Board of Directors

As a community land trust, Champlain Housing Trust’s Board of Directors are elected annually by the membership at our Annual Meeting in January. Any member living in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties can be nominated and be elected to the Board. The Board is made up of one-third public members, one-third general members and one-third resident members.


Jessie Baker, Vice President
Helen Head
Nicole Mace
Gillian Nanton
Chip Sawyer


Naima Dennis
Joan Lenes
Kathy T. Luce
Sarah Robinson, Treasurer
Jeff Smith, President


Antoinette Bennett-Jones, Secretary
Kate Cappleman Sinz
John Olson
Issouf Ouattara
Rachyl Phillips

Interested in Board Service?

Champlain Housing Trust’s 15 member Board of Directors has five seats for residents. Because members are term limited, we are always looking for interested candidates for future vacancies.

No experience with boards? Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) staff provide training, orientation, and lots of support to welcome new and less experienced candidates. All it takes is a commitment to the board responsibilities and the ability to put in the time required. In addition to be being a great opportunity to learn and build a variety of skills, joining CHT’s Board is a chance to meet and enjoy a great group of people who are committed to our mission of permanently affordable housing.

If you are interested, email Addie Livingston at [email protected]

Jessie Baker is the City Manager of South Burlington, Vermont. Prior to serving in South Burlington, she was City Manager of Winooski. Jessie has held municipal management positions with the City of Somerville, Massachusetts and the City of Montpelier, Vermont. Jessie grew up in Waterbury Center and is a graduate of Harwood Union High School. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and anthropology from Columbia University and a Master’s degree in planning and policy from Tufts University. Jessie sits on the boards of Champlain Housing Trust, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont City and Town Management Association, and Vermont Women Leading Government.

Antoinette Bennett-Jones was born in Miami, Florida. She moved to Vermont in 2001. She is the mother of two amazing children whom she calls her heroes. She is a member of the AmeriCorps Everybody Works team at ReSOURCE, where she serves as the Workforce Development and Outreach Coordinating Assistant. She is a former Community Kitchen Graduate, Community College of Vermont graduate, and has history in various sectors of the medical field.  Her passion is to give back to her community and help others. Antoinette lives at CHT’s Avenue Apartments in Burlington.

Kate Cappleman Sinz

was born and raised in North Carolina, until moving to the Green Mountain State in 2004 to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. In 2011, Kate and her spouse Josh made Winooski their home through the CHT Shared Equity program. Kate is a social worker at UVM Pediatric Primary Care, where she has developed a dedication to addressing housing and other needs that impact the well-being of our community.  She is active in the Winooski community, and is the parent of a student at JFK Elementary School.  Kate enjoys adventures and travel, and simply spending time in the Vermont woods with her family.

Naima Dennis is the Senior Assistant Registrar for Technology at the University of Vermont. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Naima moved to Burlington in the fall of 1992. Upon her initial arrival in Burlington, Naima experienced various stages of housing insecurity. As an original member of the Thelma Maple Co-op, a CHT property, Naima has benefitted first hand from the opportunities made available through CHT. There is a long history of discriminatory housing practices that target the BIPOC community. CHT’s work on combating racism in the housing sector, and ensuring that safe, affordable housing is available for all populations aligns with Naima’s values. Naima lives in the New North End of Burlington with her family.

Helen Head has focused on affordable housing issues for many years – in legal aid, shared housing, and the legislature.  From 2003-2019, Helen represented Chittenden 7-3 in the Vermont House and became chair of the committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs in 2007.  She now serves as co-coordinator of Small Potatoes, an interfaith food initiative, and is a volunteer for both hospice and a prisoner/community reintegration program.  Helen is a board member for Emerge Vermont and is co-presiding clerk of Burlington Friends Meeting (Quakers).  She and her husband, Tom Mercurio, have two grown children and live in South Burlington.

Joan Lenes served in the Vermont General Assembly, representing the Towns of Shelburne and St. George from 2007-2017. She was a member of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions. Joan currently is the Chair of Emerge Vermont and an elected justice of the peace in Shelburne. Joan currently serves on the Age Well Board, Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation, the UVM Continuing and Distance Education Board, the UVM Nursing and Health Science advisory board, and Wake Robin Board of Directors. She is a member of Charlotte/Shelburne/Hinesburg Rotary Club and Shelburne Business & Professional Association. Joan is a former member of the UVM Board of Trustees, former longtime CVSD school board member; and she was a founding member of Robin’s Nest Children’s Center. Joan previously taught in the Center for Service-Learning at UVM, and owned and operated Climb High. She has two grown children and lives in Shelburne with her husband, Helmut.

