Arthur Gibb Award Recipients

PAUL COSTELLO, Montpelier, VTWarren King

2018 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), is a dynamic leader and powerful advocate who helps Vermont communities create prosperous and sustainable futures. He has promoted economic vitality and stewardship of Vermont’s natural assets in all corners of the state, and is a leader on climate change, having begun an initiative at VCRD to make Vermont a national hub for climate economy development.

“Paul Costello epitomizes the characteristics that defined Art Gibb’s life,” said VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe. “He has committed himself to working across Vermont to make the state, and the individual communities that comprise it, a better place. I am really pleased to recognize him for that work.” The Arthur Gibb Award was co-presented to Costello by Megan Camp, Vice President and Program Director of Shelburne Farms, who is the current Chair of VCRD’s Board and a former VNRC Board member.

Costello, a lifelong Vermonter, grew up in Burlington and obtained a BA from the University of Vermont. He worked in human services, as a manager for the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative, and as a carpenter before beginning doctorate course work in intellectual history at McGill University, while lecturing at Saint Michael’s College, UVM, and McGill. After earning his PhD, Costello worked for five years at Central Vermont Adult Basic Education (CVABE), an organization that provides literacy instruction for adults and teens in Washington, Lamoille, and Orange counties, serving first as a regional coordinator and then as development director. He took the helm of VCRD in 2000.

Nathaniel Hausman, Project Director for the Clean Energy States Alliance, wrote in his nomination of Costello: “Paul understands the imperative of preserving Vermont’s land and traditions while at the same time promoting innovation and economic development.”

Sarah Waring, Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Economy, endorsed Costello’s collaborative, people-centered approach to community problem solving. “Paul has dedicated his adult life to finding ways to protect the civic engagement in Vermont, and he’s done it by building bridges with advocates on both sides of the aisle, and perhaps more importantly, with supporters on Main Street and in the sugar house,” she said. “Paul’s strategy to create leadership teams, local facilitators, and networks of accountability enables self-actualization in our Vermont communities.”

WARREN KING, Ripton, VTWarren King

2017 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

Warren King, a life-long conservationist, has contributed his remarkable creativity, compassion, and energy to his work with Audubon Vermont, Vermont Nature Conservancy, Ripton’s Planning and Conservation Commissions, New England Wildflower Society, and more, in service of Vermont’s natural resources and communities.

“Warren King epitomizes how the practice of taking local action can help address global challenges,” said VNRC executive director Brian Shupe. “King’s work has rippled across the state to better inform public policy and local action on a range of initiatives that have deeply impacted Vermont communities and our environment for the better.”

The award will be co-presented by author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben, a Ripton resident and member of VNRC’s Advisory Committee. In his book Wandering Home, McKibben noted that King and his wife, Barry, are the “sort of people who make a place tick – there’s not a good civic work in which they’re not implicated…[and they are] governed by common sense and a dose of wry humility.”

Laurie Cox, chair of the Ripton Selectboard, wrote in her nomination of King, “Warren’s commitment to leading our town – our community – in a positive direction is deeply based, long lived, and vigorously worked at. He is a leader and…he has consistently sought to involve people who represent a range of opinions to ensure the wider community is represented in the process while aiming for consensus…He will share his knowledge, he will share his ideas, and he will share the recognition for success.”

Photo by Dorthy Weicker.

ELISABETH KULAS, Rutland, VTElisabeth photo at organ

2016 Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

As Executive Director and Project Developer of the Housing Trust of Rutland County, Elisabeth Kulas promotes affordable housing solutions, offering services and programs for individuals and communities. The Housing Trust works in rental housing, mobile home parks, special needs housing, and offers technical assistance to municipalities and civic groups.

Kulas is known for her persistence and tenacity in redeveloping buildings and sites often known as white elephants. These are often prominent in communities and have important histories – but also resulting challenges. She leads the design process through the eyes of the user, striving for quality of life for the intended renters, while also creating high quality housing that respects and integrates into its surroundings.

“Across her more than 20 year career at the Housing Trust of Rutland County, Elisabeth has demonstrated the leadership, creativity, vision and commitment to public service that this award recognizes,” wrote Paul Burhn and Emily Wadhams, in nominating Kulas for the award.

