The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), state government’s independent non-partisan commission advancing rights and opportunities for Vermont women and girls welcomes new leadership. Two years ago, VCW made the change from a singular leadership to multiple Chairs, as a way to share decision-making and leadership responsibilities. In 2021, VCW elected Co-Chairs Lisa Senecal of Craftsbury, Kiah Morris of Burlington, and Kellie B. Campbell of Georgie to lead. As of July 1, 2023, Esther Charlestin of Middlebury and Sarah Mell of Winooski will be the new Co-Chairs of VCW.
Esther Charlestin is a first-generation Haitian American, born to immigrant parents Anita and Glachan Charlestin, who instilled the value of education in her. Through their unwavering encouragement, she embarked on a journey of academic excellence, earning a Bachelor's degree in History & Communication, followed by a Master's in Corporate Communication and Public Relations, and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Passionate about empowering women and using her voice for positive impact, Commissioner Charlestin envisions a future where she can serve her community and beyond. Embracing a new chapter in her life, she proudly holds the position of Founder & CEO of Conversation Compass LLC. In this esteemed role, she takes on the responsibility of being a facilitator, moderator, and consultant with a special focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and education. With a core mission deeply rooted in fostering understanding through compassion, Commissioner Charlestin firmly believes that meaningful change happens one conversation at a time. Her commitment to advocating for justice and equity is a driving force behind her work, aiming to create an inclusive world where everyone's voice is heard and respected. Commissioner Charlestin fearlessly navigates the path of empowerment, leading by example, and inspiring others to contribute to positive societal change.
Sarah Mell is the Educator and Trainer of Inclusive Excellence at the University of Vermont's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This position is designed to expand the work of the division across the UVM community of students, faculty, and staff. Prior to this position, Commissioner Mell served as the UVM WAGE (Women and Gender Equity) Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, work that explored the intersections of identities, power, and community as a means of advancing dialogue about gender equity and belonging. Commissioner Mell has worked not only in a variety of academic settings, but as an independent consultant, and in nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and HOPE Works. They are most proud of their role as Community College of Vermont faculty for the past 14 years. Commissioner Mell holds a Master of Arts in English from University of Vermont and an undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University. They are an actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer for multiple theater production companies, including Vermont Stage Company, Vermont Shakespeare Festival, and Middlebury Actors Workshop.
VCW Executive Director Cary Brown shares, “Sarah and Esther have been powerful members of VCW, and the creativity and innovation they’ll bring as a team is incredibly exciting. We’re looking forward to broadening our reach and impact through their leadership.”
The Co-Chairs work together to plan and run monthly meetings of the full commission. They also establish subcommittees of the Commission to work on specific issues of interest. Commission meetings are open to the public, and more information is available at women.vermont.gov.