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Event Promotes Awareness of COVID-19 Impact on VT Women


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

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.