Valley Community Foundation Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors and Announces New Officers

VCF announces new Board Members and Officers for 2021.

Left to Right: Tammy Burrell, Christopher Grizzle and Patricia Tarasovic.

DERBY, Conn. (January 8, 2021) - The Valley Community Foundation’s (VCF) Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Tammy Burrell, Christopher Grizzle, and Patricia Tarasovic to the VCF Board of Directors. Each new member has extensive involvement in their personal, professional, and volunteer capacities throughout the Valley region.

The VCF Board announced additional developments: Jack Walsh, former Vice-Chair, will now serve as the incoming Board Chair and current Board Chair, Donald Smith, Jr. will become the Immediate Past Chair on the Executive Committee until the completion of his term of service in 2021. Jennifer Magri has been elected to Vice-Chair with Raymond Oppel and Marianne Smythe continuing their respective roles as Treasurer and Secretary.

During his tenure on the Board, Don Smith has served as Governance Committee Chair and Vice-Chair. During 2020 Don led VCF through strategic decision making and responsive measures to assist Valley nonprofits during the pandemic. Incoming VCF Board Chair, Jack Walsh, is a life-long resident of Derby who served as President & COO of Valley United Way from 1989 until his retirement in 2016. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors at the Derby Neck Library and is Chairman of Derby’s Water Pollution Control Authority. He is a past Chair of Derby's Park & Recreation Commission, currently chairs the City's Greenway Committee, and is co-chair of the Naugatuck River Greenway Committee. Jack most recently chaired VCF’s Program Committee in addition to serving as Vice-Chair of the Board.

Additionally, VCF thanks Alan Tyma for his extensive service on the Board of Directors. Now completing his second and final seven-year term, Alan was among the founding members of the VCF Board of Directors when the organization was established in 2004. During his tenure, Alan served a three-year term as VCF Board Chair and as the first Mission Related Investment Committee Chair for the organization. During his first term, Alan served on the Board for VCF’s partner in philanthropy, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, where he also served as Board Chair.

In a statement, Sharon Closius, VCF President and CEO, said: “On behalf of the VCF Board of Directors, we are thrilled to welcome Tammy, Chris, and Patricia. While each is entering their first term on the Board, they bring incredibly impressive and diverse lived experience as it relates to their community involvement. Their contributions will be invaluable resources to VCF as we build the Valley’s permanent endowment. We also thank Don for his Board chairmanship during such an unprecedented year. His leadership has positioned VCF to respond to our Valley’s rapidly changing needs. I look forward to working with Jack Walsh. His knowledge of the Valley and the area nonprofits couldn’t come at a better time as we continue to respond to the COVID crisis. We also extend a very appreciative and warm farewell to Alan Tyma. As a founding Board Member, Alan has been involved with so many Valley nonprofits and projects that it is very difficult to name them all. We are fortunate that he took on the project to help start a community foundation in the Valley! We are forever grateful for his time, counsel, ambition, and belief in VCF over his many years of committed service.”

New VCF Board Members:

Tammy Burrell

Tammy L. Burrell is a life-long Valley resident who grew up in Shelton. She is a CPA and has been a partner at Tomasella Schlitter & Burrell for more than 20 years. Tammy has maintained an active role on the BHcare Board of Directors for 15 years. In this capacity, she serves as Treasurer and Chair for the Back to School Program and the Under the Tree Project.

She has lived in Seymour with her husband, Al, since 1997. Together they have volunteered with a range of nonprofit organizations in support of Thanksgiving and holiday efforts. In her free time, Tammy enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and being outdoors.

Christopher Grizzle

Christopher (Chris) H. Grizzle is a recently retired, 28-year Air Force Veteran. Throughout his military career, he was able to travel the world, embrace many different cultures, and serve as a K-9 handler specializing in bomb and drug detection. During his time as a handler, Chris was selected to work with the Secret Service and was assigned to the Presidential Support Team.

Chris later served as a Cyber Transport Technician for nearly a decade with the Connecticut Air National Guard where he deployed twice for Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle, as well as providing support domestically following Hurricane Katrina.

From 2008-2019, he served as a Production Recruiter, Recruiting Office Supervisor and Recruiting and Retention Manager. Throughout his recruiting career, he was able to build and nurture strong relationships with educators, influencers, families, and young adults.

He is also an active member of James H. Wilkins Lodge #9 based in Ansonia. Chris loves the outdoors. Some of his hobbies include fishing, skiing, kayaking, and hunting. Even with his adventurous side, he still refuses to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft or ride on rollercoasters. Chris and his wife, Sonia, have resided in Ansonia since 2001.

Patricia Tarasovic

Patricia C. Tarasovic has spent three decades working in the nonprofit sector, serving on a range of committees, councils, and task forces, and has spent her professional career supporting the long term good of the Valley. Since retiring from Valley United Way in 2020 as the Vice President of Community Engagement, Patricia has continued to remain active in the community for which she has a very special appreciation.

In her various roles, Patricia created and advanced a number of initiatives such as the Corporate Volunteer Council, High School Volunteer Council, Harvest House, as well as the Back to School Clothes for Kids and Youth Leadership Programs. She helped develop the Food Security Task Force, served as Chair on the Valley Council for Health and Human Services, and received a Governor appointment to the CT National Service Committee where she serves as a Commissioner. She served as Co-Chair of the Breast Wellness Center Campaign and Co-Chaired the Valley Goes Pink for five years.

Recognized for her contributions, Patricia has received numerous awards. She is a Chamber of Commerce Gold Seal recipient, CT Statewide Education Association Volunteer of the Year, and a Dr. John Ireland Award recipient from Derby Historical Society. She has also been a Derby-Shelton Rotarian for the past 20 years, where she also served as President. Pat is a Griffin Hospital Corporator and has been recognized as a Woman Making a Difference.

Patricia, who is originally from Massachusetts, and her husband, Nicholas, have lived in Oxford for 40 years. Together they have three children and six grandchildren.

Departing Board Member:

Alan Tyma

Alan Tyma was raised in Derby. He was a founding Board member of the Valley Community Foundation and returned for a second seven-year term. Alan created the John Tyma Fund at VCF to honor his father, who passed away at a young age. Alan is also a co-founder of the law firm, Ryan & Tyma, located in Shelton. Alan has served as counsel to many local nonprofits and Corporation Counsel to Derby and Assistant Corporation Counsel to Shelton. He has also served in leadership positions on many area Boards of Directors, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the Valley Chamber of Commerce, Griffin Hospital and the Valley Regional Water Authority, among others.

About the Valley Community Foundation

Established in 2004, the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) distributes $1.6 million in grants each year to support the local nonprofit sector and the people it serves. VCF works in strong partnership with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (TCF), to promote philanthropy in Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton and receives a majority of its discretionary funding as a result of The Gates Fund and other preference funds at TCF that benefit the Valley. To learn how your gifts of cash, life insurance, appreciated stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets can help to support the quality of life in the Valley, please visit the website at or contact VCF President, Sharon Closius, at or 203-751-9162.