MOUNT VERNON — Over the past seven years, three members of the Neighbors Driving Neighbors Board of Directors have led the way: Dan Onion, Sandy Wright and Shelly Fitzgerald. All three helped launch Neighbors Driving Neighbors in 2015 and have been active leaders on the board ever since.

All three, while staying on the board, are stepping down as officers to make way for new leadership. In the words of founding President Dan Onion, “After seven years of starting up, we senior board members are ourselves aging in place, and as much as we’d like to live forever and lead the organizaation, we must gradually turn the leadership over to a new generation,” according to a news release from the organization.

That new generation of officers includes Harald Bredesen of Mount Vernon as president, Peter Roderick of Rome as vice president, and Kelli Burnham of Fayette as secretary. Bill Rosenberg of Mount Vernon will continue as the treasurer. Ken Elliot of Mount Vernon was voted in as a new board member at the organization’s annual meeting in January.

The new officers express their appreciation to the founding leadership for growing NDN into a valued, volunteer-driven community organization — even maintaining services through the pandemic. As new NDN president Bredesen said, “We are glad Dan, Shelly and Sandy will continue as members of the board for now to advise the new leadership and staff as we continue to navigate a COVID environment while providing a safe and often critical service.”

An additional change to the organization is welcoming Misty Beck of Fayette and Joe Austin of Farmington as co-executive directors. Beck has been NDN’s ride coordinator since January 2021.

Austin, a native of Franklin County, has spent the bulk of his career working in student affairs at the University of Southern Maine and most recently at University of Maine at Farmington. He remains active in the career development field and is serving as president of the Maine Career Development Association. He holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Maine.

Beck earned her doctorate in English from Washington University in St. Louis in 2001 before moving to Maine in 2006. She teaches courses in writing and environmental humanities at UMF. As a Fayette resident, she has served as president of the Basin-David-Tilton Ponds Association and vice president of the Friends of Starling Hall, and is a volunteer member of the Vienna Union Hall Association.

Neighbors Driving Neighbors provides free rides to those in need of transportation in Belgrade, Fayette, Mount Vernon, Rome and Vienna. During the high incidence of COVID, rides are currently provided to medical appointments only. Pre-paid grocery and pharmacy orders can be picked up and delivered as well.

Contact the organization to sign up for assistance, or for more information, call 207-860-0677 or email

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