Athletic Hall of Fame Awards
Hall of Fame awards honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the development of JSC athletes or to the excellence of the JSC athletics program, and teams that, by their records, have left a legacy of leadership and success. Learn more
Alumni Association Awards
Each year, exceptional Johnson State College alumni are honored for their contributions to the school, community, and society.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Michele Boomhower, ’93
Michele Boomhower of Georgia, Vermont, started her education at Community College of Vermont and went on to graduate summa cum laude from Johnson State College in 1993 with a B.S. in natural resources management.
More recently, in 2004, she graduated from the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute.
Today Michele is the director of policy planning and intermodal development for the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), where she oversees transportation policy, planning, mapping and research; helps coordinate legislative efforts related to federal and state transportation policy; and oversees Vermont’s “intermodal” functions of aviation, rail and public transportation, including 10 state-owned airports, 305 miles of state-owned operating rail and 375 public-transit vehicles run by local transit organizations.
Prior to her role at VTrans, Michele served six years as assistant director and transportation program manager for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, during which time she helped with Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts; 15 years with the Lamoille County Planning Commission, including nine as executive director; and two years as Act 250 assistant coordinator.
Outstanding Alumni Awards
These awards are presented to alumni of whom the college is particularly proud, who have made outstanding accomplishments in their careers and lives, whether in social service, business, or community service, with service to the college one of the many factors considered. Alumni under consideration for this award must have graduated a minimum of ten years ago. Nominations come from faculty, staff, and alumni. Selection is made by the president of the college.
Megan Panek ’97
Since receiving her B.A. in psychology from JSC in 1997, Megan Panek has worked for many nonprofit organizations in the Greater Boston area, from New England’s largest homeless shelter (the Pine Street Inn) to the Boston Bar Foundation. She is president ex-officio of Women in Development, an organization founded in 1980 as a hub for individuals to help each other improve their professional skills and discover volunteer opportunities. She has more than 17 years of experience in development, securing major gifts and implementing strategic fundraising plans for such organizations as the American Heart Association, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Old Sturbridge Village living museum.
Megan has been working at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for the past two years. In March, Megan was promoted to director of academic advancement for the School of Engineering at WPI, where she builds relationships with donors and manages major gift and fundraising strategies.
Megan also serves on the board of the Engineering Development Forum, the principal resource for enhancing the success of development professionals, communicators, administrators and private sector representatives charged with advancing university engineering programs.
She lives in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Matt; their four children, Sam, Will, Jane and Rose; and the family dog, Max.
Michael DeBonis ’93
Michael DeBonis graduated from Johnson State College in 1993 with a B.A. in environmental science and natural resources, then continued his education at Yale University, where he earned a master’s degree in forestry in 2002. He joined the staff of the Green Mountain Club as the executive director in 2014, leading the organization in its mission to maintain Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail and nearly 200 side trails.
Prior to joining GMC, Michael was executive director of the Forest Guild, a Santa Fe-based national organization of professional foresters dedicated to promoting sustainable forestry practices and forest restoration.
Michael and his wife, Jennifer, met as Peace Corps volunteers in Jamaica and now make their home in Moretown, Vermont, with their two dogs.
Rebecca Leipert ’99
Rebecca Leipert earned a B.A in business management and marketing from Johnson State College in 1999, then went on to become an account manager at Jager Dipaola Kemp, where she managed the development of creative campaigns for Burton Snowboards, STX Lacrosse and Eastpak backpacks.
In 2004, she moved to Portland, Oregon, to work for Respond2 Communications, where she served as account director and oversaw campaigns for AOL, Phillips Electronics and Procter & Gamble. In 2005, Rebecca joined Nike as a content director for the Global Women’s team. She then transferred to Boston to work on the Converse brand as director of brand design operations.
In 2011, Rebecca returned to Vermont with her husband, Mark (JSC Class of ‘95). She works at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (now Keurig Green Mountain) as director of marketing operations and creative services. At Keurig, Rebecca oversees a team of designers, copywriters and project managers who are responsible for branding, photo and video content, packaging and merchandising design. Rebecca also manages the annual operating plan for the department, which, among other things, sets goals for quality improvements and cost savings as well as increases speed to market.
Rebecca serves on the Board of Directors for Stowe Performing Arts and volunteers with the Stowe School Ski/Snowboard program.
Rebecca and Mark live in Stowe with their daughter, Olivia.
Rising Star/Young Alumni Awards
These awards are presented to young alumni (graduates of the past decade) who have enjoyed considerable early career success and are an inspiration to current students. Nominations come from faculty, staff, and alumni. Selection is made by the president of Johnson State College.
Jessie Forand ’09
Jessie Forand transferred from Saint Michael’s College to Johnson State in 2008, seeking a tighter-knit community and more personalized education in the final semesters of her college career. She found that in the journalism department and while working on the student newspaper, Basement Medicine, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2009.
Jessie secured her first internship at a small Vermont newspaper at age 19 and continued in the field for years, working for publications including the St. Albans Messenger and the Burlington Free Press. She earned an award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) for her contributions to an investigative series examining sex offenses in Franklin County, Vermont.
In 2015, Jessie decided to follow a new passion, becoming communications coordinator at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. She is in charge of writing, photography, social media and more for the organization, and she loves this new role.
Miles Smith ’09
A point guard on Johnson State College’s varsity men’s basketball team, Miles Smith served as team captain as well as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in his senior year.
He graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in anthropology and sociology and became the assistant men’s basketball coach at Mercer County Community College, where he was responsible for player development, academic support and recruitment.
In 2012, Miles moved on to become assistant men’s basketball coach at the College of New Jersey, where he assumed additional responsibilities, including assisting with game management and summer camp programs.
The following year, Miles became the first head men’s basketball coach for the newly formed team at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Miles built the program from the ground up and spent his days hiring coaching staff, creating workout plans, developing practice and game schedules, scouting and recruiting athletes and arranging a plethora of service opportunities to keep his team visible in the community.
Now married with two young children, Miles returned full circle this summer to his alma mater, becoming JSC’s new assistant director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach.