50 Most Influential People of Wilton 2011
Many talented people of all ages – from business people, artists, volunteers, shop owners, to parents and students – live in Wilton and have dedicated their time, energy and resources to improve life here.
By Compiled by the editors
50 Most Influential People of Wilton
Many talented people of all ages – from business people, artists, volunteers, shop owners, to parents and students – live in Wilton and have dedicated their time, energy and resources to improve life here. Their efforts and commitment have not only had a positive influence, but inspire us all to be better citizens. The editor of Wilton Magazine, with the help of a distinguished panel of advisors—Wilton Library director Kathy Leeds, Kiwanis president Emily Humiston, former Chamber of Commerce executive director Torie Clancy, and Wilton Historical Society co-president Tierney O’Hearn—presents, in no particular order, Wilton’s 50 Most Influential People. While a handful have moved out of town, all have made a meaningful difference to this town.
David Cunningham (pictured above)
Since moving to Wilton ten years ago, he has been the man behind the scenes in Wilton theater, designing and building the sets for many productions at the Wilton Playshop, Wilton Children’s Theater, and Wilton High School. He also serves on the Wilton Playshop board as Sets Chair.
As development director of the Wilton YMCA for over eight years, she has organized successful annual fundraisers including the Annual Appeal, the Com-munity Celebration gala, and Golf Classic, all of which have enabled the Y to award over $200,000 in financial assistance each year to families in need. She also spear-headed two popular Y amenities, the children’s splash pool and the mini-golf course.
Bob & Carol Russell
Between them, this couple has probably done more to honor and preserve Wilton’s history than anyone else in town. Bob, a former First Selectman, researched and wrote the first comprehensive history of Wilton, Wilton Connecticut, published in 2004. Carol has served as town historian, and both are emeritus trustees of the Wilton Historical Society.
Sarah Hackett & Christie Greeley
While at Wilton High School, they founded Teen PeaceWorks, the student arm of Wilton’s Domestic Violence Task Force, and helped educate students and parents about teen dating violence, and how to recognize and prevent it.
She is not only a published author and professor at Norwalk Community College, but during her 20-year tenure as president of the Turnover Shop, the popular consignment shop in Wilton Town Center, the shop has raised over $1 million to support the Wilton Parent Teacher Association and Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County.
He was one of the original visionaries behind the Wilton Family Recreation Activity Center, and more recently, behind the Wilton Commons. This long-time resident and activist has also served on the Board of the Wilton Historical Society, and as a YMCA Trustee.
Representing Wilton for over 15 years, first as a Connecticut state representative and currently as a state senator, she has implemented transportation legislation to benefit residents. She supported utilizing the land for the Norwalk River Valley Trail. She also supported improvements to the Danbury rail line and expedited the installation of a Stop sign at the dangerous intersection of Route 106 and 53.
The internationally renowned jazz musician and his family have brought world class music to Wilton and have generously used their talents to raise funds for the Wilton Library, the Wilton public school, Weir Farm, ABC, and many other local organizations.
Jordan Reichgut & Alex Scaperotta
These two friends were only in third grade when they founded Little People, Big Changes, a kids community-action club. Focusing on climate change, they have done their part to encourage residents to use less energy and sign up for Connecticut Clean Energy Options. They received the Climate Change Leadership Award from Governor Rell in 2008.
The first female president of Kiwanis, and an active volunteer for over 40 years, she has played a key role in many local organizations including the Wilton PTSA, the League of Women Voters, the Wilton Senior Center Advisory Committee, and the Wilton Playshop. She has also been a consistent, passionate advocate for older residents’ needs and issues.
A dentist with a busy practice in Wilton, he has found time to serve as co-president of the Wilton Historical Society, and as a director of the Wilton Bank, a member of Kiwanis, and an advisor to the Wilton High School Key Club.
Under her tenure as president of Wilton Bank, the bank has became an institution in the community, and has partnered and supported many local businesses and causes—Wilton’s own version of the Bailey Building and Loan Association.
She is the Wilton Coordinator for RSVP, the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, and has matched many Wilton retirees with meaningful volunteer positions in the community. She has also been a tireless volunteer with Minks to Sinks and a Wilton Commons board member.
As the executive director of the Wilton Library, she oversaw its much-needed expansion and solidified its role as the heart and soul of the community. In addition, she has given back to the town through her involvement in organizations including the Driscoll and Middlebrook PTA Boards, the PTA Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Domestic Violence Task Force, the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Town Committee.
Mary Lou Logan
A Wilton Historical Society emeritus board member, she started their doll and toy collection in the late 1960s and has been its curator ever since, repairing dolls as necessary along the way. She received the YMCA Distinguished Citizen Award for her work with the Historical Society, and has been a long-time member of Minks to Sinks and the Wilton Garden Club.
A real estate broker with Coldwell Banker, he has made a difference in Wilton through his leadership roles with the Wilton YMCA, Friends of Ambler Farm, the long-range planning committee for the Wilton Public Schools, the Memorial Day Parade Planning Committee, and as the past-president of Wilton Kiwanis. He is also a charter and current member of Wilton Community Emergency Response Team.
Director of the Wilton Historical Society for over 27 years, she was the moving force behind its successful relocation to its current home at 224 Danbury Rd. and its expansion from a small hodge-podge organization to vibrant cultural center dedicated to preserving Wilton’s past. She also organized and promoted the nationally recognized Wilton Historical Society Antiques Show, and the Fine American Craftsman Show, held in town annually for many years.
This lifelong Wiltonian, who graduated from Wilton High School in 1975, has worn many hats, including that of Wilton police commissioner, award-winning real-estate agent with Realty Seven, and Wilton High School baseball pitching coach. He recently took over the helm at Trackside Teen Center.
