The CVEF volunteer board includes passionate people living in Durham and Middlefield, each committed to the idea of building a community of lifelong learners. Our board organizes fundraising events and manages the grant funding and award cycle.

We are proud to have as board and committee members, business people, parents, retirees, educators and others committed to supporting community educational programs. If you would like to become involved with our Foundation by either joining our board or serving as a committee member, please get in touch with us. We are always looking for people who share the values of the Foundation!   

Merrill Adams

has lived in Middlefield for over 40 years. She and her husband, Richard, have two adult daughters, one of whom still lives in Middlefield. A graduate of Dickinson College and Wesleyan University, she taught English in Wallingford and at Coginchaug for 25 years. In 1968, she worked with residents from Middlefield and Durham to create Regional School District #13 (RSD13). In 1970, she and other parents in the district petitioned to form an alternative elementary school program now located at John Lyman School. Merrill has served on boards and commissions in town and presently is in her 12th year on the RSD13 Board of Education. In 2005, Merrill began the planning for a local education foundation. Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation (CVEF) is the culmination of her goal and the hard work of many early volunteers.  

Rebecca (Becky) Anderson

has lived in Durham/Region 13 for over 35 years and lives with her husband in Durham. Becky has four adult children and two grandchildren; her three daughters all attended Region 13 schools. She recently retired from a 40 year career as a professional social worker, specializing in health care and geriatrics. Becky has served on numerous local and professional boards over the years, including service on several of the district PTOs and on the RSD13 Board of Education in the 1990s. She is currently treasurer for the Middletown Female Charitable Society and remains active with the National Association of Social Workers. She has been on the CVEF Board since 2010.

Betsy White Booz

has lived in Durham with her husband since 1989 and has two adult sons. The majority of her professional career has been in the healthcare field, initially as a lobbyist, but primarily as a managed care benefits and contracts manager and consultant, currently specializing in Medicare. Locally, she was a contributing writer to the Town Times Newspaper and associate editor for six years. Betsy has also freelanced for several other publications. Betsy’s volunteer work has included membership on a number of PTOs and RSD13 special committees. She is a long-term member of the Durham Fair Association (DFA), serving five years as head of marketing and is still a member of the Marketing Department. She is a founding member of the CVEF board.

Denise Brennan

has lived in Durham with her husband and two children, both CRHS graduates, since 1994. Denise served many years in different capacities on PTOs when her children attended District 13 schools. She has been an elementary school teacher for 26 years, serving on various curriculum and instruction development committees. She has volunteered for the CVEF Spelling Bees, Trivia Bees and silent auction events. Denise is an active member of Wellspring Church and assists the Bridge to Uganda team that supports fundraising in the U.S. to provide a loving family environment and an education for orphaned children at Kampala Children’s Center in Uganda. Her family volunteers for the tour that brings Destiny Africa Children’s Choir from Kampala Children’s Center to Connecticut. Denise and both of her children have done mission work at Kampala Children’s Center and her family helps to support a student there. She enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, running and loves spending time at the beach with family and friends!

Connie Brown

and her architect husband, Duncan Milne, moved to Durham in 2003. She has three grown children and two grandchildren. A former educator, she is a cartographer who creates custom painted maps for private clients, companies, and non-profits; she also teaches mapmaking and lectures on the nature of cartography. Her work has been featured in many national and international publications, and has been widely exhibited. In Chappaqua, NY, where Connie raised her three children, she was active in many community organizations. Aside from CVEF, she is the Events Coordinator and Vice President of the New York Map Society.

Eileen Buckheit

has been a Durham resident since 2002 with her husband and three children, 14, 12 and 7. Eileen currently works as the Director of Development for the Town of East Hartford where she oversees the economic development, planning and grants divisions. Eileen served on the Region District 13 Board of Education from 2012-2015. She is the immediate past President of the Durham Women’s Club (2011-2015), and is also a member of the Durham Democratic Town Committee. In her spare time, she is always at sporting events, including hockey, lacrosse, hockey and gymnastics. Otherwise, she can be found working on her fixer-upper house and yard.

Liz Conroy

has lived in Durham with her husband since 1997, though she has long-time family ties to both Durham and Middlefield.  Liz has three adult children.  She has a background in accounting and finance, and works in these fields both professionally and as a volunteer.  Liz has served on a number of PTOs and was instrumental as a committee member in the Town of Durham in developing an ordinance for elderly tax relief. She is active in the United Churches of Durham and was a key contributor to the Coginchaug Regional High School (CRHS) Parents of Performers (POPS). She is a founding member of the CVEF board.

Dina D’Amato

is a graduate of CRHS and RSD13 schools and met her husband in elementary school there. With the exception of a few years, they have always lived in Middlefield. They have two children, one still in the district and the other a CRHS graduate attending college. Dina holds a BS and MS in Human Development, a degree as a Physician Assistant, and a degree as a cardiac sonographer. She presently works part-time for Yale New Haven Health System. She enjoys being part of the Coginchaug Community Band, and she also enjoys watching her kids’ music, sports and school events. In the warmer weather, she can usually be found enjoying Lake Beseck with her family and dogs. Dina is proud to be a founding member of CVEF.

Colleen Darnell

has lived in Durham with her husband since 2011. She attended Yale University for her BA and PhD in Egyptology from 1998 until 2005 and taught as the Marilyn M. and William K. Simpson Associate Professor of Egyptology at Yale until 2015. Colleen currently teaches widely in the state of Connecticut, including Egyptian Art History at the University of Hartford and Art History at Three Rivers Community College and Naugatuck Valley Community College. She is also actively involved with online and on campus teaching at Post University, including a course on the horse in human history. She and her husband enjoy walking their two basenjis, ballroom dancing, and attending vintage events.

Nancy Earls

has been a resident of Middlefield for almost 30 years and has four adult children and one grandchild. She has a Masters in Counseling from the University of Hartford and has worked with at risk youth, adult literacy programs and teenage mothers. Currently she is a Language Arts and Humanities teacher and team leader at Strong Middle School. She has served on various building, curriculum, strategic planning, and hiring committees, and is proud of her contribution to helping articulate the importance of values in the school system resulting in the establishment of the RSD13 Core Ethical Values. Nancy is one of the original founders of the Middlefield Children’s Center. She volunteers at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts and can be found in her kayak on most warm days.

Tina Gossner

is a native of Durham and was happy to move back home nearly 20 years ago with her husband, Mark, and their three children. She began her career as a special education teacher at East Lyme High School. She later worked as a substitute teacher in District 13.  She is now following her dream of designing gardens for others. Tina has served in many volunteer positions within schools, church, scouting and the community.  She is currently the chair of the Durham Town Green Revitalization Project Committee and is on the CVEF grants committee.

Maggie Peterson

has lived in Durham since 1982 with her husband and has three adult children. Professionally, Maggie is an award-winning graphic designer with more than 30 years experience running her own business. Maggie has been active in the DFA in many different capacities for more than 20 years, and is currently the Superintendent of Information Booths. She is a Director and Secretary of the Durham Cemetery Company. Maggie designed the CVEF logo and subsequently became a CVEF board member in 2008. She designs most of the CVEF’s collateral materials.