Homeless director

Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Stephannie Peters, right, is leaving her position but plans to remain until a search for her replacement concludes. Shown in a 2019 file photo with Peters are shelter staff members Sheila Mullineaux, left, and Aelish Nealon.

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless is searching for a new executive director to replace Stephannie Peters, who plans to step down once a new director is in place.

Peters, a former coalition board member, took over the post in September 2019, replacing former Executive Director Chris Oldham.

After 16 years working within the organization, including four as director, Oldham left to become executive director at the Park-McCullough House in North Bennington.

Peters said Wednesday that she is committed to staying until a replacement is hired, and that the process is underway with postings on Indeed.com and on websites within the homelessness service organization network.

“I am leaving, but not because of any controversy,” she said. “And the board is very active in finding applicants.”

Board President Ed Barbeau said the posts have already generated some applications, adding that the board will review the resumes received and make the decision on a new executive director.

“She [Peters] has indicated she is leaving to accept a new position,” he said, adding that he would leave it up to Peters when to make that information public.

“She has graciously agreed to stay on [during the search],” Barbeau said. “We will not be without a director.”

Barbeau said Peters “has done great work, and will leave big shoes to fill.”

In a new executive director, he said, the board will look to that person for new ideas they might have and for a resolve to “take this organization to the next level.”

JOB POSTED

The job posting seeks applicants with bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, and states that “five years of experience in non-profit administration is desirable.”

The salary range is listed at from $50,000 to $60,000 plus benefits.

The coalition also has a separate posting seeking full- and part-time shelter employees.

Peters said periodic hiring has been a result of the need to staff shelters 24 hours a day and because of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on hiring and retaining employees.

According to its website, the coalition operates an adult homeless shelter at 996 Main St. with 16 beds, and there are nine efficiency units at the Thatcher House Family Shelter on Pleasant Street, which has a capacity of 36 individuals.

In the spring, the town decided to apply for a $500,000 grant toward a housing project to replace Thatcher House and provide new, upgraded housing for families.

The Select Board approved a grant application request from Shires Housing, which intends to use the funds in renovating a historic residence at 300 Pleasant St., which would then be leased to the local homeless coalition.

Shires Housing intends to upgrade the seven existing residential units and construct two new units and an office in an outbuilding. Work would include making the property more accessible and energy efficient.

Thatcher House was described as overcrowded, with water leaks and electrical issues, and is costly to maintain.

Peters also has worked for 20 years at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center as human services teacher and school counseling coordinator.

She graduated from Southern Vermont College with a dual degree in human services and criminal justice, and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from Vermont College of Norwich University, and a doctoral degree from Northeastern University in educational leadership.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three NENI newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and the former North Adams Transcript.


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