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. 

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Betsy Hands, Program Officer

Betsy joined the High Meadows Fund in 2018. She brings varied experiences in community engagement, land use and climate change resilience, rural economic and community development, and clean energy. From leading Outward Bound courses to serving in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, Betsy seeks opportunities that will challenge her and encourage deeper learning.  Previously, Betsy led Homeword, an affordable housing organization that won accolades for their green building and housing programs in Montana. She also served six years in the Montana House of Representatives, focusing on affordable housing, protection for family farmers, brownfield redevelopment, renewable energy and energy efficiency. She currently serves as Board Chair of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national organization aiming to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. She has a B.A. in Sustainable Development from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Montana.

Betsy and her husband have been making their way back East: in Chicago, Betsy worked almost four years as Director of Outreach and Community Relations with Friends of the Chicago River before finally nudging her husband to apply for a position at Seventh Generation in Burlington. They are thrilled to enjoy more time roaming Vermont’s farms and mountains, splashing in lakes and rivers, and developing deeper community roots, while raising their son and tending a small flock of hens. 

Will Lathrop, Environmental Philanthropy Associate

Will joined the High Meadows Fund in the summer of 2017. He is from Bound Brook, New Jersey and graduated from Princeton University. At Princeton, he studied Religion, Environmental Studies, and Creative Writing.

Will is interested in how a community’s values inform their land use. He is particularly fascinated by the ecological and cultural histories of New England’s waterways—in 2016, Will paddled from New York to Maine on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Prior to that trip, he worked as a canoe guide in the Adirondack Park. 

Outside the High Meadows Fund, Will loves radio, storytelling, and birds. He lives in Burlington.


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.