2020 Alumni Award Recipients
Outstanding Alumni Award, Johnson
This award is presented to alumni who best exemplify and apply Johnson values and ideals in their careers and personal lives, have made significant contributions to their communities, and are an inspiration to current students.
Brian Godfrey ’03
Brian graduated from Johnson State College with a degree in physical education in 2003 and went on to receive his master of arts in educational leadership from the University of Vermont in 2010. Brian has been a teacher in Vermont for the past 17 years and is currently the physical education teacher at Richmond Elementary School.
In 2014, Brian was named Vermont’s Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. In 2015, Brian was named the Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year for the Eastern District of SHAPE America, and then went on to become one of four teachers in the country to be nominated for SHAPE America’s highly prestigious National Teacher of the Year.
Brian’s passion as an educator is to provide opportunities for youth to have access to lifetime sports. As such, he created the Snow Motion Program, which focuses on making skiing and snowboarding accessible to all kids by providing free skiing/snowboarding during the school day. Currently, over 800 kids in the Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District kindergarten to fourth grades are able to learn to ski/snowboard each winter, thanks to that program.
Brian worked with Burton Snowboards to write the physical education snowboarding curriculum and is assisting in introducing snowboarding to physical education classes around Vermont. He has developed afterschool and summer programs that promote outdoor learning, with a focus on swimming, hiking, skiing, and biking and created a program to get bicycles to local children. Brian is a strong believer in integrating technology into physical education classes and has one of the top physical education blogs according to Teach.com.
Brian, who enjoys spending his free time biking, hiking, and skiing with his wife and three young children, was nominated for this award by Dr. Karen Uhlendorf, who shared: “I am so proud of Brian’s accomplishments. He is one of the nicest people you could ever want to know and one of the most energetic and positive physical education teachers I’ve seen, as well as one who is innovative and on the cutting edge in our field. We have much to be proud of in Brian.”
Rising Star Alumni Award, Johnson
This award is presented to alumni who have graduated within the last ten years and who are advancing rapidly in their careers, have made contributions to their communities, and are an inspiration to current students.
Shayna Bennett ’17
Raised in Belvidere, Vt., Shayna attended Johnson State College as a first-generation student and graduated with a double major in environmental science and mathematics in 2017. While at Johnson, Shayna worked with Dr. Kevin Johnston on snow leopard conservation with ArcGIS, and with Dr. Elizabeth Dolci in the microbiology lab, looking at bacteria that grow in a local asbestos mine and the impact of human behavior on that community of bacteria.
In 2018, Shayna won the highly prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and is now a fourth year doctorate student in applied mathematics at the University of California Merced. Shayna continues to excel at UC Merced. This year alone, she was the runner-up of the GradSlam! Competition and won the Applied Mathematics Excellence in Service Award.
In her research, Shayna is using finite difference methods for partial differential equations to model spatial movement of organisms across heterogeneous landscapes, with a special focus on modeling spread of invasive species. Shayna was nominated for this award by Dr. Les Kanat, who shared, “Shayna Bennett represents the type of student that makes us all proud.”
Brady Rainville ’17
Born and raised in Danville, Vt., Brady graduated from Johnson State College in 2017 having studied psychology and business management. After graduation, Brady went on to earn his master of arts in general/experimental psychology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook, where he excelled in a demanding, accelerated one-year graduate program. Since graduating from Johnson, Brady has co-authored three academic, peer-reviewed journal articles with Dr. Gina Mireault – which have been published in well-respected journals in the field of psychology.
After completing his graduate work, Brady returned in NVU-Johnson as the academic and study away advisor, where he has become a pillar of our campus community and a valuable resource for students as he works to increase student success and retention on our campus. In addition to his work in advising, Brady also serves as a part-time faculty member in the psychology department in both the on-campus and NVU-Online programs.
