Ann Stokes, Founder
June 9, 1931 - November 20, 2016
In 1977, when the women's movement was still glowing, four friends--Ann Goldsmith, builder and potter; Pat Hill, painter and gardener; Dolores Klaich, author of Woman Plus Woman; and Ann Stokes, writer of poems and maker of trails--gathered for Thanksgiving dinner at Ann's home in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire. Near dessert Ann became overwhelmed by a thought of building a studio for women artists. Soon they were looking for a site. After seven minutes of downhill, Klaich said in a stern voice, "Stokes, I don't want to carry my groceries this far." They quickly walked to the top of the hill, hung a right, found a site, and began building the first studio. Designed and built by women that very next summer--a handsome light-filled place to live and work in. The guesthouse was turned into a studio; another studio was built, by women of course, ten years later. All are far enough from each other to experience solitude in nature.
You will come here to walk on earth. On well-tended-to trails through 120 acres of hemlock, maple, pine, down to a pasture with five ancient magnificent maples lining its upper stone wall. You will come to sit on the star-gazing chair at midnight to remember what's up there. You have come for the silence here, and the silence of your soul. A wood thrush sings in the afternoon not far from the lean-to. Deer. Wild turkey, an occasional fox. You may be looking out the window and glimpse a change in direction for your story, poem, color, or shape. It is a place where the nuances of life are enlivened. Your work shows it.
Welcome Hill Studios was incorporated under the name of ARS, Inc. in 1980, and has not-for profit status. ARS, Inc. is now being operated as Welcome Hill Studios.
Elissa Pine, Executive Director
Elissa recently landed on the hill after living in nearby Brattleboro, VT for over twenty five years. She imported jewelry, textiles and handicrafts from India and ran a shop downtown since 1995. She presently works at the New England Youth Theatre and is involved with bringing about gun legislation in the state of Vermont with GunSenseVT. She is enjoying the beauty of the hill and deep rejuvenation from walking the trails. She has two daughters who are in college and she herself is pursuing a Masters in Management at Marlboro College.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Rebecca Davison, President
Rebecca Davison is a principal and co-founder of RavenMark, a graphic design and communications firm in Montpelier, Vermont. She writes, edits, designs websites and social media for nonprofit organizations, mostly in the environmental field. She graduated from the State University of California at Sonoma in American Studies and the University of Maryland with a degree in Education. Some years ago, with Ann Stokes' help, she began to write the history of National Organization for Women. She is still working on it and hopes to finish the book in the next few years.
Debra Dill, Treasurer
Deb Dill is a graduate of Franklin Pierce University with a degree in accounting. She has been a self employed Enrolled Agent, accountant and tax preparer since 1987. She has been on the Board of ARS, Inc. aka Welcome Hill Studios since 1987. Deb was an active host family for the Fresh Air Fund for 17 years, and has been involved with Special Olympics for 25 years, most recently as Treasurer of Special Olympics Northern Virginia. She is also a very active member of her church, including being Chairman of the Flower Guild and baking newcomer bread. Deb is happily married and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, adult daughter and 2 Tonkinese cats. She also has 2 adult sons, one granddaughter, and is known as the "best Aunt in the world" to her many nieces, nephews and their children. She loves to travel and be surrounded by family. Deb is never far from her camera, loves to bake and cook for family gatherings, and makes quilts in her spare time.
Margo MacLeod, Secretary
Whenever I have the pleasure of wandering the trails at Welcome Hill and working in the creative peace of the studios, I wonder at the great good fortune that connected me to this remarkable refuge. I have found magical words where only mental blocks used to be and light filled moments where only clouded corners once lurked. It's the perfect place for the independent, creative woman with a project to contemplate or create.
Pat is an artist, activist who helped build and design the first studio for women artists here. She is a pioneer of the Gay Liberation Movement who owned Giovanni's Room, Philadelphia's gay bookstore in the 1970's. Her eight-year lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia for discrimination, which she won in 1982, now prevents discrimination by the City, of gay and lesbian civil service employees. A lifelong Quaker, Pat has also lived, and worked for 35 years, building community in her north Philadelphia neighborhood, making community gardens, removing graffiti, etc. As a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she was awarded their highest honor, the Cresson Traveling Scholarship, to study art in Europe. Pat is now involved in the creation of the Pat Hill / Lee Alter Gallery for Women Artists at the Gay Community Center of Philadelphia. Pat's favorite companions, her cats, Tipper and Al.
Nancy Brooks Brody
Nancy Brooks Brody is a visual artist who was born and raised in New York City, and is currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been shown in New York galleries including Virgil de Voldere, White Columns, Exit Art and Andrea Rosen as well as the Brooklyn Museum and other galleries throughout the United States. She first visited Welcome Hill in 2005 after Ann Stokes saw her in a documentary that was inspired by an anthology she contributed a story to. The moment she met Ann and saw the Lean-To Studio and the land it sits on, she was hooked. She has made several month-long visits to Welcome Hill since then where the solitude and the peace have provided a place in which many investigations and series have begun. She joined the board in 2007 and is honored to be a part of the organization.
Lynne Borofsky has raised her family in Chesterfield, is an active Chesterfield Conservation Commission member and is a middle school educator in Putney, Vermont for longer than she will admit. Her education includes a BA from Boston University and M.Ed. from the University of Vermont. Lynne's drive to organize and create collaborative adventures has lead to many unique forest and community events, and projects developing and maintaining trails - including the development, building and maintaining of the Ann Stokes Loop in the nearby Madame Sherri Forest. She enjoys the thrill of getting projects done and sharing the beauty of a forest for exercise, inspiration and learning about the natural world. If we can educate and inspire others to become stewards of the land, then our work has purpose. At the Welcome Hill Studios, she has been keeping the trails maintained and marked so that the guests can wander through the beautiful forest enjoying the views, hidden treasures and gardens on the property.
Julie Goodridge is CEO and Founder of NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., a wealth management company based in Boston, Massachusetts. NorthStar invests assets for individuals and institutions with an interest in socially responsible investing, shareholder activism, and positive returns. NorthStar has, through the proxy process, negotiated human rights to water policies at Pepsi, Connecticut Water, Intel, Proctor and Gamble; extended protections for LGBT employees at numerous companies, including domestic partner and spousal benefits at FedEx. NorthStar is currently focused on corporate political contributions, and their intersection and divergence from corporate policies on LGBT protections, immigration and other public policy issues. Goodridge was the lead plaintiff in the legal case, Goodridge v. Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, which won equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. from Boston University and an Ed.M. from Harvard University.