Archived Coffee & Conversations

A photo of several coffee cups being held by people who are toasting

Past Coffee & Conversations (Oct. 2019 – Present)


June 8, 2022: Panel Discussion with Cassie Hayes, Lisa Lavoie, Beth McClure, and Jessica Pine

panel speakers at June conversation

A panel of NH Charter School leaders discussed the charter school system in the state, its challenges, and benefits. Speakers included: Cassie Hayes, Dean of School, The Founders Academy; Lisa Lavoie, Superintendent/Principal, North Country Charter Academy Lancaster & Littleton Sites; Beth McClure, Principal, Strong Foundations Charter School; and Jessica Pine, Head of School, Seacoast Charter School.  

Did you miss June's talk? You can watch the entire talk online.

  

photo of cassie hayes

Cassie Hayes, Dean of School, The Founders Academy


Cassie Hayes had 7 years experience as a math teacher in both the Manchester and Nashua school districts before moving to administration at The Founders Academy. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Rhode Island and a master's degree from SNHU.

Mrs. Hayes brings experience from both middle and high school math classrooms. She has worked with both students and teachers in multiple capacities throughout her career. Prior to taking on the Dean of School role, Mrs. Hayes was Director of Faculty at Founders. She organized professional development, observed teachers and helped departments build curriculum. Now, she oversees the day to day operations of the school and reports directly to the board of trustees.


photo of lisa lavoie

Lisa Lavoie, Superintendent/Principal North Country Charter Academy Lancaster & Littleton Sites


As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, Ms. Lavoie, will have completed her 18th year with North Country Charter Academy.  

It began in May 2004, when the Executive Board of the North Country Educational Services hired Lisa to establish two charter schools using the $3 million dollar charter school start-up grant award.  The two charter schools were strategically located so that each of the founding 10 school districts in northern New Hampshire could have access to it. The founding district provided financial support so that transportation could be coordinated to serve the student’s in each of the districts, thus covering a 4,000 geographical square mile area.

The main focus of the charter was to reduce the student dropout rate, increase dropout recovery and provide a quality education with high standards in a non-traditional setting.   Since its establishment, NCCA has graduated 587 students in which 114 students were recovered dropouts and northern NH has seen a 74% decrease in the number of students dropping out.  NCCA serves students in grades 7-12 and ages 14-21.  NCCA serves on average 85 students a year, in which several of them go on to post-secondary education, the military and/or employment.  The student success and the transformation seen in students are the reasons why Ms. Lavoie remains the leader of the charter academy.

Lisa’s core educational credentials include the following:
•    1988 Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Plymouth State University
•    2003 Master of Science in Business Education, Southern NH University
•    2007 K-12 School Principal Certification, Plymouth State University & NH DOE Alt IIIC
•    2019 Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership with Superintendent Certification, Plymouth State University

Memberships:
•    New Hampshire School Administrators Association
•    North Country Superintendent & Principals Association
•    North Country Career & Technical Education Advisory Committee
•    Littleton Rotary Member
•    North Country Bronzebacks Bass Club, Secretary, Bass Nation
•    Ammonoosuc Trout Unlimited Chapter 554 member


Beth McClure

Beth McClure, Principal, Strong Foundations Charter School


Beth McClure is the Principal and one of the founders of Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, NH. Strong Foundations opened in 2007. The school focuses on using Orton-Gillingham to build early literacy and E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Curriculum to build students' background knowledge. She earned a Masters of Education in Learning and Language Disabilities as well as a Masters of Education in Educational Administration.


jessica pine

Jessica Pine, Head of School, Seacoast Charter School


Jessica Pine is the current Head of School at Seacoast Charter School. She has been in the field of education for over 20 years as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.  Jessica's Masters Degree is in International Training and Education from American University and she received her principal certification at Plymouth State University. Most of her career has been spent in New Hampshire, but she has also been a Director of schools in Nigeria and China.

