2017 Vision Fellows Announced!

The Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship program announces with pleasure the appointment of 13 new Vision Fellows for 2017. Since its inception in 2005, the Vision Fellowship has sought to encourage and support Island-based individuals who demonstrate passion for the Island’s people and natural environment and who recognize the importance of sustaining both. The 2017 Fellows join the existing community of 71 current and past fellows and their mentors and sponsoring organizations. Each selected individual has demonstrated talent, passion and/or expertise in fields that are vital to the future sustainability of the Island, and shows great promise for short-and long-term impact in areas that are high priorities for the program.

The 2017 Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellows are:

Casey Blum is a graduate student pursuing a dual degree in Social Work and Kinesiology: Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire. Casey has the distinction of being the first ever female captain of the Black Dog Tall Ships. She has completed over 200 sails with up to 54 passengers each time. Casey’s mentor will be Nathaniel Benjamin, President of Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway, in Vineyard Haven. This summer, Casey will work as a launch driver for Vineyard Haven Launch Services while she works on a sailing-related project designed to preserve the unique sailing culture on Martha’s Vineyard and to pass down maritime arts to the next generation. Ultimately, Casey hopes to start an organization that can provide therapeutic sailing trips to at-risk adolescents and young adults

Kevin Brennan, a two-time Vision Fellow, is taking up where he left off at Island Grown Initiative Food Hub’s orchard, which he originally designed and planted in 2014-2015. The orchard is an example of regenerative agriculture. Kevin’s goal is to help promote regenerative land management on the Island, which is a holistic systems approach to agriculture that encourages ecosystem restoration, food production and carbon sequestration. Kevin will provide education and outreach to farmers, homesteaders and backyard gardeners as well as provide written educational materials related to the establishment and maintenance of regenerative systems. He also will catalog fruit and nut trees that are currently bearing on the Island so that Island Grown Gleaning can connect with homeowners regarding possible fruit gleaning opportunities. Kevin’s mentor is Keith Wilda, IGI Farm Hub Manager.

Irene Bright-Dumm is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Yoga Therapy from Maryland University of Integrative Health. Irene’s objective is to utilize yoga therapy to support addiction recovery, Lyme disease and chronic pain. Her overall goal is to integrate yoga therapy into the healthcare system as a recognized and accessible complementary practice.  During her fellowship, Irene will offer several series of yoga therapy group and individual sessions, potentially through collaborations with Island Community Counseling and the Lyme Center of Martha’s Vineyard. Her capstone project for her degree will include research on yoga therapy for Lyme disease. Irene’s mentor is Diane Finlayson, the Program Director of the Yoga Therapy Program at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Irene hopes to collaborate with current Vision Fellow Brian Morris (2016) who is a recovery coach at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and also works with the MV Lyme Support Group.

Danielle Cleary earned a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science and Environmental Studies from Eckerd College in 2015. She graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 2011. For her fellowship project, she will work on a water quality research and education project that will complement research already in progress through the Great Pond Foundation. She will research a complete baseline data set of pond health for four Island ponds and will establish standardized collecting policies. She also will present the collected data in a written report to the boards of each pond organization, the town shellfish groups, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Water Alliance. Her mentor is Emily Reddington, Director of Science and Education for the Great Pond Foundation. After completion of this project, Danielle plans to earn a Master’s Degree in Marine Chemistry or a related field.

Lorena Crespo is pursuing a Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Teaching through Fitchburg State University on-Island, which is affiliated with ACE MV. Lorena is a Head Start home visitor for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, where she will continue her work with Brazilian families, helping them to be part of the greater community and to embrace a new culture and language through the power of art. When Lorena came to the United States from Ecuador 11 years ago with her young children, she spoke no English. Today, and since 2015, she teaches Spanish to Islanders for ACE MV. During the summer, Lorena will work with her mentor, Lynn Ditchfield, to create a series of arts-based lesson plans specially designed for dual language learners and their parents for language acquisition and community engagement.

Lynn Ditchfield will earn a Ph.D. from the European Graduate School Arts, Health & Society Division. Her doctoral research and thesis will examine the impact of arts and education in motivating social change movements. Her field study research will include creating and documenting the effects of a Curriculum Guidebook on Immigration using arts-based activities. The Guidebook will be written in collaboration with her mentor/sponsor Rebecca McCarthy, Esq., local schools as a pilot and organizations locally and nationally that work on immigration. Lynn founded, and served for seven years as Executive Director of, the Island’s adult and community education program, ACE MV. She taught Spanish at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School for 24 years and has a Master’s in Community and Adult Education from Beacon College and another in Arts in Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Lynn strives to link school with local and global community through education, arts and media. She is fluent in Spanish.

