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The Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to Hal Cohen, executive director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, at this year’s June graduation ceremony of the Vermont Leadership Institute (VLI) at Basin Harbor Resort in Vergennes, Vermont. The award is presented in honor of Jan Eastman, former president of the Snelling Center for Government, to a VLI alumnus/alumna who has made a significant contribution to Vermont and its community life, and has demonstrated skillful and innovative leadership and vision
Cohen was nominated for the award by three fellow VLI graduates. Noted one of his nominators, “[Hal] leads by example through demonstrating hard work, commitment to excellence, and passion for the mission of his agency. He also is unique in his ability to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit in spite of the many federal and state funding constraints that he has to deal with on a daily basis.”
Cohen’s leadership response to Tropical Storm Irene was heralded by another nominator, “In less than 24 hours after the storm, Hal had his staff on the ground reaching out to communities to assess damages and provide assistance to victims wherever possible. In several instances, Community Action was the first responder particularly in remote communities that where difficult to access.”
The Vermont Leadership Institute is an intensive 10-month program of The Snelling Center designed to give Vermonters the information,tools and inspiration to make greater contributions to their organizations, to their communities and to Vermont. The Center was established in 1992 in memory of Richard A. Snelling, whose five terms as governor were marked by energetic and ethical leadership. Jan Eastman was president of the Snelling Center for Government from 1992 to 2006, and was the founder of the Vermont Leadership Institute.
Founded in 1965, the Central Vermont Community Action Council is a primary nonprofit provider of poverty alleviation and community economic development programs serving Lamoille, Orange, Washington and northern Windsor Counties. Cohen has served as CVCAC executive director since 1996.