Watch the Recording

May 11, 2022: Supporting Growing Diversity in NH Schools


andres mejia

On May 11, Andres Mejia '14, '16G, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice for SAU 16 (Exeter, NH), discussed the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in schools and how educators can support students at a time when dialogue around diversity and difference is limited. Read more about Andres.

Did you miss May's talk? You can watch the entire talk and Q&A with Andres online.

andres mejia

Andres Mejia, '14, '16G, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice for SAU 16 (Exeter, NH)


Andres has served as the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice for SAU 16, of Exeter, NH, since 2021. Andres has also served as a member on the UNH President’s Commissions on the Status of People of Color, and the University Commission on Community, Equity & Diversity. He serves as a staff advisor for MOS:DEF (Men of Strength, Education and Family), a support group for men of color; the Black Student Union; and the Queer Trans People of color support group. He is a Social Justice Educator, and a lead facilitator for the annual MLK Leadership Summit. Andres is a NH Listens Fellow, facilitating courageous and difficult conversations across the state of New Hampshire between community members, police, politicians, farmers, students, teachers and many other constituents. He serves on the McNair Program Advisory and Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship Committee.


April 13, 2022: New Hampshire's ABLE Plan – STABLE NH: A Game Changer Financial Tool for Those with Disabilities

On April 13, we were joined by Charles Saia and Lorrie Ripley from the NH Governor's Commission on Disability, and Monica Mezzapelle, State Treasurer for the State of New Hampshire. They discussed the STABLE NH financial savings tool and its history and spoke about disabilities awareness and rights in the U.S. and N.H.


Resources from our April 13 talk:

Powerpoint Presentation

A photo of Charles Saia, executive director of the NH Governor's Commission on Disability

Charles Saia, Executive Director, NH Governor's Commission on Disability

A photo of Lorrie Ripley, a Title 1 Employment Specialist and administrator with the Governor's Commission on Disability

Lorrie J. Ripley, MS, LCMHC, Client Assistance Program, NH Governor's Commission on Disability

Photograph of Charles Saia, Executive Director of the NH Governor's Commission on Disability

Charles Saia, Executive Director of the NH Governor's Commission on Disability


Charles J. “Chuck” Saia is Executive Director of New Hampshire’s Governor’s Commission on Disability (GCD) and also serves as co-administrator of STABLE NH, New Hampshire’s ABLE program. Chuck works closely with other State agencies, Committees, and consumer organizations, to improve accessibility in all facets throughout the State. Some of Chuck’s obligations include serving on various statutory Commissions, testifying before legislative bodies, overseeing of several internal Committees and GCD programs, and the supervision of the functions of all day-to-day operations of the GCD. Chuck is licensed to practice law, and in years’ past, he has represented the most vulnerable of our population. Chuck received his B.A. from Boston College and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He was raised in East Boston and for the past 25 years he and his wife have called New Hampshire home with their 3 children, their families and grand-children.


A photograph of NH State Treasurer Monica Mezzapelle

Monica Mezzapelle, New Hampshire State Treasurer


Monica Mezzapelle is the New Hampshire State Treasurer responsible for overseeing a variety of financial activities of the State. Treasurer Mezzapelle is the co-administrator of STABLE NH, trustee of the NH 529 College Savings Program, and by statute, she also serves on numerous boards and commissions. Treasurer Mezzapelle began her career in public accounting, she then joined the State in 2000 serving as a Financial Auditor for 14 years, Deputy State Treasurer for six years, was appointed Commissioner of Treasury in April 2020, and elected State Treasurer in December of 2020. Treasurer Mezzapelle graduated with a degree in Finance and Accounting from the La Salle University, is a Certified Public Accountant, and holds the AICPA designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant.


