About Us

Improving the health of our Island since 1991

HIP is a non-profit organization, started by Dr. Dan Rissi of the Island Medical Center to address community health needs and to work with individuals and organizations to develop strategies and programs to help people succeed in living healthy lives.

Healthy Island Project Staff and Board President

René Colson

Executive Director


A Midwesterner by birth and a “summer person” since 2005, René Colson relocated to Deer Isle from the Philadelphia area with her three daughters in 2016. Prior to her move to Maine, she led congregations in New Jersey and served as a nursing home chaplain and spiritual director. René brings with her a wealth of relational leadership experience and a commitment to inspiring healthy, happy, and whole communities. She received a B.A. from Wheaton College in Illinois, an M.Div. from Eastern Seminary in Philadelphia, and multiple certifications in contemplative practices and leadership. Of Healthy Island Project and Deer Isle – Stonington, she says, “there is no place on earth I’d rather live and work than on this beautiful island with such real, resilient, and responsive community members. Serving HIP is a great joy.”

Contact René:

(207) 367-6332


Our Team

Connie Bujtas

Connie Bujtas

Program Assistant

After visiting Stonington since 1990, Connie moved to the island full time in 2021 with a goal of becoming involved with the Island and to give back to the community that has been so welcoming to her from the first day she arrived. Recently joining HIP as our Program Assistant, she brings with her vast experience in patient navigation, caregiver support, and medical billing from managing an OBGYN office for 20 years in New Jersey.  Since living on the island, she has worked for Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital and in customer service at MD Joyce & Barter’s Lumber Co.  The diversity of work involved with HIP and energy required suits Connie’s “how can I help?” attitude perfectly.  Mom to adult children, when not working with HIP, Connie enjoys traveling and can be seen around Stonington with her great nephew Bruno, hiking with her dogs, or doing a good deed for neighbors and friends.

Kassie Grey

Kassie Grey

Bridging Neighbors Coordinator

Kassie grew up in California and Wilmington Delaware. She went to nursing school in Washington, DC and spent 40 years in the NICU caring for premature and critically ill infants. She and her husband Joe have 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. She and Joe moved to Stonington in 2021 and continues to volunteer with a medical team yearly in Peru. Joining HIP as program coordinator for our new Bridging Neighbors program continues her commitment to caring for others. You can also see Kassie on Wednesdays volunteering with HIP for FarmDrop.


Cheryl Wixson

Cheryl Wixson

Chef Educator

For over 20 years, Chef Cheryl Wixson has been teaching the joys and benefits of healthy eating and cooking using sustainably grown Maine products. In 1999 she founded Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen and works collaboratively with businesses, farms, fisheries, community organizations, educational institutions, and state and local agencies to provide a safe, secure, and nutritional Maine food supply. She also manages Rabbit Hill in Stonington, a certified organic farm, cider company, and commercial food processing kitchen. Cheryl is actively involved in HIP’s “edible island” food and school-based programs, serving as the teacher for all culinary classes.

Barrett Gray

Barrett Gray

Age-Friendly Programs Facilitator

Barrett grew up on the Island. He attended the University of Maine at Augusta before returning to Stonington to take over his family business, Boyce’s Motel. He has owned and operated the motel for over 20 years. Barrett became involved with Healthy Island Project in 2001. Since that time, Barrett has held a variety of roles, including Interim Director. In 2017 he took over the Salt Air Seniors program with nine participants. Four years later the program draws over 100. Barrett is the backbone of HIP’s “age-friendly island” programs, serving as the lead for all Salt Air Seniors meet ups, game nights, and exercise classes, as well as HIP Lunch Box deliveries.

Nancy Roudebush

Nancy Roudebush

HIP Farm Drop Manager

Farm Drop Family connections brought Nancy to Deer Isle first as a visitor in 1989, and then as a homesteader in 2017.  She connected with Healthy Island Project when she was looking for caregiving resources after her mother to the Island, and quickly jumped in to assist with FarmDrop and other HIP initiatives.  Born and raised in California, Nancy worked as a Business Analyst and Project Manager in the IT world, owned an essential oil company, and then gave it all up to live as a nomad with her husband and cat for 8 years. Traveling around the US and abroad, she jumped in to work some of the more glamorous RV-lifer jobs, such as the sugar beet harvest in Minnesota and North Dakota and 5 years of holiday seasons for Amazon in Kentucky, Nevada, and Texas. Nancy takes pride in the garlic farm of her husband’s dreams, her grown children, and her young grandsons. 


Board of Directors

Susan Toder, President

Retired Management Consultant

Former Board President, Edible Island

Stonington, Maine

Washington, D.C.

Macy Lasky, Treasurer


Volunteer Math Tutor

Little Deer Isle, Maine

Katy Helman


Retired Teacher, DISHS

Deer Isle, Maine

Annie Taylor Gray

Retired Teacher

Deer Isle, Maine

Roger Olsen, Vice President

Real Estate Agent

Former Chef

Stonington, Maine

Jacob McCarty, Secretary

Volunteer Coordinator, Island Heritage Trust

Owner, Burnt Cove Boil

Stonington, Maine

Vicki Reeser

Pastor, Deer Isle Sunset Congregational Church

Deer Isle, Maine

Carol Walsh

Owner, Binna Burra Airbnb

Stonington, Maine

Local Leader in Health Programming

Healthy Island Project works to improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of Deer Isle – Stonington residents, regardless of age. In 2019, we reached the following milestones:

Programs Offered

Program participants

active island

Where people of all ages tend to and enhance their physical health and well-being through safe and expert-led programming.

age-friendly island

Where older residents can thrive, receive social and physical support, and age with dignity, respect, and joy.

edible island

Where local food systems are strengthened and people are inspired to create, experience, and enjoy good food in their homes, schools, and restaurants.

engaged island

Where community is celebrated and people work together with open communication, collaboration, and volunteerism. 

mindful island

Where healthy minds are encouraged and people are attentive to and appreciate the surrounding world.