Our Founding Advisors are individuals who endorse Rights & Democracy and are called upon by the Board and Staff leadership to help on big picture questions and areas of their expertise. Organizations are listed for identification purposes only.

JerryGreenfield-2.jpg JERRY GREENFIELD

Jerry is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. He has a background in biology, a commitment to fair treatment of workers, and is dedicated to improving community in Vermont and beyond. He serves as President of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.

mckibben-crop.png BILL MCKIBBEN

Bill is the founder of, the global grassroots climate campaign. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he was among the first to write about climate change (The End of Nature, 1989) and has written a dozen other volumes. He is the recipient of 18 honorary degrees, and awards including the Gandhi Prize and the Merton Prize. In 2014 the Swedish Parliament awarded him the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel. He was also named Vermonter of the Year by the Burlington Free Press in 2013.

Rev._Debbie_Ingram.jpg REV. DEBBIE INGRAM

Debbie is the Executive Director of Vermont Interfaith Action, a coalition of congregations across the state that seeks to effect systemic change on social justice issues. She is a graduate of Stanford University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and completed a fellowship at Cambridge University. She lived in Bangladesh for seven years, where she wrote and directed videos for organizations focused on poverty alleviation. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ denomination and sits on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Conference of UCC congregations. She serves on the Williston Selectboard.

Jessie_Spector-2.jpg JESSIE SPECTOR

Jessie is the Executive Director of Resource Generation, organizing young people with wealth and class privilege toward a world with a more equitable distribution of land, wealth, and power. She is a firm believer in organizing people with privilege to show how their own liberation and security is also compromised by injustice and oppression, and to work in solidarity with those directly impacted to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. .

JohnMoran-2.jpg JOHN MORAN

John is a former 4-term Vermont State Representative, where he served as vice-chair of the House General Committee and Co-Chair of the Working Vermont Legislative Caucus. He is a lifelong progressive Democrat committed to economic growth and equality, universal healthcare, livable wages, guaranteed employment, environmental protection, housing for all, strong labor and worker rights, full livable benefits for the disabled, expanded social security, equitable taxation, and an economic system that is the servant of all Vermonters.

marygerisch.jpg MARY GERISCH

Mary is a retired human rights attorney and past President of the Vermont Workers’ Center. She is a task force member of the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as the Co-Chair of the Universal Periodic Review task force for USHRN. She sits on the board of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Healing Winds Pow Wow, and Bennington Farm to Plate. She is a representative on the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council, which has established and supports the Bennington Free Health Clinic, as well the Bennington Vermont Food Bank Distribution Center. She is currently the Chair of the Bennington Town Democratic Party.

Cathy_Albisa_copy-2.jpg CATHY ALBISA

Cathy is a constitutional and human rights lawyer with significant experience working in partnership with community organizers in the use of human rights standards to strengthen advocacy in the United States. She co-founded National Economic & Social Rights Initiative and has been on the faculty of CUNY School of Law, and taught at Columbia Law School, Hunter School of Social Work and Cornell University. She has published numerous articles on human rights in the United States.

Robert_Appel.jpg ROBERT APPEL

Robert is a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer. He led the Vermont Human Rights Commission, served as the Vermont Defender General, chief public defender, and has played many roles including chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit. Much of his work is focused on reducing racial disparities in criminal justice and school disciplinary actions, preventing the incarceration of persons with mental disabilities and addiction issues and reversing the current regime of mass incarceration.

Laurie_Aunchman_Grievance_Chair.jpg LAURIE AUNCHMAN

Laurie is a Registered Nurse in Critical Care at the University of Vermont Medical Center, where she has served for 38 years. She was the on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Vermont for over 10 years. She has been active with the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5221 since 2002, and has sat on the VFNHP Executive Board since 2009..

Tin_Barton-Caplin.jpg TIN (JUSTIN) BARTON-CAPLIN

Justin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Middlebury College, a Master’s of Public Health from Dartmouth College, and completed his MD at Tufts University School of Medicine. He has worked in public health in Vermont for over ten years to to improve the wellbeing of all people living in the state. Because one of the major determinants of health is socio-economic status he has become dedicated to reducing income inequality.

John_Bloch-3.jpg JOHN BLOCH

John after working his entire career for economic and human rights is retired VT state employee. He serves as the board chair of ORCA Media and is an active leader of the Vermont Chapter of the Alliance of Retired Americans.

