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50 Most Influential People of Litchfield County 2011

Litchfield's 50 Most Influential People

The Litchfield area is filled with talent and money and dedicated community spirit. We have among us great artists and shop owners, non-profit organizers, and big-money philanthropists. They use their time, talent, and resources to improve this corner of paradise and to weave a certain charm into the fabric of Litchfield County. For the second year, with the help of a distinguished panel of advisors, we present Litchfield’s Most Influential People.

The creators of Manolo Blahnik shoes have saved hundreds of acres of farmland from development and brought us Arethusa Farm, producing the finest milk and dairy products. Now they have opened a creamery on the site of the old Bantam Firehouse, featuring their ice creams and yogurts.

As the director of the Litchfield Community Center, Berta, as she is known, has created a resource for all ages, offering free movies, lectures, language classes, music, and a host of other innovative programs. It reaches out to all of the Northwest Corner and she is its driving force.

Together they have brought radio back to Sharon by starting up NPR station WHDD, making it possible for residents to once again have access to the finest programming around. In addition, they have added unique local shows to the mix.

Longtime Torrington resident and family dentist, he owns and runs community radio station WAPJ, a welcome addition to the Northwest Corner’s programming credentials, with a mixture of music and talk. He has been instrumental in the plans to redevelop downtown Torrington and serves on the Coe Memorial Park Advisory Committee.

Nominated as one of the best new restaurants by the James Beard Foundation, Community Table is a farm-supporting restaurant whose menu changes weekly, if not daily. He is a true visionary who, in a small space, presents sumptuous dining in a relaxed atmosphere, featuring a community table that seats 12, plus nine smaller tables.

The owners of The Pantry in Washington Depot combine eating with shopping. Day-trippers and regulars alike go for gourmet food, takeout, and homemade baked goods, while surveying the housewares store that encircles the dining tables—everything from exotic olive oils to sea salts to beautiful French pottery. Through their catering division, they service some of the most important charity events in town.

At age 22 he was elected mayor of Torrington in November 2005—the youngest mayor in the history of Connecticut. Now in his second term, he has worked diligently to revive Torrington’s downtown, get the education system on track, and bring the city back to its glory days.

The most renowned actress of our time, she with artist husband Don Gummer has raised four talented children in the Litchfield Hills and quietly supports local charities. She continues to amaze us on the screen—and with several of her children following in her footsteps, we have much to look forward to.

As the brains behind the annual Litchfield Jazz Festival, she has gathered premier musicians and turned this into a must-attend event. Through this venue she has created a four-week camp that offers intensive music education for some 550 students on the campus of the bucolic Kent School.

As President of the Kent Library board, he has raised the bar for author events, attracting the likes of Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell. He has been instrumental in the library’s fundraising activities and is dedicated to keeping reading and books at the forefront of education.

A founder of Litchfield Hills Food Service, whose mission is to connect sustainable agriculture, local food, and an active, healthy lifestyle, he helped create the Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market, a boon to local farmers and a favorite Saturday-mornings destination.

Called “John Cheever’s heir apparent” by the New York Times Book Review, and compared by Time to Henry James and Edith Wharton, she is the chronicler of WASP family life. She writes insightfully about families and internal relationships, believes in the power of words, and is deeply involved with the PEN American Center.

Dale has brought her passion for gardening to the Litchfield Garden Club, where she is active in preserving the Litchfield Green. Quentin serves on the board of New Milford Hospital. Together they have been instrumental in the hospital’s renovation projects, including upgrading its cafeteria and exterior landscapes.


She was the first female assistant state’s attorney for the Connecticut Superior Court and was appointed in 1985 to the Connecticut Superior Court. In 2000, she was elevated to the Appellate Court. Her community-mindedness makes her a valued member of the Litchfield Board of Finance. As a practicing lawyer, she balances high-profile clients with her interest in local charities and children’s causes.

Playwright and gay-rights activist, he has been at the forefront of the campaign to raise AIDS awareness. His play, The Normal Heart, brought to light the bureaucratic paralysis and apathy of gay men to the AIDS crisis. Now, 25 years after its off-Broadway production, the Tony-nominated play has debuted on Broadway to rave reviews.                                            


She is an artist whose vision for the American Mural Project turned into a happening. In a converted mill building in Winsted, she has paid homage to the history of workers in America. Artists from all over the country participated, and it has raised nearly $2 million.

As pastor of Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Litchfield, he reaches out to all denominations and offers advice and solace to all. He is considered irreplaceable in his approach to prayer and religion.

The owner of Johnnycake Books in Salisbury has created a place to relax, peruse, and purchase current and rare books, upholding the tradition of the independent bookstore, as well as creating an Internet presence.

She was at the forefront of the memoir genre with her book, Haywire, telling the glamorous yet tragic story of her family. She inspired other writers to tell their own stories and now, after some 35 years since publication, the book is back in print, a finely written story of survival.

As development director of the Housatonic Valley Association, he is dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural wonder of the Housatonic River and its environs. By creating innovative programs, he has made us all aware of the natural beauty that needs to be cared for.

Hotchkiss’s first official poet-in-residence, and author of three books of poetry, she has a questing spirit that inspires students toward understanding and writing poetry of their own. Her ability to reach out to students and instill the foundations for their growing intellect has made her a champion for literacy in schools.

He has brought sophistication and beauty to our area through his design work and his eclectic shop in West Cornwall. A master at collecting unusual, one of-a-kind pieces that we all want to own, his ability to juxtapose the old and the unexpected in both interior and garden designs makes him much sought after.

She taught us how to decorate with ease, designing rooms in which dogs are welcome on the furniture and there is always a place to put your feet up and your drink down. A Falls Village resident for over 30 years, she is a mainstay of Trade Secrets and has donated her talents to refurbish the Falls Village Inn.

