VPRC Welcomes New Executive Director, Larry Crist

Trine Bech, Vermont Parent Representation Center’s Founding Executive Director has announced she will be stepping down as Executive Director on April 15, 2016. The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Lawrence Crist, long time leader in Vermont services, will succeed Trine as Executive Director at that time. The Board is also grateful that Trine will remain involved as Staff Attorney for an interim period, working on direct services to clients, primarily in the Rapid Intervention PreNatal and Parenting (RIPP) program.

VPRC was founded in 2008 to change the model of legal and support services for families where there is a risk of children entering foster care, with the ultimate goal “to ensure through advocacy and support that children who can live safely with their parents are afforded a real opportunity to do so.” Almost all of VPRC’s clients struggle with a lack of resources rooted in poverty as well as mental health issues, domestic violence, addiction and inadequate housing.

Trine Bech commented, “I’m gratified that along with our Board members and staffers of our multidisciplinary legal advocacy and social service model, I was able to bring people together to get VPRC off the ground. I really can say that the organization we’ve all built is absolutely vital to the families we serve, and the policies and laws we have impacted have mattered in the lives of many others.”

Board Member Steve Habif said, “VPRC’s work has been groundbreaking and Trine is a leading light in the national parent representation and family defense movement.”

Board of Directors Chair Sara Kobylenski said, “VPRC’s Board congratulates both Trine and Larry. Trine’s and VPRC’s accomplishments include a very high percentage of families encountered succeeding in safely parenting their children, saving the state many hundreds of thousands of dollars in out of home placement costs.

More importantly, children are thriving in situations initially considered by the State to be risky. This work was done by establishing trusting relationships with parents, and assisting them with how to make changes necessary for success. Much of this work is in the human services domain, but the outcomes are communicated most effectively through the voice of an attorney.

The first change in the Minor Guardianship statute in over forty years was accomplished through a Legislative Study Committee, the creation of which was strongly promoted by Trine. She went on to serve as a member of the Committee, and was proud to have taken part in the education of legislators about both constitutional rights of families and ways to respect those rights while keeping children safe. Trine has been committed to ‘pulling back the curtain’ on the ways in which social class and economic status impact access to justice and services for Vermont’s families, and in demonstrating ways to change that situation.”

Sara went on to say, “Larry is the right person to succeed Trine as VPRC’s next Executive Director. It is important as VPRC expands its efforts and reach that we have energetic and experienced leadership, and we are so fortunate that Larry is now ready to turn his considerable talents to leading this organization.”

Larry has a BA from Nicholls University in Louisiana, and also holds a law degree from Tulane University and a MSW from Boston University. His vast professional experience includes top leadership positions in adult and juvenile corrections and mental health, Foster Care/Day Care/Adoption licensing and regulation, Aging and Disabilities services, Public Health; and Emergency Preparedness and Response services.

Larry has served as a State of Vermont executive (Director, Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner), worked closely with the Legislature and state agencies, successfully facilitated fund raising at all levels and worked in both large and small organizational settings. Larry’s focus has always been systemic change as a means of better serving the public.

Larry Crist said, “I am excited to lead VPRC’s next era. I anticipate a smooth transition and look forward to continuing and deepening VPRC’s relationships with all of our partners in communities, foundations, government and social services in Vermont and around the country.”