Our Board of Directors
Lydia Clemmons, PhD, MPH President, CFF Board of Directors
Dr. Clemmons is a medical anthropologist with a 35-year career leading ethnographic research and community development programs in the US and more than 20 African countries. She has more than 20 years of senior executive-level experience managing national and global program annual budgets of $20 million dollars. She is internationally recognized for her innovative work integrating arts and culture into effective public health and social change programming.
Dr. Clemmons began her international work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Democratic Republic of Congo. She has worked for the US Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and numerous US nonprofit organizations working in international development.
She grew up on her family’s farm in Vermont and returned in 2013 to help preserve the farm- one of just 0.4% of all farms in the US that is African-American owned- for future generations. As President of the Clemmons Family Farm, she provides leadership for the farm’s transition into a nonprofit organization and oversees its programming. She is a Vermont resident. She holds a PhD in Medical Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a Master in Public Health from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.
Dr. Clemmons is the recipient of the 2021 Con Hogan Award from the Vermont Community Foundation, the 2021 Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts from the Vermont Arts Council, and the 2022 NAACP-Rutland Branch Lifetime Achievement Award.
Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas, D.Min, M. Div. Director, CFF Board of Directors. Rev. Thomas is Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho, Vermont, where he has established ongoing programs of community outreach, including Food for Thought, cosponsored by Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, and the Racism in America Forum, cosponsored by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and Mount Mansfield Community Television.
Previously Rev. Thomas served as Interim Senior Pastor of Charlotte Congregational Church in Charlotte, Vermont, Minister of Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations at The Riverside Church in New York City , Adjunct Professor of Religion at New York Theological Seminary; and Senior Minister to Wilton Congregational Church in Wilton, Connecticut. He has served a variety of ministries, including in Little Rock, Arkansas; in Middletown, Connecticut; in Williamstown, Massachusetts; was the first African American denominational leader in Vermont.
He was also President of the Criminal Justice Ministry of Arkansas; Co-founder and Vice President of the Arkansas Conference of Churches and Synagogues; Co-founder and President of the Human Rights and Relations Task Force of Northern Berkshire County, where he was the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peacemaker Award; President of the Vermont Ecumenical Council; Co-founder of Toastmasters of Riverside Church, Harlem (TORCH); and Co-founder of the Center for the Study of Science and Religion at Riverside of the Riverside Church and Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He is also Co-founder of the Network for Human Understanding, an interfaith effort to build sustainable, empowering communities in every economic environment; and has initiated Riverside Church’s first new church start in cooperation with the church’s Korean Christian Fellowship.
Before pursuing a career in ministry, Rev. Thomas considered becoming an actor having won several awards as a youth in humorous and dramatic interpretation and, as a young adult (during his first pastorate), playing lead roles at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also a lyricist whose words have been published as hymns. Dr. Thomas received his B.A. in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Hiram College, his Master of Divinity from Yale University, and his Doctorate in Ministry from Hartford Seminary.
Our Program Leadership Team
Our Windows To A Multicultural World
Core K-12 Teaching Artist Team
Our core team of teaching artists is below. We also collaborate with other Vermont artists of African descent to deliver tailored teaching artists engagements for special programs.