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Smokey House Center announces new shared leadership team

Press Manchester Journal

Published June 19, 2024

The new Shared Leadership Team at Smokey House Center, from left to right: Mara Hearst, Walker Cammack and Danielle Zimmerman. 

DANBY — Smokey House Center’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of three new directors who together will guide the future of the organization as an innovative shared leadership team. The new team is comprised of Walker Cammack, Mara Hearst and Danielle Zimmerman, each bringing unique expertise to their roles within the organization.

The Board says that adoption of a shared leadership model reflects Smokey House Center’s commitment to collaboration, which is seen as essential for making both ecological and human systems resilient. Instead of relying on a single leader, the organization now benefits from the collective responsibility and specialized knowledge of the new leadership team, they said.

Walker Cammack joined the Smokey House team in the winter of 2022 as the first Program Director for the Living Lab. He now serves as Program Director within the shared leadership team. Walker holds a BA in botany and environmental studies from Connecticut College and a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of the Environment. His research and work has focused on climate adaptive forestry, development of reciprocal land-based economies, implementation of agroforestry systems, and place-based education.

Mara Hearst transitions from her role as Office Administrator and Bookkeeper to Finance Director within the leadership team. She has a BS in Diversified Agricultural Sciences with a focus on entrepreneurial finance management from the University of Vermont. Since 2017, she has worked as an independent bookkeeper for local businesses and is passionate about helping them succeed. Along with her partner, she also operates Levy Lamb, a farm specializing in grass-fed lamb, and is dedicated to farming as a climate solution.

Danielle Zimmerman joined Smokey House as Communications Director in 2022 and now serves as a member of the shared leadership team as the Development and Communications Director. She holds a BS in Communications from Ohio University and certificates in Digital Media Marketing and Nonprofit Management from the University of Vermont. Danielle has a diverse background in film, TV, corporate media, and independent marketing, and she is enthusiastic about connecting people and sharing stories through digital platforms.

“It is truly exciting to be passing the reins of the organization over to such a skilled, thoughtful and kind team of people who care so deeply about Smokey House Center and each other," said Interim Director Ben Holmes. "I applaud the Board of Directors’ determination that the future of the organization will be best served by a shared leadership team where each member is responsible for a specific area that is vital to the organization’s operation and all members share knowledge of their area with each other and responsibility for the whole with the group. I am particularly grateful that this collective wisdom and vision will now rest with Danielle, Mara and Walker.”

Holmes has been leading the center since the departure of Executive Director Jesse Pyles in 2022 and will stay on in an advisory role until the end of the year.

This summer Smokey House Center celebrates their 50th anniversary. The organization's mission is to promote a working landscape that promotes sustainable agricultural and forestry practices while engaging people in meaningful ways.

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