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Darlene Cloutier: A Believer in Lifelong Learning


Posted on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 7:54 AM

Darlene is the Director of Finance and Human Resources and is also responsible for overseeing the IT department at VAL. Darlene loves the variety and many moving parts that these different positions entail, as well as the problem-solving abilities that are required. “I like seeing both sides of things,” she says. Darlene grew up in Canada and after high school, she attended the University of New Brunswick where she earned her degree in Business. She then moved up to Toronto and started working in accounting before going back to school to earn her Certified General Accounting (CGA) certification. After getting substantial professional experience at a variety of companies, Darlene decided to move to Bermuda where she worked for a few months and received her scuba diving certificate. Shortly afterward, she moved back to New Brunswick and met her husband, who was living in Maine at the time. She then immigrated to the United States in 2005. They spent time living in Maine and Alaska before settling down in Vermont ten years ago. 

A few years ago, Darlene decided she wanted to complete the MBA program at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. Darlene says one mentor of hers really inspired this choice, an interim CFO she worked with at two separate companies. Darlene says this CFO was impressive because she really knew how to relate to people. Every day she walked around the office and caught up with all her employees, asking them about their home life and families. One day, Darlene asked her, “How are you so good at speaking in public?” The CFO responded, “It didn’t always come easily to me. I got a lot of it through leadership training. You just do it, it takes practice.” These experiences, as well as the desire for broader career opportunities, inspired Darlene to start her MBA program. During this process, she also earned her Positive Organizational Development (POD) certificate, which taught her how to support employees in all realms. She says receiving her MBA was a wonderful experience, and is happy to bring her expertise to VAL. 

When Darlene is not working she loves to do, “anything outside.” She and her husband have two dogs whom they love to take on hikes. They also have motorcycles and an RV which they use to explore and travel around Vermont. She says, above all, her favorite place is on the water in a kayak. Darlene also plays the piano, knits, enjoys crafting and working on home renovations. Further, Darlene calls herself a “life-long learner.” Now that she has completed her MBA and no longer has homework, she spends time every day learning Spanish on the app Duolingo. She is a believer in education, no matter the age, which is a large part of why she loves her work at VAL. She believes adult education can “open up careers,” and is also “personally beneficial” for all students. Additionally, she loves working with other staff at VAL because of their “dedication to the cause.” Thanks for your hard work, Darlene! 

This post was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Development & Communications Intern.

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