A photo of Lorrie Ripley, a Title 1 Employment Specialist and administrator with the Governor's Commission on Disability

Lorrie J. Ripley, MS, LCMHC, Client Assistance Program administrator with the NH Governor's Commission on Disability


Lorrie is the Title 1 Employment Specialist and administers the Client Assistance Program (CAP) at the Governor's Commission on Disability. As the CAP Ombudsman, Lorrie provides technical assistance regarding employment (Title I) of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Lorrie works directly with individuals with disabilities to access programs designed to assist them in obtaining employment and independent living services. She also collaborates with other agencies to promote accessibility in all areas. Lorrie has worked closely with STABLE NH Co-Administrators, traveling around New Hampshire to promote the STABLE NH program. She currently facilitates the STABLE NH Council meetings, which focus on ways to educate all sectors of the Granite State about NH's ABLE Savings Program.

Lorrie has experience working as an investigator for adult protective cases with the state's most vulnerable individuals. She has also worked in behavioral health as a program planner, quality improvement specialist, and emergency services clinician. Lorrie received her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and M.S. from Southern New Hampshire University.

New Hampshire's ABLE Plan – STABLE NH: A Game Changer Financial Tool for Those with Disabilities


March 9, 2022: Integrating Public Input into Land Use Decisions

Heather Shank, City of Concord Planner, Carsey School Coffee & Conversations guest

On March 9, we were joined by Heather Shank, AICP, is the City Planner for the City of Concord. Heather spoke about some of the history of urban planning in the U.S.; about land-use codes within New Hampshire specifically and the process for adopting these codes; and about the importance of public participation in adopting land use policies. You can find links and the recording of our conversation with Heather below!


Resources from our March 9 talk:

Heather Shank, City of Concord Planner, Carsey School Coffee & Conversations guest

Heather Shank, City Planner for the City of Concord, NH


Heather Shank, AICP, is the City Planner for the City of Concord. She manages the Planning Division, which staffs several Boards and Commissions, including the Planning Board, Heritage Commission, Conservation Commission, Transportation Policy Advisory Committee, and Energy and Environment Advisory Committee. In addition to its work on a wide range of projects pertaining to these bodies, the City of Concord Planning Division also works on updating the City’s Zoning Ordinance and development regulations.

Integrating Public Input Into Land-Use Decisions


Feb 16, 2022: Policy Education for Civic Engagement

A headshot of Stephen Pimpare, an instructor with UNH Manchester

Stephen Pimpare, a Carsey faculty fellow and the founder and director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership Program at UNH, joined Dan Bromberg, Associate Professor and Director of Academics at the Carsey School, for a conversation about the role of policy education in helping people – especially young people – to become more engaged in their communities and in civic life. They also talked about Stephen's new book, Politics for Social Workers: A Practical Guide to Effecting Change, which can be found online.


A headshot of Stephen Pimpare, an instructor with UNH Manchester

Stephen Pimpare, Carsey Faculty Fellow, Founder & Director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership Program at UNH


Stephen Pimpare is founder and director of the UNH Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership Program and the author most recently of Politics for Social Workers: A Practical Guide to Effecting Change. He previously served as a senior-level administrator of not-for-profit organizations addressing issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness throughout New York City. Read more

Policy Education for Civic Engagement


Oct. 13, 2021: Public Administration Education in Polarized Times

Students sitting in a Public Administration class discussing current events and issues

The Carsey School hosted Dan Bromberg, Associate Professor and Director of Academics at the Carsey School; Christian Lagarde, Senior Lecturer with Granite State College; Mercedes Hunt, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Business Programs at Granite State College; and Dennis Martino, faculty member with Granite State College and the former Director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training. Dan, Christian, Mercedes, and Dennis discussed the importance of delivering quality education to the next generation of leaders and preparing public administrators to address existing political divides.


