Index - September, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Vermont Comedy Divas
by Cindy Ellen Hill

“Even as a little kid I tried to make people laugh,” says Josie Leavitt, founder of the Vermont Comedy Divas, the country’s only all-female touring standup comedy troupe. “People like you when you make them laugh. In the second grade, at a talent show, a friend and I did this tap-dancing routine to “Tea for Two.” And half way across the stage, we just burst out laughing. Then the audience started laughing with us, and it was a really heady feeling.”

That heady feeling stuck in the back of Leavitt’s mind until her now-ex-wife pressed her to do open mic in New York City. Afterwards, she plunged into a standup class, and begged the Stand Up NY Comedy Club to put her in a show. It finally relented, giving her a brief warm-up slot, and she worked her way up the ladder.

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Vermont Comedy Divas (from left to right) Sue Schmidt, Carmen Lagala, Tracie Spencer,
Autumn Spencer (prone) and Josie Leavitt.

Publisher's Message: Helen Thomas: A Rare, Flawed Gem
by Suzanne Gillis, Vermont Woman Publisher

Helen Thomas died on July 20, 2013. She was 92. Her career included many firsts. She was United Press International’s first woman correspondent; the first woman member, and then president, of the White House Correspondents Association and Gridiron Club, the only woman print journalist to travel with Nixon to China on Air Force One. Her peers named her Dean of the White House Press Corps. She sat in the front row center seat in the White House Press room, often in her signature red dress, until her retirement in 2010. She famously closed each presidential briefing session with, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

She was a friend to Vermont Woman, coming to speak at events on three separate occasions.

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Photo: Margaret Michniewicz

Where are Vermont’s Youngest Children?
by K.C. Whiteley and Rickey Gard Diamond

About 6,200 babies are born in Vermont each year. The majority has parents who are working for a living. Child care for infants and toddlers in Vermont is notoriously scarce and expensive. Vermont’s regulated childcare providers serve, at most, a quarter of our youngest children in our neediest families.

So where are the rest of those youngest, the infants and toddlers whose early experiences will affect future healthy development? Who is caring for them, and what kind of care are they receiving? What are we doing as a state to reach out to families with young children to ensure that they have the resources and support they and their children need to get off to a good start?  

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#3 Vermont Health Care Reform Series

GMCB’s Al Gobeille: The Voice of Business in “Health Connect”
by Roberta Nubile

Small business owners in Vermont face a crucial juncture. Vermont’s new Health Connect insurance marketplace is slated to open enrollments in October. Business owners are evaluating how federal and state healthcare reform will impact both their relationship with workers and their company’s economics.

Fortunately, Vermont businesses have an empathetic leader in Burlington businessman Al Gobeille, Green Mountain Care Board member. Halfway into his four-year term at GMCB, he stepped into the role of GMCB chair this month, after Anya Rader Wallack resigned. Betty Rambur, a registered nurse and professor was appointed by the governor to fill Wallack’s spot in mid-August.

Two years ago, Gobeille already got how healthcare reform would affect businesses and the Vermont economy. He wanted to be a player in those decisions that needed to be made. “After the Hsiao report came out,” Gobeille told me in a recent interview at his office across from the Burlington Ferry, “I was concerned. The more I read about, and got involved, I knew I wanted to be in the room, crafting a solution that would be good for the economy and good for the people. So I threw my 20-page application into the ring to be on the board.”

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New Chair of the Green Mountain Care Board,
Al Gobeille (left) with his wife and business partner Kimberly at The Shanty, on Burlington’s waterfront. He says his work on healthcare reform wouldn’t be possible without her support. (photo: Jan Doerler)

Vermont Woman Special Series: Green Mountain Care Board Profiles

1. Anya Rader Wallach: VT Healthcare Reform: Guiding One Big Elephant! by Roberta Nubile, April/May 2013

2. Con Hogan: Seasoned Elder of Green Mountain Care Board by Roberta Nubile, June/July/August 2013

3. Al Gobeille: The Voice of Business in “Health Connect” by Roberta Nubile, September/October 2013

Watch for more articles in this series in the Nov/Dec 2013 and Feb/Mar 2014 editions of Vermont Woman.


Will Dr. Krag Find Cancer's Cure?

by Suzanne Gillis

Dr. David Krag is founder of the Breast Cancer Care Center at Fletcher Allen Health Care, one of the first such centers in the nation. He was also one of the first doctors to integrate nurse practitioners into the care of patients with breast cancer. A surgical oncologist, Dr. Krag is the recent recipient of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Doctors list for 2012-2013; he placed in the top 1 percent for excellence in surgery, with a special expertise in breast cancer surgery, sentinel node surgery and melanoma.

Dr. Krag is S.D. Ireland Professor of Surgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine as well. His research pursuits are antibody treatment of cancer, sentinel node-surgery and radioactive tracer-guided surgery in breast cancer. He was educated at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis Medical Center-Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine-Surgery and UCLA.

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Dr. David Krag’s research transformed breast cancer surgery. Now Fletcher Allen’s top surgical oncologist pursues exciting new research. (photo: Jan Doerler)

Land-based Jobs Grow Fuel, Food and Future

by Allison Teague

In a recently published study of tweets—yes, they’re studying tweet-trends—a UVM research team found our state rated among the happiest in the nation, though generally the trend is spiraling down. And last year, when Gov. Peter Shumlin asked followers on Facebook and Twitter what they loved about Vermont, responses included maple syrup, clean water, beauty, skiing, swimming, and community. All shared one thing in common: a stable, healthy, and clean environment.

Here “sustainable jobs” and “green economy” are not just words, they are being translated into policies and programs that help Vermonters live healthier lifestyles. Almost 20 years ago, seeing the economy’s interdependence with the health of both land and families, some Vermont legislators saw that our future lay along an ecological path. They created the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), according to the fund’s webpage, “to strengthen the statewide economic intersection of Vermont’s working landscape.”

Since its establishment in 1995, VSJF and its programs have accelerated the development of Vermont’s green economy. It does this, its website explains, by providing “financing, technical assistance, and networking resources to Vermont businesses committed to creating jobs, products, and services in the fields of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and forestry.” The VSJF office is in Montpelier.

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Dr. Heather Darby examines Borderview Sunflowers. Their seeds produce oil for cooking and biodiesel fuel as well as oilseed meal, a by-product and valuable livestock feed. (photo: courtesy Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund)