Vision fellowships propel Island’s young professionals

Traci Monteith — Courtesy MV Vision Fellowship

The Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship Grants committee has announced the recipients of the 2023 Vision Fellowship awards. 

The committee selected 15 Islanders they thought shared a “passionate and thoughtful commitment” to their fields of study and the Island. 


Maggie Craig is implementing a biochar project through partnerships with Island farms, conservation agencies, and waste management facilities. Her sponsoring organization is the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. When added to soils, biochar, a charcoal made from heating woody biomass in a low-oxygen environment, absorbs water, binds to soil nutrients and pollutants, and creates habitats for beneficial microbes. Through her project, Craig will collect wood waste, construct four small, portable flame cap kilns, and gather data on biochar production. Additionally, she will study the applications of biochar to soil and water, and spread awareness about the effectiveness of this technology as part of an ecological stewardship program. Craig is currently an automotive technician with On-Site Mobile Repair. She has a B.A. in English, with minors in studio art and Spanish, from the University of Vermont, and a B.S. in biology from Portland State University.


Nedine Cunningham is earning a master’s of social work from Syracuse University through a program that emphasizes social justice and highlights the importance of using race and culture as a lens for understanding and treating clients. Cunningham has taught middle school Social Studies at Edgartown School since 2004. Her goal now is to shift her role within the Island’s school system, to become either a social worker or an adjustment counselor. The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) has a tiered system of support that helps educators provide academic and behavioral strategies for students with various needs. Cunningham hopes to increase tiered support for the Island’s K-6 students.


Kylie Devine will graduate from MVRHS this spring. Her goal is to become a physical therapist. Devnine is a proud member of the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Because her father served in the Army for 27 years, Devine has lived in many places, and loves traveling and experiencing different cultures. Her family roots run deep on Martha’s Vineyard, though, and since moving here, she has immersed herself in Wampanoag culture, and is currently learning the language.


Scott Goldin will pursue his doctor of education in educational leadership from the Boston College Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development. This program is a pathway to obtaining superintendent licensure, alongside a doctoral degree with a focus on leadership for social justice, school reform, community building, and leadership for learning. Goldin has spent 11 years at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, first as a classroom educator and, since 2020, as the assistant director. 

This is Goldin’s second Vision Fellowship award. As a 2018 Fellow, he earned his master’s in education through Lesley University’s middle school education math/science program.


Sam Gurney, soon to graduate from MVRHS, will study wildlife and fisheries science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this fall. Gurney has a deep affinity for the Island’s freshwater habitats, and especially its up-Island rivers. Gurney serves as a mentor to young children who want to learn how to fish, with the hope of instilling in them his desire to protect and preserve these ecosystems. Gurney considers Cooper Gilkes of Coop’s Bait and Tackle one of his greatest mentors. After Gurney’s father passed, Cooper nurtured his passion for fishing and his love for the Island and this community.


Kate Hansen is enrolled in Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions’ Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing program. She is on the family nurse practitioner track in this three-year program. During the first three semesters, she is taking pre-licensure courses to gain the foundational knowledge and skills of professional nursing required to pass the national registered nurse licensure exam. After licensure, Hansen will work part-time as a registered nurse while completing the requirements for her master’s degree during her last three semesters. Hansen is a 2016 graduate of MVRHS, and earned a bachelor of science in psychological sciences from the University of Vermont in 2020. Kate is certified as a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician and a clinical medical assistant.


Sakiko Isomichi is earning her master of landscape architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Isomichi is committed to enhancing conservation and biodiversity in private and public spaces on Martha’s Vineyard by expanding sustainable and ecological practices in the landscaping industry. Isomichi earned a master of divinity, with a focus on ethnography, waste, and ethics from Harvard Divinity School in 2022. In 2018, she earned a bachelor of arts in international relations from Harvard Extension School. Isomichi built waste separation stations at West Tisbury Farmers Market in 2017 and 2018, operated vegetable gardens at North Tisbury Farm and Market in 2018 and 2019, ran a waste talk series with the Harvard community in 2020 and 2021, and has led the communication subcommittee of Cambridge’s Recycling Advisory Committee since 2020.