A square photo showing Dr. Dan Bromberg from the Carsey School of Public Policy

Dan Bromberg, Associate Professor and Director of Academics, Carsey School

Dan Bromberg is an Associate Professor of Public Administration in the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Department of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. He is the Director of Academic Programs for the Carsey School of Public Policy. Dan’s research interests include government procurement, performance management, and organizational accountability. He holds a Ph.D. from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers-Newark. Read more


Photo of Christian Lagarde, senior lecturer at Granite State College

Christian Lagarde, Senior Lecturer, Granite State College

Christian Lagarde is an Senior Lecturer in the Undergraduate Business Management and Finance Program at Granite State College. For over 11 years, he has worked in higher education for community colleges and universities as faculty, department chair, and grant manager. Christian's introduction to OER started while working for the California State University and its MERLOT Skills Commons project, which created an open library of career/technical education and workforce related OER. He holds an BS in Hotel, Restaurant, & Tourism and a MBA from the University of New Orleans as well as completing this PhD in Human Capital Development from the University of Southern Mississippi. Read more


Photo of Mercedes Hunt, senior lecturer and program director at Granite State College

Mercedes Hunt, Senior Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Business Programs, Granite State College

Mercedes Hunt is the Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Business Management and Finance Programs at Granite State College. Mercedes is a passionate educator, her position enables her to teach, provide keynote speeches, develop new courses and build curriculum. She has invested the last five years, in studying and teaching others about the many benefits of LinkedIn. Mercedes is also the Founder of Map & Compass Consulting LLC, a consulting company to helps public assembly venues to implement sustainability strategies through stakeholder engagement. She completed her doctorate in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah.  Read more


A photograph of Dennis Martino, M.Ed., former Director of the NH Bureau of Education & Training

Dennis Martino, M.Ed., Faculty, Granite State College

Dennis is the former Director of the NH Bureau of Education and Training where he ran the NH Certified Public Manager Program. He has taught leadership courses on the graduate level at several colleges. Prior to his current academic work he had twenty-one years’ experience in Labor Relations as a union advocate and contract negotiator.

Dennis began his work with the School of Human Services in both the Manchester and St. Johnsbury Campuses about 12 years ago . Currently Dennis has focused on both undergraduate and graduate project classes. His teaching philosophy or approach is summed up as creating a partnership between the mentor and the learner. Read more

Public Administration Education in Polarized Times


Sept. 1, 2021: Engaging in Dialogue Across Differences with NH Listens

The NH Listens logo, showing a man holding a sign that reads "New Hampshire Listens"

The Carsey School of Public Policy hosted Michele Holt-Shannon and Dr. Carrie Portrie of NH Listens to speak about how their organization works, to offer local strategies for contentious times, and to provide tips on how to stick with difficult conversations. Recording and link to presentation are listed below!


Resources from our Sept. 1 talk:

NH Listens Powerpoint Presentation

Image of Michele

Michele Holt-Shannon, Director and Co-founder of the NH Listens


Michele Holt-Shannon is director and co-founder for New Hampshire Listens at the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy. Her work on and off campus is focused on inclusive civic engagement, community problem-solving, and building coalitions for community initiated change efforts. She joined Carsey in 2011 to focus on process design to ensure fair, inclusive, and informed outcomes for local and statewide projects. She works to bring people together across perspectives and backgrounds to solve problems and create equitable solutions for their communities. Read more

image of portrie

Carrie Portrie, Program Manager, NH Listens


Dr. Carrie Portrie is a program manager and fellow for New Hampshire Listens at the Carsey School of Public Policy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from Roger Williams University, a master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in early childhood special education, and a PhD from UNH in education with a focus on children and youth in communities. She is also an AmeriCorps alumni, completing two terms of service building and maintaining hiking trails in Montana and then in the foothills of the Cascades in Washington state. Read more

Engaging in Dialogue Across Differences with NH Listens


June 9, 2021: The Past, Present, and Future of NH’s Mental Health System: Challenges and Opportunities

The National Alliance on Mental Illness NH logo

The Carsey School of Public Policy hosted Ken Norton, LICSW, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Hampshire (NAMI NH). Ken joined us to discuss the history of the mental health system in New Hampshire, mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the possible future of mental health care within the Granite State.

A photograph of Ken Norton, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Hampshire, who will speak at the Carsey School of Public Policy's June Coffee & Conversations

Ken Norton, LICSW, serves as Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Hampshire (NAMI NH).

