Emerge Vermont Board of Directors

Board Officers

Ashley Hill, Vice Chair, Montpelier

Ashley Hill of Montpelier works as a Deputy State's Attorney in Addison County and as an IT Project Manager. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Vermont's Montpelier center and Norwich University, and serves on the statewide Social Sciences Curriculum Committee for CCV. She is also currently the Statewide Coordinator for CCV's Student Leadership Endorsement. She serves as Vice President of the Hunger Mountain Coop Council and is a founding member of Montpelier Indivisible. She is the Co-Chair of the Board of Emerge Vermont and serves on the Board of Emerge America, as well as the Board of the Vermont League of Women Voters. 

Governor Madeleine May Kunin, Founder, Shelburne

Madeleine May Kunin was the first woman governor of Vermont and the first woman in the U.S. to serve three terms.  She served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. department of Education and Ambassador to Switzerland in the Clinton administration. She is currently a Marsh professor at the University of Vermont and a commentator on Vermont Public Radio. She is the founder and board member of the global Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a non-governmental organization, focused on climate change and civil society.

She is the author of “The New Feminist Agenda, Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family,” published by Chelsea Green. Her other books are: “Pearls, Politics and Power, how women can win and lead,” “Living a Political Life,” and “The Big Green Book." She is the co-editor of “We Do, American Leaders who believe in marriage equality,” published in 2013. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Kunin lives in Burlington, Vermont with her husband, John W. Hennessey Jr.

Joan Lenes, Chair, Shelburne

Joan Lenes served in the Vermont General Assembly, representing the Town of Shelburne from 2007-16. She was a member of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions. She serves as a local school board member in the Chittenden Sounth Supervisory Union, and is a member of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees and the Connecting Youth Board. She's a member of the Charlotte/Shelburne Rotary Club and Shelburne Business & Professional Association. She was a founder of Robin's Nest Children's Center, and is volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels. She previously taught in the UVM Center for Service-Learning, and owned and operated Climb High, an outdoor mountaineering business. She has two grown children and lives in Shelburne with her husband, Helmut.

Stephanie Thompson, Clerk, Springfield

Stephanie Thompson is a Public Health Analyst with New England HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) program, working with their multi-state Heroin Response Strategy Team. Previously, Stephanie served as Executive Director of the Springfield Prevention Coalition and Town Administrator for the Town of Londonderry. She is a member of the Springfield Select Board, and currently serves as Vice Chair. Stephanie is also a community coordinator for Project ACTION, focused on impacting community change in the face of the opiate epidemic. Stephanie received her undergraduate degrees through the Vermont State College system and recently completed the Master’s in Public Administrator program at Norwich University. She is a graduate of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute Class of 2016 and the recipient of the Vermont State Colleges Distinguished Alumni Award.

Board Members

Dottie Deans
North Pomfret
Driven by a deep caring for the social fabric of our state, Dottie combines her gift for creating warm personal relationships, with a stubborn pragmatic sense of what is possible. She is the former Chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, a position she held for four years, during which time she also served on the Executive Committee of the Association of State Democratic Chairs. She started her work with the Democratic Party at the grassroots level, as town then county chair in Pomfret and Windsor County respectively, and later as vice chair of the state party. 

A life-long learner, Dottie has been passionate about children and politics since her early teen years. Dottie majored in elementary education at Green Mountain College and the University of Denver, with a minor in politics. She taught in an open-space elementary school outside Denver, Colorado for 13 years, winning a “Teacher of the Year” award in 1983. After moving to Vermont in 1984, Dottie worked as a travel associate further broadening her experience of the importance of professional accountability and paying attention to detail.  Later, she volunteered at the AIDS Community Resource Network, now H2RC, later becoming an employee, then a board member and finally board chair. 

She and her partner of 20 years, Lydia Spitzer, live in North Pomfret with their two energetic black golden doodles and one very entitled Ragdoll cat.
Michelle Fay
St. Johnsbury

Michelle Fay is a lifelong advocate for social justice, currently serving as Associate Director of Voices for Vermont's Children where she champions policies that improve the lives of children and youth. She was previously Executive Director of Umbrella, a nonprofit social change and human services organization in the Northeast Kingdom working to end violence against women and children and make high quality child care accessible to all. She has also taught courses at Springfield College on such seemingly disparate topics as strategic planning, financial management, and oppression and resistance. 

