On September 30, 2022, Van Chesnut, Executive Director of Advance Transit (AT), will step down from his position after 35 years of leadership. He will remain on staff temporarily as AT transitions to new management. Chesnut will retire from the organization on November 15, 2022.
Chesnut’s work has been integral to AT’s success. From humble beginnings in the early 1980s, the organization has grown to become part of the fabric of Upper Valley life, having now provided over thirteen million passenger trips and offering fare-free transit to the communities of Hartford and Norwich in Vermont, and Lebanon, Hanover, Enfield, and Canaan in New Hampshire.
Matt Osborn, President of the AT Board of Directors, states:
“In my nearly twenty-five years serving on the AT Board, it has been a real pleasure working with Van. Van has demonstrated an amazing level of dedication and perseverance, constantly striving for ways to improve the organization. In his thirty-five years, AT has grown and evolved into a highly regarded rural transit provider under his leadership.”
Chesnut assumed the role of Executive Director in 1987, bringing with him years of experience in the transit industry. During his tenure, Chesnut’s forward-thinking strategy, strong planning, and effective relationship-building were crucial to AT’s growth. Through collaboration, outreach, and regular assessment, he established service routes and implemented transit plans that would more effectively serve the needs of the community.
Chesnut was successful in developing collaborative relationships with government agencies, municipalities, and local organizations. He forged partnerships with large regional employers, including Dartmouth Health and Dartmouth College, demonstrating how transit services can help alleviate traffic congestion and parking demand. Chesnut worked closely with both the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, leading to a cooperative agreement between both states.
Shelley Winters, Director of Aeronautics, Rail & Transit with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, reflects on her work with Chesnut:
“I have had the pleasure of working with Van for 22 years and, in that time, he has been a tireless advocate for public transit, not only in the Upper Valley, but regionally and nationally. Van’s exemplary management of Advance Transit and years of serving as the chair of the New Hampshire Transit Association have provided leadership and mentorship to others in the New Hampshire public transit industry; Van is leaving behind a thriving transit system and legacy, both of which he should be proud of.”
Michele Boomhower, VTrans Division Director, shares:
“Van Chesnut has been a wonderful partner to the Agency for 35 years. His leadership, guidance, and service approach have served as critical models in an era of transitions for public transportation.”
Over the years, as the need for AT’s services grew, so did the organization’s operations. Chesnut assembled a dependable team of drivers, maintenance crew, and office staff committed to AT’s mission of providing safe, effective, and friendly public transportation services. In 2011, after a successful capital campaign, AT expanded its operations center at its current location at the Billings Commerce Park in Wilder, Vermont, doubling in size and achieving LEED certification. Today, AT’s site includes administrative offices and a topnotch maintenance facility to take care of AT’s clean modern fleet, which will soon include zero-emission electric buses.
In 2002, AT became fare-free for all riders, thanks to partnerships with Dartmouth Health, Dartmouth College, and the state of Vermont. This has helped AT’s work toward: increasing access to jobs and housing; connecting people to healthcare, shopping, schools, and other community resources; expanding mobility for people with disabilities; helping senior citizens participate fully in their communities; reducing traffic congestion; and managing parking demand.
Chesnut also implemented a successful philanthropy program, which has raised over $1.7M since it began. This program is vital to AT’s capability to provide fare-free service. Through Chesnut’s efforts, AT has been lauded by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, which stated the following in a report titled Implementation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems: “Among rural transit programs in the nation, Advance Transit has developed one of the most innovative and diversified funding packages to support its operations.”
On October 1, Adams Carroll will assume the role of Executive Director. Carroll joins AT with years of experience in transit planning and community building. He and Chesnut have been working together since June to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
Carroll shares his appreciation of Chesnut:
“I am thankful to Van for his mentorship as I move into this new role. Van has built an organization that is respected across Vermont, New Hampshire, and throughout the public transportation industry as a model for innovative rural transportation service delivery. I look forward to announcing our plans to honor and celebrate Van as he transitions into his well-deserved retirement.”
Carroll’s appreciation is echoed by many who have worked with Chesnut. Ross MacDonald, VTrans Public Transit Program Manager, concurs:
“The Public Transit Program staff would like to personally thank Van Chesnut for his partnership – he will be missed! His pragmatic and thoughtful leadership has led to several national awards, and we would also like to recognize the positive influence that he has had on all of us who have been fortunate enough to work with him.”
For more information, contact Trish Palao, Director of Marketing and Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 295-1824.