Outside of work, Brady is actively involved with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) organization. He currently serves as the leadership seminar chairperson for HOBY Vermont, overseeing all aspects of a four-day leadership seminar for high school sophomores. In his 10 years with HOBY, he has volunteered over 750 hours and was awarded 2020 HOBY Vermont Volunteer of the Year.
Further demonstrating his commitment to young Vermonters, in the spring of 2020, Brady served as a faculty member for the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont Winter Weekend, where he co-facilitated a course on social psychology.
Brady was nominated for this award by Dr. Gina Mireault, Sara Kinerson, and Dr. Leslie Johnson, who shared, “When we reflect upon former students who exemplify the value of the educational experience offered here in our small and vibrant community, Brady Rainville is truly the best example.”
Distinguished Alumni Award, Lyndon
This award recognizes an alumnus who has achieved excellence in their profession and who has served their state and community.
Douglas Allen ’81
Doug graduated from Lyndon State College in 1981 with a bachelor in science in communications arts and sciences. While at Lyndon, Doug was a four-year member of Lyndon State Rescue and worked with the security staff. He interned at the LINC Project as a reporter and traffic manager and volunteered with WWLR for two years.
After graduating, Doug continued his work in public safety. First in southern Vermont as a police officer before joining the Colchester Police Department in 1984. For the next 30 plus years, he held a variety of positions, including youth services officer, patrol sergeant, and division commander. In 2018, he was named Chief of Police for the Colchester Police Department.
As the youth services officer, Doug established the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in Colchester and received a Distinguished Service Award for youth-related programs. As patrol sergeant, he established the Police Bicycle Patrol Unit and community service officers and was awarded a medal of valor.
Doug continued his emergency medical service work with Deerfield Valley Rescue until 1984 and then joined Colchester Rescue Squad when he relocated. After 20 years with Colchester Rescue, he was named a lifetime member in 2005. Doug continued to volunteer in his community with Colchester Youth Soccer, Vermont Children’s Theatre on Ice, and Champlain Valley Skating Club. He coached girls’ soccer for 12 years with Colchester Middle School. In 2015, he was the commencement speaker at the Colchester High School and spoke on the value of giving back to the community.
Doug was on the Board of Directors for the New England Community Police Partnership, and is a member of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He currently is a volunteer for Colchester High School Athletics, Champlain Valley Skating Club, and the Colchester/Milton Rotary Club.
Doug resides in Colchester with his wife, Shelly Holt Allen ’80. They have two adult daughters who are both pursuing careers in engineering.
Faculty and Staff Recognition Award, Lyndon
This award was established by the Alumni Council to honor a current or past faculty or staff member who has made a significant impact on the lives of alumni.
Pat is originally from Boston – and uses her Boston accent with pride! She graduated with a bachelor of art in speech pathology and audiology from Adelphi University and a master’s degree in social work from the Simmons School of Social Work. She also completed coursework in the doctoral program at the Simmons School of Social Work.
Pat worked as a clinical social worker for 16 years in the Greater Boston area before coming to Lyndon State College in 2003. She began her work as a staff social worker at Concord-Assabet Adolescent Services working with teens who had significant trauma histories. She then worked as program director at the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston for ten years. In this role, she supervised the clinical staff, developed and evaluated programs, and helped to increase the scope of mentoring services available to girls and teens in and around Boston.
Before relocating to Vermont, Pat served as the program support coordinator at the Boston Adult Technical Academy, an alternative high school program designed primarily for newcomers to the United States.
During her time in Boston, Pat also worked in private practice as a therapist and served as an adjunct faculty member at Salem State College, Wheelock College, and the Boston University’s Graduate Program in Social Work.
Since joining the faculty at Lyndon, Pat has been primarily responsible for the practice-oriented courses in the Psychology and Human Services Department. She has developed collaborations with most of the social service agencies and many of the schools in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. These collaborations have provided innumerable field placement and internship opportunities for students in the department.
