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Aloha director steps down

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2020 8:59:20 PM
Modified: 4/6/2020 8:59:13 PM

FAIRLEE — Christopher Overtree, a clinical psychologist who led the Aloha Foundation through an investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse and resulting turmoil, is stepping down as the nonprofit’s executive director after nearly five years at the helm.

Overtree, a former camper and counselor, announced the move last month in an email to the Aloha community.

“I am able to move on because the Foundation is strong and stable. Vibrant and kind. Traditional and innovative,” he wrote, adding the organization’s position is due to its supporters.

The Aloha Foundation operates several summer residential programs, including Lanakila for 8- to 14-year-old boys and Aloha for 12- to 17- year old girls on Lake Morey.

It also runs Aloha Hive for 7- to 12-year-old girls on Lake Fairlee.

Overtree will be succeeded in the interim by Vanessa Riegler, current director of program quality and the Ohana Family Camp.

“Vanessa is passionate in delivering our mission and respected across the organization,” Aloha Board Chairman Charlie Pughe said in a statement. “For eight years under her leadership, Ohana has developed roots as a cherished retreat for families to grow, connect and learn together.”

Pughe declined to comment on the transition when contacted Monday, and Overtree was unavailable to discuss the move.

In his email, Overtree said he intends to “return to my work in public health and higher education.”

Before being named executive director at Aloha, Overtree taught and directed clinical psychology programs, including those at New England College in Henniker, N.H., and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Overtree was named executive director 2015. A year later, the nonprofit received a complaint that a former counselor at Camp Lanakila inappropriately touched two boys in 1983.

The resulting investigation — spearheaded by former New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney — ultimately uncovered 12 incidents of misconduct reported between the late 1970s and 1980s that occurred at the hands of three counselors.

The findings led the foundation to apologize for failing to “receive a supportive, prompt, and immediate response,” and kicked off a criminal investigation.

“We conducted this investigation because we felt our constituents and the affected children deserve our honesty and closure,” Overtree said early last year.

Overtree’s departure comes as the camps grapple with whether to move forward with summer programming because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. A taskforce was formed in March to monitor the progress of COVID-19 but hasn’t yet decided to cancel the 2020 season.

Meanwhile, nearby nonprofit Camp Billings on Lake Fairlee announced Saturday its intention to cancel its coed camp this summer due to the pandemic.

Tim Camerato can be reached at or 603-727-3223.

Valley News

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