He’s been the executive director of the Wilton YMCA for over five years. Under his tenure, the Y has instituted a cancer survivor program affiliated with Norwalk Hospital and secured two major “healthy living” grants allowing it to establish Diabetes Prevention and Fight Youth Obesity programs.
He has been the master of the Cannon Grange, intermittently, for over 12 years, and his stewardship of this organization has insured it remains a vibrant part of the community, with well-attended annual events such as the annual Agricultural Fair.
After Wilton High School graduate Nick Madaras was killed in Iraq, Dartley read about Nick’s passion for soccer and his dream of sharing his love of the game with Iraqi children. Dartley founded Kick for Nick to collect soccer balls for Iraqi children. Since its founding, Kick for Nick has received international recognition and has distributed almost 35,000 soccer balls.
Manager Nancy Dolnier has worked at the Village Market for over 36 years and has provided invaluable support, in the form of products and financial donations, to almost every organization in town from the Y and the Food Pantry to the public schools and sports teams.
Referred to by everyone who knows her as the “Angel of Wilton,” she tirelessly and single-handedly collects donated clothing, furniture, and toys and distributes them to families in need in Wilton and surrounding towns.
Currently in his second term as First Selectman, he has led Wilton through many challenges including the defeat of Super 7, the widening of Route 7, and replanting of trees along the new road. He has negotiated a new waste and recyclables contract expected to save the town over $1 million, and instituted the Wilton Energy Commission and many improvements in town, such as the new light fixtures and sidewalks and the Veterans Memorial Green.
In his role of columnist and commentator, he serves as Wilton’s conscience, addressing many issues that resonate in town. He is also an active volunteer, working with youth groups at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and serving on the Wilton Council on Ethics.
Jesse & Betsy Fink
They own Millstone Farm, a working farm that serves as an education outreach hub to support other farms, community organizations, school groups, and restaurateurs interested in learning about sustainable agriculture. Through their Millstone Farm Charitable Fund, they help support philanthropic initiatives, such as school and community gardens and healthy food initiatives.
An ardent environmentalist, he was a dedicated member of the Middlebrook Recycling Club while a student there. Now a junior at Wilton High School, he is a member of Grease Monkeys, a WHS group committed to exploring alternative energy. He also serves on the student governing board and the board of Trackside Teen Center, and as a madrachim at Temple B’nai Chaim.
She is the founder of SPED*NET Wilton, which has instituted and advocated for many programs for children with special needs, and their families.
The owner of Witchy Poo, and a survivor of domestic abuse, she knows hardship first hand. To give back to the community that helped her in a time of need, she founded Families to Families, a non-profit organization to assist other local families in crisis. She uses her store as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for this and other charities, and has become an outspoken advocate for women in abusive relationships.
In his role as chairman of the Wilton Commons, he has been instrumental in bringing the concept of affordable housing for older residents to reality. Construction of the Commons started this fall.
Liz & Dan Riley
As co-chairs of Ambler Farm’s annual Greens Sale for six years running, this husband and wife team has been instrumental in making this event one of Wilton’s most beloved holiday activities, and one of the farm’s most successful fundraisers.
As a Connecticut state representative for Wilton, she has been involved in many committees and legislation benefiting the town, including the renovation of the train station, the Norwalk River Valley Trail, and the Wilton Energy Commission. She has also served on the Wilton Board of Finance.
As the former President of the Wilton League of Women Voters, she was instrumental in changing the school start times, and chaired the study committee that led to the appointment of the Wilton Charter Commission. She has also served as a board member for many Wilton organizations including the Wilton Playshop, the Board of Selectman, the Board of Education and the Wilton Library.
Lei Lei Coyle & Kimberly Johnson
In addition to their involvement in organizations such as Ambler Farm, Play for PINK, and the Y, these two moms co-chair the popular Ladies Soiree for the Wilton Library. They were named Volunteers of the Year for 2011 by the library.
As a staff member of Wilton Social Services and the coordinator for Wilton Youth Services, she has reached out to children and their families through leadership roles in youth-oriented organizations including the Wilton Youth Council, PeerConnection, and Peervention, and as a counselor. She is a founding member of both the Wilton Task Force to Reduce Underage Drinking and Substance Abuse and Trackside Teen Center.
David & Marylynn Clune
This couple helped establish the Wilton chapter of A Better Chance, Marylynn has served as president of the organization, and together they have hosted two ABC scholars. During his tenure as Wilton School Superintendent from 1982 to 2004, David spearheaded many initiatives that helped make Wilton’s excellent public schools even better, including instituting later school start times to counter the adverse effects of adolescent sleep deprivation, a performance incentive plan for administrators, and school community planning teams.
In his complementary roles as the Cider Mill Science Resource Teacher and the property manager for Ambler Farm, he has spearheaded many educational programs, such as student internships and the maple sugaring project, that support Ambler Farm’s mission to provide the community with a place to connect with the land and Wilton’s agrarian past.
Becky Bunnell, Jana Bertkau & Debbie Hunsberger
These three women sit on the board of Wilton Go Green, Inc., a non-profit organization formed as an off-shoot of the Wilton Energy Commission to promote sustainable initiatives and living, and have shared co-chair duties for the successful Wilton Go Green Festivals of 2010 and 2011.
As director of social services, she has educated residents about programs available to them, particularly important in this difficult economy. She has expanded the department’s website, made presentations to community organizations, and increased the capacity and volunteer staff of the Wilton Food Pantry.
As president of the Wilton Playshop, she has brought new energy, expertise, and excitement to this institution, which has the distinction of being one of the longest running community theaters in the Northeast.