Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees helps shape RiverWoods Exeter into the type of independent living retirement community our residents and their families can be proud of. Our board members, many of whom you may know, serve as an experienced, voluntary group made up of lawyers, doctors, local politicians, business owners, and current residents.

Bruce Mast

  • Elected 2013
  • Board Chair
  • Executive Committee

Bruce Mast is the President of BMA, a firm he founded in 1997 well known for helping individuals and organizations who are stuck and/or at a juncture point find a productive way forward. This is accomplished through a variety of Organizational and Leadership Development initiatives such as Executive Coaching, Strategic Narrative facilitation, and BMA’s proprietary Leadership On The Line™ and Leadership In The Middle™ programs.

Bruce holds a master’s degree in Peace Studies (Applied Ethics) from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, a BA in Social Science, summa cum laude, from Bethel College, and has completed advanced academic studies in counseling.

In addition to his responsibilities at BMA, Bruce taught Organizational Management and Leadership in MS and MBA programs and is currently an Adjunct Faculty member of the finance department of UNH’s Paul College of Business and Economics. He serves as the Chair of the RiverWoods Exeter Board of Trustees and on the Governance Committees for Strawbery Banke Museum and the NH Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. He was recognized with the Greater Seacoast United Way Douglas H. Eldridge Award in 2004 for “outstanding dedication, commitment and caring in service as an agency board member” and with The President’s Call to Service Award in 2013 for a “commitment to strengthening our Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.”

Cathy Trower

  • Elected 2015
  • Board Vice-Chair
  • Executive Committee
  • Governance Committee Chair

Dr. Cathy A. Trower is President of Trower & Trower, Inc., a board governance consulting firm, through which she has provided consulting and coaching services to more than 125 nonprofits. Cathy is the author of The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High Performing Nonprofit Boards (Jossey Bass 2013) and the second edition of Govern More, Manage Less (BoardSource 2010). She is co-author with R. Barbara Gitenstein of What Board Members Need to Know about Faculty (Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities, 2013), and she has written several articles for the AGB’s Trusteeship magazine—most recently “Flipping the Boardroom for Trustee Engagement: Why and How” (March/April 2015).

Formerly Research Director at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Trower studied academic leadership, shared governance, faculty work life, employment issues, policies, and practices including the experiences of faculty through a generational lens, women in STEM disciplines, and underrepresented minorities for sixteen years. Prior to Harvard, Cathy served as a senior-level administrator of business degree programs at Johns Hopkins University; she has also been a faculty member and department chair at a liberal arts college.

Trower has published an edited volume on faculty policies, dozens of book chapters, articles, and case studies. Cathy’s latest book about faculty work life and policies is called Success on the Tenure-Track: Five Keys to Faculty Satisfaction (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). Cathy serves on two additional nonprofit boards: Wheaton College, MA in 2012, and BoardSource, Washington, DC. She has a BBA (1981) and an MBA (1985) from the University of Iowa and a PhD (1996) in higher education administration and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Dianne Mercier

  • Elected 2013
  • Board Treasurer
  • Executive Committee
  • Finance Committee Chair
  • TRWG Board Member

Dianne Mercier has served as People’s United Bank President for New Hampshire since 2009. Dianne’s banking career began in New Hampshire in 1985, holding various positions in both regional and commercial banking. Ms. Mercier holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. Dianne’s civic and charitable activities include Board Member on The New England Council, Former Board Chair & present Board Member of Elliot Health System, Board Chair of Rivier University, Former Board Chair, and Board Member of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chair of the NH Center for Public Policy Studies.

Tammy Michaud

  • Elected 2014
  • Board Clerk
  • Executive Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • TRWG Audit Committee Chair

Tammy is a CPA and principal at BerryDunn, a large regional public accounting firm, and is the leader of BerryDunn’s Not-for-Profit Practice Group. Tammy joined BerryDunn 27 years ago in the Bangor, Maine office and relocated to the Manchester, New Hampshire office approximately nine years ago. Nearly all her professional time is spent serving not-for-profit and health care organizations throughout New England. In addition to providing audit, accounting and consulting services to her clients, Tammy coordinates BerryDunn’s not-for-profit client educational sessions, webinars, client newsletters, and website content.

Tammy has spoken at many local, regional and national seminars on not-for-profit accounting, fraud, and board governance topics, and has served on many not-for-profit boards in various leadership roles. She is currently serving on the Not-for-Profit Council of the American Health Care Association, the board, and finance committee for Lift360.

David P. Brownell

  • Elected 2017
  • Governance Committee

Dave retired in 2003 from Tyco International (US), Inc. as Senior Vice President – Corporate Marketing and Community Affairs. His responsibilities included corporate marketing strategy and maintaining community relationships in the New Hampshire, New York City and Boca Raton, FL communities. Dave had been with Tyco since 1984 and held numerous management positions in their divisions, as well as headquarters. Prior to Tyco, he had been with the General Electric Co. for 19 years. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Unitil Corporation (NYSE-UTL), Hampton, NH, serving on their compensation committee and chairing the nominating/governance committee.

