April 10, 2017

Over 150 Gather at Women United Event to Discuss Women's Leadership in Public Office

April 10, 2017 (SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT): on Wednesday, April 5, Women United, an affinity group of the United Way of Northwest Vermont welcomed more than 150 community members to Main Street Landing in Burlington for an educational event to explore how women’s empowerment and financial stability are improved through the work and careers of women public officials. Featured speaker and former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin gave a thought-provoking presentation about how to move ideas into action and a panel of local experts moderated by Allyson Laackman, Co-Interim Executive Director of the Burlington Housing Authority, shared about their journeys into the political arena. Panelists included:

• Jessica Brumsted, VT State Representative, Chittenden County
• Dennise Casey, President, Casey, Inc. & former Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for Governor Jim Douglas
• Liz Gamache, Director of Efficiency Vermont and Mayor of St. Albans
• Beth Pearce, Treasurer, State of Vermont
• Kesha Ram, Interim Director of the Center for Whole Communities & former VT State Representative, Chittenden County

The panel discussion was followed by Jessica Nordhaus of Change the Story, who reported insights and data about women in leadership positions in Vermont, and Women United chairpersons Linda Tarr-Whelan and Michell Langlais ended the evening with remarks that inspired action in community work and encouraged involvement in the political sphere.
“This was a powerful event, buzzing with energy and conversation. A sense of excitement was palpable in the initial welcome, throughout the networking and perpetuated by a stimulating and provocative program,” said United Way Community Impact Manager Diana Carminati. “It was beautiful and inspiring to listen to our peers share openly and honestly about their challenges, issues, opportunities and experiences as women in politics. We all left with hopes affirmed that we have the potential to make and influence change.”

The event was organized by a Host Committee of female leaders in our community on behalf of Women United and United Way of Northwest Vermont:

• Alison Bell, Partner, Langrock, Sperry & Wool, LLP
• Cary Brown, Executive Director, VT Commission on Women
• Ruth Hardy, Executive Director, Emerge VT
• Kathi Keenan, VT State Legislature, Franklin County
• Katie Langrock, COO, Commando
• Sue Minter, Former Vermont Gubernatorial Candidate & Sec. of Transportation
• Susan Murray, Partner, Langrock, Sperry & Wool, LLP
• Carol Ode, VT State Representative, Chittenden County
• Cindy Weed, VT State Representative, Franklin County

The event was made possible by the generosity of presenting sponsor PC Construction, host sponsor Main Street Landing, major sponsor Gravel & Shea, and supporting sponsor Dinse Knapp McAndrew. All proceeds will be directed to United Way of Northwest Vermont supporting the Women United signature issue of promoting women & financial stability. For more information about the event or Women United, please contact Ruthann Hackett at

Women United is a unique movement of women working together to create change. We harness the power of women to engage, educate and empower others to become leaders and actively participate in the betterment of our community by investing time, talent, influence and resources. Learn more.

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To truly make a change, we MUST work together. Now is the time to raise the bar and expect a better quality of life for our neighbors who struggle. If we all give the best way we can, we can make our community the best it can be. There’s a place for everyone at our table – join us and get involved in a way that’s meaningful for you.