First Strides Mentors

2017 Mentors

We are welcoming back 15 returning mentors and 5 new mentors for the 2017 season! We are so honored to have the volunteer time of these inspirational leaders/coaches/role-models. Many mentors were past participants and have taken the next step (or should we say their “second strides”).  

If you are a past participant who would like to take the next step and become and volunteer for First Strides as a mentor, or know of someone who would make an inspiring leader, we’d love to hear from you!  Contact Kasie at info@firststridesvermont.com

*New Mentors in 2017*

Carol Bokan 

Occupation: Retiree and yoga teacher
Family: Married and live with my husband and Mollie the Magic Cat
Current Hometown: Shelburne
Year you started mentoring: 2017
How many years walking or running: Off and on forever, but more regularly and happily with First Strides for 3 years.
Something funny or unexpected about me: This was unexpected to me: I have 8 grandchildren? It’s not funny, but it’s really fun!

Amber Thibeault 

Occupation: Attorney
Family: My two four-legged kids, Bear and Eddie Van Halen
Current Hometown: Essex Junction
Year you started mentoring: This year (2017) and totally looking forward to it!
How many years walking or running: I was never really a runner and started running/walking with my neighbor about a year and a half ago and like Forrest, I just keep running.
Something funny or unexpected about me: I love to talk the entire time I’m running. I think it makes the time fly by.
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: To meet new people.

Lela McCaffrey 

I’m a CPA by day, living in Bolton. This is my first year mentoring after three years as a participant in First Strides. I’ve been running off and on since college, but consistently for about four years now. I started running again because my (now 10 year old) daughter was doing Ready, Set, Run in first grade, and I couldn’t just send her out to run on her own. Since then, we have both continued running, and have run some fun races together like a Run Disney race. I’ve also run a half marathon and a Ragnar which was like a giant sleepover with running too. My daughter is hoping to run a Ragnar race with me when she is old enough. I am volunteering [as a First Strides mentor] because the running community give so much, and I want to give back. The sense of community I have found has really made a difference in my life.

Janel Roberge 
 
Yo Yiggity Yo, my name is Janel Roberge and I’m coming to you live from Waterbury Center! By day I’m a professional nerd (Research Technician) and by night I’m… well, in bed by 10! My family includes my wonderful boyfriend of six years, Matt, and a teddy bear named Rutherford. I started my endeavor to get healthy in 2013 and joined First Strides in 2014. This will be my first year mentoring and I am BEYOND excited to celebrate the success of the wonderful women of First Strides 🙂 I’ve become a mentor in part because I myself have had spectacular mentors in this program and because I think a good day consists of making others smile. Something you might not know about me is that I often take books for walks. You read that correctly – simultaneous walking and reading isn’t actually that hard! Maybe the group I’m lucky enough to mentor will double as a book club!?…

Christy Pilsucki 

Occupation: Social Worker
Family: Spouse
Current Hometown: South Burlington
Year you started mentoring: this year!
How many years walking or running: 15 years
Something funny or unexpected about me: When I first started running, I could not run for longer than a minute… now I am 50 lbs lighter with 9 marathons, a 50k and a 50 miler under my belt!
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: To share my passion for running and meet people.

*Rocking a Return to Mentoring in 2017*

Jen Porrier 

Occupation: Sitting on my butt all day…
Family: Husband and dogs
Current Hometown: Montpelier
Year you started mentoring: 2o12?
How many years walking or running: About 10ish of mostly wogging
Something funny or unexpected about me: I sang in Latin with the Pope at the Vatican once
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: I love the camaraderie and the motivation, both the giving and the getting!

 

Eileen

Eileen McCoy 

Occupation: Preschool Teacher and Special Educator
Family: Husband, Tim & Daughter, Lucy (4)
Current Hometown: Williston
Year you started mentoring: 2016
How many years walking or running: 5
Something funny or unexpected about me: I lived in New York City for 7 years.
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: I was a member of First Strides for 2 years.  I love being a member of a supportive exercise community.  It’s a wonderful way to get outside, moving, and chatting!
 

Kim

Kim Ellsworth 

Occupation: Physical Therapist x 19 years, currently taking some time away from it and looking for new adventures! Spending a little more time as a Pilates Instructor these days at Essex Physical Therapy and Momentum PT.
Family: Husband, Dan and one furry feline, Scully
Current Hometown: Jericho Center
Year you started mentoring: 2016, was a participant for 7+ years before that!
How many years walking or running: Thankfully walking nearly all of my 41 years and running sporadically for almost 10 years, once my knees didn’t appreciate me playing soccer.
Something funny or unexpected about me: The placement of my only tattoo, so far, apparently means I am a princess.  So says the internet therefore, it must be true 🙂 Also, I love to cook, create and eat food (very unprincess-like)!
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: It is the least I can do for the many years of tremendous mentoring I have received and the great friendships I have been lucky enough to develop through this program.
 

Katherine

Katherine Long 

Occupation: Caseworker for Senator Leahy
Family: Husband Bill, daughter Ella (15), son Ronan (14), Rossi (the meanest cat alive), and Daisy (our new rescue dog)
Current Hometown: Richmond
Year you started mentoring: 2016, was a participant for 11 years before that!
How many years walking or running: I ran my first 5K in 1991, a year after spending 9 weeks in a full length plaster cast for a broken leg.  It was the Leonardo’s Pizza 5K and I came in last after the kids in street shoes who had joined the race for the free pizza.  I ran 5K races on and off after that for years on my own until I happened on First Strides in 2005 after my second child was born.  I have participated in the program every year since then, earning the t-shirt all but one of the years.  I enjoy running 5K and occasionally 10K races: I am never the fastest, but I am proud to say that I’ve always done better than my first race.
Something funny or unexpected about me: I broke my leg while riding a motorcycle in Africa.
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: This program inspires me and it’s time to give back!

