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VEN Leadership & Staff

Board of Directors:

George Belcher graduated from Kansas University ('71) and Vermont Law School ('77). He was an officer in the U.S. Navy for three years. After graduating from law school he practiced general law in central Vermont until 1990 when he was elected as the Washington County Probate Judge, a position he held until retirement in 2012. He is a past president of the probate judges' association and has been active in various committees and programs concerning end-of-life, electro-convulsive therapy, surrogate decision making, and medical-legal issues surrounding guardianships.

George lives in Montpelier with his wife, Suzanne, who is a MSW social worker with the University of Vermont training partnership.

Sally is a Clinical Ethicist at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington Vermont and the incoming Chair of the Vermont Ethics Network Board of Directors. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, and the Student Ombudsperson at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine. She began her career in nursing after earning a B.S. in Physiology from Syracuse University and an A.S. in Nursing from Norwich University. After serving for many years at the bedside in surgical intensive care, and as a clinical supervisor and administrator, she began to study the field of bioethics in order to better understand and address the complex decisions encountered in the delivery health care. Sally earned her M.S. in Bioethics from the Union Graduate College/Mt. Sinai College of Medicine Program in Bioethics, and served as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ethics in the program for 4 years before returning home to her native Vermont and Fletcher Allen in 2009. In addition to her primary roles, she is a member of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, and Co-chairs the Rural Ethics Affinity Group.

Danielle is currently a clinical coordinator at BCBS of VT. She provides mental health and substance authorization for treatment and case management to members and providers. She is also an adjunct professor at Johnson State College where she has taught ethics in the graduate counseling department for the past 12 years. Previously, she worked in an elementary school practicing social work with a primary responsibility providing psychotherapy to children and families. She also has experience providing social work services to Vermonters through a designated community mental health agency. She has experience as a Military Family Life Consultant providing short term nonmedical counseling to VT Army/Air National Guard and Navy Reserve service members and their families. Danielle has her Master in Social Work from Smith College in Northampton, MA.

Shaden Eldakar-Hein is a hospitalist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. She serves as director of clinical ethics education in the Internal Medicine residency as well as an ethicist at the medical center. She is also the Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency and chairs the residency recruitment committee and wellness committee in addition to participation on several hospital wide quality improvement committees and medical education assessment at the College.

Dr. Eldakar-Hein completed her undergraduate work in pre-medicine with psychology and neuroscience minors at Pennsylvania State University, received her MD from Temple University School of Medicine, completed her internship, residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital and joined the faculty at the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2013. In addition, she has completed her Master of Science work at the Albany Medical College Bioethics Institute with a focus on ethics education.

Dr. Eldakar has won multiple education awards as a medical educator that include induction into the Gold Humanism Society, Osler Teacher of the Year and runner up for University of Vermont GME teacher of the year awarded by the residents. She was inducted into the Teaching Academy at the University of Vermont in 2015. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the regional chair of the hospitalist committee. Dr Eldakar has a great interest in medical education, physician and learner wellness as well as hospital medicine and ethics.

Allen Hutcheson is the Director of Supportive Care Service at Southwestern Medical Center in Bennington Vermont. He also serves as the Medical Director of the VNA and Hospice of SVMC. Prior to coming to Vermont Allen was the Regional Medical Director of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Care and an Attending Physician on the Palliative Care Service at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. He is board certified in Family Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Alden is an ordained United Church of Christ minister who currently serves as the interfaith chaplain at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vermont. He has worked in health care chaplaincy at Copley since May of 2001. As a part of his responsibilities he also extends spiritual support to hospice clients who are being cared for by the Lamoille Home Health and Hospice, and he is a member of the Ethics Committee at Copley Hospital. As a focus of his chaplaincy position he also devotes time to the spiritual support and care of staff members at Copley Hospital.

Alden is a graduate of Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, and in 1984 received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  He completed a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency  in hospital chaplaincy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in 1985.

He has served as the minister at two local churches within the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ(the West Newbury Congregational Church and the United Church of Underhill) and from 1993-1998 was the chaplain at Porter Hospital in Middlebury, Vermont. While at Porter Alden became a Board Certified Chaplain of the Association of Professional Chaplains, and has maintained that certification.

Alden’s wife Patricia is a registered nurse focusing on quality improvement at Bi State Primary Care. They have two children, a daughter Ainsley who is a nurse at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and a son Nathaniel, who is a student at the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Natural Sciences.

Peg joins the VEN Board as a community member with a long time passion and interest in end-of-life care issues. She brings leadership experience in numerous non-profit organizations dealing with hospice and palliative care. At present, she is a key member and point-person for the Madison-Deane Initiative, the educational arm of the VNA’s End-of-Life Care Services for Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. Prior to joining the VEN Board, Peg had chaired the MDI for seven years, was a long time hospice volunteer and a founding board member of The Vermont Respite house. She was the moving force behind raising the funds to acquire and house the first ambulance in Shelburne VT. In her professional life, she was the Capital Campaign and Development director of the King Street Center in Burlington for over twelve years. She currently resides in Burlington with her husband, Tom.

