Our Board of Directors
Ebonie Alexander, MS. Director and Secretary, CFF Board of Directors
Ms. Alexander is the Executive Director of the Black Family Land Trust, based in North Carolina. The Black Family Land Trust's mission is to help African-American farmers retain ownership of their land in light of African Americans' devastating loss of 93% of their land assets over the past century. The Black Family Land Trust provides technical support and advice to assist black farmers with effective land stewardship practices in agriculture and forestry.
Ms. Alexander advises the United States Department of Agriculture on national agriculture and farming policies and serves on multiple boards, including the American Farmland Trust. She is a resident of North Carolina.
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 receipient of the 2021 Con Hogan Award from the Vermont Community Foundation and the 2021 Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts from the Vermont Arts Council.
Donna Sherard, MPH. Director, CFF Board of Directors. Ms. Sherard is a seasoned global health marketing and behavior change communication professional with more than 20 years’ experience designing and leading high-quality behavior change programs. She is skilled in strategy design and implementation (Social Marketing, Human Centered Design and Social Behavior Change), audience and market insight application, capacity building and change management in a range of health areas – HIV, TB, family planning, adolescent reproductive health, maternal and child health, nutrition and malaria.
After nearly 10 years in private sector healthcare marketing in the United States, Ms. Sherard spent seven years in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda leading a number of behavior change communication and advocacy programs. Her work included five years as Deputy Regional Representative to Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs where she was responsible for leading an award-winning, regional health communication and advocacy project addressing HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health.
Upon returning to work and live in the United States, Ms. Sherard spent six years at the world’s largest social marketing organization, PSI. She led PSI’s social behavior change initiatives as the Deputy Director for HIV and TB, provided technical assistance to product and service marketing interventions and brand strategies in over 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia and Central America and the Caribbean.
In 2014, Ms. Sherard founded Changeable, a global health marketing and behavior change firm. In the past 7 years of operation, she has led the small, woman owned business, doubling annual revenue through delivering client centered, consultative services to a range of clients including several US federal government agencies (USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation), the commercial private sector (Johnson and Johnson), private foundations (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Nike Foundation) and large not for profits (One Acre Fund, FHI 360, JSI, PSI) working globally to improve health and social well-being.
She has an MPH from Columbia University and a BS in Marketing from Hampton University.
Leslie McCrorey Wells, MA. Director, CFF Board of Directors. A lifelong resident of Vermont, Leslie McCrorey Wells grew up in Charlotte. She has long sought to balance a passion for fine food and entrepreneurship with a call to social action. As co-owner of Burlington restaurants Pizzeria Verità, Trattoria Delia and Sotto Enoteca, she has found fulfillment in building successful, employee-centered businesses with strong environmental practices, local sourcing and a commitment to community engagement.
Hailing from a long line of educators and activists, Ms. Wells and her siblings learned a wide array of life lessons from their parents, including the understanding that since racism is learned, it could be un-learned. This instilled in her a deep belief in the power of education, a hunger for social justice and a desire to take direct action.
In past years, Leslie has served on the Vermont Commission on National & Community Service, the UVM Coming Home Project, the Burlington School District Strategic Planning Committee, and Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle’s Anti-Racism Task Force. She currently serves as a board member for the Fleming Museum and Mercy Connections, a Vermont-based non-profit organization with an enduring concern for women. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Education and a Master's degree in History from the University of Vermont.
Margaret Bass, PhD, MA., Director, CFF Board of Directors. Dr. Bass is Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at St. Michael's College in Vermont. She served as a Restorative Justice Panel Manager with the City of Winooski's police department and a member of the School Board in Winooski School District. She is a retired Associate Professor of English at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. In addition to teaching, Dr. Bass has held several administrative positions, including Interim Dean of Students and the Director of the Center for Diversity and Social Justice. She is an avid traveler and student of world cultures. She has led student groups on experiential learning trips in and out of the U.S. Dr. Bass writes extensively on diversity and social justice in predominantely white academic institutions. She has won several awards for outstanding undergraduate teaching. Dr. Bass holds a BA in English from Wilmington College in Ohio, a M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Mississippi, and a PhD. in English from Louisiana State University.
Steve L. Gibbs, CPA. Director and Treasurer, CFF Board of Directors. Mr. Gibbs is the Chief Accounting Officer of Home Depot. Previously, he served as the Chief Accounting Officer of Tyson Foods and Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., Vice President and CAO for Scientific Games Corporation, and VP of Finance for Scientific Games Racing, Manager of Accounting Research at The Coca-Cola Company, and as a public accountant with well-respected accounting firms, Arthur Andersen LLP and Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
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.
Mrs. Lydia M. Clemmons, RN, CLNA. Honorary Member, CFF Board of Directors
A retired nurse anesthetist with a 70-year healthcare career in the US and Africa, Mrs. Clemmons was the first African-American nurse anesthetist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and was President of the New England Association of Nurse Anesthetists. She received an honorary degree in Law (JD) from the University of Vermont in recognition of her service and achievements in Vermont and New England.
With her husband, she served as co-president of the Charlotte Central School PTA in the 1960s. She also started the Charlotte 4H Club, and remains a vibrant member of her community. In addition to her career in nursing, Lydia Clemmons is a Reike healer and pursued fulfilling vocations as a farmer, an artist, an activist and a world traveler.
In 1984, Mrs. Clemmons launched Authentica African Imports, the very first African art mail order import business in the United States right on the farm in Charlotte, which she ran for nearly 25 years. Mrs. Clemmons and her husband are the co-owners of the 148-acre farm located in Charlotte, Vermont, which they purchased in 1962. She provides vision and advises on the transitioning of the farm into an African American Heritage and Multicultural Center. A well-known and beloved storyteller, Mrs. Clemmons is a Vermont resident.
Jules Polk, MS. Director, CFF Board of Directors.
After working with Save The Children Fund UK as District Coordinator for the Tamil Tiger controlled region during an active conflict campaign, Ms. Polk moved to Charlotte Vermont and has since spent over 15 years serving on various local and national Boards of Directors for Non Profit Organizations including the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, CERF+, The Heidelberg Project, and as special consultant for Haystack School of Craft and The Archie Bray Foundation. Her volunteer activities include refugee resettlement work with newly arrived families in Vermont and volunteer teaching at the Women's Prison in South Burlington. In addition, Ms. Polk spends her philanthropic time giving back to the East Side of Detroit and is currently working on creating a private landtrust for young black Artists to live and work and OWN their own homes in the developing Arts District of Detroit. She is a mixed-media visual artist and holds a Master's Degree in International Non Profit Management with a concentration in conflict resolution.
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.