Her work in housing and conservation has also been a steady economic driver in the region, contributing $4 million dollars a year to the local economy, in addition to new project investments. During her tenure at the Housing Trust, Kulas has overseen 20 mjaor housing projects and oversees a portfolio of projects worth over $37.8 millon.

Connie Snow, Executive Director of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust wrote in her nomination of Kulas, “Elisabeth believes in Community with a capital “C”: communities which are inclusive and provide opportunity. While that may be the driver, she understands the bigger pictures: that the safe, attractive and sustainable neighborhoods she is working to create – and the economic engine of her construction activity – are integral pieces to overall community health and well-being.”

Watch a short video about Elizabeth here. Thanks to Meg Cambell for making the video!

ELLEN KAHLER, Starksboro, VTEllen_2011

2015 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

As Executive Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Kahler promotes the development of sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and forest product jobs across the state. In particular, Kahler’s leadership and teamwork have taken the Farm to Plate effort – Vermont’s statewide food system plan to increase economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and improve access to healthy food for all Vermonters – far beyond what was expected.

Kahler is a graduate of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania with a BA in Political Science and from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a Masters in Public Administration. Prior to joining the VSJF, Ellen was the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington.

“Ellen is a giver of self, to the common and public good,” wrote Peg Elmer Hough in nominating Kahler for the award. “Peace and justice. Sustainable Jobs. A strengthened food system. Countless hours of dedication far beyond financial return, for the pure joy of making good things happen,” she wrote.


Andrea Morgante


2014 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

Andrea Morgante is a long time Hinesburg community member and leader. She currently serves on the Hinesburg Selectboard (22 years of service – first elected in 1992), having first served on the Hinesburg Planning Commission for 4 years from 1988 to 1992. Within municipal/regional government, she also represents the Town of Hinesburg on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. She also serves the community through leadership roles in several non-profit conservation groups, including: Hinesburg Land Trust (Co-founder), Lewis Creek Association (Board President), and LaPlatte Watershed Partnership (Co-founder).In her work on community planning and conservation issues, Andrea is known for her respectfulness, her willingness to listen to and consider diverse opinions, and her desire to find creative solutions. She has also been praised for having a vision that includes both the big picture, in an ecological sense, as well as human needs.

“She brings this holistic approach to every discussion and every public policy decision,” said Alex Weinhagen, Hinesburg’s director of planning and zoning. “Frequently, she makes the rest of us in the room think harder about what core values are driving a policy conversation, and how the expedient solution is not always the right solution for the long term or the larger ecological system.”



2013 Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

Bob Klein served as state director of the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for over 30 years. He was a founder of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition, acted as a co-chair of the coalition, and has helped bring many millions of dollars in state funds to Vermont’s ongoing conservation efforts. The Nature Conservancy was instrumental in a deal to purchase the former Champion lands, now the Northeast Kingdom Heritage Lands, leading science-driven efforts to establish a 12,500-acre core area owned by the state.

Gus Seelig, the director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and past recipient of the Arthur Gibb Award, said Klein’s work will leave a lasting mark on Vermont.  He noted that Klein helped Vermont add thousands of acres of land to state parks and forests, including Green River Reservoir State park, Knight Island and other important locations.

“Bob’s legacy as Vermont’s first director of the Conservancy’s Vermont Chapter will be found for generations to come at TNC’s Vermont preserves – in places like Black Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Long Pond. His leadership provides all Vermonters with an elegant example of how we can work together in promoting the values that Art Gibb embodied,” Seelig said.


2012 Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

John Ewing is known for his contributions to dozens of non-profit organizations across Vermont and for his years of service on the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

A graduate of Amherst College and Yale Law School, Ewing spent his first professional years in private law practice. In 1972, he joined Burlington Savings Bank (later renamed Bank of Vermont) as general counsel and held various positions, retiring as president in 1995 when he was named by then-Gov. Howard Dean to chair the Vermont Environmental Board.

Together with Elizabeth Humstone, Ewing founded the Vermont Forum on Sprawl in 1997. He saw an urgent need for an organization that would bring together diverse, and at times opposing, interests to discuss how Vermont could have a strong economy and housing options while protecting the farms and forestland that define the state’s working landscape. (The Vermont Forum on Sprawl, which was renamed Smart Growth Vermont 2007, merged with VNRC in 2011.)


