Meet the High Meadows Fund Team

Gaye Symington, President

Prior to joining High Meadows in 2009, Gaye served in the Vermont House for 12 years, four of them as Speaker of the Vermont House.  Under her leadership Vermont established the clean energy development fund, greenhouse gas reduction goals and other policies to promote clean and efficient energy use, groundwater protection, and affordable housing in village centers.

In her first job after college in 1977 Gaye started a whole grain bakery in a store that sold natural foods, wood stoves and backyard wind generators. Food and energy are constant threads throughout her career and home life. She has also worked for the Intervale Center in Burlington, Ben and Jerry's Homemade Inc.; and the National Gardening Association in Burlington. Gaye has a B.A. from Williams College and an M.B.A. from Cornell University.

Gaye lives in Jericho, Vermont, with her husband, Chuck Lacy. Over about a decade they have reduced annual heating oil use in their old farmhouse from 1,800 to 30 gallons.  Gaye serves on the board of the Public Assets Institute, Vermont's Clean Energy Development Board and the Energy Co-op of Vermont. 


Nina McDonnell, Grants Administrator

Nina joined the High Meadows Fund as Grants Administrator in January 2012. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, she graduated from University of Delaware with a B.S in Business Administration – Finance and moved to Vermont in 1995. She has worked for state government, for-profit and non-profit entities addressing environmental, consumer public interest, energy efficiency, affordable housing and sustainable agriculture issues.

Nina currently lives in Burlington with her husband, 2 children, and a menagerie of guinea pigs, beta fish, finches and anoles. They share a love of the outdoors, gardening, camping, politics and music. She also volunteers at the Integrated Arts Academy, both on the PTO and helping to maintain healthy fruit and vegetable gardens for students, parents and the community to enjoy. Occasionally, she has time to read a book.


Katie Michels, Environmental Philanthropy Associate

Katie joined the High Meadows staff after graduating from Middlebury College in February, 2015, on skis. While at Middlebury, she studied Geography and Environmental Studies.

Originally from Missoula, Montana, she loves wide open spaces and appreciates the effort, relationships, and love that go into their conservation. She has worked for both the Montana Land Reliance and the Vermont Land Trust, and worked for Middlebury's Department of Environmental Affairs to chronicle the story of the conservation of Middlebury's Bread Loaf campus. She has also worked for the Middlebury College Organic Farm and Sunrise Orchards.

When not at work, Katie likes to cook, read, garden, hike, bike, and eat. She lives in Burlington.