Breakout Sessions & Happy Hours

Our breakout sessions are an opportunity to meet and hear from colleagues and friends who are working on some of the most important issues of our time, from food equity to building more inclusive communities. They will be hosted through Zoom to allow for as much participant engagement as possible.

All breakouts will take place from 5 to 6:30 pm E.T., on both Tuesday, April 20 and Wednesday, April 21. Each day offers four concurrent sessions to choose from. Use the button in this email to review the breakout options and make your selections. 

Our Happy Hours are an informal opportunity to connect and network with other Rural Assembly Everywhere participants. Each session will feature a special guest or an organizational host who will offer a creative, interactive format for folks to engage in cultural exchange. They will be hosted through Zoom. 

Happy Hour will take place from 7:00 to 8:00 pm E.T. each day. 

How to attend 

Once you’ve registered for Rural Assembly Everywhere, you will receive an email to select which breakout and/or happy hour session you will attend each day. Explore your options below.  Session descriptions and panelists are listed under each title. Have questions? Email Tyler Owens at for assistance. 


Need to register for Rural Assembly Everywhere? Sign up here. 


Day 1: Tuesday, April 20

Presented by the Center for Inclusion and Belonging


Learn about a new national air and ground campaign to advance belonging in American communities called Belonging Begins with Us. JOIN the breakout.


Wendy Feliz on Rural Assembly Everywhere podcast Wendy Feliz – Center for Inclusion and Belonging, American Immigration Council: Wendy Feliz is the founding Director of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council. Wendy has been with the Council since 2008 and has two decades of experience in public policy/advocacy communications. 

Mohammed Naeem – Mohammed is Senior Manager for Strategy and Partnerships at the Center for Inclusion and Belonging, guiding the direction, facilitation, and build of its programmatic portfolios. He has led movement-building projects across racial and economic justice, immigration, and bridge-building between diverse groups. Mohammed has a background in medical and public health research and is an alumna of Stony Brook University. 
Mike Newman – Executive Director, RAISE. Mike Newman was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. After a long career in the private sector, Mike began teaching ESL at Crowder College in 2018. He became the Executive Director of RAISE Noel in March of 2020 where he oversees the organization’s programs and finances. 

Mike Newman, Executive Director, RAISE, Mike Newman was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. After a long career in the private sector, Mike began teaching ESL at Crowder College in 2018. He became the Executive Director of RAISE Noel in March of 2020 where he oversees the organization’s programs and finances. Mike holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Michigan

Session: Art Justice in Response to Covid-19 
5 p.m. ET
Tuesday April 20
Presented by the Double Edge Theatre

Over the near 40 years of Double Edge Theatre’s
existance, they have been advancing equity, justice, and imagination through performance, cultural exchange, and in their rural region of Ashfield, MA. Associate Producer Cariel Klein and Associate Artistic Director Travis Coe will discuss the Theatre’s ethos of Art Justice. They will detail how that concept was conceptualized at Double Edge and how Art Justice helped the long-term ensemble respond to drastic changes due to Covid-19. This will include an open discussion about how Art Justice can be put into practice in every situation as we continually search for light and uplift. JOIN the session. 


Cariel Klein (they/she) returned to Double Edge three years ago after feeling an urge to find a creative community that would work with her towards a just world. They are an antagonist in an imperialist world and is an accomplice in an anti-racist, queer, multi-generational, artistic movement. In addition to Double Edge performances, Cariel has recently produced residencies/projects at DE with artists like Ebony Noelle Golden and Keryl McCord. 

Travis Coe (he/him/his) has been working with Double Edge since 2016 and has taken on several roles including actor, solo performer, co-creator, video director, and marketing. Travis pushes his desires and dreams forward, unapologetically through work that speaks to his identity, his culture, and his perspective as the youngest member of the DE Ensemble and as the Associate Artistic Director. Travis is also a Co-Founder of Round Room Image and recently completed work on the documentary Before we leave Venezuela, which was awarded Best Documentary at the Bowery Film Festival and Maracay Film Festival. 