Daniel Gaines, a senior at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, plans to study biochemistry and molecular biology in college. During his junior year, he worked with The Vineyard Conservation Society as a member of the 2015-2016 Ban the Bag Initiative committee, which succeeded in banning plastic bags in five of the six Island towns. Daniel is an active member of the high school’s chess club and won third place in the 2016 Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair for ‘Styroads,’ porous plastic sidewalks made from 100% recycled Styrofoam, for which a patent is now pending. He has worked as an assistant to the Edgartown Harbor Master and also as an intern with The Trustees of Reservations. Daniel plans to intern with the Lyme Disease eradication project overseen by Dr. Kevin Esvelt, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other professors and graduate students from MIT and Tufts who are collaborating to develop a population of Lyme disease resistant mice.

Joshua Gothard is studying for a Master’s of Architecture at Parsons School of Design and, thereafter, his Massachusetts architectural licensure. Joshua graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 2006 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Architecture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010. Joshua will be conducting thesis research to develop an architectural language to increase the coastal resiliency and sustainability of the Cape and Islands. Joshua also has his Captain’s License from the U.S. Coast Guard and has ferried yachts between New England and the West Indies. Mark Hutker of Hutker Architects will be Joshua’s mentor as he develops an architectural language that “will be derived by studies of the historic coastal architecture which occupies our shores as well as historic details developed for efficient living on the sea.”

Victoria Haeselbarth is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration at Southern New Hampshire University. For the past five years, she has served as the Outreach Worker for the Edgartown Council on Aging. Victoria has been, and will continue, working with several committees and groups, including the Dukes County Health Council, which are working to address the needs of the Vineyard’s senior population. This work includes bringing the Green House model in senior care to the Island, encouraging the development of additional housing or transitional housing for low income Island residents, promoting the Safe Seniors Program, working with the memory impaired including the Memory Support Group, among other things. Paul Mohair, Administrator of the Edgartown Council on Aging is Victoria’s mentor.

Richard Johnson is an environmental consultant who currently serves as the field biologist for the Martha’s Vineyard Tick Borne Illness Reduction Initiative. The Boards of Health of the six Island towns sponsored this program, beginning six years ago, to address the crucial local public health issues posed by Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Dick’s fellowship project will focus on the “big picture” effort to reduce ticks and tick-borne illnesses Island-wide. Matt Poole, the Edgartown Health Agent, will supervise, and Dr. Sam Telford, an internationally renowned tick expert in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Tufts University, will be advisor to the program. Among other things, Dick will: prepare a five-year strategic plan outlining program goals; research and implement methods to reduce the number of lone star ticks on the Vineyard; and increase public education and outreach. Previously, Dick served for 18 years as the Executive Director of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.

Camilla Prata, a senior at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, will study pre-med in college. Camilla attended the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School from kindergarten through 10th grade and moved to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School as a junior, where she played varsity tennis on the 2016 state championship team. Camilla has been a volunteer at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and hopes to work there this summer as an intern to Dr. Karen Casper. Her plan is to shadow Dr. Casper, assist hospital staff and also will perform data collection and analysis regarding the use of naloxone by Island first responders (the police, EMS and fire personnel) to reverse opiate overdose. The information will help estimate the Island’s needs surrounding opiate overdose, opiate use disorders, bystander naloxone use, and efficacy of first responder administration.

Allison Roberts will pursue a Master’s of Clinical Social Work at Boston University School of Social Work. For the past five years, Allison has worked with adults and seniors with psychiatric, developmental and cognitive disabilities at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services’ Daybreak Clubhouse, the MV Center for Living and Seven Hills Foundation. After graduating from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Allison earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology: Counseling and Health at Emmanuel College in 2012. Since 2015, she has served as Assistant to the Executive Director at the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living where she provides direct care to clients, implements programs and utilizes her skills in grant writing and public relations. Allison also works as a direct support professional for Seven Hills on-Island, and supports clients with challenges and disabilities to achieve maximum independence and desired quality of life. Allison’s mentor is Leslie Clapp, Executive Director of MVCL.

James Robinson, a senior at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, plans to enroll in a five-year program to earn a Master’s in Elementary Education. His hope is to also study theater, which he believes will aid him in his future career in elementary education. For the past 18 months, James has been a mentee at the Oak Bluffs School, his elementary school alma mater, working as a teaching assistant in classrooms ranging from second grade to sixth grade. He plans to intern with the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools this summer, under the mentorship of Richard Smith, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools and James’ former principal at the Oak Bluffs School.

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