The VCRHYP Coalition staff provide key supports that free member agencies to focus on the work of delivering essential programs serving Vermont youth and families. VCRHYP secures adequate funding that ensures services are available in communities across Vermont, advocates with State and Federal government, and local and national partners for funding and resources to meet the needs of Vermont youth and families, supports best practices among youth care professionals, and monitors benchmarks and outcomes to assess progress and measure successes. Working together with member agencies, the coalition creates a distinctly unique and effective model that works for youth.
Leah Christiano, Data Entry Specialist
Leah (she/her) comes to VCRHYP with over 24 years of experience in the field of data entry and administration assistant work for state, public and private ventures in Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida. The fields range from agriculture, home education, construction and medical. Leah knows her involvement in this program, in some small way, helps to secure a positive and safe head-start for young people who are trying to navigate their place in society and that is a good feeling. She is raising a teen with ADHD as a single mom and recently introduced a shih tzu pup who is proving to be great therapy for her small family. She finds painting and diamond art to be relaxing hobbies.
Alison Coffinbarger, HUD Housing Projects Administrator
Alison (she/they/he) worked in emergency housing and supportive services for many years in Oregon, as well as for a time in NM and Maine. Alison's background includes direct service as well as leadership roles in rural and urban domestic violence services, a low barrier winter shelter, and housing first programs. Alison also has past experience as a Service Coordinator launching the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program in a county with limited community resources. Alison believes that housing is a basic human right and that we must work toward that goal as a society, which includes addressing the inequities that create the conditions in which homelessness can exist. Alison is particularly excited about youth/young adult specific housing first programs as they provide the opportunity for young people to explore and expand the possibilities for their lives and journeys - rather than just trying to survive. In Alison's free time she enjoys spending time with her cat, hiking, and watching whatever sci-fi series she can find.
Gabe Lipper, Youth Intern
Maggie Merriam, Director
Maggie (she/her) comes to VCRHYP with over ten years of practice as a social worker in programs and systems that serve people experiencing homelessness and housing scarcity in Chittenden County. Maggie has a BSW (2008) and MSW (2014) from the University of Vermont and is currently an adjunct with the UVM MSW department teaching classes on organizational change and the crisis of homelessness. Maggie has a history of advocacy for housing first and low-barrier programs and is a strong believer in empathetic and collaborative leadership. In her spare time Maggie likes to go for strolls in the woods, garden and play with her 15lb (and growing) Maine Coon cat Misha.
Maple & Moo Velcro, Mascots
Maple Velcro (left) and Moo Velcro (right) are fraternal twin bears originally from Avery's Gore, VT who joined the VCRHYP team in March 2017 after a glowing reference by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Maple (they/them) was a fan of the culinary arts in high school and went on to pursue carpentry at a trade school. They are now building strong foundations for VCRHYP's systems change work. Moo's (they/them) favorite subject in high school was music and they went on to study social justice theory in college. They are now ensuring that equitable services are available to all youth served by VCRHYP. Together the Velcro twins represent the protective factors like nurturing, stability and permanent connections the youth we work for need.