Design to Reclaim Rural America
5 p.m. ET
Tuesday April 20
Presented by Housing Assistance Council and Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Join Housing Assistance Council and Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design leader, Evelyn
Immonen, in a session that breaks down the built environment around us and how artists, planners, and citizens can team up to reclaim a place. Listeners will first get a basic understanding of what it is that architects and designers do, and a chance to demystify concepts like “design charette.” We’ll also hear a case study from a historically black church in Appalachian Ohio, and further discuss how to vision for public spaces as centers of history, healing, and community. JOIN the breakout. 


Evelyn Immonen, Project Manager, Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design. Evelyn is a Research Associate and Project Manager at the Housing Assistance Council. She works with the Citizens Institute on Rural Design, an initiative that supports rural and small towns engaging in design, creative placemaking, and architecture. Evelyn is particularly interested in Native American communities due to her heritage with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and connection to many tribes in North and South Dakota. 

Tee Ford-Ahmed Tee is a Board Member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society in Athens, OH and  Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society’s Communication/Media Relations Director & Professor Emeritus (Public Relations/Media Studies) West Virginia State University.  

Lindsey BricenoLindsey Briceno AIA, Epicenter in Green River, Utah. Lindsey is an Architect at Epicenter, a non-profit developer and arts organization, in Green River, Utah. She first came to work at Epicenter as a Rose Fellow by way of Dallas, TX, where she worked on large multi-family projects around the country. Lindsey’s passion for community driven work is what sparked her interest in this rural town and she is now serving as Project Lead on Epicenter’s first affordable housing project.  


Empowering Rural Entrepreneurs to Make a Difference 
5 p.m. ET
Tuesday April 20
Presented by The Rural America Chamber of Commerce

This breakout session will focus on the social contract between rural entrepreneurs and rural communities. We often hear about the responsibilities that Fortune 500 and other big companies have in relation to social impact and social change throughout the nation. The country’s big oil companies are rightfully reviewed for the role they play in climate change. And the tech players are held to account for ensuring diversity amongst their leadership teams. We rarely discuss the responsibilities and accountabilities that rural and small-town entrepreneurs and business leaders have with regard to our own communities – in this session, we will. And those responsibilities go far and beyond supporting the local high school teams during football and baseball seasons.  JOIN the breakout.

Lance Trebesch is the CEO of Eventgroove, a one-stop event platform for event management, online fundraising, print-on-demand tickets and merchandise. Eventgroove is committed to empowering and helping their customers execute wildly successful events and fundraisers with less cost and hassle, all under their brand.

Drinkwater_headshotJennifer Drinkwater is the Founder of The What’s Good Project and Jennifer Drinkwater Art, LLC. The What’s Good Project explores what we value where we live. Jennifer creates original paintings of real places, based on the stories of real people she meets. A portion of each sale is donated back to the featured communities.

Kendra Payne, the Founder of The Herbal Scoop, has worked in the wellness industry as an herbalist, yoga teacher, health coach, juice cleanse concierge, meditation teacher and manager for 12+ years. As a sick child, she was poked and prodded by doctors more than necessary. She was tested for everything from mono to leukemia and still, had no answers. Once she took charge of her health and healing she truly felt well. That confidence is what she wants to help her clients find within themselves. The combined experience of being a sick child, listening to her own body to heal, and her work in the wellness industry has fueled her passion to offer the opportunity for others to heal on their own terms. She owns a brick and mortar business, sells on her website and offers one-on-one consultations and workshops.


Sherri Powell is a proud native of rural Alamo, Georgia – the county seat of Wheeler, which currently ranks as the third poorest county in the United States of America. Sherri has been a long-time advocate for sustainable rural economic development policies and initiatives. In 2020 she founded Yours Rurally, an e-commerce company offering curated gift boxes, for all occasions, that feature premium, high-utility products sourced exclusively from rural America’s brands and businesses.

Sherri currently serves as the Founder & Executive Director of the Rural America Chamber of Commerce, a national, member-based, non-profit organization committed to supporting and promoting entrepreneurs and business leaders throughout rural, small-town USA. 