Ken led development of NAMI NH's Connect Suicide Prevention program, which serves as a national best practice in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention and has provided training across the U.S., in over 25 tribal nations, and in 5 countries. He has participated on numerous commissions and workgroups in NH and nationally and has served as a subject matter expert for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Veterans Administration and presented nationally and internationally on subjects related to mental illness, suicide and media/messaging.

Ken has worked in community mental health, served as a licensed foster parent, and has lived experience as a family member with mental illness, addiction and suicide.

The Past, Present, and Future of NH’s Mental Health System: Challenges and Opportunities


April 14, 2021: Enhancing Your Career Through LinkedIn

linked in logo

The Carsey School of Public Policy hosted Dr. Mercedes Hunt and Dr. Kathy DesRoches from Granite State College's Business, Management & Finance program to discuss ways in which professionals can best take advantage of all the features and tools that LinkedIn offers. LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for professionals in the world.


Resources from our April 14 talk:

Photo of Mercedes Hunt, senior lecturer and program director at Granite State College

Mercedes Hunt is the Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Business Management and Finance Programs at Granite State College.

Mercedes is a passionate educator; her position enables her to teach, provide keynote speeches, develop new courses, and build curriculum. She has spent the last five years studying and teaching others about the many benefits of using LinkedIn. Mercedes is also the Founder of Map & Compass Consulting LLC, a consulting company that helps public assembly venues to implement sustainability strategies through stakeholder engagement. Mercedes is on the leadership team for the Sustainable Event Alliance and a member of the Faculty Committee of the International Association of Venue Managers. She earned her doctorate degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah.


Photo of Kathy DesRoches, program director at Granite State College

Kathy DesRoches is the Program Director of and faculty member in the Master’s degree in Leadership program at Granite State College.

Kathy is the chair of the graduate curriculum committee and her interest is in open educational resources. She has collaborated with other faculty to create five books and is collaborating with her students to contribute to one of the books. Kathy holds a master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Doctorate in Education from Plymouth State University. In her spare time, she is the founding member of the nonprofit NHVegFest, chair of the Planning Board in her town, and sits on the economic development committee.

Enhancing Your Career Through LinkedIn


Feb. 10, 2021: The Choose Love Movement – Transforming N.H.’s System of Care for Children's Behavioral Health

Logo for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

The Carsey School of Public Policy hosted Shannon Desilets, the Governor-appointed director of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement for New Hampshire. We were also joined by Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, to talk about children's behavioral health, social emotional learning for youth and adults, and how to build coalitions to tackle the challenges that lie at the root of so many policy debates.

Photograph of Shannon Desilets, Director of the Choose Love Movement for New Hampshire

Shannon Desilets serves as the Governor-appointed director of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement for New Hampshire. In this role, she travels the state promoting and increasing awareness of the Choose Love social and emotional enrichment program and works with schools, parents/caregivers, community businesses and organizations, police departments, and many other organizations. She is responsible for growing the outreach of the Choose Love Program even further for the safety and well-being of NH’s citizens, measuring the implementation of the program, and serving to increase connections between people and agencies across the state.


Headshot of Jesse Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

Scarlett Lewis is the mother of Jesse Lewis who was killed in his first grade classroom during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 along with 19 classmates and 6 teachers and administrators in one of the worst school shootings in US history. She founded of The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation in honor of Jesse and to spread a message he left on their kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died, Nurturing Healing Love, the formula for choosing love, and to promote social and emotional education in schools as well as a consistent message of compassion in our communities. Scarlett is the recipient of the International Forgiveness Award, the Live Your Legacy Award and the Common Ground Award for her advocacy work for peace and forgiveness. When she became a parent for the first time, Scarlett wrote and published a children’s book, Rose’s Foal.

Choose Love – Transforming NH’s System of Care for Children's Behavioral Health


Jan. 13, 2021: How to Be an Antiracist Public Institution

Dr. Nadine Petty, UNH Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Nadine Petty, UNH Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity, joined us to discuss her team's initial steps toward establishing a more open, equitable and inclusive community at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Petty joined UNH in August of 2020. You can watch the recording and find resources from the presentation below!