As editor-in-chief he has taken new initiatives to revitalize Torrington’s Register Citizen. The paper’s new office is based on an “open newsroom” concept, with a community media lab, a community journalism school, a local news library, and a newsroom café, all of which are free to the public.


Actress, human-rights activist, and Bridgewater resident, she will be the 2011 recipient of the Marian Anderson Award, which honors artists whose leadership benefits humanity, for her work to raise awareness of the plight of children in war-torn regions and on behalf of refugees around the globe.

As president and CEO of Litchfield Bancorp, he has worked tirelessly to make his the go-to-bank for friendly service and efficiency. Deeply involved in community services, he has served on the boards of many organizations and worked with the bank to donate funds that support local causes.

A member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he captures the essence of the manners and morals of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant upper class in his plays—with gratifying results. Crisp language and ironic phrasing are the backbone of today’s American theater.


A former antiques dealer, he has opened the doors of his renovated Ragamont House to a number of local charities, including Women’s Support Services, Scoville Library, and Salisbury Family Services. He is on the board of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Middendorf Foundation and is a founding member of “The Dream Team” at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Director and producer of nearly 200 stage productions, his revival of A View From the Bridge was a smash hit. He is now back on Broadway with a revival of That Championship Season. A Roxbury resident, he has frequently directed special events for such organizations as The New Yorker, PEN, and various other social causes.

She is the founder of Chore Service, which both employs and helps people who are elderly, ill, or homebound in the Northwest Corner. As social service agent for the Town of Sharon, she also serves as municipal agent for the elderly and has been involved with the Older Women’s League’s Kitchen, a food pantry serving both New York and Connecticut residents.

For over 25 years, he has brought sartorial splendor to Litchfield Hills residents and visitors. Wife Andrea operates the ladies’ store and son Jonathan manages the men’s store. All three are committed to discovering unique, quality brands and presenting them in a sophisticated atmosphere with personal attention and charm.

Dick is among the most influential people in sports and throughout his career he has been recognized as one of television’s most creative programmers. He was the co-creator of “Saturday Night Live” and received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award. No one will forget Susan on “McMillan & Wife” or “Kate & Allie.” Though she has a star on the illustrious Hollywood Walk of Fame, she is at home in Litchfield where she was named to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. A master gardener, she is on the board of the Special Olympics.

Poet, journalist, and human-rights activist, she has chaired AI USA’s National Advisory Council and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Awards and she is once again on PEN’s Freedom-to-Write Committee—a true passion of hers. She currently serves on the boards of the Academy of American Poets, the Association to Benefit Children, and the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.

This former magazine photo editor and stylist has brought photography to Washington Depot in the form of KMR Arts Gallery. Focusing on both famous and yet-to-be-discovered artists and photographers, the gallery is a haven for locals who want an expert to help them start their art collection.

He has been making Shaker reproductions for 30 years in the historic town of West Cornwall, and his furniture evokes a simpler time. Visitors to this area make a beeline for his shop, where beautifully crafted, meticulous pieces often become collectors’ items.

The ultimate renaissance man—painter, poet, sculptor, writer—his work bears the hallmarks of an naïve outsider with his brightly colored abstract paintings and furniture engraved with carvings and poetry. His ultimate goal is to entertain and bring joy to the viewer and his works are in the collections of many prominent museums.

Renowned event planner Anne Perry Todd, known to her friends and clients as “Dixie,” has been creating unique parties for over 25 years. At Party Resources, Dixie and her team combine flawless style and attention to detail to create stunning fêtes for their clients. She is responsible for some of the most memorable events in the Litchfield Hills.


He converted the fields of Laurel Ridge into pastures for his cows and brought us grass-fed beef. In spring the fields are a blanket of daffodils for all to enjoy. As such, his passion for conservation and his belief in farming the land create special bonds for the community.

He has served in various capacities in both the public and private sector and has contributed his time and talent to many boards including Historic Hudson Valley, White Memorial Conservation Center and Foundation, and the Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement.


Husband and wife biographers, he has given us in-depth views of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan; she has brought to life Claire Boothe Luce. The quality of their work and their allegiance to Kent and the NW Corner is well known.

Playwright and screenwriter, he had a Broadway hit with his very first play, Mass Appeal, a winner of both the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama League Award.

Sheila as president of HBO documentary and her retired investment-banker husband Sidney purchased and preserved the beloved Bantam Cinema, where first-run movies delight audiences.

He has brought his expertise and rational thinking to Senior Core of Retired Executives, CT Junior Republic, the Oliver Wolcott Library, and the Litchfield Community Service Fund. He received the Distinguished Community Leader Award at the NW CT Chamber of Commerce’s Celebration of Success Awards.

As a teacher, she helped students achieve their potential; as a director of the Litchfield Housing Trust, she helps families achieve the American dream of owning their own home.

His expertise in business and his commitment to the community have made him an asset on the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting board of trustees, and as president of White Memorial board of directors.

This culinary star works his magic at Winvian, the unique resort in Morris. Taking the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, he creates food that is not found anywhere else in these hills.

A principal of O&G Industries, Gregory has been involved in most major construction in Connecticut. An avid runner, he racks up many miles for charity. Catherine works diligently for the Community Center and the CT Junior Republic.

He showed women what not to wear on HGTV. With a new book and a house in Kent, we look forward to everyone dressing better now that he’s around.

Together they are the pillars of Wisdom House, Litchfield’s country retreat and conference center, offering a place for meditation, prayer, and an exchange of ideas with some of the foremost thinkers of our time.

Her interior design work takes her around the world, but her heart is in Litchfield where she has created Charym, a mind and body oasis; she was also the designer of the Litchfield Community Center. She and husband Bruce Schnitzer are involved in land conservation.

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