Day 2: Wednesday, April 21

Challenges and Opportunities of Pandemic Response Among Women Farmers and Ranchers 
5 p.m. ET
Wednesday April 21
Presented by American Farmland Trust

We know the pandemic continues to take a toll on all aspects of global life. The food supply chain has been particularly hard hit, with record Covid-19 infection rates in meat packing plants to the culling of hogs and the willful destruction of commodity crops as markets have collapsed demand and existing supply chains. Small and mid-sized farmers, however, in many cases have pivoted to respond to the food demands of their local and regional communities in ways that have allowed them to survive and, in some cases, thrive. We have seen that women farmers and farmers of color are at the forefront of feeding their communities and meeting rising food security needs as the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact society, globally and here in the U.S. As we emerge from the pandemic, what lessons have we learned that will guide our community as well as policy response to supporting these farmers in building more resilient food systems that center farmers and ranchers in ways that support their long-term success. Join our vibrant women-led and organized panel of farmers, ranchers, food system leaders and researchers engage in a moderated discussion to explore these themes and ask them some of your own questions.  JOIN this session. 


Gabrielle McNallyPhD, Women for the Land Director American Farmland Trust. Gabrielle leads AFT’s national initiative to ensure women landowners have access to resources, technical advice, and policy facilitators to ensure they lead in conservation and building resilient agrifood systems. Before joining AFT, she worked as a fellow with the USDA Northwest Climate Hub where she conducted social science research to better understand producer decision making in sustainable agrifood systems, particularly in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation. She has written or contributed to many reports, assessments, and other publications on climate change. Gabrielle earned a Master of Science from the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forestry Science, where she focused on environmental economics and a Doctorate in sociology and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University where she worked as one of the lead social scientists on a large-scale interdisciplinary USDA-NIFA project as part of her dissertation research.

Shoshanah Inwood Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, Ohio. Shoshanah is a rural sociologist and an assistant professor in SENR. She holds degrees in rural sociology, environmental science and biology. Her career has focused on the intersection of agriculture, environment, and society in the context of community and economic development. Shoshanah has maintained a dual focus studying both the role of communities in food system development and the socio-cultural household level processes that underlay the American food and agriculture system.  

Lisa Kivirist Renewing the Countryside and Soil Sisters, Wisconsin A national advocate for women in sustainable agriculture, Lisa Kivirist is the author of the award-winning book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers and leads the Soil Sisters initiative project at Renewing the Countryside. Kivirist is the co-author of multiple books on sustainability, food and entrepreneurship with her husband, John Ivanko, including Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, Ecopreneuring and Rural Renaissance. For over twenty years, she and her family have run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by renewable energy. 

LaShauna Austria – LaShauna Austria is an ordained faith leader with a fierce commitment to, and deep experience with, building strong, vibrant, and sustainable communities as well as a demonstrated record of collaborating with rural communities, faith and non faith based organizations to address race, justice and equity issues. She has a professional and personal passion for, and involvement with, a variety of racial equity organizations, initiatives and food systems in the surrounding area. LaShauna is the Interim Executive Director at Benevolence Farm, a reentry organization in Alamance County, NC and bo-vocational Pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

Amber Smith Women in Ranching Director with Western Lands Alliance, Montana, Amber has been living and working in rural America since 2004, beginning at The Home Ranch in Colorado, where she worked as a wrangler. Over the past five years in Eastern Montana, she has been writing and editing works regarding Holistic Management. She currently serves on her local school board, library board, the Council on Aging and Big Dry Transit boards of Garfield County. She and her husband are raising their two children and working to steward a 53,000-acre ranch in Cohagen, Montana. Her passion revolves around working with others to build a future in which rural families thrive. WLA’s Women in Ranching has most recently provided her a platform on which to continue rural community building through supporting feminine leadership on the large working landscapes of Montana. 

Yadira Ruiz –
Co-Owner with Sunbow Farm, Oregon, Ruiz is a full-time organic farmer growing seasonal and storage crops in the Willamette Valley on a small farm scale. Yadira grew up in conventional agriculture, watching her parents labor in commercial growing operations sometimes owned by local families but mostly owned by statewide corporations. It was the laborious nature of growing food that set her on a non-agricultural professional path where her love of culture, language and community were put to use as a teacher in California, a social worker and rape crisis/social justice program director in Illinois. The intense emotional demand of her professional career was balanced out by volunteering on organic farms. After a short while, she couldn’t deny that farm work sparked a connection with herself, people and the land that felt like home. She moved back to the PNW and jumped into learning about the food system by working in restaurants, a local grocery co-op and becoming an apprentice at Sunbow Farm where she now runs Sunbow Produce with her husband Nate. 

