Left to Right: Kristen Provost Switzer, Chontell Washington, Nancy True, Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer (Executive Director), Brian Lapis (Board Chair), Rev. Erick Olsen, Amber Bigley, Lara Edmondson, John Bourdeaux, Jonathan Russell, Rev. Marilyn Kendrix (Bridge Conference Minister)
Not Pictured: Cindy Cayer, Kelly Rogers Hough, Herb Knight, Graham Sweetnam
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.
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! Brian says, "I love that SLCC usually brings out the best in people, which results in joy and inevitably, laughter! There's nothing more fun than laughing at camp."
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."
John Bourdeaux serves as the Vice President of Advancement for the Connecticut Science Center, an organization dedicated to scientific exploration, teacher development, and education transformation. At the Science Center, John is responsible for the marketing and fund development functions. Prior to this appointment, John served as the Director of Development for Hartford Stage. He transformed their program, bringing in thousands of additional donors and $1 million in operating revenue, as well as launching a major gift initiative that enabled the completion of a multi-million dollar renovation. Prior to Hartford Stage, he worked with the Melville Charitable Trust and the Partnership for Strong Communities, organizations focused on homelessness and affordable housing policy. He has served the development offices of the University of Chicago, The Hotchkiss School, and Yale University. In all of these positions, he has been responsible for securing tens of millions in philanthropic support while promoting the mission of each organization, bringing many new supporters and advocates into the fold.
Early in his career, John founded and managed his own not-for-profit theater company in Chicago, IL, production modern American drama and late-night improvisational comedy. He has also served as a consultant and board member for academic institutions as well as social action and arts organizations. John is a graduate of The Hotchkiss School and the University of Chicago.
Cindy Cayer has a lifelong association with Silver Lake. She has been connected to The Lake as a conferee, parent, dean, and had a former stint on the SLCC Board. She is glad to be back on the Board serving with this creative, motivated, dedicated group of volunteers. One of the things she loves about Silver Lake is the sound of children playing while they experience the joy of God’s creation. Cindy and her husband, David, enjoy visiting with friends, road trips, and spending time with their family. Their children Will and Chris are SLCC Alumni. She recently retired from a 34-year career in educational fundraising and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University. Cindy had had many leadership roles Plantsville Congregational Church and enjoys singing in the choir and playing in the bell choir. She had recently served on the UCC Global Ministries Board.
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 became involved with Silver Lake again as a parent once her children became old enough to attend, and was invited to serve on the Board of Directors in October 2016. Lara and her husband, Jeff, live in Milford, CT, with their 3 children and golden retriever. She is a lifelong member of the First United Church of Christ, Congregational in Milford. She enjoys reading, photography, thrift shopping, and the beach. If she could sit down today and share a s’more with someone, it would be her grandmother, whom she would treasure more time with. Her favorite place at Silver Lake is the ball field at night stargazing, or the peace and comfort of the Hubbel Chapel.
Silver Lake parent.
For more than 30 years, Jonathan Russell has been married to his best friend, Cindi Bates. Their adult children, Emma and Sam, had amazing beneficial experiences at Silver Lake, where they both attended as conferees and served as counselors. Emma also served on camp staff and as co-dean. A longtime member, Jonathan is very active in the First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury, where he currently serves on Trustees and is putting his construction management background to work as chair of the building committee for the Micah Chapel project. Immediately adjacent to First Church, the project involves renovating and expanding a 300-year-old home in Glastonbury’s historic district and converting it into a community use chapel. Cindi and Jonathan are both committed to social justice, diversity, and equality, and to that end Jonathan served on the board for 13 years and as President for 3 years of Glastonbury A Better Chance. Jonathan and Cindi love theater, traveling, reading, and walking together on the beach.
Having graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1982, Captain Russell retired after a 33-year active duty Coast Guard career. The last 28 years were spent as faculty at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, where he taught engineering and ultimately served for 5 years as Dean and Head of Engineering. His UMass Amherst PhD is in structural engineering and he has a Master’s degree from RPI in Business Administration. A new member of the Silver Lake board, Jonathan will put his extensive experience with higher education accreditation to work in helping guide Silver Lake to achieve American Campground Association accreditation.