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March 2, 2021
Mary Lyon Foundation Names Kristen Tillona-Baker as New ED
Kristen Tillona-Baker
Kristen Tillona-Baker

January 30, 2021 — The Mary Lyon Foundation, a nonprofit based in Shelburne Falls that supports education in nearby towns, recently announced the appointment of Kristen Tillona-Baker as its executive director.

Tillona-Baker succeeds Sue Samoriski, who retired after serving as executive director of the Mary Lyon Foundation since she established the organization 30 years ago.

“Kristen’s vast experience in educational leadership, fundraising and program development will be strong assets to the foundation,” said Samoriski. “ Under her direction, the foundation’s future will be bright and prosperous.”

Tillona-Baker has 26 years of experience as an educator and has spent the last 14 years working as an administrator at independent schools, including The Knox School in Saint James, New York, and Berkshire Hills Music Academy. She also previously served as director of admissions at Topeka Collegiate School.

“It’s an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of running the Foundation, which has helped countless students, families and educators in West County and beyond,” said Tillona-Baker. “From the inception of an idea, Sue gathered generous donors and built an impressive foundation. I’m eager to carry that mission forward because the need is greater than ever before.”

Tillona-Baker plans to build on the educational programs in the region to help prepare prepare students for “readiness outside of school,” she told the Greenfield Reporter, as well as help students advocate for themselves.

“I think that’s something that’s going to be the focus once COVID lifts – to have more in-person events so we can run college readiness programs, really helping children and families prepare for the college application process,” she was quoted.

Tillona-Baker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

In preparation for the leadership transition, the foundation recently completed a five-year strategic plan in to support continued growth based on a vision “that all students be ready to learn, to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally and to thrive in the wider world.”

Board chair Laurie Benoit acknowledge Samoriski’s service, noting, “Sue’s vision, leadership, and commitment to supporting student and family needs and innovative teaching in the hilltown communities have been profound.”

The Mary Lyon Foundation serves families and schools in the communities of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne. It aims to identify educational needs in the community and develop, implement, and evaluate programs which address those needs.

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