One of Pat’s passion is social justice, particularly racial justice. She has chaired the NVU-Lyndon FAIR committee, a group which focuses on social justice, since 2012. In addition, she has facilitated trainings focusing on social and racial justice throughout New England for over 20 years. The other passion she has is for her students. They are her inspiration. She is honored and humbled by the trust they have placed in her. She is forever grateful to them for helping her to become a better teacher, and a better person, these past 18 years.
Pat lives in Concord, Vt., with her husband and best friend, Paul Marcus.
Loyalty Award, Lyndon
This prestigious honor is presented to alumni and volunteers in recognition of their exceptional loyalty and faithful service to Lyndon.
Dan Daley ’81
Dan is proud to claim that he was born and raised in Lyndon. He graduated from Lyndon State College in 1981 with a bachelor of science in mathematics and received his bachelor of science in meteorology in 1982. While a student, Dan participated in hockey and cross-country, worked at the college radio station WWLR, and was a member of the Sigma Zeta Math and Science Society. In 1993, he received his master’s in education in curriculum and instruction from Lyndon.
Dan’s 38 years – and counting – of working in the field of education included 26 years teaching math at Lyndon Institute and six years as the first learning specialist for Lyndon State College. In 2008, he joined the Lyndon State College faculty in the Math and Computer Science Department. He was granted tenure in 2014.
In addition to teaching, Dan has served numerous roles on campus, He has chaired the Liberal Studies Advisory and Curriculum Committees, served as advisor to WWLR for seven years, and has been Lyndon’s NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative since 2009. Dan has been the chair of the Math and Computer Science Department since 2012 and the Education Department since 2017. In the spring of 2019, Dan was elected by his faculty peers as the faculty assembly chair and is now in his second year in that role. In addition, Dan was also recently appointed as the lone faculty member on the Legislative Select Committee on the Future of Public Higher Education in Vermont.
Dan has also had an active role in his community, serving the Town of Lyndon as a member of the select board since April 2015, a justice of the peace since 2003, and a member of the planning commission from 2009 to 2015. He has coached hockey for close to 40 years and has been a member of the USA Hockey National Coaching Education Instruction staff since 1995. In 2018, Dan was awarded the Bob O’Connor Excellence in Coaching Award for service to the New England Hockey District. In July 2019, he was named the USA Hockey National Coach of the Month.
Dan still lives in Lyndon with his wife of 34 years Kathy Hubbard Daley ’80. He is the proud father to sons Connor and Cameron, father-in-law to-be to Taylor, and adoring grandfather to granddaughters Addyson and Willow. Dan and Kathy also have a one-year-old golden retriever who makes them laugh every day.
Award of Special Merit, Lyndon
This award is given to alumni who are or have been employed by the university and are recognized for their deep interest in and faithful service and unusual devotion to Lyndon.
Jennifer Kempton Harris ’79
Jenny received her associate of arts in theater and interpretive arts from Lyndon State College in 1979 and her bachelor of science in business administration in 2017. She is also a Dale Carnegie Program graduate, Vail Resorts Management Development graduate, and a Vermont State Colleges Management Program graduate.
Jenny grew up in Peacham, Vt., on her family’s dairy farm. Although she began her college career at Lyndon pursuing nursing, a lead role in the Twilight Players production of Thieves Carnival during her first semester changed her trajectory. In keeping with her love for the outdoors, Jenny joined the women’s ski team where she met her future husband – the coach and an international student from Australia.
While raising her family in Sydney, Australia and Breckenridge, Colo., Jenny held various administrative positions in a variety of companies and industries. In 2006, when she moved back home to Vermont and accepted a position to work at her alma mater, she shared that she felt as if she had come home in every sense of the word. Jenny has worked in the Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations Office at Lyndon for nearly 14 years and is currently the executive director of development and alumni affairs.
During her time at Lyndon, Jenny has built relationships with hundreds of Lyndon alumni and donors. She manages various volunteer groups, including the Lyndon State College Foundation, Manor Vail Society, and the Planned Giving Committee. Jenny was an integral team member for Lyndon’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, A New View: The Second Century Campaign, which raised over $10 million between 2005 and 2011. She has helped grow the size of Lyndon’s endowment and doubled the number of planned gifts on record. Jenny is a member of the student conduct committee, served as a strategic planning committee co-lead, and led the Lyndon chapter of TOPS.
