Top Row: Sarah Barker, Nancy True, Lara Edmondson, Brian Lapis (2020 Board Chair)
Middle Row: Cindy Cayer, Dan Krhla, Graham Sweetnam, Rev. Paul Nesbit
Bottom Row: Rev. Rhonda Myers, Jonathan Russell (2021 Board Chair), Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer (Executive for Camps and Retreats, Silver Lake Conference Center), Rev. Chontell Washington
Not Pictured: Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer
The Silver Lake Board of Directors is an advisory board to Silver Lake Conference Center, chartered by the Southern New England Conference Board of Directors. 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 for Camps and Retreats, Silver Lake Conference Center and the Executive Minister for Strategic Operations serve as members ex officio.
Jonathan Russell has been married to Cindi Bates for more than 33 years. Their adult children, Emma and Sam, had amazing beneficial experiences at Silver Lake where they both camped and counseled, and Emma served on camp staff and as co-dean. A long-time member, Jonathan is active in the First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury, where he serves on Trustees applying his construction management background for benefit of the church campus. 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, hiking and walking together on the beach.
Graduating 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. A Professor of Civil Engineering, he taught engineering & math and served in multiple leadership roles in the academic division, ultimately serving for 5 years as Dean and Head of Engineering. His UMass Amherst PhD is in structural engineering, he has a Master’s degree from RPI in Business Administration and is a licensed Professional Engineer.
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 dog, Gracie. 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.
Kelly's love of outdoor ministry began with summers spent at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania as a Conferee and volunteer. She also staffed weekend retreats for many years at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. In early adulthood, Kelly had outdoor ministry adventures with La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership as well as a stint as a Chaplain through A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (Head Chaplain for the 2003 season). By the time Kelly came to Silver Lake as a Confirmation Retreat Leader and later as a Dean - she had a deep love for all things outdoor ministry related.
Kelly was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2007 and has spent her career serving Churches in Connecticut and New York. She hopes to bring the New York Conference into close relationship with Silver Lake and is thrilled to be serving on the board of SLCC. Kelly and her husband Jon live in Scarsdale, New York with their sons Sammy and Simon who are Silver Lakers themselves. They also share their home with their brilliant dog, Steven. Kelly is currently the Sr. Minister at Scarsdale Congregational Church.
Dan lives in Goshen CT with his wife Reverend Sara Krhla, Church of Christ, Congregational, Goshen, UCC and their children, Ryan, Lauren and Evan. Dan spent his teenage years at Boy Scout camp as a counselor and staff member. Dan came to SLCC later in life. He and his family first came to SLCC as Family Camp attendees and he later served as a co-dean for Steam Team with Sara. When he's not serving as a Deacon or Faith Formation Co-Chair at Goshen Church, he works as a manager and software & database developer for tradeshow technology. Dan enjoys playing music, both in worship and out, and being outdoors both by himself and with his children. Dan seeks to support social issues by learning, teaching and being active in groups that advocate for justice.
Growing up in upstate NY, Rhonda’s first experiences in the outdoors were at church camp in neighboring Vermont, and Girl Scout camps in the Adirondacks. Her love of Creation drew her to pursue a BS in Earth Sciences from Adelphi University, followed by a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Michigan. Called to ordained ministry later in life, she earned a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School. Rhonda has served as the Pastor of United Congregational UCC in Torrington CT since 2009.
Since arriving in CT Rhonda has held positions in the Litchfield North Association, served on the Board of Directors of the historic Connecticut Conference UCC, and has been a Synod delegate. She is actively engaged in racial justice work in her community. Rhonda has been volunteering as a Chaplain and Dean at Silver Lake since 2012. She’s looking forward to bringing her grandson, Ozzy, to Family Camp at Silver Lake in the not-too-distant future.
Paul Nesbit serves Wilbraham United Church as Associate Pastor with an emphasis on Family Ministries and Faith Formation. He is also a full time Special Education teacher in the East Longmeadow Public Schools. Paul hold a BA in Psychology from Westfield State University and an MA in Pastoral Studies from the former Washington Theological Union. He has also completed post graduate work in Education at Springfield College. Paul lives in Springfield, MA with his husband, Mark, and their dog, Bob.
Growth of programs through Extravagant Welcome has been a mission of love for Paul. In his work with Wilbraham United Church, he has overseen the growth of a Vacation Bible Camp from 97 to 154 campers and an increase of 60 to 130 volunteers in a five year period. In the name of Extravagant Welcome, the camp has been able to include members from 17 churches in the area from almost every Christian/Catholic denomination. Paul looks forward to working with the Board as he hopes to spread the good news of Silver Lake to the Massachusetts Associations of the Southern New England Conference.
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Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer is proud to call herself a native of Newtown, Connecticut, where she is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Mission at the Newtown Congregational Church, an Open and Affirming Church of the United Church of Christ. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Northeastern University, a Certificate of Professional Ministry from Hartford Seminary, and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, where she completed a Fellowship in Youth Ministry. She is currently a candidate for Doctor of Ministry at Hartford Seminary where she is studying the intersection of social justice engagement and congregational vitality. She has worked with youth as Youth Group Advisor at Monroe Congregational Church, Youth Minister of Spring Glen Church, UCC and as Designated Pastor of Prospect Congregational Church, UCC. She was ordained to the United Church of Christ in 2015, while serving at the Prospect Congregational Church, UCC in Prospect, Connecticut.
Kristen lives with her spouse, Scott, who is a professional musician. They are members together of the New England New Music Ensemble. Kristen loves to spend much of her free time with her family, at the gym, hiking, eating vegetarian food, and playing with their two cats Fred and Clara. Kristen and Scott are licensed foster parents for the CT Department of Children and Families and proud parents to three young foster and biological children.
In 2012, Graham Sweetnam did not want to go to camp, but after his first week with Bon Voyage, he could not stay away. Graham was a conferee until age 15 when he became a CIT for the summer of 2014, then Camp Family in 2015, followed by three years of ETF and a final summer serving as ETF coordinator. He has experienced all levels of camp staff and is now looking forward to continuing his connection with SLCC through a broader view. Currently, he is a college student at Stonehill College (Congregation of the Holy Cross) in Easton, Massachusetts, where he studies Marketing. He is also a lifelong member of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock, CT. His favorite place at camp is the waterfall chapel, which he helped to renovate in 2018.
Nancy Collins True grew up in Lakeville, and started as a conferee when she was nine years old, attending at least one conference each summer through high school. After graduating from Bates College in Maine, she moved to Mansfield in Southeastern Massachusetts and waited for the day her children would be old enough to go to Silver Lake. Nancy has been a dean for several summers. Her daughter Ally is currently in her second year on staff as Camp Photographer, and her son Colin was on Camp Family in 2019. Her husband Rob rounds
out the True effort using his brawn at Spring and Fall Action weekends. She loves that Silver Lake is such a life-changing experience, where everyone is loved for exactly who they are. She appreciates the opportunity to see God’s love in action in so many ways every time she sets foot on the property.
An active member of Trinitarian Congregational Church in Norton, MA, Nancy has served on most committees, been a church delegate at the local and state level, and was Office Manager for several years. She was Superintendent of Sunday School for lucky-13 years, and continues to help with middle school and confirmation. She works in the office of the middle school in Mansfield but has summers off to be at camp when she can, especially to welcome families at registration on Sundays. In her free time, she’s a fan of
traveling, reading a book on Cape Cod beaches, jigsaw puzzles, and walking. Her favorite recent vacation was walking coast-to-coast across Scotland with her family. She’s also the alpha for her Wheaten Terrier, Barkley.