Kathy_Blume.jpg KATHRYN BLUME

Kathy is a speaker, writer, environmental activist, and solo performer. She has toured her original work to over 50 cities in the US, Canada, and Europe. She co-founded the Lysistrata Project, the first worldwide theatrical event for peace. She serve as Executive Director of Vermontivate! – a sustainability game designed to bring fun, hope, and possibility to the hard work of solving the global climate crisis. She is committed to building a movement for rights and democracy because it is necessary to keep the fabric of civil society strong – and because we need a movement right now.

Matthew_Burke.jpg MATTHEW BURKE

Matt is pursuing a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University in an exciting new program called Economics for the Anthropocene. His area of study focuses on public policy in energy and environment, environmental governance, and political ecology. He works to integrate advocacy and research for political change that matters for people and planet, while working locally to build just and environmentally sustainable community.

Selene_Colburn.jpg SELENE COLBURN

Selene brings decades of experience in leadership, advocacy, and policy development. She’s a librarian at the University of Vermont, an activist for social and economic justice, and a community servant who has helped shape the visions of local civic and nonprofit boards, including Vermont Access to Reproductive Freedom, which she founded in 2002. She currently serves as Burlington's East District City Councilor.

Mari_Cordes.jpg MARI CORDES

Mari is a registered nurse and union and community social justice activist. She is the former local president of Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and current VP of Healthcare for AFT-Vermont. She co-led on a number of policy issues such as an effort to remove discriminatory health insurance practices for transgender individuals, to strengthen public and regulatory oversight of not-for-profit hospital assets, and in the effort to establish publicly funded health care with no barriers to access for all Vermonters. Her first academic degree was in Natural Resource Management, Economics and Policy, and she serves on the 350VT board. She lives off the grid in the mountains with her husband David.

Linda_Deliduka.jpg LINDA DELIDUKA

Linda is a retired teacher and long time union leader. She now works with families serves on the board and is active in a number of VT organizations including the the VT Council of Vermont Elders and VT Retired Teachers. She also starte dChittenden County K I N, a group to provide information and navigation support to families raising kin.

Lindsay_Deslauriers.jpg LINDSAY DESLAURIERS

Lindsay is currently the State Director at Main Street Alliance of Vermont. Lindsay also worked in public policy as an advocate at Voices for Vermont’s Children, where she worked on policy in early childhood, public education, juvenile justice, healthcare, and family economic security. Lindsay also served Interim Director for the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance, a statewide coalition of early childhood professionals, parents, businesses, and strategic partners working to affect positive policy change in the area of early childhood.

Ali_Dieng-2.jpg ALI DIENG

Ali is the Family Outreach Coordinator for the Burlington School District Extended Learning Opportunities. He is originally from Mauritania and grew up in Senegal. He studied law at University of Mauritania and then moved to Washington, DC before he came to VT with his family in 2008. He also serves on the School District Equity Council and is the manager and performer at Africa Jamono Drumming & Band Association.

Rev._Mara_Dowdall.jpeg REV. MARA DOWDALL

Mara is a longtime social justice advocate and Unitarian Universalist clergy member, currently serving as Senior Minister at the First UU Society of Burlington. Before her call to ministry, Mara worked in national politics, with stints at NARAL Pro-Choice America and as an aide to Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Passionate about the connection between spiritual growth and justice-making, Mara is active in the Clergy Caucus of Vermont Interfaith Action.

James_Ehlers-2.jpg JAMES EHLERS

For the last 16 years, James has had the privilege to serve as executive director of Lake Champlain International, which focuses on the merits of a clean water economy where sound public policy in energy, agriculture, urban and suburban development, and jobs is reflected in swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters. He is a recipient of the U.S. EPA Regional Merit Award for his founding of an innovative approach to solving stormwater pollution. He shares his communication skills gleaned from a decade in publishing and broadcast media and his leadership skills honed as a Naval Officer with several organizations and elected officials, including serving on Senator Bernie Sanders’ Environmental Advisory Council.

