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February 16, 2021

(Montpelier) – Governor Scott has appointed Wendy Knight of Panton 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.

Commissioner Knight is a communications and marketing executive with over 20 years of government, corporate and entrepreneurial experience in advertising and marketing, food and beverage, healthcare, media, non-profit, and the publishing industries.

She’s held several leadership positions in Governor Scott's Administration, as Vermont Tourism and Marketing Commissioner, as a strategic lead for the state's economic development initiative Think Vermont, and as Vice Chair of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative, a private-public initiative to grow the economy and preserve our natural resources.  With this background in economic development, a focus that draws her to the work of the VCW is ensuring that women have economic opportunities and fiscal independence.  

A former freelance journalist for the New York Times, she has written four non-fiction books and appeared on NPR, CNN, and ABC News.  Her current work includes writing about domestic violence, a topic featured in her powerful and personal op-ed in USA Today about children living in abusive homes during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Commissioner Knight is the Chief Marketing Officer of Knight Automotive and a consultant to On the Fly, a women-led collective supporting Vermont's hospitality and tourism businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.  She currently serves on the boards of the Vermont Futures Project, which provides data and research to achieve long-term economic growth in our state, and the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance.

She is a former Select Board Member for the town of Panton and a graduate of Cornell University.

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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.

January 28, 2021

Better pay, respect, opportunities for advancement, and ending sexual harassment: those were some of the reasons that activated the women's movement and workplace rights groups like 9to5 in the 1970s.  PBS Vermont hosted a statewide community conversation following a sneak preview of the film 9to5: The Story of a Movement directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, from Independent Lens on January 14, 2021.  Moderated by Rhoni Basden, the Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women, 9to5: The Story of a Movement Vermont conversation focused on the origins and growth of 9to5 in Boston with Janet Selcer the co-founder. With questions from the virtual audience, Cary Brown, Executive Director of Vermont Commission on Women and Rhoni the address the progress made since the 1970's and the work yet to do!

 See the trailer and watch the full-length film 9to5: The Story of a Movement.

January 2, 2021

Legislative After-Dinner Coffee & Conversation event, Thursday evening, January 14th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM

(Montpelier) – The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) started the new legislative session with a public event examining how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts economic aspects of women’s lives, especially for women of color in our state. 

VCW’s Legislative After-Dinner Coffee & Conversation event, took place Thursday evening, January 14th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM, and featured a panel discussion with experts, an exploration of issues in small breakout room conversations, and a wrap up Q & A session. VIEW THE EVENT VIDEO HERE.

“We’re so pleased to present this opportunity to deepen understanding of how this pandemic disproportionately impacts women, and particularly those at the intersection of gender and race, who are impacted by both sexism and racism.” said Cary Brown, VCW’s Executive Director. “The goal of our event is to inform public policy, inspire questions, and encourage conversation. We’re especially excited to be the conduit for not only for data and research, but for Vermonters to tell their personal stories about how the pandemic profoundly changed their lives, and for policy makers from their community to hear those stories.”

Panelists included new VCW Commissioner Kiah Morris, Executive Director of Mercy Connections Lisa Falcone, and UVM Professor of Economics Stephanie Seguino.

Kiah Morris is an engaging and award-winning trainer on issues of diversity, equity and leadership. She currently serves as the Movement Politics Director for Rights and Democracy Vermont, a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for Oxfam America, and an advisory council member for Emerge Vermont and Black Lives Matter Vermont. She served in the General Assembly as a State Representative from 2014-2016 and 2016-2018 and was 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 have been covered internationally in over four dozen media outlets. Her artistic career, as an actress, in spoken word performance, and as a singer, dancer and arts manager focuses on amplification of voices of the oppressed, and issues of human rights and social justice. She’s recently authored Life Lessons and Lyrical Translations of My Soul, a book of poetry, and is currently filming a documentary on race in Vermont titled Colorlines in the Green Mountains with Long Shot Productions.

Stephanie Seguino’s work focuses on the economic institutions that lead to and perpetuate economic inequality. At UVM her teaching addresses the topics of Inequality, Poverty, and Wealth; the Political Economy of Race; Globalization and Well-Being; Gender and Development; and Macroeconomics, Economic Development, and Growth. She contributes to research on macroeconomic policy tools for financing and promoting gender equality. She is co-author of numerous studies of Vermont’s traffic stop data to identify and understand racial disparities in Vermont policing, a report series titled Trends in Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops. She is a Research Associate of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and a Fellow of the Gund Institute for the Environment and works as advisor or consultant to numerous international organizations including the World Bank, UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, US Agency for International Development, and UN Women.  Professor Seguino is also an accomplished photographer; her work can be viewed at stephanieseguino.com.

Lisa Falcone is the Executive Director of Burlington’s Mercy Connections, a community-based, multi-cultural, economic, and social justice agency providing opportunities for people to pursue their goals and achieve better lives. Mercy Connections staff educates, matches needs to resources, transcends barriers and embraces radical inclusion. Their programs and classes support re-entry for women coming out of prison and educate adults who are focused on well-being, academics, job readiness, business ownership and US citizenship. Lisa previously served as Working Bridges Director for the United Way of Northwest Vermont, and as Founder and Senior Advisor of WorkLab Innovations, a start-up organization supporting communities across the country in building sustainable workplace practices through employer networks. Her work has also included positions in higher education and in business and industry workforce development.

legislative after dinner coffee and conversation, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 event logo with many female-identified Vermonters pictured

December 22, 2020

(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.
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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.

For immediate release: December 22, 2020
Contact: Lilly Talbert, VCW Communications Coordinator | 802-498-8806
Note: Photos VCW Commissioners can be found here

November 13, 2020

The New England Women’s Policy Conference, “The Time is Now: Gender Justice, Antiracism, and Systemic Change” will be held virtually the mornings of December 2-4. This biennial conference is organized by the New England Women’s Policy Initiative, and hosted by UMass Boston's Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, the Vermont Commission on Women, and women’s commissions, women’s funds, and other partners throughout New England.

Conference participants will utilize an intersectional lens, taking into account inequities related to race, gender, ethnicity, class, immigrant status, and other social identities, to address the economic security, health, and wellbeing of women, their families, and their communities. 

Workshop themes include Low-Wage and Essential Workers; Health and Healthcare; Policing Women of Color and LGBTQ Communities; and Childcare and Education.  Vermont will be well represented among presenters, including activist Noel Riby-Williams of Montpelier, Kiah Morris of Rights and Democracy, VT Senator-elect Kesha Ram, and Aly Richards of Let’s Grow Kids.  The conference offers a great opportunity for young people interested in exploring public policy, as a separate IGNITE program track features the sessions “Amplifying Young Women’s Voices” and “Young and Running”, with the goal of building a pipeline of next-generation leaders poised to flex their political power. 

The keynote speaker is Representative Ayanna Pressley, the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts (and previously, to the Boston City Council).

Join us in this engaging collaboration to imagine together how we can transform inequitable systems in New England and beyond. Learn more and register.

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