Dr. Nadine Petty earned both a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary English Education from the University of Rochester. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development with an emphasis in Postsecondary Education from the University of Louisville while serving there as Director of TRIO Student Support Services.

Having spent her early formative years in Jamaica, Dr. Petty comes to New Hampshire and to UNH with an international lens. Dr. Petty has over twenty years of experience in educational settings, including fourteen years in higher education. For the majority of her personal life and professional career, she has devoted herself to a wide-range of diversity and social justice causes and endeavors which include teaching cultural ethnography in college classrooms, serving on and leading various diversity-related committees and boards, creating and strengthening services for individuals with marginalized identities, and providing numerous interactive diversity and social justice workshops and trainings to students, colleagues, and community members.

Prior to arriving at UNH, Dr. Petty served as Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment at the University of Iowa, where she led a large team of staff dedicated to the success of students with marginalized identities. Although she has been immersed in diversity, equity, and inclusion work for many years, Dr. Petty believes she has only begun to scratch the surface of available knowledge and research, viewing herself as a lifelong learner and devotee of diversity and social justice issues.

How to Be an Antiracist Public Institution


Dec. 9, 2020: Lessons from the New Hampshire Commission to Study School Funding

A girl holding a piggy bank standing in front of a green chalkboard with several number signs on it.

The legislatively created NH Commission to Study School Funding released its final report on December 1, 2020. On December 9, 2020, we were joined by Commission members to discuss the report's findings and possible paths forward for greater student and taxpayer equity in the Granite State. Our speakers and presenters included Rep. David LuneauDr. Corinne CascaddenRep. Mel MylerBruce Mallory, and Jordan Hensley. You can watch the recording and find resources from the presentation below!


Lessons from the New Hampshire Commission to Study School Funding


Nov. 18, 2020: Matt Wilhelm

Photo of Carsey School alumni Matt Wilhelm (second from right) standing with his wife and two children.

New Hampshire State Rep. Matt Wilhelm, chair of NH's Service Year Workforce Commission, joined us to discuss the Commission’s final report and recommendations aimed at attracting and retaining more service-driven and community-minded young people for an affordable college degree or credential and meaningful career in the Granite State. Matt is a 2016 graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at the Carsey School. He was joined by Gretchen Stallings, Executive Director of Volunteer NH, and Dan Bromberg, Director of Academic Programming at Carsey, in his talk about public service. Watch the recording below!

Serve, Learn & Earn: Expanding Workforce Pathways in NH


Oct. 14, 2020: Tom O'Donovan

NH DES Water Division Director Thomas O'Donovan

Thomas O'Donovan serves as Director of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Service's Water Division. Director O'Donovan discussed the drought impacting the state of New Hampshire, as well as methods of measurement and analysis used by his division and the recent history of drought in New Hampshire.

Watch a recording of the discussion below and learn more about this serious environmental issue impacting New Hampshire in 2020.

Coffee & Conversations: New Hampshire's Drought


Sept. 16, 2020: Discussion with Dennis Martino and Carolyn Russell

Gears that read: Mission, Vision, Strategy & Plan

Our September 2020 Coffee & Conversations featured Dennis Martino, a former Director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training, and Carolyn Russell, Senior Operational Analyst with the State of New Hampshire, discussing strategic planning in times of uncertainty. Municipal employees with long histories of leading organizations through potentially turbulent, Dennis and Carolyn offered their insight on best practices for strategic planning.

Coffee & Conversations: Strategic Planning in Times of Uncertainty

About the Speakers

Dennis is the former Director of the NH Bureau of Education and Training. He has taught leadership courses at the graduate level at several colleges. Prior to his current academic work, he had twenty-one years’ experience in Labor Relations as a union advocate and contract negotiator. Dennis has acted as a workplace mediator with both small and large agencies.

Carolyn Russell is a Senior Operational Analyst with the State of New Hampshire and has worked as a planner and project manager in state government for over 20 years. Carolyn has led numerous strategic planning exercises for various types of state programs and organizations, including the state’s commissioners group. This past summer, Carolyn facilitated a remote, online strategic planning exercise for a new State Commission.


