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About

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.

Our History

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.

Council

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 Senate

Rebecca Balint

Majority Leader

Windham Foundation

Liz Bankowski

President & CEO

Vermont Adult Learning

Hal Cohen

Executive Director

Agency of Education

Dan French

Secretary

City of St. Albans

Liz Gamache

Former Mayor

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation

Scott Giles

President & CEO

North Country Career Center

Eileen Illuzzi

Director

Community Colleges of Vermont

Joyce Judy

President

Center for New Leadership
at Marlboro College

Kate McGowan

Director

Vermont State Employees Credit Union

Rob Miller

CEO

Chroma Technology Corporation

Paul Millman

President

New England Association of
School Superintendents

Mary Moran

Executive Director

Middlebury College

Laurie Patton

President

Let’s Grow Kids

Aly Richards

CEO

Agency of Commerce &
Community Development

Michael Shirling

Secretary

Vermont Community Foundation

Dan Smith

President & CEO

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Bill Stritzler

Owner & Managing Director

University of Vermont, College of Education & Social Services

Scott Thomas

Dean

Vermont Business Roundtable

Lisa Ventriss

President

Wakefield Global

Al Wakefield

CEO

“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

President and CEO of VSAC

Adult Working Group

Charge

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 Foundation

TIM DONOVAN

Chair

Team
  • 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

Charge

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 College

ROBIN GRONLUND

Chair

Team
  • 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

Charge

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 Services

Scott Thomas

Chair

Team
  • 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

Charge

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 System

Yasmine Ziesler

Chair

Executive Director, New England Association of School Superintendents

Mary Moran

Chair

Team
  • 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

Staff

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

Executive Director

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

Communications & Project Manager

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

Intern

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.

Connect

Ready to join our partnership?
Interested in learning more?
We want to hear from you.

We’re always looking to help make connections and support innovative projects.