Western Connecticut Council of Governments

Staff Directory

Administrative Staff

Francis Pickering – Executive Director

Francis directs WestCOG’s staff and represents the region to partners, including state and federal agencies. Prior to joining WestCOG, he served as Deputy Director at the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA). His work has been recognized with CCAPA’s Innovative Plan of the Year in 2013, and NADO’s Innovation Award in 2014, and CACT’s Friend of Public Transportation in 2019. Francis is also active in the development of major regional transportation initiatives and serves on the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Committee. Francis holds an M.A. in Environmental Management from the Free University of Berlin (Germany) in addition to a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. in Geography from the University of Connecticut.

Mike Towle – Deputy Director

Mike oversees WestCOG’s regional services, environmental planning, analytics, and staff matters. He has professional interests in modernizing municipal processes to improve service and public access to data. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from UMass Lowell and a M.S. in GIS from Clark University.

Victoria Ricks – Financial Director

Prior to joining WestCOG, Vicky worked as a Financial Analyst for Kimberly Clark Corporation for 9 years. She received a B.S in Accounting and Management Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Vicky’s primary responsibilities include financial reporting, grant tracking, audit preparation, record keeping, and financial analysis.

Cricket Carpenter – Office Manager

Prior to joining WestCOG, Cricket worked alongside her husband managing a construction business in Fairfield County. She attended the Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. Cricket organizes office operations, correspondence, meeting coordination, and the WestCOG newsletter, .

Planning Staff

Kristin Hadjstylianos – Transportation Director

Kristin assists with transportation planning services at WestCOG, including management of corridor studies and development of the region’s Long-Range Transportation Plan. Prior to joining WestCOG, she worked in transportation planning at AECOM and the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency assisting with road safety audits, transit and rail studies, and data analysis. Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Geography with a specialization in Planning from Central Connecticut State University.

Todd Fontanella – Principal Planner

Todd has over thirty years of experience in transportation grant programs, MPO activities and transit planning.  Before coming to WestCOG, Todd worked with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and at the Merrimack Valley and Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commissions.  He holds a B.S. in Environmental Design from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters’ in City Planning from Boston University.   

Kristin Floberg – Senior Planner

Kristin leads land use planning activities at WestCOG and assists the transportation staff on various projects. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a M.S. in Transportation and Urban Engineering and a B.S in Civil Engineering.  Kristin is passionate about working towards more sustainable and livable communities in Connecticut.

Mike Wilson – Senior Planner

Mike has over thirty years of experience in the transportation field, in both public and private sectors.  Prior to joining WestCOG, he worked with Milone & MacBroom, Inc. and with Wilbur Smith Associates (now CDM Smith), both in the USA and internationally.   He previously served as Transportation Program  Manager and Assistant Director at the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency.  Mike began his career as Transportation Planner at the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District in Massachusetts.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (Transportation) and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a registered Professional Engineer.

Mike and his wife Robin live with their two cats in Bristol, near their daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren. They enjoy exploring recreational and historical sites in New England.  

Nicole Sullivan – Planner

Nicole supports the Planning staff on administrative, legislative, and transportation projects. Prior to joining WestCOG, Nicole worked at Joseph Merritt & Company in Danbury, Connecticut. Nicole graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut in Storrs and studied abroad in Ireland at University College Dublin.

Jaclyn Reelick – Project Manager

Jaclyn provides grant funding support related to brownfield, water quality and flood resilience projects. Prior to joining WestCOG, Jaclyn worked as an environmental scientist for Barton & Loguidice. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a specialization in Environmental Science from Central Connecticut State University

Betsy Paynter – Project Manager

WestCOG has hired Betsy Paynter to serve as a Project Manager. Betsy will provide technical support for communities to get the most out of the ARPA funds and expand economic development activities within WestCOG’s Economic Development District.

Kevin Mahoney – Senior Project Manager

Kevin is a civil engineer with over 30 years of experience in the transportation field. He was previously employed with the Connecticut DOT, Federal Highway Administration, the Pennsylvania State University and in consulting. He is a registered Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor.

Charles Vidich – Senior Project Manager

Charles has over 40 years of experience in planning and government, including as the Principal Planner at the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley, where he developed plans, regulations, and legislation related to regional and local planning. He has also served as Manager of Environmental Programs at the United States Postal Service Northeast Region, where he supervised the permitting, environmental review processes and government relations work for a $2 billion annual facilities program; at the national level he served in various capacities including as Incident Commander at the USPS’ Unified Incident Command Center, where he was responsible for anthrax response and coordinating Hurricane Katrina response efforts; as Manager for Corporate Sustainability Initiatives at USPS Headquarters, where he oversaw initiatives at 32,000 post offices nationwide; and as a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health where he conducted research and lectured on quarantine and the challenges of controlling communicable disease outbreaks. Charles has received numerous honors and distinctions, including awards from Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and Vice President Gore.

Nicholas Trabka – Senior Data Scientist

Nicholas supports the planning staff with environmental management and transportation projects. Prior to joining WestCOG, he assisted the GIS staff at Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust with their trail mapping project. He graduated with a B.S. in Geography from the University of Connecticut.

Tucker Beckett – Data Scientist

Tucker provides GIS support, with initial projects focused on storm water and COVID Long Term Recovery. Prior to joining WestCOG, he worked as a municipal planner for the town of Wellesley, MA. He recently completed an MS in GIS for Development & the Environment at Clark University and received BS and BA degrees from the University of Rhode Island, in Marine Affairs and Anthropology, respectively.

2024 Sustainable CT Summer Fellows

Ella Burns-DeMelo

Ella supports the WestCOG as a 2024 Sustainable CT fellow. Her main responsibilities include assisting towns with sustainability initiatives and Sustainable CT certification. She also provides support for WestCOG initiatives. Ella is a rising sophomore at Smith College and double majoring in Environmental Science & Policy and Government. She is the treasurer of the Smith College Campus Action Club and a Smith Alliance for Justice & Equity fellow. 

Dylan Steer

Dylan is a Sustainable CT Summer 2024 Fellow and works in WestCOG supporting municipalities with application, registration, and certification with Sustainable CT as well as other sustainability efforts. Dylan is a rising senior at the University of Connecticut studying Political Science and Environmental Studies. He is the President of the environmental club EcoHusky and a lead organizer with the activist group Fossil Fuel Free UConn.