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The Mary Lyon Foundation Names New Executive Director, Kristen Tillona Baker.

Photo: Founder Sue Samoriski (left) and Executive Director Kristen Tillona Baker (right).
Photo credit: Ben Tillona


The Mary Lyon Foundation announces today that Kristen Tillona-Baker has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Mary Lyon Foundation, effective January 1, 2021. Tillona-Baker succeeds founder Sue Samoriski who retired as executive director December 31st after 30 years of service. Tillona-Baker has 26 years of experience as an educator and has spent the last 14 years working as an administrator at independent schools. She lives in South Deerfield with her husband Ronald.

“It’s an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of running the Foundation, which has helped countless students, families and educators in West County and beyond,” said Tillona-Baker. “From the inception of an idea, Sue gathered generous donors and built an impressive foundation. I’m eager to carry that mission forward because the need is greater than ever before.”  

As the foundation transitions to new leadership under Tillona-Baker, the Board of Trustees recognizes Samoriski’s remarkable service and dedication for the last 30 years. “Sue’s vision, leadership, and commitment to supporting student and family needs and innovative teaching in the hilltown communities have been profound,” says Laurie Benoit, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “It has not gone unnoticed.”

In preparation for the leadership transition, the Board of Trustees completed a five-year Strategic Plan in 2019 to ensure the foundation will thrive and grow. The plan creates a road map for the future, with the vision that all students be ready to learn, to succeed academically, socially and emotionally and to thrive in the wider world.

Under Tillona-Baker’s leadership, the board is confident that the foundation is poised for growth and expansion. To that end, the trustees will be launching a Comprehensive Campaign to secure the future of the Mary Lyon Foundation, to support existing and new programs and initiatives, and to ensure that the vision and legacy of the foundation will live on for generations to come. 

“Kristen’s vast experience in educational leadership, fundraising and program development will be strong assets to the foundation,” says Samoriski. “ Under her direction, the foundation’s future will be bright and prosperous.”

The Mary Lyon Foundation serves families and schools in the communities of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne.