The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is an independent non-partisan state commission dedicated to advancing rights and opportunities for women in Vermont.  Launched in 1964 in response to a nation-wide call to action from President Kennedy, VCW is made up of sixteen volunteer commissioners and an advisory council who guide VCW’s public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts.  VCW:

  • Acts as advisor and information source for legislative and executive branches and other policy makers on issues affecting women

  • Serves as an educational resource by conducting research, producing publications and coordinating conferences and workshops

  • Brings together diverse groups and engages in partnerships to consider issues of interest to women and take action

  • Provides the most local and most appropriate information and referrals to the public on matters related to women and families

Marion Milne

8/18/14 Sharing this link to a youtube video about Marion Milne by Jeff Kaufman.

Marion pictured with Commissioners Sandy Dooley and daughter, Commissioner Cathy Frey
VCW Commissioner Marion Milne (right)
with former Commissioner Sandy Dooley,
(center) and daughter, Commissioner Cathy Frey
(left) at VCW's 50th anniversary party.
 

(8/12/14) It is with overwhelming sadness that we share the news of our beloved commissioner and friend Marion Milne’s death yesterday morning.  

Marion was first appointed to the Commission in 2001 by Governor Dean and continuously served by reappointment through both the Douglas and Shumlin administrations.   We valued her leadership, business and legislative experience, but most of all her thoughtful, intelligent and kind nature. 

She was a powerful business leader, the founder and president of Milne Travel American Express, and a former Republican state legislator from 1994 to 2000, representing the town of Washington. Marion endured truly shocking treatment by people she had known in her district for her support of civil unions and lost her seat in the House in 2000 because of her stalwart, unwavering support for what she felt deeply was an issue of civil rights.  Marion frequently brought that moral compass, that sense of morality and social justice to our discussions and deliberations.  She was someone who could sit and listen carefully during discussion, synthesize all points, ponder and then change everyone’s mind with a persuasive and effective fact driven opinion, delivered with humility and heart. 

She deeply believed in the power of women and the benefits of the Commission’s work.  Sharing her words about our work from the speech she made at our 50th anniversary celebration at the State House this spring:  “We are 50 years further along in the journey from chattel to full respect as equals, a muddy road leading to equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunity for all women…What a different world we live in. How vast and unexpected the changes. What wonders have come through improvements in science, medicine, art and life style in that time.  And yet, there are still so many miles ahead. The present has not kept its promises to many. This is no paradise for those who live in poverty, those who live in abusive relationships, those who find gender as a barrier to advancement…My time on the Commission, through three governors, has been an enriching and enlightening experience. I have felt the strength of sisterhood, and I have discovered over and over that what we dream can come true, as long as we can stay focused. Change is hard. Tradition is often an excuse for not changing. Yet we must be patient and we must be smart. And we will prevail…Thank goodness there’s a Commission on Women. Let it last until the work is done.”

In addition to her years with us at VCW, Marion’s record of community service is remarkable and we wanted to share it here.  Marion served as: the first woman President of Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, where she was named a Life Member for her fundraising efforts since 1980; member of the Vermont Judicial Nominating Board from 1996 to 2002; Business and Professional Women's Woman of the Year in 1980; Calef Memorial Library Trustee (for well over thirty years); member of the Governor's Commission on Healthy Aging since 1995; member on the Professional Responsibility Board (a state board appointed by the Supreme Court); Trustee for Washington-Electric Co-op since 2002; past President of the Community of Vermont Elders (COVE) and served on the Board since 2001;  incorporator of the Northfield Savings Bank. She was co-chair of the Woman's Caucus in the Vermont Legislature and recipient of their Legislator of the Year award in 2000. Marion served on the Vermont Advisory Board to US Civil Rights Commission for many years and was elected as a Justice of the Peace in Washington multiple times.

 

Cheryl Hanna

(7/28/14) It is with great sadness that we share this message regarding the death of Cheryl Hanna.  Our talented colleague and trusted friend, she was a truly a leader in the battle for equal justice for women in Vermont.    

Cheryl’s work with the Vermont Commission on Women included gathering and overseeing a group of work-study students at Vermont Law School (VLS) to update our handbook, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont; gathering people to celebrate the confirmation of Christina Reiss as the first woman in Vermont to serve on the district court; leading a panel discussion for Women’s History Month on  "Women in Law: Making Strides in Women’s Legal Rights in the 70s and 80s"; working with VLS students to craft an Amicus brief clearly presenting reasons why the state’s Equal Pay Act is important, why and how wage discrimination continues to take place, and how this legal remedy should function for Vermont women.   

Cheryl was a gifted teacher and storyteller who touched and inspired so many of us, young and old, imparting her deep knowledge of constitutional law while sharing personal insight into the “real life” impacts on women and girls.  We will miss her intelligence, her voice and her power at our table.  

 

VCW celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.