Our Board of Directors

The Hitchcock Center’s Board of Directors is a diverse body of individuals carefully chosen for their varying backgrounds and skills to the work of the Board. They provide sound oversight and governance of the Hitchcock Center through strategic planning, policy development, oversight and management, budgeting and fundraising. We are grateful for their dedicated and committed service as volunteers to our organization and community.


Chris Hoch, Presidentread more

Chris Hoch is the son of a Swiss-born father, who raised the family in Denver, CO and imbued his 4 children with a love of nature and respect for the environment. Chris is a graduate of the US Naval Academy (after which he served aboard a nuclear submarine) and Harvard Business School. He spent 16 years running companies and divisions for Nestle in the US, Europe, Africa, and Latin America, and he was President of Hartmann Luggage for 4 years. He was the owner of National Fiber from 1997 to 2014, during which time he established cellulose as the only local, green, affordable, high performance insulation in the Northeast. National Fiber partnered with most of the Northeastern states to provide education in energy conservation and in-depth training to hundreds of installers. Chris is a past board member of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA), the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (CIMA), including past President.

Cynthia Brubaker, Vice-Presidentread more

Cynthia Brubaker, an Amherst resident since 2001, has been Co-President of the Amherst League of Women Voters, on the Board of the Amherst Survival Center and currently is on the Board of the Amherst Town Committee for International Students and Round the World Women. She is a member of The Amherst Club and is also a teacher in an ESL Conversation group at the Jones Library. She has also been on the Board of Amherst Media, and was an adjunct instructor in Sociology and Psychology at Greenfield Community College for 10 years.

Prior to moving to Amherst, Cynthia was Financial Development Director at a Regional Medical Center in Central Florida. She taught at Brevard Community College in a program for women returning to college and the work force. She was the coordinator of a Parent Education program.  She has been a consultant to nonprofits in organizational development and the Coordinator for Training at a Regional Medical Center. Over a period of 30 years in Florida, she was active on Boards including United Way of Brevard, Leadership Brevard, American Association of Women, League of Women Voters, Central Florida Commission on the Status of Women, President of the Board for the Florida Center for Children and Youth as well as other social and human services organizations. Cynthia has a BA degree in Criminal Justice from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and an MA in Human Relations for the University of Oklahoma.

She and her husband Jerry lived in Luxembourg for 5 years (1988-1993) where she organized an international women’s network which is still going strong after 25 years. Cynthia is now retired and has a daughter (and her family) in Amherst and a son (and his family) in Florida.

Joe Vreedenburgh, Treasurerread more

Joe is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), working with Meyers Brothers Kalicka (MBK), the Pioneer Valley’s largest independent public accounting firm. Joe received his BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington. After working in purchasing and accounting roles in private industry, he moved into public accounting. He received his Master of Science in Accounting from UMass-Amherst in 2015, and is currently licensed as a CPA in Massachusetts and Washington state.  Joe lives in Amherst with his partner Katie, their two dogs, and two cats. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and reading during his free time.

Jaime Davila, Clerkread more

Jaime Dávila is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Hampshire College, where he has worked since 1999. He obtained his Ph.D. from the City University of New York in that same year. His main research interest is in the area of genetic optimization of neural networks for human-like tasks, mainly for cooperative, team-based games. He is currently studying ways in which the coding of evolved parameters affect the performance of artificial multi-agent systems under environments with changing conditions.  He is also interested in issues of technology and society, such as access to STEM education for underrepresented students, privacy and data collection on the Internet, and the effect of new media and new technology on the economy. His papers have been presented at conferences such as the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, the Congress on Evolutionary Computation, and the International Conference on Neural Information Processing.


Gillian Andrewsread more

Gillian is a Northampton resident and a fourth grade teacher at Deerfield Elementary located in South Deerfield, MA. She has been teaching grades K-6 for fourteen years. While teaching in the classroom is her main passion she has also worked as a literacy consultant for districts across Western Massachusetts. She is a past board member of the Northampton Survival Center serving on both the events committee and governance committee. Gillian is currently one of three educators working in partnership with Hitchcock educators to develop curriculum around sustainability and the new building, and last summer she participated in the Hitchcock presentation at the Union 38 Teachers Summer Institute. 

