Des Hertz of Burke and Mike Strait of Brighton given Vermont Community Leadership Awards

in Brighton/Burke/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT – Each year the Vermont Council on Rural Development recognizes leaders who have had a transformative impact on their community with the Vermont Community Leadership Award.

This year the award will go to Des Hertz of Burke and Mike Strait of Brighton.

Des Hertz is a resident of Burke Hollow where she lives with her family, dogs, cats, and chickens.

Des and her husband Chris have two daughters, Erin age 22, and Kate, age 19.

She has been teaching for over 20 years and is currently an instructional coach in the Kingdom East School District.

She is also an avid mountain biker, skier, gardener, and outdoor enthusiast.

Des serves as the chair of the One Burke Board where she has been leading the organization since its inception in a VCRD Community Visit process.

“Des represents the best of what Vermont has to offer,” said VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello. “She cares deeply about her hometown and is willing to step forward to make it a better place.”

Mike Strait is originally from Ohio but made Vermont his home in 2004 and moved to Island Pond in 2010.

Mike owns and operates The Hearth & Home Country Store in downtown Island Pond with his husband Tim O’Bar.

He’s chairman of the Brighton Selectboard and the Island Pond Renewal Committee, Treasurer of the Brighton Community Forum, an active member of the Island Pond Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Member of the Planning & Zoning Board, Governing Board, Executive Committee and Finance Committee member of Northeast Kingdom Community Broadband, Executive Committee Member Northeast Kingdom Marketing Partnership, member of the NEK Working Communities Challenge Team, and previously served as one of the Brighton Town auditors and secretary of the Island Pond Historical Society.

“Mike is a dedicated community leader, the kind of leader that always says yes,” said Costello. “Whether it’s joining a local committee, helping to organize a regional leadership summit, or speaking at one of VCRD’s statewide events, Mike is someone that you can count on, and someone that his community can always count on to step up where leadership is needed.”

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