Click here to check out the diverse and inspiring group of Emerge alumnae from around the country.

Catherine Alexander is an eighth generation Vermonter from Derby. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Vermont, where she double majored in Political Science and English. Catherine successfully defended her senior thesis exploring paid family leave polices, and graduated with honors as a UVM Honor's College Scholar. Following graduation, she has worked as the Executive Assistant to the Vermont Department of Taxes, and is currently the Staff Assistant to Senator Patrick Leahy's Montpelier Office.


Becca was elected to the Vermont State Senate in 2014, where she respresents Windham County. She was re-elected in 2016, and elected Senate Majority Leader, making her the highest ranking openly-gay woman to serve in the history of the Vermont General Assembly.

Pabitra Bhattarai is a student at Norwich University, working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Pabitra’s family is from Bhutan, but spent many years in a Nepali refugee camp before coming to Vermont as refugees in 2012. In 2014 Pabitra joined the “World Peace Organization” team as a media correspondent, enabling her to share her experiences and learn more about how to support people around the world.

Melody Brown Burkins is the Senior Director for Research and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Vermont (UVM). Committed to the successful advancement of high-impact scholarship across disciplines, Burkins has held a diversity of strategic management and administration roles at UVM, including Associate Dean in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and UVM Director of Federal Relations.

State Representative

Jessica Brumsted was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 2016. She serves on the Government Operations Committee and is a member of the Government Accountability Committee.  Jessica is an experienced government relations professional who started her career in Senator Jim Jeffords' Vermont office in the late 1980s before serving as Director of Government Relations at then Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Ana Cimino grew up in a family who suffered from economic insecurity and mental health struggles. After years of moving from place to place with an abusive mother, Ana was adopted by her aunt who was able to provide her stability. Her childhood experiences have had a crucial impact on her professional and educational decisions as an adult. Ana attended Rockhurst University Honors College in Kansas City, receiving a degree in French and Nonprofit Leadership Studies.

Signe Daly was born in Denmark and immigrated to the United States when she was 13-years old. She is a graduate of University of Vermont. She currently teaches Global Studies at Champlain College, where she is a member of the SEIU-Adjunct Action Union. Signe has been a college instructor and high school teacher at various schools in Vermont, New Jersey, and Colorado. From 2011-13, Signe was the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) leader for Edmunds Elementary School in Burlington.

Dawn Ellis improves work serving the public good. Areas include education and social services; community, economic, and leadership development; corrections and social justice; innovation and virtual learning; creativity, culture, and recreation; as well as access and inclusion. She facilitates planning, research, professional development, and organizational change. Her clients develop capacity to lead dynamic, learning organizations. Her work empowers people and affects policy at all levels across the U.S. and abroad.


Liz Gamache is currently serving her third term as Mayor of the City of St. Albans, Vermont, where she’s leading an unprecedented downtown revitalization effort that has transformed the Main Street district, filling vacant storefronts while attracting jobs and private investment.

Carmen is the Director of Marketing for TruexCullins, an international architecture and interior design firm based in Burlington, Vermont. Most of her career has been in the nonprofit sector, including as marketing manager for Good News Garage, where people struggling to get out of poverty can receive a car that is affordable, safe and reliable.

Margaret George moved to northern Virginia in 2016, and currently works in Washington, DC as an Intelligence Analyst. She works with local, state, tribal and territorial agencies, focusing on information sharing and serving decision makers with value-added intelligence. Margaret holds a masters degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. and is a 2013 graduate of Lyndon State College, with a degree in Psychology and Human Services.

Barbarina Heyerdahl, Montpelier, VT, is a funder, investor and citizen advocate engaged in addressing climate change and supporting sustainable agriculture.  She is particularly interested in how citizens and government can work collaboratively to address challenging environmental and societal problems. For the past few years her “day job” has been full-time mother of her four children, but over the past 25 years she has worked at environmental organizations, run an organic vegetable farm, and been a parenting educator in schools in Maine and Vermont.

City Councilor

Ashley Hill was elected to the Montpelier, Vermont City Council in March 2017. In 2016, she ran for Vermont State Senate, losing a tough primary election by just one vote! Ashley serves as a Vermont Deputy State’s Attorney in Addison County and as an IT Project Manager for the State of Vermont. In addition, Ashley is an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Montpelier’s Community College of Vermont (CCV) Campus and Norwich University, and currently serves on CCV’s Social Sciences Curriculum Committee and as the Statewide Coordinator for CCV's Student Leadership Endorsement.


Debbie Ingram was elected to the Vermont State Senate in 2016, one of six senators representing the large Chittenden County district. Debbie serves on the Committe on Education and the Committee on Health and Welfare. She is the Executive Director of Vermont Interfaith Action, a coalition of congregations statewide that seeks to effect systemic change on issues like affordable housing, education, and state budget priorities. Previously, Debbie served two terms on the Williston Selectboard, where she chaired the Affordable Housing Task Force and the Housing Trust Fund Task Force.

