For the last eight years, I stewarded Burlington's Flynn Center, employing over 275 people annually, while presenting acclaimed artistic, educational, and community engagement programs, and serving as a home for Vermont artists and arts groups. During my tenure, the annual budget grew to $7.7 million. Two-thirds of the income derived from ticket sales. We achieved the final third thanks to the generosity of 2,800 members as well as hundreds of individuals, corporations, foundation and government agencies. The Flynn endowment, providing crucial annual operating support, grew to $10.8 million.
Our staff mantra became “Everybody Belongs.” Partnering with 85 human and social service agencies, we provided discounted tickets for their constituents. Over 38,000 students attended school matinees, including over 7,100 who came for free. Scholarships were available for all educational classes and camps.
Programs expanded to serve both artists and audiences with disabilities: exhibitions, performances, sensory-friendly drumming workshops, and Movement for Parkinson’s classes. Off-site, the Flynn collaborated with the Integrated Arts Academy, Boys and Girls Club, and King Street Center to better serve New Americans and other vulnerable communities.
I want to bring my Flynn values of access and inclusion to campaign for State Representative in South Burlington’s Chittenden 7-3 district.
Over the years, I often found myself in Montpelier testifying before House and Senate committees on the essential contributions made by the nonprofit sector – advocating not only for the arts, but also for shelters, food banks, affordable housing, hospitals, schools, churches, theaters, museums, libraries, and other social service agencies. Commentaries of mine aired on VPR and were published in VTDigger and the Burlington Free Press discussing arts and culture, the LGBT community, disability, tax reform, and an occasional piece about my Shetland pony.
I served on the boards of Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Community Foundation, and Vermont Tax Department as well as on the search committees for Superintendent of Burlington’s School District and CEO of Vermont PBS. Recognitions include Vermont Autism Task Force Appreciation Award, Vermont Arts Council Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy, and John Killacky Day Proclamation from Burlington Mayor MIro Weinberger.
In running for public office, I want to work with neighbors and citizens state-wide, to make Vermont an even better place for all people to thrive. Investing in affordable housing, early education, livable wages, small businesses, and the environment is essential, while striving toward a pragmatic economic bottom line. Judicious tax reform and school refinancing is necessary, but must be balanced to ensure a safety net where no one is left behind. As I demonstrated at the Flynn, people-centered programs can be delivered within a balanced budget.
I have been a lifelong Democrat. Going door to door seeking support in the upcoming election for State Representative, I enjoy visiting and learning from my neighbors in South Burlington and look forward to the opportunity to serve.