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, President—read 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.
Clay Ballantine, Vice President—read more
Clay Ballantine is Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Smith College. As a member of Smith’s senior philanthropic team Clay supports the President, Senior Vice President, members of the board of trustees and alumnae volunteers in realizing the college’s highest priorities.
Prior to joining Smith in 2019, Clay served as Chief Advancement Officer at Hampshire College where he oversaw the Office of Institutional Advancement including: Alumni and Family Relations, Leadership Giving, Annual Giving, Advancement Services, and Foundation and Grant Opportunities.
Tori Thompson, Treasurer—read more
Tori is an Internal Audit Officer at PeoplesBank in Holyoke; one of the largest mutual banks in Massachusetts. Serving as the Treasurer and Marketing Manager for the PeoplesBank Environmental Committee, Tori focuses on opportunities to foster an environment where “green thinking” is part of their culture. Tori received her Master of Science in Accounting from UMass-Amherst in 2011. She lives in Montgomery with her husband Devon and their three children.
Tom Davies, Clerk—read more
Tom has a broad background in architecture, engineering, and construction management as well as budgeting and strategic planning associated with portfolios of building assets – diverse experience that supports his current role overseeing capital project design and construction at Amherst College. Tom’s role there also includes leadership of the college’s Climate Action Plan for carbon neutrality by 2030, energy procurement consulting, and energy efficiency enhancement. Over his 20 years at the college, energy efficiency has been a central aspect of his work, with many notable successes including the recent international COTE (Committee On The Environment) Award for an innovative science center design. Tom is a registered architect with degrees from Penn and MIT.
Gillian Andrews—read more
Gillian is a Northampton resident and a sixth grade teacher at Deerfield Elementary School located in South Deerfield, MA. She has been teaching grades K-6 for seventeen 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 works in partnership with Hitchcock educators to develop curriculum around sustainability, climate change and the new living building.
Rhea Banker—read more
Rhea Banker is a photographer and award winning book designer. After living and working in New York City for 30 years, she now makes her base in Northwestern Massachusetts. Much of her work is based on journeys to far rocky edges of the world, including Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, Greenland, and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego. Her abstract studies of patterns within the Earth’s ancient surfaces have been exhibited in a variety of museums, galleries, and cultural centers, including locations in Copenhagen, Denmark; Edinburgh, Scotland; Scotland’s Outer Hebrides; New York, New York, USA; Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in a variety of museums in Greenland.
Much of her work is based on ancient movements recorded within the Earth’s crust and maps of imagined lands. Her textural abstract images are her reflections of these movements, and reveal her own attempts at understanding and sharing stories held within the landscape. Her most recent work is focused on explorations along Greenland’s west coast over the last 5 years. These newest images are responses to the deep connections she experiences between stone, sea, and ice as we witness a new epoch in the life of our fragile planet.
In addition to Rhea’s photographic work, she is a professional book designer. Her designs have won multiple awards, and have been repeatedly exhibited at the New York Bookbinder’s Exhibitions in New York City.
A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Rhea received her BFA in Design and a BA in Art History. While there, she was the winner of the Evelyn Rumsey Lord Travel Fellowship. She has lectured undergraduates in Medieval Art History as well as in the History of Photography. She is currently based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Cynthia Brubaker—read 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.
Sara Crawley—read 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 served on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She is an active volunteer in Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts where she leads a troop and trains leaders to take their troops camping.
Jaana Cutson—read more
Jaana first became acquainted with the Hitchcock Center over twenty five 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 has been the highlight of her environmental endeavors.
Jaime Davila—read 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.
Natalie Georges—read more
Natalie currently serves as the Director of Communications at Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts Amherst. She began her career as a Communications Executive in a marketing agency, handing multimillion‐dollar campaigns for national brands including Campbell’s Soup, Pepsi, M&M’s, and Hormel. This experience in consumer marketing provided her with the expertise needed to create relevant and powerful content that moved people to action, while fostering deep brand affinities in customers. After relocating to Northampton, Natalie brought proven brand-building strategies to local businesses and organizations that she felt had unrealized potential. Today, she taps into her twenty-one years of experience to demonstrate how mission-centered work can be communicated as a relevant brand.
Janice Gifford—read more
Janice came to the valley in 1974 and began a doctoral program in the School of Education at UMASS. She received her 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.
Bob Saul—read 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.
David Starr—read more
David brings 35 years of entrepreneurship and brand leadership experience to his service on the board. He is currently the co-founder and managing partner of Berkshire Natural, LLC. From 1993-2006, he lead as Co-Founder, Managing Partner, and Executive Producer for Curious Pictures, LLC. He has served on the Boards of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, GREEN Northampton, Massachusetts Vending Association, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Sunnyside Childcare Center and 104-106 Bedford Street.
Susan Ware—read 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.