About Us

The Center for New Leadership (CNL) is a project of Marlboro College, in southern Vermont. Partnering with individuals, organizations, and coalitions, CNL is a community focused on exploring and applying transformative approaches to leadership. Our goal is to strengthen leadership capacity in the mission-driven sector through teaching, coaching, and consulting.

  • We take an inquiry-based approach, informed more by curiosity than by certainty.
  • We cultivate leadership that is responsive, collaborative, and reflective. 
  • We believe shared learning is a critical means for creating social good.
  • We strive to expand the positive impact of the mission-driven sector.
  • We foster joy, balance, and rigor in our work.

Who We Serve

We serve the mission-driven sector of northern New England, including individual change-agents, nonprofit organizations, socially-responsible businesses, and cross-sector collaborations. We take a special interest in supporting emerging and nontraditional leaders.


Great leadership requires good theories and even better practices. CNL’s intention is twofold:

  • To continually refine the theories of leadership that we teach in our graduate and professional studies programs by testing them against real-world applications.
  • To bring our evolving knowledge of leadership and management out into the world in order to help individuals, organizations and coalitions meet their missions effectively and authentically.

The CNL community pursues the twin development of wise theory informed by dedicated practice, and transformational practice informed by inspired theory.

Staff Team

Kate Jellema

What experience do you bring to this job?

At an earlier stage I was an anthropologist and I bring to my job a strong interest in hearing people's stories. I have often found myself working in the borderlands between applied humanitarian work and academic research, and love the productive interplay of research and practice.

Your passion

I love working with adults who are really good at their jobs but are at a point in their life where they are seeking new challenges in their career, or a better alignment of passion and work, and are ready to take some personal and professional risks.

Community involvement

I serve on the board of Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro. Most of the rest of my community involvement comes through the programs we run out of Marlboro.

International destination that you've spent the most time, and why?

My graduate research took me to Asia. I started by exploring the life of Vietnamese migrants detained in a high-security camp in Hong Kong; later I traced their journey back to their sending communities in northern Vietnam. Later I spent a couple years in the Hanoi area studying how the past was interwoven in everyday experiences of the present.

Kids, pets, important people in your life?

My husband and I have a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. I'm hoping they will start begging for a puppy soon; it's been too long since we've had a dog in the house.

What's the strangest job you've ever had?

Once I had a job transcribing interview tapes for an anthropologist who had interviewed all her high school classmates at age 50, as a way to understand changing ideas of social class in America.

Professional certificates

Marlboro College Certificate in Nonprofit Management 2010
Vermont Leadership Institute 2012


Kim Lier


BA University of Notre Dame
MAT School for International Training
Nonprofit Management Certificate, Marlboro College
Teaching Japanese Language and Culture: A Proficiency Approach, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Japanese Teacher Training Certificate, Cornell University


A lifetime spent learning and teaching and thinking about how both happen. I've worked in public and private schools of various sizes and taught students from 2 to much, much older than that. I have also engaged in helping teachers think about the teaching and learning in the context of their school, community and/or culture.


How to people learn? How can learning be encouraged? What is the teacher's role in learning? What is the learner's role in learning? These are questions that I love to think about.

Community Involvement

I've been preparing and serving meals for the Overflow Shelter in Brattleboro for 7 years. My family and I always help with the Girls on the Run 5K events in Brattleboro. I volunteer for everything I can at my son's school.

International destination

Japan. I have lived in Japan for a total of six years and have made several short trips there to do teacher training and other professional work. I feel very at home there and love the language.


My family is number one; my husband and son and the family I grew up in are my center. A pair of cats keep us in line.
The amazing people I work with bring richness to my days.

Strangest Job

Not that strange (to me) but unusual: leading winter camping trips in northern Maine. Oh, and answering phones on the evening shift for Greyhound Bus Line-Canada in Vancouver. I learned the names and locations of most of the small towns in British Columbia. And, answered a lot of unrelated questions including a regular caller who always asked, "What time is it?"


Emily Blistein

What experience do you bring to this job?

I have worked in numerous non-nonprofit organizations over the last 20 years as an advocate, attorney, and policy adviser focusing on serving low income clients and those affected by domestic violence. I also took 6 years off to run my own small business, a local store that featured the work of independent designers. This lead to a consulting practice where I worked with designers to help grow, edit, and sustain their creative product lines.

Your passion

After a childhood of introversion, I'm a true extrovert. I love drawing out and helping to craft and communicate each person's unique story and help them gain the skills and support necessary to launch into the next phase of life.

Community involvement

II currently serve on the Community Partnership Council for my local school supervisory union. In the past, I have served as a board member to the Vermont Women's Fund Board, the Board of the Pembroke Center for Women at Brown University, The Better Middlebury Partnership.

International destination that you've spent the most time, and why?

I studied abroad in Florence Italy when I was a junior in high school pursuing art and art history. I returned once in college and again for my honeymoon.

Kids, pets, important people in your life?

I live in Middlebury Vermont with my husband, three sons and a shy, but increasingly playful rescue dog

What's the strangest job you've ever had?

I have nannied and taught kids who say and do ridiculous things, but all of my jobs have been pretty normal.

Professional certificates

Certificate in Nonprofit Management