A Bridge to Somewhere: A United States is Possible 
Presented by Unify America

Can we bridge our divisions?  Join us for an interactive 90-minute session about how you can play an integral part in bridging what divides us.  Harry Nathan Gottlieb, founder of Jackbox Games and Unify America, will be joined by Andrew Hanauer of One America Movement, Kira Hamman of Urban Rural Action, and Anna Claussen of Voices of Rural Resilience to talk about how these organizations are all using different tactics to achieve the same goals: reducing contempt, providing opportunities for civil conversation, and working together on common concerns.  Be prepared to laugh, have fun and learn while we come together to build both bridges and skills.  JOIN the session.

Harry GottliebHarry Nathan Gottlieb — 
For 25 years as an entrepreneur, Harry Nathan Gottlieb has focused on making learning and decision-making delightful (as the founder of Jellyvision) and created unique games that bring people together (as the founder of Jackbox Games.)  In 2020 Harry founded Unify America, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that is committed to replacing politics with problem solving and unifying Americans around shared goals and shared solutions. Unify America’s first offering, the Unify Challenge, brings people together across the political divide to have meaningful, interactive conversations about important issues facing our nation. 

Kira Hamman — Kira is on the faculty at Penn State Mont Alto, where she teaches mathematics and directs the honors program. She joined UR Action at its inception and currently serves as the organization’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. She has worked extensively on the Uniting for Action programs in Maryland and Pennsylvania and on the development of UR Action’s education partnerships. In addition to her work with UR Action, Kira chairs a non-partisan political action committee focused on cooperative government and runs workshops to help people learn to communicate across differences. Her professional interests include the intersection of mathematics and quantitative literacy with social justice issues, and civic and community engagement among college students. Kira grew up in downtown Baltimore City and has lived on a small farm in rural Washington County, Maryland for the last 20 years, thus functioning as a one-woman bridge across the urban-rural divide.

Andrew Hanauer — Andrew is the President and CEO of the One America Movement, a national nonprofit confronting toxic polarization in our society. The One America Movement equips faith communities to confront division and work together across political, racial, and religious divides to solve problems that matter. Under Andrew’s leadership, One America has launched projects that bring Americans together across divides to address race relations, opioids, poverty, and religious differences across the country, from Utah to Oklahoma, to California, to West Virginia, to some of our nation’s largest cities. In addition to running projects that unite Americans across divides, One America trains religious leaders on the dynamics of polarization and division. The One America Movement was founded together with faith and community leaders. Andrew has built from scratch a board and leadership composed of faith and community leaders that span the political, racial, and religious spectrum. The board includes senior leaders from national Muslim, Jewish, and Evangelical Christian institutions; such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Wheaton College, Repair the World, American Jewish World Service, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and from the Cato Institute, Black Lives Matter, the George W. Bush Administration, Silicon Valley and more. Andrew is a frequent public speaker at houses of worship of all kinds and has spoken at the United Nations, the National Press Club, and Congressional briefings. His work has been published or featured by USA Today, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Salon, The Times of Israel, Voice of America, the Christian Citizen, and media outlets across the US and abroad. 

Anna Clausen — Anna is a photographer, community place-maker, policy and social strategist, teacher and mother. She bridges years of practice in urban design and sustainable agriculture policy with a life deeply rooted on a Minnesota family farm. Over the last two decades, Anna has focused on creating resilient communities through the design and vision of alternative land-use plans; through strategic planning and community facilitation; by sitting in tough spaces, wrestling with problems, and believing in the humanity of all people. Anna founded Voices for Rural Resilience, a collective of place-based leaders who embrace a portfolio of empathy building tools to create a reality where rural people are heard, feel moved and take the lead in our collective fight against climate change. Prior, Anna was a Rural Organizer and Director of Rural Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit working locally and globally pursuing cutting edge solutions that benefit family farmers, communities, and the planet. Anna was chosen as a 2017-18 Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow to scale the Rural Climate Dialogue model – a revolutionary form of civic engagement empowering communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change and advancing inclusive climate change policies through empowered democracy. Anna advises a number of organizations working on civic engagement and local place-making, including: Advisor to the National Rural Assembly; Board Director for Art of the Rural, Department of Public Transformation, and Resource Media. She’s grounded in Minnesota, where she and her husband and their three young children call home.  