Dave received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY in 1965. Dave regularly volunteers his time to various non-profit organizations in New Hampshire. Currently, he is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Stratham Community Church, is a member of the UNH Foundation Emeriti Board where he is co-chairing the Emeriti Council – Student International Service Initiative.

Previously, Dan has been:

  • Interim President of the UNH Foundation
  • Vice Chair, UNH Foundation Board of Directors
  • Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Exeter Health Resources
  • President, United Way of the Greater Seacoast (UWGS)
  • Chair, UWGS Endowment Committee
  • Chair, UWGS Stewardship Committee
  • Moderator, Stratham Community Church
  • Chairman,1997/98 “Character Under Construction” Capital Fund Campaign, Daniel Webster Council-BSA

Dave also served on the board of the Daniel Webster Council nominating committee and the boards of NH BIA and NH Junior Achievement.

Denise Burke

  • Elected 2017
  • Finance Committee
  • Investment Committee

As Chief Operating Officer, Denise is responsible for all operational oversight of Bigelow LLC. Denise understands a business from start-up through the complexities of managing and growing multiple companies. In addition to her financial knowledge base, she brings expertise in business planning strategy and oversight.

Prior to joining Bigelow, Denise spent over fifteen years at the Liberty Lane suite of companies which included Liberty Lane Partners, Perspecta Trust, Liberty Lane Service Company, and their related entities. She held numerous professional roles in these companies including Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer, Compliance Officer, and Controller.

Denise began her career at KPMG in Boston after graduating from the College of the Holy Cross, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Accounting. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Society of CPAs and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs.

Dan Chartrand

  • Elected 2018
  • Governance Committee

After serving a 10-year apprenticeship in bookselling and publishing in both St. Paul, MN and Boston and Cambridge, MA, Dan Chartrand came up to Exeter, NH in the spring of 1991 to open Water Street Bookstore, Inc. The mission of Water Street Bookstore remains “to build a vibrant and diverse community around the written word.” Together with his bookselling staff, Dan accomplishes this mission by expertly weaving together the bookstore’s patrons with the work of authors that are renowned locally, nationally and internationally.

Dan has passionately and joyously served the beautiful town of Exeter as a volunteer on non-profits and in town government. Board memberships include service with the Squamscott Community Commons and the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter. Dan just finished a six-year stint as an elected town official on Exeter’s Select Board in March of 2018.

Susan Desjardins

  • Elected 2018
  • Governance Committee
  • Investment Committee

Major General (Ret.) Susan Y. Desjardins served in the United States Air Force for more than three decades. She held leadership positions at every level during a highly-decorated career that included tours of duty at Major Command Headquarters, Headquarters Air Force, the Joint Staff, and US Strategic Command Headquarters. A command pilot, she accumulated more than 3,800 flying hours in transport and tanker aircraft. She also served as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Major Desjardins retired from the Air Force in 2012 as the Director of Plans and Policy, United States Strategic Command, where she was responsible for the development of the nation’s strategic war plan and for contingency planning for global strike missions. Since retiring, she has been a consultant for Project Air Force with the RAND Corporation and is a Governing Trustee and Nominating Committee member of the Falcon Foundation, which supports military prep school scholarships for young men and women desiring to attend the Air Force Academy.

Susan served her community as past President of the Board of Governors of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, NH, and is currently serving as the National Defense Committee Chair of the Exeter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of Exeter Health Resources whose affiliates include Exeter Hospital, Core Physicians, and Rockingham County VNA and Hospice. She is also a Director of the Board of Service Credit Union.

Sarah Donnelly

  • Elected 2017
  • Resident Trustee
  • Governance Committee

Sarah majored in history at Wellesley College and obtained a master’s in mathematics from Bowling Green State University (Ohio). She was a teacher first of chemistry and physics, then of mathematics at both the high school and college level for 20 years. Following her teaching career, for the next 20 years, she served as the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Maryland schools.

As a volunteer, Mrs. Donnelly was instrumental in founding an Adult Day Care Center and served on the Board of Ginger Cove in Annapolis, MD, for 6 years. She also served as Clerk of Session of Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Maryland and was Moderator of the Baltimore Presbytery. She served on The Country School Board and the Laurel School Board for six years, each.

At RiverWoods Mrs. Donnelly has served as chair of the Employee Appreciation Fund and two goal groups, and as a member of the Resident Council for three years. In the Exeter community, Susan volunteers for End 68 Hours of Hunger.

Sarah and her husband Jim have been residents of RiverWoods since 2013.