Jenny has served on many community boards, including the Father Dyer Methodist Church Peace with Justice Committee and Social Concerns Committee, the Breckenridge Ski Resort Support Group, the Peacham Historical Association Board, and as president of the Planned Giving Council of New Hampshire and Vermont. Currently, Jenny serves as a corporator at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.
Jenny resides in Peacham, Vt., with her dogs Bear and John Henry. She is the proud mother to son Christopher and daughter Hannah ’13. Her interests include skiing, biking, hiking, gardening, spending time with family, singing, reading, cooking, traveling, rafting, and visiting her three grandchildren in Alaska.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Lyndon
This award is presented to alumni who completed their degree within the past ten years, and who have distinguished themselves professionally in their field of study.
Michelle Frizalone Willard ’11
Michelle graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor of science in broadcast news and marketing in 2011.
Michelle is the vice president of public relations and communications for the Greater Sacramento Economic Council. Through her extensive communications experience and previous work as a top-rated news anchor, she offers in-depth knowledge to help businesses make a transformational impact through public relations and communications.
Michelle has lived all over the nation, working in all realms of media communications throughout her career. She has worked for multiple nonprofits, a public relations firm, as well as a news anchor and reporter in different markets throughout the country. Michelle worked for for KTXS News in Abilene, Texas and also at WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C. as a news anchor and reporter.
Her public relations and marketing work includes successfully rebranding nonprofits through creative and innovative marketing and communications strategies. Most recently, she led public relations and marketing for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii. Prior to that position, she was leading public relations and communications for Greater Sacramento. Through the development and execution of her communications strategy, she garnered global, national, and local media attention and held the largest press conference to-date on behalf of the business community for the leading tech giant, Amazon.
Her results speak for themselves landing media placements in Bloomberg, Forbes, LA Times, CNBC, Business Insider, American Way Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, among other media publications.
Michelle uses the skills she gained in television news to help organizations with unpredictable breaking news situations, navigating political shifts, and prepare for taped and live broadcast interviews. During her time in the news industry, she interviewed national and local business leaders and political figures. She is an expert in all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
During her first year at the economic development group, she won an award from the California Association of Economic Development for a national digital media campaign with world-renowned performance painter David Garibaldi. In addition, she helped develop successful video collateral for the Greater Sacramento region.
Michelle and her family currently reside in the Sacramento, Calif. region. She is a proud mom to son Mason and a proud Air Force wife to a U-2, B-1, and T-38 pilot.
2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
Jason Gray ’13
Jason graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor of science in small business management and entrepreneurship in 2013. During his time at Lyndon, Jason was a four year member of the men’s basketball and soccer teams.
In basketball, Jason earned North Atlantic Conference (NAC) honors in his final three seasons. His sophomore and junior years, he was named to the NAC All-Conference Second Team and his senior year, he was named First-Team. Jason scored a total of 1,345 points as a Hornet and had 836 rebounds, 145 assists, and 154 blocks. He led the NAC in blocks per game both as a freshman and as a senior. He was sixth in scoring as a junior and ninth as a senior. All four years, Jason was in the top six for rebounds per game, including ranking second his senior year. He was consistently one of the conference leaders in minutes played as well. Jason participated in the NAC post-season tournament his final three years, leading his team to its first NAC Championship appearance as a sophomore. He served as team captain for the 2012-2013 season.
Jason also played goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team. He was named to the NAC All-Conference Second Team as a goalkeeper. As a sophomore, he led his team to a NAC Championship game appearance and Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament.
After graduating, Jason went on to coach his favorite sport – basketball. He spent 2014-2016 as the junior varsity head coach for his local high school, Thetford Academy. In 2016, he became the varsity head coach – a position he still holds. As head coach, Thetford Academy has won two back-to-back championships.
