Orly is the Founder of Strolling of the Heifers. Previously, she served as a learning specialist with the Windham Central Supervisory Union for 24 years. She has a BA in Psychology and Education from Boston University, and Master of Education degree in Psychology and Special Education from Keene State College. She also built a profitable private consulting business, training teachers in cutting-edge educational techniques.
Drawing on this background, she gathered a group of volunteers in 2001 to help focus attention on the difficulties of small family farms in the Brattleboro region. Building an organization with no startup funding, under Orly’s leadership they organized the first annual Strolling of the Heifers in 2002. Orly attracted corporate sponsorships ranging from national brands to local businesses, and with the growth in the local foods movement since then, “the Stroll” has expanded to a full weekend which is annually rated one of Vermont’s Top Ten Summer Events (and was rated one of America’s Top 10 Summer Festivals in 2013, and one of North America’s Top 100 Events in 2014).
Over the years, Strolling of the Heifers also launched educational programs, a microloan fund, and farm internship program for youth, which are now all carried on by other organizations; the farm/food business planning competition; the Locavore Index, the Farm/Food Innovation Center at the River Garden, Farm to Table Apprenticeship Program and Windham Grows.
In 2019, Orly received the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility “Innovation & Inspiration Award” for Windham Grows, a program she created to scale up small businesses that support farms. She received the Vermont Land Trust’s Rick W. Carbin Community Conservation Award in 2018. In 2016, Orly received from Governor Shumlin the Spirit of Americans with Disabilities Act Award. She was recognized by the Keene Sentinel with an award for the Extraordinary Women in 2016. The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce recognized her as Person of the Year in 2010. In 2013 she received the Vermont Community Leadership Award from the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Under Orly’s leadership, in 2006 Strolling of the Heifers received the Harvest Wave of the Future Award from Glynwood.