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.

Organizational Goals
—To identify educational needs in the community and develop, implement and evaluate programs which address those needs.
—To identify, secure and direct resources and expertise into programs which address the educational needs of the community.
—To actively communicate local educational needs and accomplishments to the whole community.

Trustees and Staff
Laurie Benoit, Chair
Peter Stevens, Vice-Chair
Joni Sessions, Treasurer
Karen A. Fairbrother, Assistant Treasurer
Katherine A. McKay, Recording Secretary
Marion Taylor, Past President
Sylvia Orcutt, Past President
John Cornman
Max Fripp

Ella Seward, Mohawk Trail Regional Student Representative
Lillian VanVleet,  Mohawk Trail Regional Student Representative

Executive Director: Susan Samoriski
Business Manager: Phil Gilfeather-Girton
Office Assistant: Sandy Gilbert
Office Volunteer: Rita Jaros

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

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.

Where We Serve

The Mary Lyon Foundation provides services and programs to all 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 Mohawk Trail/Hawlemont Regional School District geographically comprises the largest school district in  Massachusetts, encompassing 256 square miles in which… 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 have skills you would like to… Continue reading Volunteers