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New Members

Posted Saturday, March 2, 2024
— Connections 2024 Winter/Spring

In January of this year, CHC welcomed new Board member Melissa Manka. CHC is excited to bring her experience, connections, and perspective to the organization. 

My name is Melissa Manka. I reside in Belvidere, Vermont with my two daughters, Sofia Wren & Isla  Rose, as well as gaggle of animals. Together we enjoy attending community events, exploring the  great outdoors, splashing in lakes and rivers, growing food, making art and reading good stories. I  moved to Vermont in my youth to study at Johnson State College, earning a Bachelor of Science in  Environmental Science – Natural Resources Management. Over the years, I’ve volunteered for a  number of organizations including the American Red Cross, Scouts of America, Meals on Wheels, Building Bright Futures, etc. as well as served on local and regional boards such as the Belvidere  Community Club Activities Committee, Town of Johnson Conservation Commission, and Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission Planning Advisory and Hazard Mitigation Plan  Committees. The focus of my career has been land use planning and community development with  the majority of that time spent serving as the Town Planner for the Town of Westford. In Westford, we focused on smart growth principles, conservation of working lands and priority natural areas,  and community resiliency, health and wellness. Accomplishments during my tenure include  modernized and unification of the land use and development regulations, development of form based code, Village Center & Neighborhood Development Area Designation, enrollment in the National Flood Insurance Program, achievement of the highest level of Emergency Relief & Assistance Funding and protections, creation of the Maple Shade Town Forest, and securing grant  funding to advance local, regional and state goals. Recently, I transitioned to Lamoille County  Planning Commission as a Regional Planner to pursue of those guiding principles and values in the  hills I call home. 

It would be an honor to serve Cold Hollow to Canada to offer any knowledge and/or assistance which may prove useful to its mission. I also hope to gain knowledge to utilize personally and professionally. Thank you for your time and consideration!


CHC welcomed Suzanne to the team in December. Read her introduction to learn more about her position and what brought her to us.

For many years now, I have been rubbing elbows with CHC. I was brought up in Montgomery, specifically on the Northern spine of the Cold Hollow Mountains where I spent my childhood swimming in West Hill Brook and exploring the hillside and woods of our property, so conservation projects for the region have always been proximally important to me and since its incorporation I have maintained an appreciation for the work that CHC does to preserve this region. Additionally, I work with Charlie Hancock on the Montgomery Select Board, and his position as Co-founder and Chair for CHC has been apparent from conversations and community actions, and occasionally from relevant agenda items. Also, for a number of years, my parents, whom I am very close to and who still also reside in Montgomery, have been members of CHC and shared with me their experiences at events or the Annual Meeting. So, when my mother emailed me the listing for the available position as Communications Manager for the organization, I promptly submitted my application. 

Community service has been a hereditary priority for me since moving back to Montgomery following my college years living in Los Angeles, CA. I moved to the West Coast city to obtain my Bachelors in Fine Arts from California Institute of Arts and to experience the urban alternative to my childhood environment, and after staying there for nearly a decade, I wanted nothing more than to return to the fresh air, green mountains, and clear rivers of Northern Vermont. Family, small towns, and interwoven communities appealed more and more to me after my time spent in the anonymity of the metropolis. Since moving back to Vermont, I have settled happily into a homestead with my husband and two daughters, situated far off one of the Montgomery backroads, where I spend my time in the garden, raising animals, or working on our house and property. I also serve on the Municipal Select Board and as the Treasurer for the Montgomery Center for the Arts. My experience navigating the finances, agendas, and community narratives of those two civic organizations, combined with my penchant for graphic design, photography, and writing, lent me the skills that I can apply to this position at CHC: creativity, attention to detail, and administrative management.

My role at CHC is to maintain the line of communication between CHC and the public via social media, email correspondence, and program support, as well as updating records and maintaining the various online platforms that host the organization. I am excited to dive into this new position and I look forward to getting to know the CHC team and supporting their conservation work, Woodlots program, and community awareness. 



Meet CHC's newest members