MIDDLEBURY - The Orton Family Foundation named Gabrielle Smith senior associate for strategic partnerships, Executive Director David Leckey has announced.

Smith has joined Orton in this new position created to maintain and expand key regional and national partnerships with private, nonprofit and public sector organizations as the foundation brings its Community Heart & Soul method of planning to towns and small cities across the country.

"As a founding member of the Community Heart & Soul project in Essex, Gabrielle demonstrated her enthusiasm for and belief in the Community Heart & Soul work Orton does in small cities and towns," Leckey said. "We are delighted that she has joined the team as the foundation looks to broaden its reach and fulfill its mission to empower residents to shape the future of their communities."

Smith joins the foundation after having served as a prevention and wellness consultant to local school districts in Essex and throughout Vermont. In that capacity, she helped to initiate a farm-to-school program that provides fresh, locally-grown food to 2,800 students in Essex Junction and Westford, Vt. In addition, she was appointed by the governor to serve on the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board representing the K-12 educational community. The Orton Family Foundation seeks to empower people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of communities.