Jason’s career and professional activities have revolved around his passion for his family business, C.W. Gray & Sons, Inc. The family owned and operated business has been around for over 60 years and specializes in estate auctions, farm sales, and equipment auctions. In 2013, he started working full-time for C.W Gray & Sons. Inc. Jason went to auctioneer school and is now a licensed auctioneer in both Vermont and New Hampshire.
Jason built a new home with his wife, Katelyn, and currently lives in East Thetford, Vt., where they are raising their two daughters Alice (3) and Nora (1).
John Lemieux ’83
John graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor of science in physical education in 1983 and earned a master’s degree in adapted physical education from Indiana University in 1985. He also earned the certified financial planner™ designation in 2005, completed the certified investment management program from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in 2008, and passed the certified investment management analyst™ examination the same year. In 2010, John earned the certified divorce financial analyst™ designation.
After transferring to Lyndon in January 1981 from Castleton State College, John was a two-year member of the men’s basketball team and a top runner on the cross country team. He was a basketball team captain along with fellow Athletic Hall of Fame members Bill Fitzgerald ’86 and Mike Whaley ’84. As a player, John was noted for two things: first his jumping ability – at 6’2” he had dunks in several games and often guarded opponents post players – and secondly his tenacity and work ethic. He knew early in his college career that he would be only as good as his training and preparation. He worked relentlessly to be in better shape than his opponents. He often says that the best thing he learned at Lyndon was “how to work hard, how to play hard, and how to tell the difference.”
After graduating, John was a basketball coach for ten years. At Indiana University, he served as a volunteer assistant with the women’s basketball team while completing his master’s degree before becoming an assistant women’s coach at Kent State University and the University of Pittsburgh. In 1987, he was named the head women’s basketball coach at Division II Keene State College. In his first year at Keene, his team won the Division II Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship while setting a school record for wins and leading the nation in three-point field goals made per game. He was named the New England Collegiate Conference coach-of-theyear in 1988. His team also won the ECAC Championship in 1989 and broke their own record for wins in a season. He has the highest winning percentage of any Keene State College coach.
In 1989, John was named the inaugural men’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Colby-Sawyer College, an all-women’s college that was soon to admit men. In his first year of competition, playing an NCAA D-III varsity schedule with all freshmen, his team went 13-12. Since 2002, John has served as a special assistant to one of his former Colby-Sawyer players at Southern Maine Community College. As a player and coach, he has spent 34 seasons in college basketball.
John left coaching as a full-time profession in 1993 and began to work in the investment business. In 2009, he co-founded Anton LeMieux Financial Group with offices in Maine and Florida.
After losing his left leg to cancer in 2012, John founded the Amputee Association of Maine, a 501(c)3 organization to serve amputees and their families and became very involved as a competitor in amputee golf tournaments. He is a life member of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association and, as of this writing, is the number 71 ranked amputee golfer in the country and the number 15 ranked above-knee amputee golfer. He also founded and hosts the Gorham Savings Bank Maine Amputee Open – a 36- hole tournament along with an adapted golf clinic and a corporate scramble, which is held over four days.
John and his wife, Cindy, live in Portland, Maine and Naples, Fla.
Natalia Shams McNeill ’11
Originally, from Swampscott, Mass., Natalia graduated from Lyndon State College in 2011 with a bachelor of arts in sociology and global studies. She was inducted into the Arthur B. Elliott Honor Society. In 2013, Natalia received her master’s degree in diplomacy, Sigma Iota Rho, from Norwich University.
Natalia was recruited to play softball by former Lyndon head women’s softball coach and Athletic Hall of Fame member, Jennifer Kirchoff Layn ’06. In high school, she was a two-year captain, received the coaches’ award in 2004 and 2006, was named team MVP in 2005 and 2007, and was selected as a Salem News All-Star, North East All Conference All-Star, Agganis All-Star Classic Athlete, and Boston Global All-Scholastic Athlete her senior year, 2007. She was also a member of the junior Olympic travel softball team, New England Storm.
