Litchfield's 25 Most Influential 2017
Influential, Giving, Talented, Interesting People
So many terrific people doing terrific things—that’s who lives and works in the Litchfield hills. We asked readers to identify those who may or may not be on everyone’s radar—from the well-known to the unsung heroes, the up-and-comers, the entrepreneurs, artists, students, leaders, and tireless volunteers who deserve a little spotlight. For the sixth year in a row, we offer Litchfield’s Most Influential.
RICHARD SCHLESINGER is an award-winning correspondent for “48 Hours” and a contributor to “CBS Sunday Morning.” He has covered numerous national and international stories and was part of the team coverage of the Newtown elementary school shooting which earned CBS News a DuPont-Columbia Award. A Cornwall resident, he is an active member of the Cornwall Historical Society Board.
ELIZABETH DEMETRIADES & PATRICK WALKER are innovative, environmentally concerned, award-winning architects. They relocated their architecture firm Demetriades + Walker from Tribeca to Lakeville 15 years ago. Their work draws inspiration from the land to craft sustainable designs that resonate to their clients’ needs. Their approach to modern architecture has been well published and received many design awards.
JOHN BOYD is former executive director of the CT Junior Republic. Under his leadership, CJR expanded from a residential treatment and education center for boys to a multi-service agency delivering diverse community and home-based programs addressing the needs of children and families throughout Connecticut. He also serves on the board of the Seherr-Thoss Foundation and is a member of the Connecticut Judicial Selection Commission, the Connecticut Child Advocate Advisory Committee and President of the Children’s League of Connecticut.
SPENCER HOULDIN grew up in Washington where he and his younger brother bought the family business from their parents over 10 years ago. As president of Ericson Insurance Advisors, he appears regularly in national media to comment on insurance matters. His firrm prides itself on customer service. He has provided twenty years of service to New Milford hospital, including board seats, committees, and philanthropic support, and co-chaired a recent capital campaign for Danbury/New Milford Hospitals.
PAIGE DECKER is the executive director of the Headway Foundation, an organization she founded to improve the way concussions are handled in sports, provide resources for patients, and enhance evaluation and treatment protocols. Paige was a member of the Women’s Ice Hockey team at Yale University when she suffered a life-altering concussion. She lectures about her experience and joined Senator Blumenthal’s efforts urging the NHL to fund concussion research. Her story was featured in several national publications, including The New York Times.
SHERRY & ERIC LEITZ are a husband and wife design team who have taken accessories to a new level. Using traditional old world techniques, craftsmanship and the finest bridal leather and saddle stitching, they create items such as handbags, wine totes, iPad and iPhone cases, and jewelry. Their commitment to quality and natural materials have attracted customers from coast to coast.
ELIN McCOY & JOHN FREDERICK WALKER She is an award-winning journalist and author focusing on wine. She is also a wine-and-spirits columnist for Bloomberg News, is New York correspondent for Decanter magazine, and is the author of the definitive biography of wine expert Robert Parker, Jr. He is an artist whose work is represented in public collections, including the Yale University Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art. Walker has also written two books on endangered African wildlife.
AMANDA SEITZ is following in her parents’ footsteps. For over 30 years J Seitz has been a mainstay of fashion and innovation in New Preston. The mantel has now been passed from parents to daughter. She is involved in buying, sales, social media, advertising, and has taken the business to a new level. She is an ardent supporter of sustainable companies and of animal rights.
BRIAN MATTIELLO, a Torrington native, has served as the 65th district state representative, and deputy chief of staff to two governors. He is vice president of organizational development at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, president of the Rotary Club of the Torrington-Winsted areas, president of UNICO National Torrington Chapter, and member of the Prime Time board of directors and the Torrington Cultural Affairs Committee. He also serves as chair of the Warner Theatre.
TIMOTHY ABBOTT has been a conservation leader in Connecticut for nearly twenty years. As HVA’s director of the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, he has helped local land trusts secure more than $10 million in public and private funding and protect more than 7,000 acres of family farmland, woodlands and other special places in Northwest Connecticut.
EMMA PLUMB is director of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, a national initiative calling for a collective voice in support of flexible work. 1MFWF is comprised of a coalition of 100+ companies, business leaders, think tanks, academic institutions, and advocacy groups working to promote a dramatic change of thought around the traditional workplace norm. Her articles have been published in various outlets such as U.S. News and the Huffington Post.
