Meet Our Writers



Catherine Whitehead

Kate grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, graduating from St. Johnsbury Academy, eventually making her way west to Utah and then on to Montana where she lived for close to a decade. Kate is drawn to the mountains for both their strength and beauty and constant steady presence. It is for these reasons and more that hiking is among one of her favorite activities. While living in Montana, Kate graduated with a degree in Community Health from Montana State University and went on to a career in health and wellness. She began working in the public health sector when she returned to Vermont in 2005. It is during these years in the public health field that she developed a strong passion for community organizing and development particulary as they related to healthy community planning and design. Writing has also always been a creative outlet for Kate ever since she was a child. “Writing is the painting of the Voice” – Voltaire. Kate lives in North Danville with her family and newly adopted rescue pup.

Amber Sprouse

Amber is from a small town in the central coast of California, where she grew up on 250 acres of farmland.  She is grateful to have been transplanted to the Northeast Kingdom in 2006 to raise her son and daughter in this beautiful place.  She homeschooled them for five amazing years and participated in many community activities.  She is always impressed with the local culture and people here, so to help her family back home accept her absence and appreciate Vermont winters, she would often relay their rich experiences.  Now she enjoys sharing these stories with everyone through the North Star Monthly.

Tim McKay

Tim McKay is a conservationist, tree farmer, furniture maker, and writer who has lived in Peacham since 1977. Tim retired in 2010 from a career with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field office in St Johnsbury. He has considerable experience working with landowners all over the Northeast Kingdom.  He has a particular interest in river dynamics and has been very involved in Connecticut River issues. Tim and his wife Betsy own 145 acres which Tim has managed for decades, growing Christmas trees and continually thinning to improve the woods. Since retiring, Tim has taken a long-time woodworking hobby and developed it into a custom furniture business. His niche is using wood grown, harvested, sawn, dried, and milled from his own land and turning it into fine hardwood tables, benches, beds, and anything else his customers need. Tim’s first book is titled “Letters to a War Bride” and chronicles his father’s experiences as a battalion surgeon in Europe during and after WWII, based on his father’s daily letters. Tim is an avid cross-country skier in winter and hiker in the summer.

Edmund J. Guest

Ed Guest was educated at Rutgers University and now lives in East Burke.  He retired after 32 years working for the U.S. Government, mostly with specialized agencies of the Defense Department. From his base near Washington, D.C., his work took him to Europe and Southeast Asia, and he and Karen now travel for pleasure by train, plane, RV, and cruise ship. Besides travel, Ed likes reading and writing, old movies, baseball, jazz and classical music, walking and snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and the occasional glass of red wine.

Lorna Field Quimby

Lorna Field Quimby, a native Vermonter, was town clerk and treasurer of Peacham and president of the Peacham Historical Association.  Her articles about Peacham history have appeared in Vermont History, published by the Vermont Historical Society.  Her memoirs about growing up during the Great Depression first appeared in the North Star Monthly in 1995. Lorna's Column, "Up on the Farm Early," has been one of the magazine's most recognizable features for years.

Isobel P. Swartz

Isobel P. Swartz was born, raised and educated in England but she thinks of herself as a world citizen! She came to the U.S. in 1965 and has lived in New York and Vermont -- Danville and St. Johnsbury. She taught high school science in the UK, Switzerland and the U.S. She was a childbirth educator for Caledonia Home Health Care for 30 years, a job she really loved. She has been married for 40 + years to a very patient man. She is the mother of three daughters, grandmother of four boys and two girls. Currently, she works at the Fairbanks Museum as a Radon Program Coordinator and as an archivist. Her interests are varied and eclectic: travel, education, history, politics, international affairs, health care, women's issues, environmental issues, gardening, biking, kayaking, the ocean, music, poetry, reading, and writing about all of these and anything else that stimulates her mind or gets her riled up! She also likes to cook, sew and quilt. In fact, most things interest her to some extent. Her columns are a reflection of her interests, concerns and personal history.

Rachel S. Siegel

Rachel S. Siegel, CFA, has been writing Follow the Money since 2001. Her columns and editorials have also been featured in The Ammonoosuc Times and The Forward. She has been a professor in the Business Administration Department at Lyndon State College since 1990, teaching finance, accounting, and, of course, economics. Siegel has a BA degree in English literature and an MBA, both from Yale University. She lives in Barnet, VT.

Mark Breen

Mark Breen is the Senior Meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, and for over 30 years he has been the morning voice of weather on several local radio stations, as well as Vermont Public Radio's an "Eye on the Sky.”   He is also the author of the award-winning children’s book, “The Kid’s Book of Weather Forecasting.”  Along with weather forecasting for radio and newspapers, his work at the Museum involves teaching weather and science, as well as serving as the Planetarium Director for the Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Planetarium, Vermont's only public planetarium.