Kathy T. Luce is a Partner and Vice President at Maloney Properties, Inc. She oversees the management of a large, diverse portfolio of mixed income senior and family housing in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts that are either owned by the residents through a limited partnership or have strong resident participation in a nonprofit ownership structure. She has worked extensively as a consultant to nonprofit housing organizations and resident ownership groups.  Kathy is a current Board Member of the New England Resident Services Coordinators (NERSC).  She lives in Charlotte with her husband Dan.

Nicole Mace

is the Finance Manager at the Winooski School District. She has a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.  Nicole is a parent of a student at JFK Elementary School in Winooski and has been a resident of Winooski since 2009.  Nicole served on the Winooski City Council from 2015-2019, including a one-month stint as mayor. Nicole also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Winooski Housing Authority.

Gillian Nanton is a development manager with more than 25 years of combined economic development experience. She serves as Assistant Director for Opportunity and Engagement in the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) with the City of Burlington. Prior to joining CEDO in 2015, she served as Chief of the Caribbean Division at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York, before being assigned to Jamaica as the UNDP Resident Representative and Resident Coordinator for the United Nations. Gillian holds an MBA from Rutgers University and is twice a graduate of the University of the West Indies where she earned a BSc in Economics and Master’s in Social Sciences. She serves on the boards of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center and South End Arts & Business Association (SEABA).

John Olson has been a resident/owner at the Flynn Avenue Co-op Homes in Burlington since 2005. He works for the Vermont Department of Health, managing federal grants to support small rural hospitals, clinics, and health care workforce. At the Flynn Ave Co-op, he served as a Board Member and as Treasurer from 2010-2014. John has also volunteered as an usher at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts since 2003. He received an inter-disciplinary Master of Education degree from UVM in 2000. John grew up in rural Minnesota and moved to Burlington in 1988 after graduating college.

Issouf Ouattara

was born in Ivory Coast (West Africa). At the age of 12, fleeing a social crisis, he moved to Burkina Faso where he completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business law (in French) and worked as a Legal Advisor with the debt collection department of a West African regional bank before his relocation to the United States in October 2010. He currently works as a maintenance unit supervisor at the University of Vermont. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from UVM. He believes in self-awareness, tolerance, communication, and teamwork to promote a healthy, diverse, and inclusive community.

Rachyl Phillips is a former professional ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. While Rachyl and her husband Steven have both traveled and worked extensively abroad, they fell in love with Vermont and are proud to call it their home. While they originally moved here to start a performing arts school, Rachyl was soon after diagnosed with a serious, rare genetic disorder – Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – that required the couple to put their lives on hold for the past several years for her treatment. Nevertheless, in spite of her medical limitations, Rachyl has remained active in the community – her own way of trying to “give back”. She enjoys writing and blogging, she manages a couple of websites, and she coordinates a unique, inclusive spiritual community online with her husband. She happily considers herself a “tech-geek,’’ continues to raise awareness of the medical condition she fights, and advocates for others — especially those who can’t do so themselves.

Sarah Robinson is the Deputy Director at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, a statewide non-profit organization committed to uprooting the causes of violence. Sarah was born and raised in a small town in southern Vermont and has a deep appreciation for the strength of Vermont communities and local innovation. She served for four years as a City Councilor in Winooski and is an adjunct faculty member in the Social Work department at the University of Vermont. Sarah lives in Burlington with her husband Colin and finds her greatest source of both joy and humility as the co-parent of her two young daughters. Colin and Sarah purchased (and sold) their first house through the Champlain Housing Trust’s Shared Equity Program in 2008.

Chip Sawyer is the Director of Planning and Development for the City of St. Albans. There he oversees the City’s land use planning and permitting, community development, stormwater planning, property valuation, and special projects. Chip has previously worked as a Program Manager at the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont and as a Senior Planner at Lamoille County Planning Commission. He holds Master’s degrees in Public Administration and Natural Resource Planning from UVM. Chip grew up in the City of St. Albans and lives there with his family today.

Jeff Smith has lived in Burlington since 1998 and volunteered in some capacity with the Champlain Housing Trust for over 17 years. He works at NorthCountry Federal Credit Union as the Senior Vice President of Lending. Previously, he worked at three different Community Development Credit Unions throughout the country in their efforts to serve people of modest means.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting from James Madison University and an MBL from the University of Vermont.  He has been on the board of the Burlington American Little League for 12 years.  He and his wife have two boys and a daughter.




View Champlain Housing Trust Bylaws – PDF