Alumnae Spotlight: Liz Mead ’81 Receives MVP Award for Empowering Skiers with Disabilities

Oak Knoll alumna Liz Mead ’81 was recently recognized as one of 26 recipients of the 2023 Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards for her work with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, an organization that empowers and promotes inclusivity through sports and recreational activities for people of all abilities regardless of their ability to pay. 

“I was so honored and surprised,” Mead said. “It’s been so fulfilling to make a difference and get people back outside and back on the snow. I love facilitating that. I am thrilled to help get them out there.”

In addition to the recognition itself, each volunteer was awarded $10K for their respective organizations at a special June 8, 2023, luncheon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Kraft Family, New England Patriots Foundation, and Gillette donated $275,000 to help 2023 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award recipients expand their reach.

Mead, a level 1 Professional Ski Instructor of America, was an admirer of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports before volunteering, having known someone who was personally served by the organization following an injury.

“I saw him really enjoying getting out and back on the snow in an adaptive setting. So that kind of made the wheels start turning for me,” she said. 

Her work as a volunteer coach was then cemented in 2016 after a chance meeting with an old college friend who was married to Vermont Adaptive’s executive director Erin Fernandez.

“The timing was perfect,” she said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.” 

Fernandez said the organization is fortunate to have volunteers like Mead.

“She is authentically selfless, kind and humble,” Fernandez said. “She deserves to be recognized as an amazing person. The Myra Kraft community MVP was a perfect fit.”

One of Mead’s favorite aspects of volunteering with the organization is how she is able to help people of differing abilities who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, including skiers who are visually-impaired, do not have the use of their legs, or are neurodivergent. 

“Every lesson is different,” she said. “I’m always learning and trying to up my game.”

Another favorite component of her volunteer work with Vermont Adaptive is the organization’s outreach to veterans with disabilities.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I think veterans sometimes have a hard time reintegrating back into normal life and Vermont Adaptive is there and provides a way for them to feel like normal again.”

She gave Oak Knoll credit for helping instill in her a desire to serve others as well as helping shape who she is as a person. She further encouraged others to embrace the spirit of service ingrained through Holy Child mission and philosophy. 

“What I learned at Oak Knoll was the value of being able to see a need in others and help them and give back,” she said. “It is such a special place and it was a great time in my life.

“No matter where you are,” she added. “If you are fortunate enough to volunteer in some way it is so important to give back and help out.”