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Ginger Camp

Occupation: Self Employed Certified Massage Therapist & Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Bookkeeper/Sr. Administrative Assistant of Innovation
Family: Just me and Nico, a 4 year old little dude with four legs and a happy tail
Current Hometown: South Burlington
Year you started mentoring: 2015
How many years walking or running: In 2012 I started participating in running events.
Something funny or unexpected about me: I like to try to stand on my head every day and I love bikram yoga for that is the full-body massage I can give myself.
Why I’m volunteering for First Strides Vermont: Visualizing makes all the difference – 3 years ago I knew I could complete a 5k and today I know I can do a 50k. I wouldn’t have been able to think these things if I didn’t have the support of my amazing mentor/running partner who regularly reminds me I am capable of accomplishing anything I truly want. I want to be provide that same level of encouragement for the women of First Strides – to empower the “I can do anything I set my mind to” mentality and then see them through to reach their goals!

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Cari Causey

Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Family: Husband Andy, son Levi
Current Hometown: Jericho
Year I Started mentoring: 2015
Years Running: 23
Something funny or unexpected about me: I started running because of a crush in high school.
Why I am volunteering: I love pulling new people into the running community.

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Sarah Mason

Occupation: Town of Williston

Family: Sprite, a stunning English Lab, and The Chairman, a devilish and handsome feline.

Current Hometown: Williston
Year I Started mentoring: 2015, but have experience with First Strides Vermont as a past participant!
Years Running: Too many to count!  (lots of walking, moderate running)
Something funny or unexpected about me: I’m a bowler.
Why I am volunteering: It’s good to have a weekly commitment.

Rebekah

Rebekah Thomas

Occupation: ELL Teacher
Current hometown
: West Bolton
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides
: 2004
How many years running or walking: 17
Something funny or unexpected about me: I, as of 4/2/14, have donated 85 gallons of platelets & plasma at the Red Cross and counting…
Why I’m volunteering: I love the confidence & sense of accomplishment that this program inspires.


 

Megan

Megan Brunovsky

Occupation: Recruiter at University of Vermont Medical Center
Family: Just built a new home with my boyfriend of 13 years!
Current hometown: Richmond
Year you started Mentoring: 2014
How many years walking or running: I started running in 2002 and completed my first race in 2010.
Something funny or unexpected about me: My first race was a marathon…I may have started the whole race thing backwards!
Why I’m volunteering: I love any opportunity to spread the joy and the community of running.
 

Barb

Barb Barford

Occupation: Human Resources
Current hometown:
Essex
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 
2011
How many years running or walking:
10 years
Something funny or unexpected about me: Never ran a day in my life until I realized I was going to turn 50.
Why I’m volunteering:
 I love the confidence & sense of accomplishment that this program inspires. I love seeing the participants excitement when they finish a workout they thought was going to be too tough!


Mary 

Mary Grunvald

Occupation: Physical Therapist/Pilates Instructor
Family: Husband and 2 old kids!
Current home town: Colchester
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 2014
How many years running or walking: 10 years
Something funny or unexpected about me:   I run for a cause. It’s my journey. I used to throw the discus!
Why I’m volunteering: To give the joy that I received from running.


 

Linda

Linda Streeter

Occupation: retired and loving it!
Family: Jon (husband), Alexandra (daughter)
Current hometown: Essex Jct.
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 2012
How many years running or walking: forever
Something funny or unexpected about me:  I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan; I just started Tai Chi.
Why I’m volunteering: I enjoy meeting people and spending time walking and offering encouragement.


 

Gail

Gail Kemmer

Occupation: Retired
Family: Husband
Current hometown: Williston
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 2009
Were you a participant before you were a mentor?: Yes, 2 years
How many years running or walking: 20+
Something funny or unexpected about me:  I do Tai Chi
Why I’m volunteering: I enjoy the walking and meeting new people.


 

Kit
 
Kit Howe

Occupation: Human Resources for Gardener’s Supply Company
Current hometown:
Jericho
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 
2003 (or whatever year it began)
How many years running or walking: 
I’ve always been active and ran for about 10 years (I even did a half marathon)  and now walking suits me best.
Something funny or unexpected about me: 
After these many years mentoring I still struggle with when to blow the whistle!
Why I’m volunteering:
 I love hearing everyone’s stories as we walk/run and I love  being outdoors.


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Hillary Holmes

Occupation: Social Worker
Family: Spouse
Current hometown: Essex Junction
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 2013
Were you a participant before you were a mentor?: Yes; 2012
How many years running or walking: 13
Something funny or unexpected about me:  I’m very punny. In fact, I’m hilarious (har har).
Why I’m volunteering: I want to help spread the love and benefits of running.


Kasie

Kasie “The New Michelle” aka “Leader in Chief” aka “Bearer of the Megaphone” Enman

Occupation: It’s complicated
Family: Husband Eli, daughter Acadia, son Ansel, cat Roamer
Current hometown: Huntington
Year you started Mentoring for First Strides: 2014
How many years running or walking: 20+
Something funny or unexpected about me:  I have run in 15 different countries and 5 continents.
Why I’m volunteering: I thrive on the energy from people breaking through their personal barriers.  And because I can!

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