VEDA’s Executive Management Team

Cassie Polhemus, Peter Samson, David Carter, Renée Grzankowski, Tom Porter, Sarah Isham and Cheryl Houchens are seasoned finance professionals who work together to guide VEDA’s growth as Vermont’s economic development and agricultural finance lender.


Cassie Polhemus

became Chief Executive Officer of the Vermont Economic Development Authority in April, 2019. She joined VEDA in 2013 as a Commercial Lender, was promoted to Director of Operations in 2014 and Chief Operating Officer in 2017. Cassie has over twenty years of experience in commercial lending and risk management with financial institutions. Prior to joining VEDA, she was Senior Vice President and Risk Manager for Northeast Member Business Services, a credit union service organization providing small business lending services to credit unions in New England and California. From 1987 to 1999, she held various commercial lending and credit management positions at banks in Connecticut and Vermont. Cassie earned a B.A. in Economics from Williams College. Cassie may be reached at 802-828-5458 or


Peter Samson

was named Chief Lending Officer of the Authority on July 1, 2019. A commercial banker for 28 years, Peter has provided financing solutions and banking services to businesses across New England, developing a strong working knowledge of regional economic development. Before joining VEDA, Peter held the position of Connecticut Region Executive for Berkshire Bank where his team focused on direct commercial lending and business development for small businesses, middle market clients, not-for-profit entities, and real estate developers. Samson previously worked at People’s United, Fleet and Webster Banks. He holds a B.S. from Central Connecticut State University and an M.B.A. from the Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford. Peter resides in Fayston where he has been a long-time weekend resident of the Mad River Valley. He and his wife enjoy all that the MRV has to offer as well as visiting their son in Burlington. Peter may be reached at 802-828-5459 or


David Carter

is a life-long Vermont resident, and has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Authority since November 1997. His previous professional experience includes 16 years of finance and accounting in three Vermont banks, including Vice President of Finance and Planning for Vermont Federal Bank and Manager of Financial Planning at Banknorth. David graduated with honors from Champlain College with a B.A. in Accounting and completed a three-year bank financial management program at the Bank Administration Institute at the University of Wisconsin. He was a licensed Certified Public Accountant from 1997 to 2003. Dave may be reached at 802-828-5470, or


Renée Grzankowski

is VEDA's Chief Operations Officer and joined as Director of Operations in July 2017. Formerly Vice-President of Operations for a Central Vermont insurance brokerage firm, Renée also held a variety of national and international corporate and investment banking positions. Having spent summers on Nelson Pond, where her extended family has resided for eight generations, Renée made Vermont her full-time home in 2008. She and her husband have three children and are active members of their community, serving on local boards and coaching youth sports. Renée may be reached at 802-828-0754, or


Tom Porter

is VEDA's Director of Commercial Lending, with over 25 years experience lending to growing businesses throughout Vermont. Prior to joining the Authority he worked as a Management Consultant for the accounting firm Arthur Young in New York City. Thomas earned a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University’s Stern Graduate School of Business, and a certificate in International Business Studies from Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Jouy-en-Josas, France.  Thomas may be reached at 802-828-5460, or

Sarah Isham

is VACC's Director of Agricultural Lending. Sarah had been VACC’s Senior Agricultural Loan Officer since 2000, having started her tenure with VACC as an Agricultural Loan Officer in 1994. Sarah previously had a 14-year career with USDA as an Assistant County Supervisor at Farmers Home Administration, where she originated farm and housing loans. Sarah graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Animal Science. A resident of Brookfield, she is actively involved in the Vermont horse industry and community organizations. Sarah may be reached at 802-828-5463, or  


Cheryl Houchens

is VEDA’s Chief Compliance and Loan Review Officer, and has over 25 years' experience in both community and regional banking. Cheryl holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina and is a Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager through the Institute of Certified Bankers. Cheryl lives in South Burlington with her husband, Paul, and their two children and is an active member of her community. Cheryl can be reached at 802-951-1939 or