Back row: Rev. Erick Olsen, Rev. Pat Kriss, Brian Lapis,
Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer (Executive Director of Silver Lake), Chelsea Ambrozaitis, Rev. Ken Peterkin.
Front row: Heather Ziac, Keyairra Wright, Chrissie Wadelin, Lara Edmondson.
The Silver Lake Board of Directors is an advisory board to Silver Lake Conference Center, chartered by the Missionary Society of Connecticut. Members are drawn from Silver Lake supporters throughout the Southern New England region and serve for a term of 3 years and can serve two consecutive terms. The Executive Director and the Conference Minister serve as members ex officio.
Pastor, First Congregational Church of Essex, CT
Chelsea Ambrozaitis first came to Silver Lake as a camper when she was going into fifth grade. Chelsea has been a camper, a counselor, a staff member, a dean, and has served on the board since 2015. Her experiences at SLCC, especially on the A-Team, led Chelsea to her career path at the YMCA, where she has been a Day Camp Director and now serves as the Director of Member Engagement and Communication at the Greater Waterbury YMCA. In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with her family, friends, and yellow lab, Mia.
Lara Edmondson started attending Silver Lake as a conferee in the early 1980s and continued to volunteer as a Counselor, Dean and Fall/Spring Action participant through the mid-90s. She had always dreamed of being on Camp Family or Camp Staff, but had to work multiple jobs in the summers in order to put herself through college and to start her life with her husband of 23 years. She was able to re-connect with Silver Lake more regularly when her own children became old enough to attend, and was invited to serve on the Board of Directors in October 2016. Lara and her husband Jeff, who proposed to her at the waterfront during a Spring Action weekend, live in Milford, CT, with their 3 children, Luke, Dana & Ethan, and their golden retriever Molly. She is a lifelong member of the First United Church of Christ, Congregational in Milford. She enjoys reading, photography, thrift shopping, and the beach. Her favorite place at Silver Lake is the ball field at night stargazing, or the peace and comfort of the Hubbel Chapel.
Pastor, First Congregational Church, Danbury, CT
Brian Lapis began his lifelong love affair with Silver Lake as a conferee in the summer of 1982. Since then, Brian has served Silver Lake on the summer staff, as a counselor, and several years as the co-dean of the long-running summer conference, Fun in the Son! He is an active member of First Congregational Church of South Hadley, MA, where he has served as Moderator and on the Stewardship committee. In the wider UCC, Brian is the vice chair of the board of directors of The Office of Communications, Inc. (OC Inc.) , the media justice ministry of the UCC. When he’s not at camp, Brian is a broadcaster, employed as the evening weather anchor at WWLP TV, the NBC affiliate in Springfield, MA. Like many professional broadcasters, he has worked at a variety of stations, both radio and television, in a variety of cities, predominantly in southern New England. Brian is a past member of the UCC Executive Council and Office of General Ministries Board of Directors. Brian holds a B.S. in Television, Radio and Film Management from Syracuse University and a Broadcast Meteorology Certificate from Mississippi State University. Brian has twin middle school-aged daughters, who are enthusiastic Silver lake conferees!
Erick Olsen lives in Norfolk as the husband of (his frequent co-dean) Tina and father of Elias, Ellie, and Olivia. They have lived happily in "The Icebox of CT" since 2003 when Erick was called there as Pastor of Church of Christ Congregational (UCC). In addition to serving as a local pastor, Erick has always been active in UCC work, including his time as a member of the Conference Minister Search Committee from 2011 through 2013. He is committed to social justice, particularly to affordable housing, efforts to live greener lives, and improving relations between people of different races and creeds. He enjoys running, good coffee, time with friends and family (including his dog, Zoe), reading, rivers, and learning about the passions of others. He is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of your Silver Lake Conference Center, and he is excited to help more people of all ages to discover this place where "you can truly be yourself and know that you are loved for who you are."
Chrissie Wadelin Van Steelhart is a member of Camp Family 2009 and has been active at Silver Lake ever since. Being on staff at SLCC and being the camp nurse in more recent summers, Chrissie has filled many different roles on site. Now she is excited to be on the Board of Directors. Although she was never a conferee, Chrissie really feels like she has grown up at SLCC and is excited to give back through her role on the board. Outside of camp Chrissie is a Registered Nurse in the MICU at Yale New Haven Hospital and a member of Wallingford's First Congregational Church. She hopes to see many of her home church's youth at SLCC this summer!
Keyairra "Kiki" Wright is a Bridgeport resident and a former teacher. Beginning in 2008, she taught 5th and 6th graders for six years. Her greatest pleasure was witnessing youth make personal and social growth while grappling with new concepts. During her first summer after leaving the classroom, Keyairra worked as the Assistant Resource Coordinator at Silver Lake. Soon after, she began attending the UCC in Bridgeport. Presently, she leads educators and serves children in the Bridgeport community as the Director of the Bridgeport Program for Teach For America-Connecticut. She is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Silver Lake Conference Center and is most passionate about environmental justice and youth leadership opportunities.
Heather Ramos Ziac first came to Silver Lake when she was ten years old. She was a conferee through high school and has continued to volunteer as a counselor and a Dean. She is currently a Co-Dean for the Family Camp conference and a parent of conferees. Heather feels that her experiences at Silver Lake have helped teach her to be independent, build strong, genuine, long-lasting relationships, and to be her authentic self. She has a deep connection to her Silver Lake community whom she considers extended family. With the help of this community, Heather and her husband (who she met at camp) are raising their family with the values they have learned through Silver Lake. Heather decided to accept the role of being on the board to help ensure that Silver Lake continues its mission in serving the youth, adolescents, families, and communities of today and future generations.
Heather is the owner and operator of Womb to World Family Massage Therapy, LLC in her hometown of Fairfield, CT, where she resides with her husband and two children. Heather received her B.A. from Southern Connecticut State University and her massage therapy education at The Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy.