VEDA’s Leadership Team

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


Cassie Polhemus

Cassie Polhemus 7- 2022 (2) 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

Peter Samson 7-2022 (1) 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

Thaddeus Richardson

Thad Richardson 7-2022 (1) Thad Richardson was named VEDA's Chief Financial Officer in February 2020. A lifelong Vermonter, Thad has twenty years of experience in financial services, including fifteen at Community National Bank where he served first as VP of Commercial Lending, then as VP of Municipal Services & Asset Liability Management. His responsibilities included the Bank’s government banking operation as well as financial oversight of its investment portfolio, interest rate risk function, and overall balance sheet management. Richardson is an active member of the Vermont Economic Progress Council, a Trustee at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital and past Board Chair of Northern Counties Health Care. He earned a B.A. in Accounting from Castleton University and an M.B.A with Finance concentration from Clarkson University. Thad lives in Lyndon with his wife and two daughters and may be reached at (802) 828-5470 or

Renée Grzankowski

Renee Grzankowski 7-2022 (1)

Renée Grzankowski was named VEDA's Chief Operations Officer in 2019 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 with over twenty years in financial services, including a near decade at Wachovia. Renée earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Bates College and made Calais, where her extended family has resided for eight generations, her full-time home in 2008. She and her husband have three children and are active members of their community, serving on local, non-profit boards and coaching youth sports. Renée may be reached at (802) 828-0754, or

Cheryl Houchens

Cheryl Houchens 7-2022 (1) Cheryl Houchens is VEDA’s Chief Risk and Resources Officer and has extensive experience in community and regional banking. Cheryl joined VEDA in 2017 after over 25 years in commercial lending, credit administration, and compliance risk management. 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 loves being active outdoors and appreciates the natural beauty of Vermont. She 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) 595-3015 or

Sarah Isham

Sarah Isham 7-2022 (1) 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