Our Board of Directors
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.t resident.
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.
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 and the 2021 Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts from the Vermont Arts Council.
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.
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.