Peter D. Van Oot, Vice President and Board Chair

Mr. Peter D. Van Oot, Co-Founder and Principal of The Difference Leadership Group and Founder and Owner of Van Oot Law, a law firm that focuses on governance and conservation law, previously served as a Director and as corporate, strategic, and governance counsel at Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC for three decades before retiring in 2018.

A sage, seasoned and strategic counsel to sophisticated for-profit and nonprofit organizations and other mission-based organizations, Mr. Van Oot advises clients on strategic, governance, and regulatory issues.   Mr. Van Oot  is frequently called upon to lecture on corporate management, strategic and governance topics.

In his legal practice, Mr. Van Oot was consistently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©, has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America©  as “Lawyer of the Year”, and is rated AV Preeminent®, the highest peer rating standard, by Martindale-Hubbell®, in his areas of practice.  Mr. Van Oot is a Charter Fellow of the American College of Environmental Attorneys.

Previously, Mr. Van Oot worked as an associate at the law firm of Fine & Ambrogne in Boston from 1985 to 1987, and served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) in Washington, D.C. from 1981 to 1985 while also attending Georgetown University Law Center.

Mr. Van Oot was featured as the cover profile in the April, 1996 issue of Vermont Business Magazine and was named Volunteer of the Year 2011, in the eleven Northeast States by the Northeast Vermont Development Association. .In 2009 and 2015 Mr. Van Oot  was appointed by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to chair the Judicial Nominating Commission, which vetted candidates to replace retiring judges on Vermont’s U.S. District Court. 

Mr. Van Oot has taught environmental law at Williams College, lectured on governance and leadership at the Marlboro Graduate School, and co-created and co-hosted successful Nonprofit Leadership Summits in 2013 and 2016 at the Hanover Inn, Hanover, NH for Vermont and New Hampshire nonprofit directors and top management. For each Nonprofit Leadership Summit, Mr. Van Oot also served as Moderator and Panelist on the Disrupting Governance and Leadership with Innovative Powers and Entrepreneurial Behaviors and Governance Best Practices panels. 

In additional to his professional work as corporate strategic and governance counsel, Mr. Van Oot has served on numerous  for-profit and non-profit boards and commissions. Mr. Van Oot currently serves as a Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Orleans Conservation Trust in Orleans, MA.

In the past, Mr. Van Oot has served in the following boards and commissions:

  • Trustee and Governance & Nominations Committee Chair, The Nature Conservancy — Vermont Chapter
  • Board President and Director, Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation
  • Board Chair, Upper Valley (VT & NH) Corporate Council 
  • Director, Chittenden Bank (n/k/a Peoples United Bank)
  • Board President and Director, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
  • Director, Vermont State Chamber of Commerce
  • Board Chair and Director, Vermont Land Trust
  • Member, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s Brownfields Task Force
  • Member, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas’s Job Cabinet
  • Member, Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s Council of Environmental Advisors
  • Board Chair and Director, United Way of Windham Count
  • Director, Executive Committee Member and Audit Committee Chair, World Learning, Inc.
  • Chair, Vermont Act 250 District Commission No. 7
  • Member, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center and Land Use Institute

Mr. Van Oot is a graduate of Williams College (B.A. cum laude) and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.).