David_Ellenbogen-2.jpg DAVID ELLENBOGEN

For over 30 years David has been a mathematics professor and author of textbooks. Currently Vice Chair of the Sierra Club of Vermont, he serves on their Energy Committee, and chairs their Political Committee. In 2014 David completed a certificate of graduate studies in Ecological Economics at UVM. His interest in progressive politics dates back to leafletting for Eugene McCarthy, and he is a longstanding member of Vermont’s Progressive Party and the National Writers Union.

Senowa_Mize-Fox.jpg SENOWA MIZE-FOX

Senowa is a rank & file union member, steward, and the recording secretary involved with United Electrical Workers Local 203 at City Market. She is actively involved with Migrant Justice and the Vermont Workers' Center working for livable wages, democracy within the black lives matter campaign, climate justice, and labor justice.

Joseph_Gainza-2.jpg JOSEPH GAINZA

Joseph is a longtime leader for peace and human rights. He currently is the coordinator of Vermont Action for Peace and the Producer and Host for the radio program Gathering Peace. Joseph served as the Vermont Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee and has decades of experience working on global and community issues of human rights.

Scott_Garren.jpg SCOTT GARREN

Scott has a business background in information technology and is founder of Vermont Acts, to get money out of politics. He serves as the Rutland County Treasurer & State Committeeman for the Vermont Democratic Party. He is an active leader of the Vermont Workers Center and is a trustee at Spring Lake Ranch.

Jeremy_Hansen-2.png JEREMY HANSEN

Jeremy is an assistant professor of computer science at Norwich University, where his research includes security, privacy, electoral systems, and the use of the Internet for democracy. He serves on the Selectboard in Berlin and is the chair of the Vermont Progressive Party's Elections Committee.

Rebecca_Haslam.jpg REBECCA HASLAM

Rebecca Haslam is the 2015 Vermont State Teacher of the Year. She teaches first grade and serves as the K-5 Social Studies Curriculum Coach in Burlington, Vermont. Rebecca designs workshops to support teachers’ cultural proficiency and develops units of study grounded in culturally responsive pedagogy. She is the former president of the Burlington Education Association and currently serves on Vermont NEA's Human and Civil Rights Committee. Rebecca is an adjunct professor at St. Michael’s College, and a Doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont. Rebecca has recently launched a new initiative dedicated to Equity Education called Seed the Way.

Felicia_Kornbluh.jpeg FELICIA KORNBLUH

Dr. Kornbluh is the President of United Academics (AFT/AAUP); Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality & Women Studies at the University of Vermont. She is an expert on poverty, social welfare, disability, and the history of law in the United States. She is the author of the book, The Battle for Welfare Rights: Poverty and Politics in Modern America.

Sarah_Launderville.jpg SARAH LAUNDERVILLE

Sarah is the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) and an active leader of the National Center For Independent Living. She serves as the President of the Disability Rights Vermont board of directors and is the co-founder and co-chair of the National Council on Independent Living’s Women’s Caucus. She is a member of the VT Human Rights Council, VT Statewide Independent Living Council, VT Coalition for Disability Rights, the VT Statewide Rehab Council, the Vermont Arts Council and ADAPT.

James_Lockridge.jpg JAMES LOCKRIDGE

James is the Executive Director of Big Heavy World. He has directed Vermont’s Burlington-based independent, volunteer-staffed music office for 20 years, generating partnerships and channeling enthusiasm that supports Vermont-made music of every kind and stage of development. James is a cultural heritage advisory board member of the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership and serves on the King Street Neighborhood Revitalization Corp. He also directs the Youth Safety Council of Vermont and coordinates the Distracted Driving Task Force of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance and its Education/Outreach & Marketing Focus Group.

Ebony_Nyoni-2.jpg EBONY NYONI

Ebony is originally from NYC, and is the proud owner of the first black owned Beauty Supply store in Vermont. A graduate from the University of Vermont, she remains a proud defender of human rights. She has led community events and outreach to elected officials about the need to address the epidemic of police violence against black communities.

Ed_Paquin-2.jpg ED PAQUIN

Ed served six terms in the Vermont House of Representatives and for over a decade has managed Disability Rights Vermont, a private, non-profit agency which offers legal services to and advocates for people with disabilities. He has worked on issues that range from milk pricing to health-care reform to enhancement of mental health and other services to people with disabilities. He works for a true democracy where the voices of the people affected by state policy are those that control its direction.