2010 Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership

Gus was the founding Executive Director of Vermont Housing Conservation Board. With the help of a dedicated staff and a creative board, he took an idea and built it into a nationally recognized model for addressing the twin problems of affordable homes and conservation of open space. He helped bring together both the housing and conservation organizations to further the state’s smart growth goals of building in our centers and maintaining our working landscape.  He worked with Senator Leahy to implement the Farms for the Future program as a pilot project which led to the national Farm Protection Program.  As a direct result of Gus’ leadership, Vermont now has some 325,000 acres of conserved land, including over 500 conserved farms, 9,800 units of permanently affordable housing and the infrastructure policies in place for the future.


2009 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual leadership

As founding chair of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Rob helped establish one of Vermont’s flagship programs charged with a dual mission – conserving important open lands and creating affordable housing – that was unique in the nation. Rob set a high standard for integrating the mission and took the necessary risks to ensure that housing and conservation complemented rather than competed with each other. The result is Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s strong record of success, with nearly 10,000 affordable housing units created and over 375,000 acres conserved.

Rob’s vision that housing and conservation were complementary public functions enabled the Board to support conservation that revitalizes our rural economy, while reinvesting in Vermont’s downtowns and village centers.– Gus Seelig, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board


Paul Bruhn has helped direct so much public and private investment into dozens of Vermont towns, villages and cities. The projects Paul has taken on have grabbed headlines – usually good ones – and have acted as catalysts for entire communities and entire regions throughout the state. Most importantly, Paul has been a leader – someone many of us turn to when we need an idea advanced or a sticky situation mediated. These are qualities that have helped Vermont become a state recognized internationally as something special, something unique and something worth advancing.

– US Senator Patrick Leahy

2008 Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership
Paul Bruhn, Executive Director of Preservation Trust of Vemont, was honored as the 2008 recipient of the Art Gibb Award for Individual Leasdership, for his significant contribution to preserving Vermont’s landscapes, village centers and historic landmarks.  Since 1980, Preservation Trust of Vermont has touched the lives of Vermonters in almost every city and town in the state from the Latchis Hotel & Theater in Brattleboro, to the Opera House at Enosburg Falls.


2007 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual LeadershipBob Lloyd is a community builder who has proven himself to be an asset to Tinmouth and the state of Vermont.  During the years 2004 to 2006, Lloyd was  President of the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies (VAPDA), and the Chair of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC). Lloyd was also President of Vermont Coverts: Woodlands for Wildlife, for five years, from 1999 to 2004.  Currently, Lloyd is Chair of the Tinmouth Board of Adjustment and Vice Chair of the Tinmouth Planning Commission.Lloyd has spent his life working with local, regional and state organizations to plan for strong communities.  To do this, he uses sound planning principles, balances diverse public objectives and builds consensus around common goals.In the early 1980s, Lloyd helped organize the Tinmouth Land Trust.  Through that organization, and with the Vermont Land Trust, Lloyd has participated in several subsequent conservation projects in town.  Approximately 4,500 acres of Tinmouth’s 18,500 acres are now under conservations easements.In his acceptance speech during the Smart Growth Awards, Bob Lloyd had many people to thank for influencing his work, including his family and the people of Tinmouth.
 “In his quiet way, Bob Lloyd profoundly influenced the shape of land conservation not only in Tinmouth, but throughout Vermont. Now he has taken on the added challenges of affordable housing
—Darby Bradley, Vermont Land Trust


2006 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual LeadershipConnie Snow, the first recipient of the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership, is a founder and the Executive Director of the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust.  Snow’s work over the last nineteen years includes rehabilitating Brattleboro’s lower Canal Street and the Wilder Building, developing housing options in downtown and villages, and collaborating with human service organizations on “service-enriched” housing for special needs residents.  She has earned the trust and respect of Vermonters who seek her wise counsel on making our communities better places to live and work.
 “Connie’s work is done face-to-face, day-to-day, and requires much more than a good mind and good organization. It requires trust, an essential element of her success, and one of Art Gibb’s defining traits.”—Liz Bankowski