TIM WALCH & EDMUND SULZMAN are deeply committed to preservation and restoration, having renovated two houses in Litchfield. Walch has been recognized for his historic properties by the Secretary of Housing and Development. He is an active member of the Farmer’s Table Dinner committee. Sulzman is a force in the hospitality industry. They are both on the board of FED, the American affiliate to FED Thailand. Together they assisted in the launch of the United Learning Center based in Thailand to assist Burmese people in need.
JANE COATS ECKERT is founder of Eckert Fine Art in Kent and a respected expert in 19th and early 20th century American art and has published books in this field. She has curated shows on Roy Lichtenstein, Christo, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, and Robert Rauschenberg, to name but a few, and was recently named head of the President’s Circle at Hancock Shaker Village.
ERIC FORSTMANN is a representational American artist who has been called an “intuitive realist.” His paintings are relaxed, unfussy creations that focus the viewer on the sheer pleasure of seeing. His work is represented in many museums including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, New Jersey Center of the Visual Arts, Mattatuck Museum, Litchfield Historical Museum, and in private collections including those of Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon and Warren Beatty.
HARVEY HUBBELL V is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and social entrepreneur. His films have been awarded over fifty festival awards, including four Emmys. His socially conscious projects include Dislecksia, which focused on the serious and misunderstood topic of dyslexia; and One by One, the story of Diana King, a game-changing educator. His new website seedling.tv will offer content for today’s challenging educational and social environs.
LAUREN BOOTH is a concep-tual artist working in several mediums including neon, resin, and gemstones. She created “The Illumination Show,” a series of neon sculptures in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
Bono, and Oprah Winfrey, among other notables. Her work is featured at the Mattatuck Museum, as well as in distinguished collections around the world.
LARRY KRAMER is an award-winning author and playwright, whose work includes The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and the screenplay for Women in Love. He is also recognized for his involvement in LGBT rights and public healthcare. He co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which brought attention to the AIDS epidemic and helped change public health policy.
HENRY R. MARTIN, a Washington resident, has held many volunteer leadership roles including town meeting moderator, election debate moderator, and as a member and Chair of the Zoning Commission. He also serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. He and his wife Sharon have collected 19th century American art and representational paintings that have been exhibited at many museums across the country.
KEN MERZ has been a part of O&G Industries for nearly 50 years, providing executive leadership across multiple disciplines from technology to human resources. He is co-founder and President of the KidsPlay Children’s Museum in Torrington. He has served as a director for the Warner Theater, Torrington Economic Development Corporation, Litchfield Performing Arts Center, and the Oliver Wolcott Library.
JANE WHITNEY has a television career that spans 25 years, as a reporter for “Entertainment Tonight,” and as an anchor for PBS, CNN, and CNBC. Her political columns and social commentary have appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, and U.S. News & World Report. She produces and moderates “Conversations on the Green” featuring nationally known media and political experts for the benefit of several local charities.
JILL LLOYD is a managing director and financial advisor at Evercore. She is the past board president of After School Arts Program (ASAP) and is currently involved with the Connecticut Community Foundation’s Women’s Issues Committee, Women’s Fund Grant Making Committee. She is an advisor to the Washington Economic Development Council, a graduate of the Western Connecticut Leadership Program and is active in the WCL Alumni Network and a member of 100 Women in Finance.
KYRA & ROBERTSON HARTNETT are founders of twenty2 wallpaper, the award-winning wallpaper design and digital printing studio in Bantam. Acclaimed as innovators and experts in the field, for over ten years they have specialized in made-to-order designs including their own line of signature prints, fine art wall murals, and an eco-friendly collection of grasscloth wallpaper. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Oliver Wolcott Library and they both have been instrumental in the success of the library’s fundraising event, The Festival of Trees, of which the proceeds go towards supporting the library’s operating costs.
LISA LANSING SIMONT spent much of her childhood in Cornwall and then made it her home. A former reporter, she now sits on the board of the NW Connecticut Arts Council, the Cornwall Chronicle, the local board of finance, and Cornwall Historical Society. She believes that being part of a place is joining, helping out and giving back, which she does in spades.
IRA GOLDSPIEL is the top-producing agent for William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty and has helped make Litchfield County one of the most desirable places to live. His unique approach, dedication, and passion are enhanced by his innate ability to market, show, and sell a home. With his partner Howard Schissler he operates the award-winning Inn at Kent Falls.
PAGE DICKEY is an award-winning garden writer, lecturer, designer, and one of the most respected people in the field. She serves on the board of the Garden Conservancy and cofounded Open Days Program, Stonecrop Gardens, and Hollister House Garden. She was recently elected as an Honorary Member of The Garden Club of America. After 33 years living at Duck Hill in North Salem, New York, she has made the move to a new property, Church House, in Falls Village.