On the Lyndon softball field, Natalia was a four-year starter and two-year team captain. She received numerous honors including being named team MVP in 2009 and 2010, selected to the North Atlantic Conference All-Conference Second Team in 2011, and was an honorable mention in 2009.
In her 2010 season, Natalia ranked third in the conference for triples, fifth in on-base percentage (.474), and 11th in batting average (.377). She led the team in doubles, runs-batted-in, and slugging percentage (.574). In her senior season, Natalia ranked seventh in the conference for stolen bases and eighth in the conference for on-base percentage (.470). She also ranked first in the conference and sixth in the nation, NCAA Division III for most walks in the season (22).
Natalia was part of the 2008 team that reached the USCAA Women’s Softball Championship in Decatur, Ill., and is currently the only player in Lyndon softball history to start a game at every position within her career.
In the two full seasons Natalia played soccer, she recorded 192 saves in 31 games. She also ranked second in the conference for save percentage and received the coaches’ award in 2008. She was nominated for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award representing Lyndon and was awarded the Athletic Department’s Champion of Character Award in 2011.
Natalia was active in the Lyndon campus community and served as a resident assistant for Student Life from 2008-2011. She was a member of the Resident Hall Association in 2010-2011; Resident Assistant Advisory Board in 2010-2011; and Student Athletic Advisory Committee from 2009-2011 – serving as secretary, 2010-2011. She was also a member of the Track & Field Club prior to it becoming a varsity sport. Natalia was recognized for her on-campus community efforts and awarded with the Department of Resident Life Promise Award in 2011.
Natalia is currently a website administrator and data analyst for Cherry Bekaert LLP, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting firms. She and her husband, Stephen McNeill, and their rescue dog, George, reside in Richmond, Va. They are expecting their first child in January 2021.
Tyler Scheibenpflug ’15
Tyler graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor of science in atmospheric sciences in 2015. As a one-season student athlete, he was able to focus all of his athletic attention toward the sport of cross country for four years, earning multiple awards and records.
As a freshman during the 2011 season, Tyler had standout performances throughout the season. The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship took place at home on the Lyndon State Course. Tyler was able to run well with a fifth-place finish, earning All-Conference honors.
The following season, Tyler was once again able to earn All-Conference honors as well as assist the team in a NAC Conference Championship title. His finish at the New England Regional Championship improved to 65th place.
Tyler’s junior season started with multiple injuries. Thanks to Lyndon’s incredible team of trainers, he was able to build back his strength and have a successful season. A strong showing at the 2013 NAC Championship earned him his third first-team All-Conference honor as well as another title for the team. The following few weeks were a whirlwind as his 23rd place finish at the New England Regional Championship would be enough to earn him a place in the NCAA National Championship race in Indiana, along with his teammate Kyle Powers. His race result was not great, but the experience was everything he had dreamed it would be.
The 2014 season would see Tyler take the position as team captain. He started the season with a strong showing during the Open New England race on the legendary Franklin Park course with a 23rd place finish, competing against schools from all NCAA divisions. His first and only collegiate win would come during the NAC Championship, setting a course record, and leading the team to a third straight victory. Then a 16th place finish at the New England Regional Championship would earn him another ticket to the national championship in Mason, Ohio. This time the race went very well, crossing the finish line in 42nd place, the best ever finish of any Lyndon or NAC runner, in a time of 24:46.8 setting a new Lyndon and NAC record. Tyler was named NAC Runner of the Year.
Tyler credits his accomplishments to the support of his coach, Chris Ummer, who would work tirelessly to ensure his training was executed perfectly and kept his race day mentality in check.
Tyler currently resides in Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked as a wildland firefighter on a hotshot crew and recently started a new career as a land surveyor for a private firm. He is also working to create a non-profit for local trail advocacy, while still trying to run as much as he can.