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 Hudson

Executive Director


A Midwesterner by birth and a “summer person” since 2005, René Colson Hudson 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

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.

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.

Hallie Lartius

Hallie Lartius

Island Fellow

Healthy Island Project welcomed our new Island Fellow, Hallie Lartius in September 2021. Hallie, an Iowa native, is a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Global Health from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She will be living in Stonington and working with HIP for the next two years, focussing on a new project for older islanders, the Island Digital Inclusion Initiative. We’re grateful to the Island Institute for this opportunity and are excited to welcome Hallie and introduce her to our wonderful island community.

Jenn Spofford

Jenn Spofford

In May 2022, Jenn Spofford, an MSW student intern joined the HIP team focusing on community food/nutritional security initiatives and mindfulness. Originally from Massachusetts, Jenn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Holistic Health & Hospitality from the University of Massachusetts and is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Work from the University of Maine. Trained in yoga and herbalism, she also has extensive experience in food service and local food systems. Jenn lives in Stonington with her husband and daughter and enjoys nature walks, reading, and all types of fiber crafts. 

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.