Caring for Communities
Presented by The Center for Rural Strategies
5 p.m. ET

During harsh winters and throughout a pandemic, those experiencing homelessness or displacement in rural places are often invisible and without resources. Learn ways that you can make an impact in your communities by listening to Indigenous women that are dedicating their life’s work to supporting people from their communities.  Join this session 


Reyes DeVore – Director, Pueblo Action Alliance, Owner, Heartwork

Reyes DeVore, of Jemez Pueblo, continues to actively organize events within the community to continue the conversation about Environmental Justice and Social impacts of indigenous peoples’. Before taking on this role with PAA she was invested in Early Childhood Education as a teacher and a home visitor. She has over 7 years experience working with marginalized communities where she provided parent education on child development to break cycles of trauma and build healthy relationships in the home. Reyes also currently works with the Native American Community Academy here in Albuquerque, where she helps implement their Indigenized curriculum with high school students. She has co-developed the Cultivating Indigenous Resistance workshop and leads the Youth Internship with PAA. In addition to the many roles she plays within indigenous communities she is a mother to a 11 year old son who ultimately drives her compassion to continue this life work.

Borderlands & Belonging
Presented by The Rural Youth Catalyst Project 

Borders are present across race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender identity and sexuality, class, or any other identity. Living in the borderlands can bring feelings of being an outsider, fear of isolation, discrimination, and hatred as we carry identities and try to navigate those borders. When we are able to diminish those differences in our communities everyone is better for it. With our guests, we will explore how intentional and inadvertent borders get created and how young people are affected. We will also find out how personal experience has shaped their thinking and practice helping young people navigate those borders. JOIN the session.

Amanda Furdge – Shelby
is the Youth Program Coordinator for the Children’s Defense Fund-Southern Region Office and the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Social and Economic Justice (SRBWI), where she directs the Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) – a program that reached its 14th year in 2019 and serves as the Social Media Database Manager. She is responsible for the development and execution of high impact youth-centered curricula and programming, as well community organizing and advocacy. Amanda is dedicated to seeing young people; in particular young women of color – learn life lessons, control their own narratives, and lead while growing. Prior to joining CDF-SRO, Ms. Furdge worked and still works as a writer, publishing her first collection of non-fictional stories about growing up in Mississippi, motherhood and art in 2016 and a multi medium Performing Artist. After graduating from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, she served briefly in the United States Navy, gained college credits from Hinds (Raymond, MS) and Harry S. Truman (Chicago, IL). She has earned a para-professional certification from the Illinois State Board of Education, a medical assisting certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants, worked as a flight attendant and resident teaching artist for Young Chicago Authors, Chicago Public Schools and a number of faith-based organizations. Amanda is an organizer and community activist serving communities across the county in various capacities. She is married to Dexter Shelby and mother to three sons, Titan, Mega and Seven.

Alan Cruz is the Youth Community Liaison at the
Dayle McIntosh Center in Anaheim CA. Alan is a blind Mexican male due to cancer and was born in Mexico City. He started with DMC in August 2017 as a youth. In 2018 he became a volunteer through Youth Organizing! Disabled and Proud. At the end of his time with YO, he got offered a job opportunity at the Dayle McIntosh Center. One of Alan’s many accomplishments is that in 2019 Alan graduated from Santa Ana College and got his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and a degree on English to Spanish Interpretation. Alan is looking forward to transferring to a CAL State to get his Bachelors in Spanish and then his credentials to become a Special Education teacher. Besides his two passions which are mentoring youth and assistive technology, Alan enjoys playing guitar and singing. Alan loves being part of the disability community. One of his favorite phrases is “Peace of cake!” 

Marlene Guerrero Plua is the Project Manager for Jolt Initiative. A Rio Grande Valley girl at heart, Marlene’s advocacy work is fueled by her own personal narrative growing up in a colonia, being raised by a single mother and having worked as a migrant farmworker. Marlene knows firsthand the inequalities and the hardships perpetuated by poverty. 

Previously, she worked at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid as the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. Marlene has led various campaigns representing the narratives of the borderlands and is a co-founder of FUERZA del Valle Worker’s Center. Marlene is a first-generation college graduate from Kalamazoo College where she received a BA in Anthropology/Sociology with a concentration in Media Studies and studied Spanish Language and Literature at the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. 

