Staff

Cheryl King Fischer
Executive Director
For the past three decades, Cheryl has been an active member of the New England Environmental Community. She first worked in state government as a water resources planner and public participation coordinator. When the land trust community was setting its roots, Cheryl helped form the Lake Champlain Islands Trust, serving as a volunteer board member and then as its chair. In 1983, Cheryl began a ten-year affiliation with the Vermont Land Trust, where she headed its Northern Vermont Program. During that time, she negotiated easement purchases and coordinated donations of conservation restrictions on forty properties involving just over 10,000 acres of northern Vermont farm and forestlands.

In 1993 Cheryl founded KingFischer Conservation, a consulting business designed to help local groups carry out land conservation projects in their home communities. 1996 brought the challenge to organize a brand new organization – The New England Grassroots Environment Fund. With a vision statement, a Fund Coordinator’s job description and two years of committed funding, Cheryl worked with the NEGEF collaboration to create the current organization.

Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Hollins College in Hollins, Virginia, a Master of Science degree in Resource Economics from the University of Vermont, and a master’s level Certificate in Medical Technology from St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. Cheryl has been staff to or served on the boards of a broad range of non-profit, school and community-based organizations. She is married to Monty Fischer, another life-long conservationist, and they reside Montpelier, Vermont.


Ginny Callan
Program Coordinator
Ginny joined the NEGEF staff in 2001 after serving as a member of the NEGEF Grantmaking Committee. A grassroots activist since the 1970’s, Ginny’s key interests were nuclear power, environmental and human rights issues. As an active member of her community, she also was the Coordinator for Citizens for Clean Compost (CCC), a grassroots group and NEGEF grantee that opposed a sewage sludge composting treatment plant that would have spread sludge on Vermont open lands. CCC was successful in mediating an agreement that included many environmental safeguards on the proposed sludge facility and the construction was eventually cancelled.

Before NEGEF, Ginny worked for the American Cancer Society as the Grassroots Director of Advocacy. She is the founder of the Horn of the Moon Café in Montpelier, Vermont, a vegetarian café that closed its doors after 20 years in business. She is the author of two natural food cookbooks, Horn of the Moon Cookbook and Beyond the Moon Cookbook. Ginny has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goddard College. She remains active in her community and is on the Board of the Central VT Solid Waste District and a Commissioner with the District 5 Environmental Commission. She lives in East Montpelier with her husband Cort Richardson, also a lifelong environmentalist.


Julia Dundorf
Energy & Climate Action Program Director
Julia has nearly two decades of experience forming and working with nonprofits and community engagement programs, half of which was in the climate/energy and environmental fields. She recently joined the New England Grassroots Environment Fund as their Energy & Climate Action Program Director to enhance the work of local level climate and energy action in New England. A key role for Julia at NEGEF is serving as the coordinator for two New England based networks. The first is the New England Local Energy Network, a bourgeoning collaboration of over thirty organizations and groups across New England working with energy committees or similar grassroots groups to further cross-sector, measurable climate and energy action impacts. And the New Hampshire Local Energy Work Group, an ad hoc, active committee representing over twenty nonprofits, federal and state agencies, local governments, energy companies, planning commissions and active local energy committee volunteers that seeks to catalyze, support and reduce the barriers to local level action on energy and climate change issues in New Hampshire.

Prior to joining the NEGEF team, Julia served for over three years as Manager of Community Relations at Clean Air-Cool Planet, developing trainings and resources for local energy committees and communities to address greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. She also co-directed the New England Carbon Challenge, a joint initiative with the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Julia co-founded the NH Carbon Challenge in 2006 as a UNH initiative committed to helping NH households reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Julia is the recipient of a 2010 Environmental Merit Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Region I for her work (with Denise Blaha) on the New England Carbon Challenge.

Julia is a founding member and former chair of the NH Local Energy Working Group, a coalition of federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits committed to supporting the burgeoning local energy committee movement in NH. She participates in the Outreach and Education, a subcommittee of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board, of the NH Public Utilities Commission. She also participates on the Upper Valley (NH) Energy Advisory Group, helping to foster greater cross-sector work in this region of NH. She is a founding member of her town’s energy committee. Julia attributes her passion for climate change and energy advocacy to her experiences of growing up on an off-grid farm in northern NH. Lastly, Julia is the 2013 Cast-Iron Skillet Throwing champion.


Bart Westdijk
Program Director
Bart comes to us from the Netherlands, via New Zealand where he met a Vermonter. While his wife pursued a master’s degree at the University of Vermont, Bart was hired to give some help to a very thinly staffed NEGEF. He represents the next generation of global citizens working to heal the earth and bring real meaning to “think globally, act locally.”

Bart’s interest in local solutions and grassroots initiatives comes from his world travels. His first 20 years of his life he spent in Zwijndrecht, a town close to multi-cultural Rotterdam. His international travels began when he was 7. During summer holidays he and his family traveled to many different countries seeding his interest in different cultures and customs. Before coming to Vermont, Bart and his wife spent a year in China (2004-2005) working as English and Business teachers. Seeing the conditions in which large part of the population lived further fueled his interest in development and local problem-solving.

Bart lives in a co-housing project in Burlington, VT with his wife, Kate, his son, Liam, and Maatje the dog. He rides the bus to work each day, serves on the board of Friends of Burlington Gardens and shares a car with neighbors.


Aaron Retherford
VHCB AmeriCorps Vista Member – Feature Story writer
ron grew up in Plattsburgh, NY and spent plenty of time on this side of Lake Champlain before heading off to Indiana for college. He majored in Journalism at Indiana University and interned at the Burlington Free Press the summer after his sophomore year.

After earning his Bachelor’s degree, Aaron headed west to Nevada where he worked at a small local newspaper in the Reno area for a little over nine years. He started off as a sports reporter and was the Associate Editor by the time he decided he missed green trees with leaves and moved back east in the summer of 2013.

Because of his interest in sustainability, Aaron wanted to get involved with groups who are working toward creating a better future. Writing feature stories for the NEGEF was a way for Aaron to use his skills as a writer and promote some of the creative and passionate grassroots movements around New England. In his free time, Aaron is planning on what he wants to grow in his first garden and wondering if zombies could handle the cold Vermont winters in case there is ever a zombie apocalypse.

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