the to-do list tragedy of cheap, generic content be your story. Communicating what makes you distinctive will pay off. I promise.
I’ve touched on how to discover your story in a previous posts and in this post I want to build your content strategy foundation. This activity is used by all types of businesses and is important for us as change agents to incorporate because it merges impact stories and vision with business strategy. If you do just one content strategy activity this month, do this: hang your clothesline. Rumble Marketing coined the idea of “hanging a clothesline.” It’s really just your primary message or the mission of your content and is what shapes every piece of content you create. Your clothesline is defined as the following:

  • Your brand or organization’s key message
  • The spine, anchor or theme that holds your story together
  • The key emotion and the emotional, value proposition
  • All collection of your content products (blogs, social media tools, newsletters, even internal documents)

The clothes which hang from your clothesline are your stories. The stories are given the privilege of hanging from your clothesline if they fit within the defined boundaries of the clothesline. If they don’t align with the clothesline or don’t take your customer on the emotional journey intended by your clothesline, they don’t get written, designed or published.

To introduce another term from the emerging world of content strategy, your clothesline begins with an “action-idea.” An action-idea encapsulates how the emotional aspect of the larger story unfolds. It’s an internal, elevator pitch for your story’s emotional progression. What hooks your audience? What will engage them? Your action idea shapes your primary message, the clothesline and guides which stories you publish and which ones you don’t.

To give you an example of an action-idea and how it connects to a clothesline, check out Ben and Jerry’s website. Play around on it. (It’s a fun site, so I’ll give you a few minutes). Can you take a guess at their clothesline? I’d bet it’s something like “Scooping Up Your Values” or “Eat the Ice Cream Which Represents Your Lifestyle.” The action idea or emotional hook which feeds into the clothesline is Ben and Jerry’s goal to make an ice cream lover feel empowered. They want you to choose them not only for their quality, but for their commitments to fair trade, marriage equality and climate justice. Ben and Jerry’s hangs their clothesline, “Scooping Up Your Values,” and creates an emotional journey, taking the user from ice cream to empowerment via their content products and stories.
What’s your clothesline? In what ways does your vision for the world intersect with it? Does it inspire your customers to be change agents? How? Could your services or products be branded as a tool to help people who feel ordinary feel like change agents? How could your brand take them on this journey? When you define your clotheslines and your action-idea, the stories you need to publish will be evident. They’ll feed back into these larger strategies and help you create an engaging brand, a brand which will bring you results.

Don’t give into the temptation of generic content just because you know you need a flier. No fliers are better than generic ones. Ben and Jerry’s knows this. Apple knows this. But, Microsoft? We all know that answer to that. Be intentional. Be meaningful. Be you.