From Pittsfield grad to ambassador to Switzerland


An international ambassador. A professor. A writer. Madeleine May Kunin, the first woman governor of Vermont, is returning to Pittsfield, Mass.

Returning? Yes, as Kunin is a graduate of the Pittsfield High School Class of 1952. She is the latest dignitary to join The Berkshire Eagle's Conversation Series, ongoing events aimed at keeping local journalism thriving.

"Coming of Age with Ambassador Madeleine May Kunin" — sponsored in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College — will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at the South Congregational Church in Pittsfield.

Kunin, who lives in Shelburne, Vt., will discuss her remarkable career and her latest book, "Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties," which will be available for sale at the event; Kunin also will be available after the talk for signings.

Kevin Moran, executive editor of the Brattleboro Reformer, said he "can think of few individuals as dedicated or as successful as she is when it comes to public service locally and globally."

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"I hope that generations young and old, but especially young, come to hear her in conversation because she truly has been and continues to be an inspiring trailblazer, someone who's opened the doors of opportunity for so many who've followed in her footsteps," said Moran, who also leads The Eagle in Pittsfield, and The Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal newspapers in southern Vermont.

Born in Zurich, Kunin fled Switzerland as a young girl in 1940 with her family in fear of a Nazi invasion. Some 50 years later, she returned to her there as a U.S. ambassador.

Kunin, 85, was governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991, spanning three terms. A Democrat, she also served more than three years as a deputy secretary of education under President Bill Clinton and later she served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 1999. Kunin has taught at the college level and is a professor at large for the University of Vermont.

Having an engaging conversation with Kunin about the world and politics and life is something the whole of Pittsfield, the Berkshires and southern Vermont should celebrate, Moran said, "because she is a source of pride for us."

"She'll probably have lots of friends in the audience, and I know there will be so many great questions, and I'm looking forward to hearing all of her answers to them."


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