University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Felicia Kornbluh Appointed to State Women's Commission

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Shap Smith has appointed Dr. Felicia Kornbluh of Williston to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW).

Dr. Kornbluh is the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Vermont.  She is an historian of social welfare, law, and grassroots politics in the twentieth‐century United States. Her first book was The Battle for Welfare Rights: Poverty and Politics in Modern America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).  Kornbluh has written many articles for academic and non‐academic journals, including the Journal of American History, Feminist Studies, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Radical History Review, The Nation, and the Women’s Review of Books, and has published chapters in books such as Women’s America, Race Consciousness, The Blackwell History of American Law, and Freedom North.

Kornbluh’s is currently pursuing three major research projects.  The first concerns gender, disability, and equality, with a focus upon Jacobus tenBroek, a blind activist and legal scholar who also contributed to the movement for welfare rights.  The second, related, study is an overview of four major social movements—for the rights of women, LGBT people, African Americans, and disabled people—in the United States since 1945.  The third is a planned museum exhibition focusing upon the political history of the New York City World’s Fair of 1964‐1965 and the civil rights protests that disrupted it. 

Kornbluh holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University and a B.A., with honors, in Social Studies from Harvard‐Radcliffe.  She has held fellowships from the American Bar Foundation, New York University Law School, the American Historical Association, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.  Before taking up her position at the University of Vermont, she taught for eight years in the history department at Duke University, where she specialized in post‐1945 U.S. history, legal history, and the history of women and gender.  She helped build bridges between the history department and Duke’s school of Public Policy Studies, and co‐chaired the university’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Task Force.

Kornbluh has been an advocate on issues related to social welfare and women’s and children’s well‐being for over twenty years.  She served in Washington, D.C., as a staff member of the U.S. House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families.  She worked at two major think tanks, the Urban Institute and Institute for Policy Studies.  While still in high school, Kornbluh had been a leader of the nationally renown children’s advocacy organization CHILDREN’S EXPRESS, and led children’s delegations to Cambodia, Hiroshima, and the Democratic and Republican political conventions in the United States.  From 1995 to 2005, she participated actively in the Women’s Committee of 100, an organization of feminist scholars and writers that was created to block punitive welfare reform. Kornbluh continues her interest in networking scholars around the country to add their voices to social policy debate.  Her most recent efforts have involved the economic stimulus package of the Obama administration and its impact on women, and resulted in the creation early in 2009 of a national coalition of historians, economists, and other social scientists. 


The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is a non-partisan state agency dedicated to legislative, economic, social, and political fairness.  Launched in 1964 by a call to action from President Kennedy, VCW is charged with reducing discrimination and encouraging opportunities for women.  Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women’s issues guide the VCWs public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts. VCW offers many services to the public, including a toll-free information and referral service at 1-800-881-156 and many publications, including the latest:  The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont.   For more information, visit