The Mary Lyon Foundation Inc. was established in 1990 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization on March 8, 1991. It is a community-based organization, supporting all aspects of quality education in the towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne, as well as occasional outreach in other Franklin County and Connecticut River Valley towns.

Vision:  The Foundation’s vision is for all students to be ready to learn; to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally; and to thrive in the wider world. 

Mission:  The Foundation’s mission is to promote student success by mobilizing community investment in services and programs that create positive educational outcomes.  

Trustees and Staff
Laurie Benoit, Chair
Peter Stevens, Vice-Chair
Karen A. Fairbrother, Treasurer
Karen Blom, Recording Secretary
Katherine A. McKay, Legacy Society Chair
Sylvia Orcutt, Past President
John Cornman
Jana Standish
Bev Labelle Traci Ayer Ellen Miller

Executive Director: Kristen Tillona Baker
Business Manager: Phil Gilfeather-Girton
Volunteers: Sandy Gilbert, Ellen Kaufman, Cheryl Faufaw, Rita Jaros, Emily Arsenault

Lifetime Honorary Board Members
Dr. Bruce Willard
Sharon Hudson
Hugh Knox
Marion Taylor

Founder, Executive Director Emerita
Susan Samoriski

Honorary Advisory Board Members
Cady Coleman, astronaut
Margarita Curtis, Past Head of School, Deerfield Academy
Peter Drummond-Hay, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates
Donald R. Friary, President, Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Grace Friary, consultant
Ross Greene, Harvard Medical School, Tufts University
Fiona Hill, Director, Center on the US & Europe, Brookings Institute
Willie Hill, Director of the Fine Arts Center, U Mass Amherst
Tracy Kidder, author
Lynn Pasquerella, Past President of Mt. Holyoke College
Robert Pura, Past President of Greenfield Community College
Paul Reville, Past Massachusetts Secretary of Education
Stanley Rosenberg, Past President of the Massachusetts State Senate
Josh Simpson, glass artist
Julie Upton-Wang, partner, The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu
Jane Yolen, author

Please consider including the Mary Lyon Foundation in your estate plans. Contact us here.
Volunteering is one way to make an impact! Learn more here.

Banner image description: Mosaic and Ceramic Solar Fountain Project, led by Anne Larson at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield, partially funded by a Mary Lyon Foundation Mini-Grant.

Meet the Board of Trustees

Laurie Benoit is retired and lives with her husband, Barry, in the hills of Western Massachusetts.  She holds a BS in Non-Profit Management from UMass Amherst.  Her entire career was spent working for non-profits and covering all aspects of fundraising and management in higher education.  Volunteering locally has always been a priority throughout her adult life. … Continue reading Meet the Board of Trustees

Where We Serve

The Mary Lyon Foundation provides services and programs to all of the schools within our nine town area in northwestern Massachusetts. The towns we serve are Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne. The total population is 10,700.  Geographically, the Mohawk Trail Regional School System is the largest and poorest in the… Continue reading Where We Serve


Take care of your reading, writing and singing. These words of wisdom were spoken by Mary Lyon, a 19th-century pioneer in women’s education and advocate for opportunity and quality education for all. The Mary Lyon Foundation is inspired by and takes its name from this renowned educator. It is with great pride that the foundation… Continue reading History


Volunteers have always been at the heart of the work the Mary Lyon Foundation does. Whether distributing food in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, or donating baked goods and helping out at a fundraiser, or serving on our Board of Trustees, volunteers fill many roles. Do you want to make a difference in… Continue reading Volunteers