(Montpelier, VT) – Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson has appointed Kiah Morris of Bennington and Kerin Durfee of Burlington to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the state’s non-partisan commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls.
These appointments represent history in the making: they mean that three African-American women will be serving as Commissioners – the highest number in the Commission’s 54-year history. “We’re thrilled to have Kiah and Kerin,” said VCW Executive Director Cary Brown, “and we’re especially grateful to have a Commission that more fully represents Vermonters, recognizes the necessity of dismantling structural inequities and injustice, and moves us toward a vision of Vermont that embraces all its people.”
Kerin Durfee is Director of Earned Revenues and Guest Services at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, a science and nature museum located on Burlington’s waterfront. She provides executive leadership, overseeing the museum’s admission, registration, and retail operations, as well as developing customer service training and protocols. Prior to this position, she was City Market, Onion River Coop’s Front End Manager for 12 years. She holds a master’s in business administration in Strategic Resource Management from Norwich University. She is a member of the national NAACP and a participant in Emerge Vermont’s program, recruiting and training Democratic women to run for political office. Durfee was recently appointed by the Burlington City Council to serve on the city's Police Commission.
Originally from Chicago, Kiah Morris lives in Vermont where she served in the general assembly as a State Representative from 2014-2016 and 2016-2018. She is the first African-American and person of color elected from Bennington County and the second African-American woman to be elected to the legislature in Vermont history. Her story of success and struggle has been covered internationally over four dozen media outlets including CNN, The Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Essence Magazine, Canadian Broadcasting Company, PBS, BBC Radio and Vice Media.
She is an award-winning, in-demand trainer, speaker and presenter. She provides consultative services, workshops and presentations on issues of diversity, equity and leadership for organizations across the globe. Morris currently serves as the Movement Politics Director for Rights and Democracy Vermont. She is a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for Oxfam America and is on the advisory councils for Emerge Vermont and Black Lives Matter Vermont.
Morris also holds an accomplished artistic career as an actress of stage, film and television, spoken word performance, and as a singer, dancer and arts manager. As an arts advocate with a passion for community-based art, she has produced numerous special events, concerts and art exhibits during her career. Her work focuses on amplification of voices of the oppressed, issues of human rights and social justice. She is also the author of a recently published book of poetry, Life Lessons and Lyrical Translations of My Soul, and is currently filming a documentary on race in Vermont titled Colorlines in the Green Mountains with Long Shot Productions.
The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is an independent non-partisan state commission 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.