The Transformative Power of Engaging Volunteers with Lived Experience – 2022 Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism

Session Description:

This session will be a joint presentation between Amber Johnston, Director of Volunteer Services at the Upper Valley Haven, and Prudence “Pru” Pease, trainer for Bridges out Of Poverty and Director of Work United at Granite United Way. They will discuss the role volunteering played in breaking Pru’s cycle of poverty and the steps the Upper Valley Haven has taken to diversify their volunteer base.

The session will focus on recruitment methods, language usage, and addressing barriers that face people who want to volunteer. We will also talk about the importance of including volunteer input and feedback when conducting program evaluations and making changes.

Session Goals:

By the end of this session, participants will have learned:

  • Practical techniques for diversifying your volunteer base and networks;
  • Concrete benefits of including individuals with lived experience in your volunteer programs;
  • Methods for incorporating inclusive language in your volunteer recruitment.


  • Slides
  • Mentioned in the session: Basecamp discussion/resource-sharing platform for local volunteer managers


Amber Johnston joined the Upper Valley Haven in June 2014. A native Vermonter, Amber received her BS from Union College and graduated from the MALS program at Dartmouth College. Amber returned to the Upper Valley after spending five years working with refugees and displaced populations in East Africa and the Middle East. She has a background in mental health and social service program development and has overseen and developed programs in the United States, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Egypt.

Pru Pease has created a career dedicated to advancing the lives of others in her community and across the country. In her role as Director of Work United at Granite United Way, she and her team bring stability to the lives of workers and their families in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. She is a highly sought-after speaker nationwide on the topic of economic instability. She lives in Tunbridge, Vermont.