Marlene is a passionate and fierce leader fighting for a better world for her son and the next generations to come. 

Jase Silversmith is the Program Coordinator for the Developing Future Victim Specialists program at Capacity Builders, Inc. Whether it be guiding interns in their virtual training modules, facilitating weekly meetings between staff and interns, or assisting with grant data collection, Jase enjoys working in the field of non-profit management. He loves grant facilitation, working with young folks, and ultimately affecting positive change in surrounding communities. Jase obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Operations Management and Organizational Leadership on the Non-Profit track from the University of New Mexico. Jase grew up on the Navajo Reservation in the Land of Enchantment. He enjoys reading historical thrillers and science fiction. He is a foodie who loves dogs, hiking, traveling to new places, and hanging out with friends and family. 

Happy Hours

Day 1: Tuesday, April 20

Pop Culture Happy Hour
Join the Daily Yonder as we rank the greatest rural movies ever committed to film. Our professional panel will kick things off before we open things up to any and all cinema buffs. Whether you’re a Hoosier or a Coal Miner’s Daughter, your strongest opinions and hottest takes are welcome at this happening happy hour. JOIN the happy hour. 

Day 2: Wednesday April 20

The Currency of Joy
7 p.m. ET 
JOIN this Happy Hour

Join ON and OFF The Clock Happy Hour guests at our digital watering hole for a look back on a year marked by isolation, fear, and uncertainty with a whole-hearted conversation about joy! Where do we find it, how do we claim it, spend it and receive it, and how do we collectively ensure that joy is accepted and celebrated, even amidst times of scarcity?

ON and OFF The Clock, hosted by Ash Hanson from the Department of Public Transformation and Anna Claussen from Voices for Rural Resilience, has been bringing together rural, place-based cultural workers and artists monthly for the past two years to build connection, give sustenance, and share in informal space to express the challenges and joys of working for and within our communities. In this Happy Hour, we invite you to engage in joyful acts, while hearing rural cultural workers Jaclyn Roessel (Santa Ana Pueblo), Kelle Jolly (Tennessee), Kiran Singh Sirah (Tennessee), Brandi Turner (Mississippi), and Nikiko Masumoto (California) share how they continue to cultivate and spread compassionate joy during challenging times in their community work.

Rural Youth Poetry Jam
Rural Youth Catalyst
7 p.m. ET 
Join the Happy Hour 

End your day listening to the voices of young rural poets from across the country as they share their work. The theme for the evening is “Borderlands and Belonging.” Hosted by accomplished poet, Verandah Porche.  

Verandah Porche 

Verandah Porche works as a poet-in-residence, performer, and writing partner.   Based in rural Vermont on the notable commune Total Loss Farm, since 1968,   she has published Sudden Eden (Verdant Books), The Body’s Symmetry (Harper   and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books). She has read her work on NPR   stations, in the Vermont State House and at the John Simon Guggenheim Museum. Verandah developed a practice called ‘told poetry’ or ‘shared narrative’ to create personal literature with people who need a writing partner. She has run  collaborative residencies in hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern, and an urban working class neighborhood.  Listening Out Loud documents her residency with Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT.  

Verandah began working as a poet in the schools in the 1970s. She initiated— and for almost 30 years taught—the poetry program at Vermont’s Governor’s Institute  on the Arts. The Vermont Arts Council presented her with its Award of Merit, and its first Ellen McCollough-Lovell Award. Marlboro College gave her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2012. Verandah was featured in “Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie.” Her project, “Shedding Light on the Working Forest,” exploring the lives of people who work in the woods, a collaboration with visual artist Kathleen Kolb, has toured New England. “Broad Brook Anthology,” a play for voices, honors the lives of elders in Guilford, Vermont.

Her current projects, “Faces of Home,” is a series of self-portraits in words narrated by residents of Great River Terrace, a community for people who had experienced homelessness, with portraits painted by River Gallery artists.  

Verandah writes and performs songs with Patty Carpenter. They post songs and poems  on a Patreon site: 

Verandah serves on the Selectboard, of Guilford, Vermont, a town of 2000 souls.