MEET KIMBERLY JESSUP
I want to positively impact the lives of Vermonter by harnessing nearly three decades of advocacy, educational, and legislative experience.
I began my career in international development. I chose this direction because I view the world as connected, and I wanted to understand how we impact one another. My time with the Overseas Development Network, Indian organizations, and the Environmental Defense Fund instilled my deep regard for equity, environmental justice, and economic security. My values have been shaped by those experiences, especially working with grassroots organizers to help indigenous communities hold onto their land and with poor communities to be flooded by World Bank funded dams.
These life-changing experiences also made clear to me that the legislative process offers a powerful way to positively impact people’s lives, a belief I continue to hold firmly and one that motivates my current campaign. To prepare for congressional work, I was the first woman to study at the Legislative Studies Institute, an intensive program of coursework and fellowship placement for prospective congressional staff members.
In my subsequent work as a congressional aide, I saw the influence of power and money. I grappled with policy complexities at the U.S. House Banking Committee and later at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I’ve used this knowledge to advocate in ethical and balanced ways on education, poverty, and environment and to find common ground within diverse coalitions. After my congressional work, I managed the Congressional Staff Forum, a non-partisan program dedicated to educating legislative aides about global issues.
I moved to Vermont in 1999 and worked at Vermont Public Radio (VPR) where I researched and reported. VPR not only allowed me a chance to follow issues such as civil unions but provided an introduction to the state and local politics of the 2000 election cycle.
My subsequent work at the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) forged connections between my global and local interests. ISC is an innovative organization founded by Madeleine Kunin and dedicated to integrating international, state, and local perspectives -- an approach that I continue to value. I designed advocacy training for ISC’s Bulgarian partners and staffed the regional New England Futures Program while at the same time wrestling with details of Vermont’s education funding through my service as a local school board member. All these experiences inspired me to explore how communities in Vermont are finding inventive ways to balance growth and sustainability and how those valuable lessons can be shared with others.
I currently work as Advisor to the President at the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges (AVIC), a coalition of private colleges located in Vermont. This position provides me a critical understanding of the many forms and levels of cooperation between Vermont’s private and public sectors as well as between educators and employers. I have a unique window into the programs and creative thinking throughout Vermont in areas ranging from agriculture to nursing to digital gaming.
AVIC also allows me to bring together my interests in education, affordability, and economic vitality. It is a fact that apprenticeships, college degrees and professional credentials are powerful tools for individual success as well as magnets for attracting and retaining the talent needed to grow our economy.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. I am proficient in French, have a decent grasp of Spanish, and a dismal but enthusiastic command of Hindi. I played broomball at the Civic Center, love to be active outdoors in all seasons, and enjoy cooking spicy Asian dishes. I live in Middlesex with my husband and two children.