Judy_Pransky-2.jpg JUDY PRANSKY

Judy has been an educator for over 48 years and have owned and operated Licensed Child Care Centers in Vermont for over 30 years. She has been an active union organizer for VT Early Educators United and a member of the Vermont Workers Center for over 4 years. She has worked on countless projects for families in Caledonia County, including helping found and work with the St. Johnsbury Early Education Collaborative to initiate and seek funding for programs and opportunities which will strengthen and better serve the families in our community.

Marty_Scanlon.jpg MARTY SCANLON

Marty is a long-time labor leader in Vermont and his union the Association of Federal Government Employees (AFGE). He served as the Treasurer for the Champlain Valley Central Labor Council and has served as a wage and hour investigator for the US Department of Labor.

Amanda_Sheppard_(center)-2.jpg AMANDA SHEPPARD

Amanda is the president of Vermont Homecare United - AFSCME Local 4802 and serves as the Vice President of the Vermont AFL-CIO. She is on the steering committee of the Vermont Workers Center and helps lead the VWC Addison County organizing committee. She has served the Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council and for years has been an advocate for those with social, emotional and physical disabilities for years while teaching therapeutic equine activities.

Rachel_Siegel.jpg RACHEL SIEGEL

Rachel is an artist-activist-parent dedicated to connecting the dots of environmental, social and economic justice in order to create a nonviolent future. She became the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Center in 2013. She has tremendous organizational and fundraising skills; is a proven leader in the community; and is well-established in Burlington. She has worked for positive change as an advocate for women and economic justice through both Vermont Works for Women and as a founding member of Vermont Access to Reproductive Freedom.

Kurt_Staudter.jpg KURT STAUDTER

Kurt is a substation worker for National Grid and an IBEW shop steward. He has been writing political opinion for 18 years in weekly newspapers, and been a radio commentator on Vermont Public Radio. Kurt graduated from the National Labor College and went on a fellowship to the Harvard Trade Union Program.

Carol_Tashie-2.jpg CAROL TASHIE

Carol is a farmer and co-owner of Radical Roots Farm. She is also an educator and an active member of the Rutland community working on issues of neighborhood revitalization, economic and community development, and the relocalization of our food system.

Jason_Serota_Winston.jpg JASON SEROTA-WINSTON

Jason is an ICU nurse originally from Adamant, Vermont. He is a co-founder of the Vermont Workers’ Center and Central Vermonters For A Livable Wage. He also has worked as a union organizer with the Vermont NEA and United Professions of Vermont/AFT.

SuziWizowaty.jpg SUZI WIZOWATY

A writer and teacher, Suzi first became aware of injustice in the criminal justice system while leading writing programs in the prisons in the 1990s. She entered the legislature in 2009 to try to bring about systemic change, and served three terms. In 2014 she stepped down in order to focus on the non-profit organization, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, which she had founded the year before--because too few people understand how broken the system is.

Dave_Stember.jpg DAVID STEMBER

David is the Manager of North American Organizing at He was a co founder of 350Vermont, and is now assisting the development of similar state chapters across the region. Much of his earlier years were spent on business and organizational development and training and organizing volunteers. With a B.A in Business and an M.A. in psychology his focus has always been on creating healthy organizations where people are inspired to do their finest work.

Shay_Totten.jpg SHAY TOTTEN

Shay is a longtime writer and journalist, who grew up in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. He's given voice to regular folks organizing around issues related to labor, disability rights, the environment, peace, and justice. He is a former board member of the Peace & Justice Center, and is currently the communications director of Chelsea Green Publishing, an independent, employee-owned book publisher based in Vermont.

Jeff_Wolfe-2.jpg JEFF WOLFE, P.E.

Jeff lives in Houston, TX and Strafford, VT. He is the SVP of Business Development for Just Energy, the nation's fourth largest electric retailer. He is a recognized leader in business and policy in the solar industry. Jeff founded groSolar, a nationwide solar energy installation company, where he remains as Chairman. Jeff has founded several non- profits in energy and climate activism, and serves on several non- profit boards, including the Union of Concerned Scientists National Advisory Board, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the Our Children, Climate, Faith Symposium.

Justin_Woodie-2.jpg JUSTIN WOODIE

Justin returned to his hometown of Bennington, VT after getting a degree in political science from the University of Vermont. He is currently working for the Bennington Coalition For the Homeless and among a growing number of community members looking to create progressive change on the local level.

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