Really, you rock!

Change The Story is flying high on the response to Senator Leahy’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference and we are so honored to have been asked to partner with Senator Leahy to organize the event in its 21st year. Together, we built greater awareness of our research on Vermont women and the economy, offered skill-building workshops, and ended the day with heartfelt stories told by 5 Vermonters of lived experiences of gender inequality. And, by our estimates, over half of you that attended were newcomers. Woohoo!

This Conference would not have happened without the energy and ideas of Senator Leahy, his staff, the WEOC Planning Committee, the amazing people that stepped up to facilitate workshops and tell stories, and of course, the attendees that came despite a SUNNY Image result for sunshine Vermont Saturday in September. We are ever so grateful!

Change The Story partnered with Senator Leahy to organize the 2017 WEOC event. Together, we built greater awareness of our research on Vermont women and the economy, offered skill-building workshops, and ended the day with heartfelt stories told by 5 Vermonters of lived experiences of gender inequality.”

Here’s the recap:

First of all, we were thrilled to have Senator Leahy and his wife, Marcelle Leahy, in attendance. The Senator gave an incredible welcome address, with Pat Moulton –the FIRST woman President of Vermont Technical College–taking the mic to welcome us to the campus. (We’re big fans, Pat!)


Time for the waterworks… as we played this video featuring girls from Boys & Girls Club of Burlington sharing what it’s like to be a girl, their dreams, and what they want adults to know. The video was produced by CTS and CCTV Center for Media and Democracy, (BIG kudos to Meghan O’Rourke at CCTV!!)


And, our ears were delighted by a powerhouse speech by Mary Alice McKenzie, former Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington. Her main message to us: education is essential and a job is transformative. You’re amazing, Mary Alice! More waterworks.

And then…to workshops! We had everything from navigating the gig life and negotiating your salary, to investing in women and starting your own business. Pro tip: If you’re looking for ideas on workshop topics for your next event – be sure to check out this round up.

In the afternoon, Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC) kicked off our Moth-inspired storytelling event with one of their beautiful slam poems. Cary Brown, Director of the Vermont Commission on Women gave us context as to why we’re still talking about gender inequality, while sharing some of CTS’ research (there it is again!)

Tiffany Bluemle, Director of CTS, hosted the rest of the day, introducing WHY we are using stories. The bottom line: we were asked for the data. We couldn’t find it so we did our own research. (Did you know we published 4 status reports on VT women and the economy?) And now we’re being asked for STORIES to back up the data!

We (almost) always do what we are asked, so: Prudence Pease, Lisa Ryan, Judy Pransky, Colin Ryan, and Melody Walker Brook (see their bios here) took the stage to share their stories (backing up a lot of the data that we found). And, here’s where we’ll take a beat to say…THEY.WERE.AMAZING.  We have so much gratitude for the five of them.

You can watch their stories here.

(Viewing guide)


MGMC wowed us with one last poem to wrap us up. And when we say ‘wowed’, we really mean WOWed!


One more thing happened.

We asked What is ONE thing YOU can do?

That’s when the audience wrote down commitments to action.

And, we’re using an app to share them (AND TO COLLECT EVEN MORE!)

So, if you’re still with us, you can add to it!

What will YOU do to advance women and girls in Vermont? We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Add it below or by going to:

Made with Padlet

Did you really think we’d leaving you hanging without a list of awesome resources? No way.

  1. 15 Things You Can Do
  2. The link to ‘What Will YOU Do’ with an encouragement to add a commitment:
  3. CTS Status Reports
  4. WEOC Workshop Slide Decks (presenters are uploading their slides)

p.s. Be a pal and share these links with anyone that may find it useful.

And, continue the FUN…

…with these two upcoming events:

1 – Wednesday, Oct. 4th – Vermont Women’s Fund Annual Benefit Celebration | 5:30-7:30pm at UVM Davis Center [More details.]

Featuring guest speaker Komal Minhas, producer of the film Dream, Girl. Plus Vermont Public Radio’s Jane Lindholm and Change The Story director Tiffany Bluemle. Tickets $50/person, $10/students.All proceeds from the event go to support the work of the Vermont Women’s Fund

2- Thursday, Oct. 12th – Vermont Works for Women’s 19th Annual Women Can Do STEM and Trades Conference | ALL-DAY at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. [More details.]

Hands-on workshops are led mostly by women professionals in the skilled trades or science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. At Women Can Do, girls may operate an excavator, weld, climb a fire ladder, build a robot, design a 3D model, create an online game, wield a chainsaw, extract DNA from cells, or change a tire.

You can get a personal invite to Women Can Do by contacting Amy Caldwell at OR you can register  girls from your local high school by getting in touch with Jen Roberts at Be sure to do it TODAY!


The CTS Team