Secrest named to women's commission

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BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro resident has been named to the Vermont Commission on Women, an independent non-partisan state commission that works to advance the rights and opportunities for women in Vermont.

Kerry Secrest has been appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin to serve out a four-year term on the 16-member volunteer commission. Secrest will serve out the remainder of Marian Milne's term. Milne died unexpectedly last month.

Secrest runs Watershed Coaching, a Brattleboro-based firm that focuses on executive coaching, women's leadership, team coaching and leadership training.

"My background is in promoting women to be strong leaders in business, nonprofit and government, and I would like to do more of that work with the commission," Secrest said. "I stand for a community where women's voices are an integral and valued part of the public conversation, where women have equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work. I look forward to working with the commission on these and other important issues."

Secrest founded and directs the Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont program, which is now offered through Marlboro College's Graduate and Professional Studies.

The six-month program is designed to enhance personal and professional leadership for women to be more effective at work and in leading organizations locally and regionally.

"The work Kerry has been doing on behalf of women leaders in Vermont is exceptional," Shumlin said. "I am excited that she will bring her energy and enthusiasm to the Vermont Commission on Women."

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The Governor appoints eight positions on the commission, with six appointed by the Legislature, three by the Senate Committee on Committees, three by the Speaker of the House and one each from the Republican and Democratic parties.

The commission holds public meetings once a month in Montpelier, acting as an advisor and information source for the legislative and executive branches and other policy makers on issues affecting women. The commission also conducts research, holds conferences and provides information and referrals to the public on matters related to women and families.

Secrest is the Honorary Consul of Lithuania to Vermont and lived for two years in Soviet-occupied Lithuania where she served as Advisor for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Lithuania.

Before moving to Vermont in 2003 Secrest served as program director with the American Red Cross in Washington D.C., and worked as director of a $3 million program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

"I have always been interested in women's issues and when the Governor offered me the opportunity I wanted to say ‘yes,'" Secrest said. "Women's equality is an issue that has to remain front and center. We have been talking about it for a long time but we have not solved it yet. It is an honor to be on the commission and I am eager to serve."

The Vermont Commission on Women was established by Gov. Philip Hoff in 1964 and is one of the oldest commissions in continuous operation in the United States.

Members of the Vermont Commission on Women will join commission members from all six New England states at the New England Women's Policy Conference in Boston on Nov. 7.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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