Ann Mallett , RN retired from Lamoille Home Health & Hospice in Morrisville, Vermont in 2010 after 30 years of employment. During her time at the Agency, she was active in state-wide home health organizations as well as Lamoille County social services collaboratives.

Ann has served terms on the Northeastern Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Board and the Community of Vermont Elders (COVE) Board. She participated in VEN's original Taking Steps initiative, co- facilitating numerous workshops around Lamoille County in the early 1990s.

Prema Menon is a Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine physician at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC). She recently obtained her PhD in Clinical and Translational Science. In addition to her clinical work in the adult Medical Intensive Care Unit and outpatient Pulmonary Ambulatory Care Clinic at UVMMC, she is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UVM Medical School. Her primary area of interest is difficult conversations in the ICU. She is involved in research in end-of-life communication with family members of critically ill patients and patient- and family-centered communication in the ICU setting. She is currently conducting two clinical trials at the UVMMC surrounding these two topics.

Peter Mills Ph.D., M.S. has worked as a Psychologist in the VA in White River Junction VT since 1994. He is currently the Director of the VA National Center for Patient Safety Field Office. He joined the National Center for Patient Safety in 2002 and has focused on suicide prevention, patient safety improvement and measuring patient safety in VA. Prior to joining the NCPS he was the Associate Director of the VISN 1 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry and directed several national medical safety improvement projects within the VA system. From 1994 to 1999 he served as the director of the Evaluation and Brief Treatment of PTSD Unit, and the Director of the PTSD service. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He conducts research in patient safety, dissemination of medical innovation and the characteristics of medical improvement teams.

He has served as the Chair of the Clinical Ethics Committee at the VAMC in White River Junction and a member (ex-officio) of the Bioethics Committee, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center since 2002; and the Chair of the Integrated Ethics committee at the VAMC since 2005.

He lives in Norwich Vermont with his wife Jan and two sons (currently in college).

Madeleine Mongan was Counsel and Deputy Executive Vice President for the Vermont Medical Society, representing Vermont physicians from 1996 to the summer of 2016.  She worked with the Vermont legislature, state agencies, academic institutions, non-profits, and insurers on health care policy and related issues and provided education and technical assistance to Vermont physicians on legal issues.  Her practice addressed a range of health law issues including confidentiality, medical records, licensing, managed care, scope of practice, liability reform, public health, contracting, administrative simplification, and fraud and abuse.

In Vermont she served on the Medicaid Exchange Advisory Board, the Area Health Education Centers Advisory Board, the Academic Detailing Advisory Board, and the Governor’s Workforce Workgroup and the Vermont Family Network board.  She is a member of the Vermont Bar Association (VBA), past chair of the Vermont Bar Association Health Law Committee and a recipient of the VBA community service award.  Nationally, she has been a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the American Society of Medical Association Counsel, and served on the AMA Advocacy Resource Center Advisory Board.

From 1985 to 1995 she worked for the Disability Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. and the Vermont Coalition of Disability Rights.  Before attending law school, she taught English and social studies in New York and overseas.  She received her B.A. from the University of Delaware in 1972, M.A. from Stanford University in 1973, and J.D. from the University of California at Davis in 1983.

She lives in East Montpelier with her husband, Kirby Scarborough, volunteers with English language learners for Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, and serves on the East Montpelier Trails, Inc. board.

Hilary F. Ryder is a hospitalist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine and of The Dartmouth Institute, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. She serves as Chair of the Clinical Ethics Consultation subcommittee, and Associate Medical Director of the Ethics Committee at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She is also the Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Clerkship Director of the third-year Internal Medicine Clerkship at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Dr. Ryder completed her undergraduate work in sociology at the University of Chicago, received her MD from Yale University School of Medicine, completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and joined the faculty of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 2007. She has completed bioethics training courses at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, and Harvard University. In 2013 she earned a Masters of Science from The Dartmouth Institute with a focus on research methods.

Dr. Ryder was inducted into the Academy of Master Educators at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in 2016. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Society of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Ryder is involved in research on include feedback, assessment, and evaluation in medical education as well as predicting survival after in-hospital CPR.


Cindy has been the Executive Director of the Vermont Ethics Network (VEN), a statewide nonprofit organization working to promote ethics as a core component of health care and health care decisions for individuals, clinicians, health care organizations, policy-makers and community at large, since 2008. In addition to her role at VEN she is the Chair of the Ethics Committee for the State of Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) and serves on the clinical consult team for the Central Vermont Medical Center Ethics Committee. Cindy earned her BA from Colby College in Waterville, ME, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Vermont and a Masters in Clinical Ethics (MSB) from Clarkson University & the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Additionally, she holds a certificate in bioethics with a specialization in health policy and law. A native Vermonter, Cindy lives in central Vermont with her husband and two children.

Kim has worked for VEN since May of 2012 as the Office Manager/Bookkeeper. She attended Champlain College and has over 30 years of experience in Accounting and Bookkeeping. Kim responds to inquiries from community members who need direction regarding their end-of-life planning questions and concerns. She is instrumental in the coordination of our professional conferences—which VEN hosts twice a year. When she is not working for VEN she operates a small bookkeeping business providing services for other companies. Kim has lived in Vermont all her life and currently resides in Richmond with her husband Tim and their teenage son Cole.