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Beth Bandy, Director

Originally from a small farming community in Ohio, Beth Bandy has lived in the rural Massachusetts town of Charlemont since 2001. She currently is serving her fifth year on the Charlemont Select Board and previously was Chair of the School Committee at the Hawlemont Regional Elementary School. Beth is a researcher, trainer, and consultant who has served charitable organizations on five continents. Locally, she has been a board member with educational, performing arts, and historical nonprofits.


Toby Gould, Director

Toby Gould has lived in Charlemont since 2004 and has served on the town’s Select Board, Finance Committee, Broadband Committee and Conservation Commission. Now retired, Toby has been editor and publisher of adult study books for the United Methodist Church. He has pastored several churches in New York and Connecticut as well as serving in national and global positions. Toby has wide experience in both governmental and non-profit sectors having served on numerous boards in both local and national contexts.


Robert W. Herdt, Advisor

Robert W. Herdt is an advisor on our Eight-Town Center for Economic Growth and other rural economic development projects. Bob received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Minnesota.


Rachel Porter, West County Kitchens workgroup

Having grown up in Heath, Ohio and Michigan, Rachel Porter moved to Charlemont in 2007. A former high school teacher she recently served on the leadership team for the Mohawk Trail School System, was a commissioner of the Charlemont Sewer District, and is a current member of the Heath Agricultural Society. She holds a MPA in non-profit management. Rachel is working on our West County Kitchens project and the Ag Summit.


Wendy Sweetser Ferris

Wendy is Director of Community Outreach at the Franklin Land Trust. Previously, she worked for The Trustees of Reservations as the Director of the Highland Communities Initiative, a program dedicated to building community capacity for conservation and community preservation in the 38 towns west of the Connecticut River Valley. She received her masters’ degree in regional planning from UMass Amherst where she focused on community preservation issues in rural Massachusetts. Wendy currently serves on our workgroups putting together a Rural Products Directory and organizing the Ag Summit.


Karen Hogness

Originally from Seattle, Karen came to Charlemont by way of Oberlin College in 1974. She and her husband Dennis Avery owned and operated Avery’s Store in Charlemont for 43 years. She has extensive experience in retail and small business issues. A former Charlemont EMT, she has also been on numerous town and school committees including the Hawlemont Building Committee, Mohawk LEC, Traffic Calming Committee, and the Charlemont Economic Roundtable.


LineSync Architects, Pro bono services

The award-winning team at LineSync Architects is providing pro bono feasibility study services for our Eight-Town Center for Economic Growth project.