Who We Are
Advance Vermont is a statewide partnership of leaders from business, education, government, nonprofits and philanthropy with a unified goal to increase educational attainment in Vermont for the benefit of our residents, communities and economy. Our mission is to advance the civic and economic vitality of Vermont by growing the number of Vermonters with postsecondary credentials, increasing equity in educational attainment, and strengthening connections among education, training, and employment.
Advance Vermont is funded in part by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation, Jane’s Trust Foundation, and the Windham Foundation, with support from the Lumina Foundation.
Over the last decade, there have been increasing efforts to grow postsecondary attainment in Vermont. In 2009, Vermont government and higher education leaders signed a compact to increase college attainment to 60 percent in 2019. The following year in 2010, Act 133 established the PreK-16 Council with responsibility to coordinate efforts between the preK-12 and higher education communities to reach a new statewide goal that “at least 60 percent of the adult population will have earned an associate’s or higher-level degree by 2020.” Six years later, a cross-sector convening of executives from across the state selected the goal of 70 percent attainment by 2025 to include both degree and non-degree education and training credentials. In 2017, Governor Phil Scott endorsed the 70 by 2025 goal at the Advance Vermont launch event and the collective impact organization 70x2025vt was established. In 2018, 70x2025vt became known as Advance Vermont. Advance Vermont has successfully convened stakeholders to elevate conversation and spur action, launched efforts to raise awareness about the importance of education beyond high school, advanced the policy dialogue on access to and completion of postsecondary education, and harnessed data to inform stakeholders.
Advance Vermont’s Council is comprised of statewide leaders and executives from the private and public sectors. Council members are integral in advocacy and collaboration efforts across the state. Their collective experience, expertise, and network is invaluable to Advance Vermont; their commitment to postsecondary education and workforce development is unparalleled.
Vermont State SenateRebecca Balint
Windham FoundationLiz Bankowski
Vermont Adult LearningHal Cohen
Agency of EducationDan French
City of St. AlbansLiz Gamache
Vermont Student Assistance CorporationScott Giles
North Country Career CenterEileen Illuzzi
Community Colleges of VermontJoyce Judy
Center for New Leadership
at Marlboro College
Vermont State Employees Credit UnionRob Miller
Chroma Technology CorporationPaul Millman
New England Association of
Middlebury CollegeLaurie Patton
Let’s Grow KidsAly Richards
Agency of Commerce &
Vermont Community FoundationDan Smith
Smugglers’ Notch ResortBill Stritzler
University of Vermont, College of Education & Social ServicesScott Thomas
Vermont Business RoundtableLisa Ventriss
Wakefield GlobalAl Wakefield
“Putting a focus on adult learners who need education and skill training is the right thing to do for Vermont and our workforce needs.”Scott Giles
Adult Working Group
Identify and eliminate barriers for Vermont adults with some or no postsecondary education so that they may obtain the education and training needed to achieve their work and life goals.
Former Chancellor, Vermont State Colleges & Board Member, McClure FoundationTIM DONOVAN
- Pam ChisholmCommunity College of Vermont
- Maureen HerbertVermont Technical College
- Steve LookNorwhich University
- Melissa MarcelloChamplain College
- Heather NewcombVermont Works for Women
- Len SchmidtP.A. Hannaford Career Center
- Bill SugarmanVocRehab
- Merrilyn Tatarczuch-KoffVSAC
Communications Working Group
Build a statewide understanding of the importance of postsecondary education/training in order for Vermonters to achieve financial and workplace stability and for Vermont to stay economically and civically vibrant.
Associate Vice President for Marketing & Creative Services, Middlebury CollegeROBIN GRONLUND
- Greg BrandBlue House Group
- Amanda ChaulkVermont Technical College
- Pat CoxBeacon Associates
- Maryanne DePrescoVSAC
- Karen FlemingGreen Mountain College
- Samantha HaimesUniversity of Vermont
- Alana ReddenAdvanced Vermont Fellow
- Liz SchlegelAlchemist Foundation
- Elaine SopchakAgency of Commerce & Community Development
- Carolyn WeirVermont Community Foundation
Data & Analysis Working Group
Coordinate, rigorously and objectively analyze, and present data to inform strategy development and review, and to measure success in moving toward achieving the attainment goal.
Dean, University of Vermont College of Education & Social ServicesScott Thomas
- Mat BarewiczVermont Department of Labor
- Paul CilloPublic Assets Institute
- Wendy GellerVermont Agency of Education
- Laura MassellCommunity College of Vermont
- Anna PrescottVSAC
- Krysta SadowskiGallagher, Flynn & Co
- Catherin WelchSaint Michael’s College
- Alex YinUniversity of Vermont
Youth Working Group
Identify and eliminate barriers to or gaps in current efforts to address college and career readiness, postsecondary aspirations, continuation, and graduation for Vermont youth.
Chief Academic Officer, Vermont State Colleges SystemYasmine Ziesler
Executive Director, New England Association of School SuperintendentsMary Moran
- Matt BourgaultVSAC
- Melissa ConnerStafford Technical Center
- Jess DeCarolisAgency of Education
- Paul GambleCommunity Engagement Lab
- Marie JohnsonUniversity of Vermont
- Emilie KnisleyBlue Mountain Union School
- Samantha MillsStudent, Champlain College
- Holly MorehouseVermont Afterschool
- Jay NicholsVermont Principals’ Association
- Natalie SearleCommunity College of Vermont
- Rich TulikangasDivision of Vocational Rehabilitation
- Debbie WarnockBennington College
Prior to his current position, Tom served as the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Human Resources. Previously he worked as a legislative assistant to Congressman Peter Welch in Washington D.C. and chief of staff to Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith. Born and raised in Vermont, Tom graduated from Milton High School and the University of Vermont. He serves as a justice of the peace in Jericho and is a member of the board of trustees at Lund.Tom Cheney
Alana recently graduated from college with a focus in Gender Studies and Community Development. Prior to joining the Advance Vermont team, she has worked with other place-based organizations like the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and Vermont Works for Women. Alana is driven by a commitment to social, political, and economic justice and aims to imbue considerations of access and equity into all aspects of her work. When she’s not in the office, you can likely find her in the mountains.Alana Redden
Ellie is a graduate of the University of Vermont where her academic and work experience has focused on sustainable local and international community development. She has previously worked at the Vermont Department of Labor and Vermont Works for Women as a research analyst. Ellie loves running, reading, and dogs.Ellie Diamond
Funders & Partners
Funders and partners are vital to Advance Vermont’s work. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation provide the support to make this initiative possible. Partner organizations help leverage existing efforts and resources and provide opportunities for collaboration.
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We’re always looking to help make connections and support innovative projects.