CLAREMONT — A Claremont-based nonprofit that strives to promote the optimal health of children and families in lower Grafton and Sullivan Counties has a new executive director.
Starting Monday, Upper Valley resident Stephanie Slayton will take the helm of the TLC Family Resource Center. The multi-service community organization officially announced the hire on Wednesday in a press release. Slayton, 44, will replace the retiring Maggie Monroe-Cassel, who has served as TLC’s executive director since February 2015.
“I am looking forward to joining the TLC Family Resource Center team and putting my passion, energy, and ingenuity to work building upon the strong foundation of this exceptional organization,” Slayton said in a written statement. “As a leader, I believe that the people we work with are experts in their own lives. As a service organization, our role is to partner with them to clear a path that leads to their personal goals, and to support them in discovering their unique strengths and talents.”
Slayton, a licensed clinical social worker and former special educator, has lived in Colorado for the past 18 years, where she earned her Masters degree in Social Work at Colorado State University. Since 2018 she has served as executive director of Aspire 3D, a multi-service community partner operated by the Loveland Housing Authority in Loveland, Colo. Aspire 3D supplements supports for residents in the Housing Authority communities through programs pertaining to education and enrichment, early child development, food assistance and community outings.
Slayton was born and raised in Vermont, and last lived in White River Junction, Vt., before relocating to Colorado.
“As a Native Vermonter, I know that our [region’s] communities are resilient,” Slatyon said. “With a little bit of grit and a lot of determination, we will successfully navigate the new landscape created by current events.”
Those “current events” refer greatly to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which has greatly changed how community resource organizations serve their clients. In a May interview with the Eagle Times, Monroe-Cassel said that TLC was using video and phone technology to communicate with clients and provide many of its services, though they had recently resumed hosting Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at their Recovery Center on Sullivan Street, albeit with social distancing restrictions, including room occupancy limits and mask requirements, to prevent the risk of spreading the virus.
In the recent press release, Monroe-Cassel said that TLC interviewed Slayton using remote technology because the pandemic made meeting in-person impossible. However, Monroe-Cassel noted she was impressed by Slayton and encouraged that TLC made this appointment amid the challenges.
“TLC Family Resource Center is known for its resilience and ability to deliver its service to all families, even in these challenging times,” the retiring director said. “It is not easy to hire in this uncertain environment so we were thrilled to see Stephanie’s interest several months ago.”
TLC transformed significantly as an organization under Monroe-Cassel’s tenure as executive director. During her first six months in the role, Monroe-Cassel launched the organization’s rebranding, changed its name from Good Beginnings of Sullivan County to TLC Family Resources Center.
The previous name of Good Beginnings dated back to when the organization primarily served as a resource center for parents of infants and young children, Monroe-Cassel said. The change in name spearheaded the organization’s expansion of its scope to help the whole family. Over the last five years, TLC has broadened its services to include addiction counseling and recovery resources and support youth in the LGBTQ+. In 2018, its Rural Outright program launched Rural Pride, the first PRIDE festival in the region, which has since inspired other communities in the Connecticut River Valley, including Windsor, Vt., to hold similar celebrations.
“As I reflect back, it knocks me over to think about all of the transitions in just the last few years,” Maggie-Cassel said. “It’s been great to see those things blossom.”
During that time, TLC has seen its operating budget nearly triple and its network of community partners and partners grow dramatically.
“With that kind of growth comes challenges,” Monroe-Cassel said. “But as an organization we are very resilient and have coped with those challenges.”
TLC plans to hold a public-virtual hybrid event around mid- to late-August, to allow the community to officially meet Slayton and say goodbye to Monroe-Cassel. The organization will announce that event date in the coming weeks.
Monroe-Cassel will remain with the organization for the next four weeks to help in Slayton’s transition. Monroe-Cassel, who lives in Vermont, said she plans on doing some consulting work but wants to mainly spend more time with her family.