(Montpelier) - Governor Peter Shumlin has reappointed Charlotte Dennett of Cambridge and Kerry Secrest of Brattleboro to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW). Both will serve additional four-year terms.
Kerry Secrest is a leadership coach for individuals and organizations through Watershed Coaching, her Brattleboro-based firm. She leads trainings in the areas of team-building, women's leadership, understanding multigenerational work environments, change management, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and leadership development. Her clients include national and international firms, both commercial and non-governmental organizations, as well as Vermont-based companies. Additionally, Secrest created and now directs Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont, a Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies program. This is a six-month intensive program for Vermont women in leadership positions, and is designed to enhance both personal and professional effectiveness and fulfillment at work, in turn, allowing companies and organizations to achieve greater impact locally and regionally. Previously, Secrest served as a program director with the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., and worked as director of a program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Prior to those positions, she served as Advisor for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Lithuania. She holds a master's degree in International and Intercultural Relations with a focus on human resource development from the SIT Graduate Institute, and an undergraduate degree from Villanova University. Reflecting on her time so far with VCW, Secrest said, "The Commission is a critical resource and advocate for Vermont women and children. I am proud of our important advocacy work, especially regarding paid family and medical leave, as well as the Vermont Equal Pay Compact project, and our Change the Story Vermont initiative."
Charlotte Dennett has a wide range of experience as a journalist, author, attorney, university professor and volunteer with women's and labor groups. She is currently focusing on her law practice with an emphasis on family law, personal injury and consumer fraud cases. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, the daughter of a U.S. diplomat and an English teacher, Dennett holds a B.A. from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass, and a master’s degree in art history at Pius XII Institute in Florence, Italy. Her journalism career started at the weekly English language feature magazine, The Middle East Sketch, and later as a reporter for the Beirut Daily Star. Her journalistic work took her beyond Lebanon to Syria, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Dubai, Kuwait, and Oman, and she became fascinated with the impact of modernization on women's lives in those countries. While working the UN beat she met her future husband, investigative journalist and author Gerard Colby. Dennett and Colby spent years researching and writing for national, international and Vermont-based news sources, including writing a book on the genocide of Amazonian Indians, Thy Will be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon, in 1995. The couple moved to Vermont in 1984 and Dennett became involved in local political and community issues, including public service positions as chair of NOW's ERA Task Force, as president of Franklin County Family Center board, as "Volunteer in Politics" on the Executive Committee of the Vermont AFL-CIO, and as a foster parent. Ms. Dennett currently serves on the Cambridge Board of Civil Authority as a Justice of the Peace, and is secretary of Lamoille County Democrats.
VCW is a non-partisan state agency working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women's issues guide VCW's public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts. VCW offers many services to the public, including a toll-free information and referral service at 800-881-1561 and many publications, including The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont. For more information, please visit women.vermont.gov.