June 10, 2020: Panel Discussion with Elizabeth Dragon, Troy Brown & Naomi Bolton

Photo of a town hall doorframe with the words Town Hall written on it.

For our June Coffee & Conversations, we were joined by three municipal leaders to discuss how their communities and municipal service providers have adjusted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elizabeth Dragon, City Manager of Keene, NH; Troy Brown, Town Administrator of Litchfield, NH; and Naomi Bolton, Town Administrator of Weare, NH, talked about how COVID-19 affected how they serve their citizens and examined how this pandemic has possibly changed how they’ll do business after quarantine ends.

Watch a recording of the webinar online and hear from each of them as they discuss COVID-19’s impact on everything from multimillion-dollar municipal budgets to the day-to-day operations at their trash and recycling centers.

Elizabeth Dragon, City Manager, Keene, NH

Elizabeth A. Dragon serves the City of Keene in the role of City Manager. Appointed City Manager for the City of Keene September 25, 2017; she has served in local government since 1998. Prior to her arrival at the City of Keene, Elizabeth served as City Manager for the City of Franklin for nine years where she was instrumental in various economic re-development initiatives in the downtown. In Franklin, she also performed a lead role in the community’s substance misuse prevention initiative. Prior to her arrival in Franklin, Ms. Dragon gained a great deal of diverse experience managing the communities of Bristol and Plymouth.

Elizabeth has a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and before transitioning to management she worked in the field of finance. Later she completed the NH Division of Personnel’s Certified Public Manager two year Program. Elizabeth is also a credentialed manager through the International City Manager Association (ICMA) and recently completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Troy Brown, Town of Litchfield Administrator

Troy Brown was appointed as the Litchfield Town Administrator in September 2015. He currently manages the day-to-day operations of municipal government and the town’s $7-million-dollar annual budget. Troy has more than 25 years of municipal experience working in the towns of Limestone, ME; Londonderry, NH; Pembroke, NH; and Hollis, NH. Troy has worked on Brownfield Environmental clean-up sites; developed Tax Increment Financing districts; and coordinated construction of town office buildings, fire stations and athletic complexes.

Troy is a graduate of the University of Maine. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and is actively seeking to become a Certified Public Manager through the NH Bureau of Education.

Naomi Bolton, Town Administrator for Weare, NH

Naomi Bolton serves as Town Administrator for Weare, NH. She began working in municipal government in 1995. Her first position was as a part-time Planning and Zoning Clerk; shortly thereafter, she became a full-time DPW Administrator. Over the years, she has cross-trained and worked in nearly every department at her municipal offices. In 2009, the Town Board appointed her Administrator with the caveat that she pursue more education.

Naomi attended Primex’s Supervisor Academy and graduated in 2010 from New Hampshire’s CPS program, followed by the New Hampshire CPM program in 2011. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Granite State College in 2014 and graduated from the University of New Hampshire Manchester with a Master of Public Administration in 2016.

In her free time, Naomi enjoys spending time with family; riding motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles; and visiting Northern New Hampshire and Maine. She has been married for 35 years, has two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and a three-year-old granddaughter with another one on the way. Upon retiring, she plans to “enjoy life and travel.”


May 13, 2020: Will Stewart

Photo of Will Stewart of Stay Work Play New Hampshire

Stay Work Play Executive Director Will Stewart shared what his organization learned during its Policy & Pints series, in which he and his team spoke with young people across nine NH regions this past fall and winter to discuss issues that most impact their lives and where they live. Will also discussed how Stay Work Play addressed these issues and how other organizations, companies, municipalities, and individuals can help make New Hampshire a more attractive place for young people.

Will was named the Executive Director of Stay Work Play New Hampshire in September 2017. He is responsible for the overall management of Stay Work Play and oversees the development, growth, and implementation of the organization’s mission, programs, and budget. Stewart also serves as the organization’s key spokesperson and as an advocate for the attraction and retention of younger workers in New Hampshire. Actively involved in community efforts, Will also serves as the Ward 2 Alderman on the City of Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Did you miss May's talk with Will Stewart? You can watch his entire discussion and Q&A online.