Alley McConnell will study seagrass restoration projects as her Vision Fellowship professional development project. Her goal is to bring knowledge of successful off-Island seagrass restoration activities to the Island and, in the process, educate and engage people interested in this topic. McConnell has been the restoration and communications coordinator and hatchery assistant for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group since 2019. She earned a B.A. in biology, with minors in marine science and anthropology, from Eckerd College in 2020. As part of her project, McConnell will visit eelgrass restoration programs along the East Coast with one of her mentors, Phil Colarusso, marine ecologist for the EPA. She will attend relevant educational conferences, and will work to become a certified ecological restoration practitioner through the Society of Ecological Restoration. McConnell will share what she learns through engagement events with the Island community.


Traci Monteith will earn her bachelor in science in nursing from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. She is currently the school nurse at Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. Since October 2020, Monteith has also served as a registered nurse for St. Luke’s Emergency Department in New Bedford. Monteith worked as a paramedic for the town of Oak Bluffs from February 2012 through July 2015, and has been a paramedic for the town of Chilmark since February 2016. Monteith’s mentor at MVPCS is Janice Brown, R.N., who is currently, and was when Monteith was a student there, the Charter School’s nurse. She earned her associate in science, nursing, degree from Excelsior College in 2020.


Noli Taylor will use her Vision Fellowship award for professional development training in nonprofit management practices, from human resources best practices to financial management and oversight. Taylor is senior director of programs at Island Grown Initiative (IGI). As a 2007 Vision Fellow, Taylor participated in agricultural conferences, permaculture design, and teacher trainings, fundraising workshops, board development trainings, and visits to farm-to-school programs that helped the original IGI team create Island Grown Schools. Now, 16 years later, IGI is a large and thriving agency, with over 30 employees and a wide-ranging suite of programs that support an equitable food system for the Island.


Phoebe Walsh will lead the Martha’s Vineyard Seafood Collaborative’s (MVSC) newly restructured Vision Fellowship project that aims to expand MVSC’s seafood donation program. The project will also pilot a community-supported fisheries subscription program with flash-frozen product. Lastly, the program will develop educational materials to help chefs, seafood markets, and the public learn about local seafood options, cooking techniques, processing methods (fileting and shucking), harvesting methods, and knowledge about the Island’s fishermen. The MVSC will continue to focus on maintaining a working waterfront infrastructure and providing services to fishermen and markets (ice, fish sorting, cold storage). Walsh earned a bachelor of arts degree in environmental studies from Franklin and Marshall College in 2016, and a professional science master’s in ocean food systems from the University of New England in 2020.


Indaia Whitcombe will work with Linsey Lee, oral historian and oral history curator for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, in the collection of fieldwork and oral history interviews. From this collection, Whitcombe will produce a series of four to six short documentary portraits for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. This project aims to explore, honor, and give voice to the true ethnic, socioeconomic, and experiential diversity of the Island, and in doing so, help grow and sustain the Island’s social fabric and community archive. Circuit Films will assist Whitcombe and Lee with production and editing. Whitcombe earned a bachelor of arts in sociocultural anthropology from Bennington College in 2005 and a master of arts in visual communication: documentary storytelling, photography and video, from the University of North Carolina School of Journalism in 2014. She also earned an M.A. in folklore from the University of North Carolina’s Department of American Studies’ Folklore Program in 2019. 


In addition, the following undergraduate students who were awarded two-year Vision Fellowships upon high school graduation in 2021 have been awarded second two-year Vision Fellowships, for their junior and senior years:


Lydia Carlos will be a junior at Bates in the fall, studying biology, with interests in shellfish and fishery management and conservation, and in water, specifically nitrogen management and water resources. Carlos has interned with Sheri Caseau, water resource planner at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, on cyanobacteria testing in Island ponds.

Jenaleigh Griffin is earning a B.S. degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Griffin’s career goal is to become a nurse. During her fellowship to date, she has interned at Island Health Care (IHC), which ensures that all Island residents have access to high-quality healthcare regardless of income or insurance status, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Molly Menton is a nursing major at the University of South Carolina, with a goal to become a maternity nurse. As a Vision Fellow, Menton interned at IHC and, last summer, she interned in the emergency room and acute care unit of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital under Martha Bischoff.


  1. What a remarkable group. I always feel that our island, our country, and our world will be in better hands when your generation takes over. I am grateful for your sense of purpose and your determination to do good on so many levels. Thank you all.

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