Growing community, providing thoughtful leadership, and empowering others to reach their full potential have been at the core of Vanessa’s career as a non-profit leader. She came to the Aloha Foundation in 2012 as the Director of Ohana Family Camp when the program was new, only two years old. Since then, she and her staff have built a growing base of enthusiasts who return to us year after year, recruiting friends of all ages to experience the pure, unplugged joy of family camp. A skilled listener who seeks to learn and understand, Vanessa has garnered respect as a trusted leader and collaborator. She took on the additional role of Director of Program Quality in 2018, and in March 2020, the Board of Trustees asked her to serve as Interim Executive Director. At the time, the Aloha Foundation was staring down a global pandemic. Vanessa was charged with navigating the organization through the suspension of Aloha’s summer programs for the first time in over a century, a significant loss in tuition revenue, and a reckoning of our values and what it means to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. In October 2020, she accepted the Board’s offer to become the next Executive Director of the Aloha Foundation.
Prior to her time at the Alohas, Vanessa spent ten years with Outward Bound designing programs and curriculum, expanding mission impact, reaching and engaging deeply with communities and leading expeditions to many places with people of all ages. Her work took place across the United States—San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Omaha—and overseas with time in South Africa and Singapore. Early in her career, she also served as the Chief Outdoor Educator and Camp Counselor for the South Shore YMCA in Sandwich, MA. Vanessa holds degrees in English from Yale and Biology from the University of Connecticut. She and her husband Nolan, sons Stone and Zephyr, and daughter Coral reside in Thetford, Vermont.