Charlie Browne

Charlie Browne, Director emeritus of the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, is a naturalist, environmental educator, and non-profit leader.  He has been a popular lecturer on birds and bird behavior and served for several years as guest naturalist on WCAX-TV News.   Charlie is a past President of the New England Museum Association and currently serves on the boards of Vermont Public Radio, the Northwoods Stewardship Center, Peacham Community Housing, and Northeast Kingdom Audubon.  Charlie and his wife Wynne live on East Hill in Peacham where they garden, raise chickens, and maintain a large vegetable garden.

Marvin Minkler

Marvin Minkler is a native Vermonter, who returned to the Northeast Kingdom in 1994, and will never leave again. He works for a mental health agency. An avid book collector and reader, he owns Marvin Minkler Modern First Editions, an on-line book business. His hobbies are reading, listening to music, writing poetry, book reviews, and collecting stuff. He lives in St. Johnsbury with his wife, Mary, little girl Lizzy, three cats and Buddy the dog.

Denise Brown

Denise Brown's columns and articles on food and family life have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines in Connecticut and Vermont. She studied English Literature at the University of Deleware and now lives in Lyndon. She teaches writing and research at Lyndon State College, and is at work on a novel.

Justin Lavely

Justin Lavely graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon State College with a degree in journalism and writing. After a stint as the editor of The Courier in Littleton, N.H., he took over publishing the North Star Monthly from Terry & Kathy Hoffer in 2008. As a reporter and editor, Justin has written articles on news, politics, crime, human interest and travel.


Katie Moritz

Katie’s sense of place and love for storytelling started at an early age. Raised and homeschooled in Kirby, she used to tell her sheep and chickens stories of adventure, friendship, and struggle. She graduated from Danville High School in 2006 and went on to the University of Vermont. There she also participated in the Honors College, majored in English and Religion, and wrote a collection of travel narratives focusing on Otherness and illness for her Honors thesis. During her college career, Katie volunteered in Englewood, Chicago, a neighborhood struggling against some of the highest crime rates in the country. She also taught English and volunteered at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, studied Buddhism in India, help found the university’s chess team, and fell in love with James Joyce. She went on to get her master’s degree from Dartmouth. There she focused her intellectual and creative energies on furthering both her readership and craft of poetry and fiction. While writing her thesis, a collection of short stories based in Vermont, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of a graduate journal, and she also co-taught first year Dartmouth students in writing and rhetoric. She also serves on the board of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, writes for the North Star Monthly, teaches as part-time English faculty at Lyndon State College, and tutors at North Country Charter Academy in Littleton, NH. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry and short fiction and has also started fundraising for her latest project, a funky online and print publication showcasing creative writing, essays, photography, and visual art. She loves the outdoors and hopes to see more young people bring their talents, enthusiasm, and skill sets to the Northeast Kingdom.

George Africa

George writes the monthly column, “The Vermont Gardener.” His family moved him to Vermont in the early 50s and he has gardened here ever since. Three neighboring farm ladies, Eunice, Fidelia and Lilian, taught him vegetables first, flowers second and love for the land in between. Today he gardens in Marshfield where his wife Gail, and son Alex, get dirty hands at Vermont Flower Farm where hostas, astilbes, and daylilies grow in four4 acres of commercial and display gardens. Garden design, photography and social media keep George busy too.

Sharon Lakey

Sharon Lakey has always loved a story. Perhaps it all started by listening to Grandma Lula's stories (with all the gruesome details) on the plains of Colorado. After moving to Danville with her husband, Dwight, and three young children in the fall of 1979, she became interested in the stories that presented themselves in this beautiful place. In 1988, she and her husband reestablished The North Star with lots of help from community members who loved stories just as much as she did. In 1995 it was back to teaching English at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., where she read, edited and published pages upon pages of stories from middle and high school students. After retiring from teaching in 2007, she was pleased to note that Danville and the surrounding area was still lush with stories and authors willing to ferret them out to share with readers. She gladly rejoined the ranks of North Star contributors in 2008.

Donna M. Garfield

Donna Garfield has been writing stories since she was a child. A native Vermonter, she graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy, where she was news editor of the Academy newspaper, "The Student", her senior year. She always thought she would write fiction but finds she enjoys writing about people in the Northeast Kingdom. Donna has worked as a Legal Administrative Assistant for Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC for 25 years and currently writes and takes photographs for "Voice & Vision", the law firm's monthly internal newsletter. She is a regular contributor to "The North Star Monthly" and has written articles for "The Caledonian-Record". Donna has won three photography contests. She won first place in St. Johnsbury Works! for her picture of evening grosbeaks and second place in St. Johnsbury Works! for her picture of autumn foliage. Donna placed second in a contest sponsored by "Arthritis Today" magazine. Her photo showed her husband reading a copy of the magazine while sitting on the fire tower at Burke Mountain. Donna lives in Lyndon with her husband, Reed, and their cat, Emma. They have three grown children who live in the Northeast Kingdom with their families.