Michelle grew up on dairy farm and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in sociology with a gender and family concentration. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was selected to participate in a candidate-training program very similar to Emerge. She put that training to use and was elected State Representative for St. Johnsbury in 2012. Republicans targeted the district and Michelle lost her seat by 27 votes in 2014. She is now actively engaged in Democratic town and county committee work with the goal of sending more NEK Democrats to Montpelier. Michelle lives in St. Johnsbury with her husband and their two smart, strong daughters.

Kate Lapp

Hailing from Ira, VT, Kate graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a degreee economics and political science. She was the Youth Representative to the Vermont Democratic Party’s Executive Committee and has been a committed volunteer for the VDP since 2010. She is a 2016 alumna of Emerge Vermont. Kate has gained experience from a variety of internships including working in Governor Shumlin’s Office, advocating for students' voice with the Vermont School Boards Association, and helping to coordinate volunteers for several Vermonters running for local office. Kate is also a member of the Advisory Board for the organization, Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST), which works to increase student voice and engagement in decision making and learning in Vermont schools.  While still in high school, Kate co-founded and served as president of the Young Democrats of Vermont.

Sue Minter
Waterbury Center

Sue Minter was the Democratic candidate for Vermont Governor in 2016. She was one of only two women gubernatorial candidates in the country in that general election. After a hard-fought loss in November 2016, Sue took time to rejuvenate and explore professional options. In September 2017, Sue was named President and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont. As a lifelong athlete, Sue understands the rewards of sport and the power of teamwork. Previously, Minter served as Deputy and then Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Following the historic floods of 2011 and the successful VTrans emergency response to Tropical Storm Irene, Minter was appointed in 2012 to be Vermont’s Irene Recovery Officer, responsible for implementation of all state recovery and resilience programs and activities. In 2013, she was deployed to lead a Vermont team to assist the state of Colorado following severe flooding, and in 2014, she represented Governor Shumlin on the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, where she co-chaired the Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Resilience.

Minter served in the Vermont Legislature 2004–2010, serving two years on the House Appropriations Committee and four years on the House Transportation Committee. She was selected to be an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, and was designated as a 2008 Emerging Political Leader by the State Legislative Leadership Foundation. A graduate of Harvard University and M.I.T., Minter has worked over the past 25 years in the public, private and non-profit sectors, as a professional planner and policy maker at the state, local, and international level. Sue lives with her husband, David Goodman in Waterbury Center, Vermont. They have two children, Ariel and Jasper, one grown and one soon on his way to college.

Lisa Patlis

Lisa Patlis, the founding principal of Patlis Productions, has over 20 years of leadership experience in national and international project development, event production, strategic communications, and community development. Lisa is a founding board member of Emerge America’s first affiliate, Emerge California and served as an advisor to Emerge America.

Lisa served as Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications for One Economy Corporation where she was responsible for strategic communications including media and public relations, corporate branding, public policy development, external affairs and spearheading corporate fundraising initiatives. 

A former political appointee in the Clinton Administration, Lisa served as Senior Advisor to then U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo in Washington, DC.  Lisa managed HUD’s Office of International Affairs, the Secretary’s first bi-lateral mission to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as disaster recovery efforts in Central America and the Caribbean, and implemented bi-lateral agreements on housing and community development with China, South Africa and Mexico. She later served as a consultant to the Burmese Minister of Justice and the Minister of Labor of Aung San Suu Kyi’s then Government-in-exile.

Lisa holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. She lives in Stowe with her husband, Ken Braverman, and two step-children.

Kesha Ram

Kesha Ram is currently a master's student at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She served Burlington’s Old North End, Hill Section, and University District in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2009-16. In 2016, she ran for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, losing in a heavily contested Democratic primary. She serves on the boards of the Center for Whole Communities, the University of Vermont, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Her work has earned her recognition as a Morris K. Udall Scholar, Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Harry S. Truman Scholar, and Oxfam Climate Change Ambassador. Kesha has worked as a childcare assistant and a Public Engagement Specialist for the Burlington Community & Economic Development Office. Kesha attended the University of Vermont, where she graduated with degrees in Natural Resource Planning and Political Science, and in 2006 completed a Public Law program at American University.

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