Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
Back to Impact Stories

Con Hogan Award Winners Discuss Challenges During COVID-19 Crisis

Holly Morehouse James Baker

Nominations for the 2021 award close on June 24
Winner to Receive $15,000 Cash Prize

The Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Community Leadership recognizes individuals who focus on results, use data and measurement to mobilize action, work with people across diverse perspectives, take risks in pursuit of their vision, and persist through setbacks.

Winners demonstrate these qualities throughout their careers. But these qualities and values are tested in individuals and the institutions and movements they serve during crises. In recent interviews, Holly Morehouse and James Baker—respectively, 2017 and 2018 awardees—reflected on how that happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morehouse, co-founder and Executive Director of Vermont Afterschool, Inc., said that it was a challenge for the diverse groups, both private and public sector, involved in assessing and meeting children’s needs to know how to coordinate at the start of the pandemic, but they quickly had to figure it out. “Now here we are a little over a year later and we have a multi-agency, multi-sector partnership group that is meeting every week,” she said. “I think we have what I hope will remain systemic partnerships across these sectors and agencies.”

She talked about dealing with uncertainty and the need for fast responses throughout the year and the importance of a pervasive problem-solving mindset.

Baker, appointed Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections in January 2020, said that the department relied on data to guide its policy during the pandemic. “We led the country in many ways. We never lost anyone inside a facility from a death. A big part of that had to do with data.” He added: “We tested [for COVID-19] more than any other jail system in the country.”

Baker cited major challenges the department faced, including outbreaks at several facilities, but also saw positive changes as a result of the pandemic: improved communication both inside the department and with partners outside, and individual employees who stepped up to take leadership within the department.

Nominations for the 2021 award will be accepted through the Vermont Community Foundation’s website until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021. The award will be presented at a public event, either virtual or in Montpelier, at 4:30 PM on October 6. For more information or to submit a nomination, visit