About Us

History & Mission

Umbrella was founded in 1976 by a group of women interested in creating a women’s health center in St. Johnsbury, VT. An area-wide meeting led to the establishment of other activities including a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, support groups, and skill-sharing groups. Several years later, a safe home network was established and discussions with health organizations led to the provision of more comprehensive health services for women. Based on the growth of the agency, the board decided in 1986 to accept federal Victims Assistance funds for rape crisis and domestic violence programs.
As of this year, 2015, Umbrella has a paid staff of 26 full- and part-time employees and an operating budget of 1.3 million dollars.  Umbrella operates four programs: Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention, Kingdom Child Care, supervised visitation through the Family Room and vocational training in the culinary and hospitality fields for women in transition through Cornucopia.
The mission of the organization states:  Umbrella exists to ensure that communities in Caledonia, Orleans, and Essex counties offer safety, support, and options for self-determination to women and families.
Umbrella’s primary priority is two-fold:  to decrease the incidence and impact of domestic and sexual violence; & to ensure that children thrive in safe communities and in families attentive to their needs.
Women in crisis as a result of domestic or sexual violence must receive immediate, non-judgmental and practical assistance needed to secure their safety and that of their children.  To help realize this mandate we work to ensure that:

  • Survivors of sexual and domestic violence have ongoing, supportive links in the community.
  • Community systems and institutions are knowledgeable about the dynamics of sexual and domestic violence and become effective in mounting a coordinated response.
  • Community culture promotes non-violent behavior, accountability and respect and does not tolerate or excuse domestic and sexual violence.

Children need safe communities and families which are attentive to their needs in order to thrive.  To help realize this mandate we work to ensure that:

  • Families have access to affordable, high quality early care and education for their children.
  • Families in all forms, and those caring for children, have the information and resources they need to create safe, supportive and joyful environments for children.
  • Children in crisis as the result of domestic violence or other trauma are able to be with their parents in a safe, supportive environment
  • The community understands and values the importance of children’s early experiences and supports children as both current and future citizens.

We see Umbrella’s programs as part of a broader social agenda.  Thus, as a secondary priority, we seek opportunities to address other forms of injustice against and oppression of women & to improve the equity of opportunities available to women. We believe that public policy formulation and other community decisions should be informed by both advocating for social justice, and engaging in activism to remove barriers faced by women.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form

Board of Directors

Lynn Wurzburg, Chair
Pam Parker, Secretary 
Justin Barton-Caplin, Treasurer
Carol Novick
Lucien St.Onge
Ann Sparrow
Bonnie Dasher-Andersen
Susan Mescher
Susan Gresser

 Leadership Team

Renée A. K. Swain, Executive Director
Tracey Doore, Finance and Operations Manager

Athena Bandit, Administrative Assistant
Cathy LaBounty, Kingdom Child Care Connection Program Manager
Amanda McFarland, The Family Room Program Manager
Roxie Rivard, The Advocacy Program Manager – Newport Office
Elisa Lucozzi, The Advocacy Program Manager- St. Johnsbury Office
Vaunne Masse, Cornucopia Program Manager