Clay Ballantineread more

Clay Ballantine is Chief Advancement Officer, Hampshire College. Clay oversees the Office of Institutional Advancement for Hampshire College that includes: Alumni and Family Relations, Leadership Giving, Annual Giving, Advancement Services, and Foundation and Grant Opportunities. He is a member of the:

  • President’s Cabinet and senior administration
  • Trustee Development Committee
  • Nominating and Governance Committee member

As Chief Advancement Officer, Clay maintains a 150 person leadership gifts portfolio; facilitates fundraising strategies for President and board of trustees; represents institutional advancement with on and off campus constituencies; and authors Hampshire’s quarterly advancement newsletter.

In addition to Clay’s development experience, he is a nature enthusiast and has served on past Boards to advance conservation and environmental purposes.

Rhea Bankerread more

Bio coming soon!

Merle Brunoread more

Merle Bruno is Professor Emerita of Biology at Hampshire College. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. She has a strong interest in science education reform at all levels. Merle currently works as a Senior Real Estate Specialist as part of a realtor team at Sawicki Real Estate in Amherst.

Sara Crawleyread more

Sara worked for the last 8 years as a Campaign Analyst at Blackbaud, a national company that connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through software, services, expertise, and data intelligence. Prior to her work with Blackbaud, Sara was an Associate Director of Annual Giving for WGBY Public Television and Major Gifts Officer for Hampshire College.  She has served on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts for many years and is an active Board member of the Girl Scouts of Central and Western MassachusettsWorks as a fundraiser. 

Jaana Cutson—read more

Jaana first became acquainted with the Hitchcock Center twenty years ago while doing an internship for her MS degree in Environmental Administration from Antioch University New England. As a Hitchcock intern she become involved and remained the coordinator of the Amherst Spotted Salamander Tunnel Research project until 1999. She also wrote the Guide to the Norwottuck Rail Trail as part of her intern duties. Since 1993, Jaana has worked in the not-for-profit world and for eleven of those years specifically in the environmental arena. Some of the organizations she has worked for include Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) and the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. Jaana has a BA from Hampshire College with a concentration in Anthropology and Botany. Being a part of the Hitchcock Center again and especially being board president for three years has been the highlight of her environmental endeavors.

Tom Daviesread more

Bio coming soon!

Janice Giffordread more

Janice came to the valley in 1974 and began a doctoral program in the School of Education at UMASS. She  received my doctoral degree in Educational Research and Measurement in 1983, and joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, at Mount Holyoke College. She has been in and out of the administration, serving as Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of Institutional Research, and Department chair. From 1995 through 2009, Janice was a member of the Hitchcock Center board, serving as Treasurer, Vice President, and President. In her free time, she enjoys being outside looking for birds.

Charlie Haightread more

Charlie Haight was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, NY. He graduated from Springfield College and taught high school in Germany before beginning a career in college and university development. He has served in positions of Associate Vice President and Vice President for Development for Yale University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Mount Holyoke College. Most recently, he served as Senior Associate Dean for Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Charlie served as a Hitchcock Center board member in 1999-2009. He has also volunteered with Springfield College corporation, Amherst A Better Chance as board member and host family, and currently serves on the national governing board for the US Rowing Association.

Bob Saulread more

Bob Saul is a returning Hitchcock Board Member and former member of the Building Committee.  He graduated from Amherst College in 1981 with a degree in Maple Sugaring and holds an MBA from Harvard University.  He has served on the Town of Amherst’s Finance Committee and was a Board Member for Northern Woodlands Magazine.

Bob is an avid tree farmer and subsidized his tree farming habit by investing in land based assets for an affiliate of Mass Mutual, Wood Creek Capital Management, LLC, where he served as Managing Director.  He spent fifteen years as Partner and Director of Northern Hemisphere Investments at GMO Renewable Resources in Boston. At GMO RR, Bob invested more than $2 billion in forestry and agricultural properties in 21 States and several Latin America countries.

In 2017, Bob joined Montreal-based Fiera Comox as a partner providing innovative investment solutions through agriculture and private equity.  He lives in Amherst with his much better half, Katie.

Susan Wareread more

Susan Ware teaches philosophy and religion at UMass Amherst. Her interest in capital markets led her to work as a financial planner for five years. She co-founded StakeHolders Capital on Main Street. She is drawn to both the mission and the people at the Hitchcock Center.


Julie Johnson, Executive Director
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Hitchcock Center for the Environment