Michael Hickey

  • Elected 2019
  • Investment Committee

Mike grew up in Goffstown, NH and graduated from UNH in 1973. From 1986-2010, Mike held a range of assignments with New England Telephone, NYNEX, Bell Atlantic and Verizon in New Hampshire, New York and Washington, DC. From 1997-2004 he served as President, Verizon-New Hampshire; during which time he chaired the Governor’s Task Force on the Operating Efficiency of State Government; the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce BOD; and the Greater Manchester United Way BOD and Campaign. From 2004-2010, Mike served as Vice President-Verizon, National Security Policy in Washington, DC; during which time he chaired the US Chamber of Commerce Homeland Security Task Force and the US Communications Sector Coordinating Council.

Prior to his career at Verizon (1973-1986) Mike was a land use planner/economic development director in New Hampshire’s North Country, executive director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and director of the State of NH Division of Economic Development. Following his career with Verizon (2014-2016) Mike served as interim dean, UNH-Manchester, where he led the creation of the college’s new campus and implemented a blueprint to reinvigorate the college

During his career, Mike was recognized for his civic contributions, including NH Business Magazine’s “Business Leader of the Year” Award, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” Award, and New Hampshire Business Review Magazine’s “Lifetime Achievement” Award.

Mike and his wife Marilyn are active UNH alumni. Mike served on the UNH Alumni Association Board of Directors for 10 years, including two as president. He serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and the UNH Athletics Advisory Council.  Mike is a founding board member of Primary Bank and president of the Moody Point Waterfront Condominium Association where he and his wife Marilyn reside.

Deb Riddell

  • RiverWoods Exeter Executive Director

Deb Riddell is the Executive Director of RiverWoods Exeter’s three-campus Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Prior to joining RiverWoods Exeter, Deb held various senior executive leadership roles in the CCRC industry, including Silverstone Living in Nashua and Piper Shores in Scarborough, Maine.

Deb received her master’s degree in Health Administration from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and earned her BA from the University of Iowa.

Eric Robb

  • Elected 2016
  • Investment Committee Chair

Eric is a principal of Marble Harbor Investment Counsel, LLC, a registered investment advisor based in Boston, Massachusetts. He is an investment counselor who has been working with families for nearly three decades. Before joining Marble Harbor, Eric was a Vice President at Welch & Forbes in Boston. There he acted as trustee and portfolio manager to multiple generations of a number of families. Prior to Welch and Forbes, Eric managed portfolios at David Wendell Associates in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he was a principal and Director of the firm. Before establishing a career as a portfolio manager and fiduciary trustee, Eric was an equity analyst with the US division of Sun Life of Canada in Wellesley, Massachusetts. There he worked directly with a senior portfolio manager evaluating and recommending investments in various industries. Prior to working at Sun Life of Canada, Eric spent several years with Coopers & Lybrand in Boston, where he was a consultant in the firm’s Financial Advisory Services Group.

Early in his career, Eric spent five years with Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge in Boston. Eric graduated from Occidental College with an AB in Economics and from the F. W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College with an MBA. He has completed coursework on “Building Trust Expertise” with the American Bankers Association and is an active trustee for several families and individuals.

Eric is a member of the Boston Security Analyst Society and the CFA Institute. He is also a board member of the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association in Concord, Massachusetts, and he is a member of the Hamilton Trust, the oldest investment club in the country, established in 1882.

Nate Tennant

  • Elected 2016
  • Finance Committee

With more than 18 years of international experience in creating and building marketing programs at technology companies, Nate was well equipped to take on the rapid changes that Google and other search-engine-based “inbound marketing” efforts have brought to bear on marketing departments the world over. A hands-on entrepreneur, he spends much of his time poring over proprietary search analytics for Kirk clients and works constantly to develop sophisticated solutions and algorithms to keep pace with dynamic underpinnings of Google and other search engines.

Nate is a graduate of the Executive MBA program at the Whittemore School of Business at the University of New Hampshire. He earned his BA degree at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Justine Vogel

  • President & CEO, The RiverWoods Group

Justine began work at RiverWoods as part of the pre-opening team in June 1994. Her tenure at RiverWoods began as the Director of Accounting, with growth into the role of CFO in 1997, COO in 2005 and President/CEO in 2007. Ms. Vogel’s prior experience includes several years in auditing and financial analysis with Arthur Andersen & Co., Ernst & Young, and Chubb Life Insurance Company.

Ms. Vogel is a certified public accountant in the state of New Jersey and formerly served as Trustee and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Leading Age of Maine and New Hampshire. Ms. Vogel has lectured at the University of New Hampshire and is a frequent speaker at local, regional and national industry conferences on topics including strategic management, growth planning, culture development, and financial oversight. Justine is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Business with a BS in Accounting.

Howie Ulfelder

  • Elected 2015
  • Resident Trustee
  • Finance Committee
  • Investment Committee

Howie and his wife Susie moved to the Boulders in 2011. He has been a member of the Charitable Funds Committee, the Resident Finance Committee, and the Innovation Committee. After twelve years in corporate finance including two stints as a CFO, he spent twenty-four years as owner-operator of a series of retail businesses. He then spent fifteen years working with several non-profits. Howie has a BA from Harvard, an MBA from the University of Virginia, and a Master’s in Business Economics from Claremont Graduate School.