Downloadable resources from Will's talk:


April 8, 2020: Sarah Wrightsman

Sarah Wrightsman, executive director of the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast

Sarah Wrightsman '17G serves as executive director of the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, a non-profit whose mission is to ensure that local and statewide policies are favorable to the development of financially feasible workforce housing in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine. She joined us to speak about workforce housing and housing issues in New Hampshire and about statewide advocacy organizations and resources.

Did you miss April's talk? You can watch Sarah's entire discussion and Q&A online.


Downloadable resources from Sarah's talk:


March 11, 2020: Rick Perrin

Rick Perrin of the U.S. Census Bureau

Rick Perrin, a supervisory partnership specialist with the United States Census Bureau, spoke about the history of the Census, the goals of the 2020 Census, and how it will operate in New Hampshire. The 2020 Decennial Census will mark his third tenure with the Census Bureau with similar duties in 2010 and as a Field Supervisor for The American Housing Survey in 2017.

Did you miss March's talk? You can watch the entire talk with Rick Perrin online.


Feb. 12, 2020: Moira O’Neill

Dr. Moira O'Neill, small photo, coffee and conversations

Moira O’Neill, Ph.D., heads one of New Hampshire’s newest state agencies, the Office of the Child Advocate, which focuses on reforming the state’s child welfare system. During her talk, she’ll talk about the mission and role of this agency and the importance of independent oversight of government agencies as a means towards more transparency and accountability in the delivery of quality state services.

The Office of the Child Advocate was established in 2018 as part of an aggressive commitment to reform New Hampshire’s child welfare system. The agency is an independent and impartial state office established to oversee the NH Division for Children, Youth and Families.

Did you miss February's talk? You can watch the entire talk and Q&A with Dr. Moira O'Neill online.


Jan. 7, 2020: Chuck Bagley

Chuck Bagley speaking at Carsey's Coffee & Conversations in January.

Chuck Bagley, Director of Staff Engagement at New Hampshire Hospital, joined us to discuss different methods of teaching and learning within today's workplaces. Bagley has taught a variety of topics to a wide range of learners, from college undergraduate and graduate learners to incarcerated and refugee learners, and he’s created numerous faculty and trainer development programs. During his talk, he will discuss trends in formal workplace learning in the U.S. and strategies that aim to enhance formal learning with social, experiential, and informal learning.


Dec. 11, 2019: James Dean, Jr.

Photo of UNH President James Dean, Jr.

James W. (“Jim”) Dean Jr. discussed how the nation’s public universities must rethink their efforts to better serve the public through teaching, research, and engagement, and how the University of New Hampshire was doing exactly that to better serve the state and the region.

Dean became the 20th president of the University of New Hampshire in June 2018. Since joining UNH, he has met with hundreds of members of the university community, alumni and donors, New Hampshire business leaders, state lawmakers, and state residents to discuss UNH’s challenges and opportunities.

Did you miss December's talk? You can watch the entire talk and Q&A with President James Dean online.


Nov. 13, 2019: Kirsten Howard

Kirsten Howard of the NH Department of Environmental Science

Kirsten Howard, a Resilience Coordinator for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services' Coastal Program, presented some of the latest local scientific projections for sea-level rise and changes in storms and precipitation due to climate change and examined how a changing seacoast impacts policy decisions and change.

Did you miss November's talk? You can watch the entire talk and Q&A with Kirsten Howard online.


Oct. 9, 2019: Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, will speak at the Coffee & Conversations event on Oct. 9.

Dr. Andrew Smith, Director of the UNH Survey Center, discussed some of the issues facing election polling today and provided a brief history of how new technology and polling practices shaped the election process. He also delved into the New Hampshire primary and who generally votes during the first-in-the-nation primary.

Did you miss October's talk? You can watch the entire talk and Q&A with Dr. Smith online.