Speaker of the House, Mitzi Johnson has appointed Ashley Messier of Jericho to serve a four-year term on the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the state’s non-partisan commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls.
Commenting on the appointment, Speaker Johnson said, "Ashley Messier immediately impressed me with her dedication to giving a voice to women, girls, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people impacted by systems of oppression. The Vermont Commission on Women is the only entity in Vermont that expressly considers the broader implications of state policy and budget priorities for women. Ashley's background in combating systemic oppression aligns with the work of the Commission. Her perspective is an important addition as we aim to include more perspectives at the table."
Messier is the executive director of the Women’s Justice and Freedom Initiative. The Initiative supports and advocates for women, girls, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people impacted by systems of oppression and is expressly committed to prison abolition. Messier’s years of community organizing, advocacy and direct experience with the criminal legal system inform her passionate and powerful approach to advocacy and abolition. She was previously incarcerated at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
Messier also serves as the Vermont Organizer for the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. The Council is a network of formerly and currently incarcerated women and girls committed to reimagining communities and creating the shift from a criminal legal system to community-led human justice. Messier served as a consultant and then as lead Organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont’s Smart Justice, a campaign fighting in the legislatures, the courts, in the voting booth, and in the streets to end mass incarceration by addressing sentencing, bail and prosecutorial reform, as well as parole, release and re-entry reforms.
Messier is a member of Vermont’s Human Trafficking Task Force and participates on its Housing sub-committee. Her related work includes an active role in an Act 146 work group exploring using restorative justice in domestic and sexual violence and stalking cases.