School Board Member

Diane Kirson-Glitman has nearly 35 years of experience as a registered nurse and health educator. She currently is the school nurse for Essex High School and Center for Technology, a faculty position that combines direct care, emergency services, health education, program planning, legislative advocacy and collaboration with other organizations. Diane was a member of Mount Mansfield Union School District Board for ten years, serving as Policy Committee Chair, Strategic Planning and Executive Committees member, and Clerk for the full board.

Vanessa Branon Kittell, a seventh generation Vermonter, grew up in Fairfield, Vermont.  In 1996 she graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  From 1999 into 2001, Vanessa served as a speechwriter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala, as an appointee in the Clinton Administration.
Vanessa holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School as well as a Masters Degree in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  She joined Kissane Associates in 2008 in St.

Felicia Kornbluh is an Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Vermont.  She is also the president of United Academics, the faculty union of the University of Vermont, and an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and American Association of University Professors.  Kornbluh is the co-author, with Gwendolyn MInk, of the forthcoming Ensuring Poverty: The History and Politics of Welfare Reform, a study of the origins and effects of the welfare reform law passed in the United States in 1996.  She is the author of The Battle for Welfa

Hannah Kretvix attended Mill River Union High School near Rutland, Vermont. She is a recent graduate of the University of Vermont, where she founded and coordinated a group of Unitarian Universalist students and was a community service scholar at the Dewey House for Community Engagement. As a Dewey House student, she was required to complete 80 hours of service each year, as well as write about how her service addressed larger issues of civic engagement and social justice.

Michelle is a married mother of 2 bio daughters and 2 step daughters, and a woman of great Faith. Several generations of her family have been born and raised in Vermont. She takes pride in her home state of Vermont and the life she lives there with her extended family in Central Vermont. She has earned an Associate’s Degree in Human Services while raising a family and working full-time.

Kate Lapp grew up in Ira, Vermont. While still in high school, Kate co-founded and served as president of the Young Democrats of Vermont. She recently graduated with a degree in economics and political science from the University of Vermont. Kate is a regional field director for Matt Dunne for Vermont. She has been the Youth Representative to the Vermont Democratic Party’s Executive Committee and has been a committed volunteer for the VDP since 2010.


Nicole Mace is General Counsel for the Vermont School Boards Association.  In that role, she provides legal guidance, policy support and legislative advocacy on behalf of the Association and its 1500 members.   Prior to joining the VSBA, Nicole was Research Director and Senior Policy Advocate at Voices for Vermont's Children, where she focused her research on identifying strategies to ensure our public education systems have the resources and support they need to provide an excellent education to all our young people, particularly those who struggle due to barriers created by disability, pover

Pam McCarthy is the President and CEO of Vermont Family Network, a statewide family support and advocacy organization that promotes better health, education, and well-being for all children and families, with a focus on children and young adults with special needs. Pam has had a longstanding commitment to the health, education, and well-being of families, especially those experiencing socioeconomic challenges.

Elizabeth S. McLoughlin, of Brattleboro, is the owner of Environmental and Land Use Planning consulting firm. 
Ms. McLoughlin’s volunteer activities are focused on The Brattleboro Area Drop in Center, as co-chair of the Empty Bowls Dinner, the Center’s primary fundraiser. She has also served on the BADIC Board of Directors. 
Ms. McLoughlin’s volunteer work for the Town of Brattleboro includes her current roll as Chair of the Brattleboro Planning Commission.

Christine Moon is a full-time registered nurse at the UVM Medical Center and an active union member of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Local 5221. She was a Chief Steward for the Peri-operative Department which included the Cardiovascular, Post Procedure, Pre-op, PACU (Recovery Room) Units. Christine has worked as a nurse in various UVM specialty practices and hospital units, and was a school nurse at the Champlain Elementary School in Burlington. For several years, Christine has actively participated in the movement for universal health care in Vermont.

Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources

Julie Moore was appointed Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) by Governor Phil Scott in January 2017. Previously she was the Water Resources Group Leader at Stone Environmental, an environmental consulting firm headquartered in Montpelier, Vermont. Julie has led a variety of watershed planning and assessment projects, and has a deep understanding of water quality concerns associated with runoff from developed land and agricultural areas, as well as stream channel processes and flooding.

State Representative

For 38-year-old Bennington resident Kiah Morris, as a wife, mother and aunt, fighting for the voices of others is not simply a pastime or part-time passion; for her, they are a way of life.
Kiah earned her bachelor of arts degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chair, Vermont State Ethics Commission

Madeline M. Motta is a corporate and government ethics compliance consultant, lawyer and academic with a doctorate in law and expertise in fiduciary obligation law. In October 2017, she was elected as Chair of the newly formed Vermont State Ethics Commission. The Commission, created under 2017 Act 79, is the first of its kind in Vermont. 
Dr. Motta graduated from McGill University Faculty of Law with a Doctor of Civil Law degree with a focus in fiduciary law, ethics and bio-medical regulatory law.

Brittany Nevins grew up in Waltham where her family ran a small bed & breakfast. She now lives in Winooski with her partner. Aside from traveling and studying abroad in Spain, Mexico and India, Brittany has spent her entire life in Vermont. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in political science and SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro with a MA in sustainable development and a concentration in policy advocacy and analysis.

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