University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Felicia Kornbluh Reappointed to State Women's Commisision

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

Dr. Kornbluh is Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program and Associate Professor of History at the University of Vermont.  A historian of social welfare, law and grassroots politics in the twentieth-century United States, her first book was The Battle for Welfare Rights: Politics and Poverty in Modern America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). 

 Dr. Kornbluh is finishing up a sabbatical year in which she was a visiting scholar at both UC-Berkeley School of Law’s Center for the Study of Law and Society and at McGill University’s Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.  She is pursuing two research projects: an exploration of Jacobus tenBroek, a blind activist and legal scholar who contributed to the movement for welfare rights, and 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. 

 Dr. Kornbluh holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University and a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard-Radcliffe.  Before taking up her position at the University of Vermont, she taught at Duke University, where she specialized in post-1945 U.S. history, legal history, and the history of women and gender.  Dr. Kornbluh has been a long-standing advocate on issues related to social welfare and women’s and children’s well-being.  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 the Institute for Policy Studies.  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.   Dr. 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.

Dr. Kornbluh contributes both her rich academic background and abundant skills and expertise to the Vermont Commission on Women’s meetings.  “Dr. Kornbluh is able to contribute a valuable historical perspective on our work.” says Vermont Commission on Women’s Executive Director Cary Brown.  “This information enriches our deliberative discussions.  We are fortunate to have her at our table.”

 Dr. Kornbluh worked in partnership with the Commission to gather a diverse group of professionals for a panel discussion concerning paid sick days for Vermont workers last spring at UVM. Kristin Carlson, then of WCAX TV, facilitated the discussion and panelists included: Representative Johannah Donovan of Burlington, Chair of the Vermont House Committee on Education; Dr. Elaine McCrate, Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at UVM; Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of the national Family Values at Work Coalition; Dan Barlow of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility; Lindsay DesLauriers of the Vermont Paid Sick Days Coalition; and Tracy Gallo, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.  Several themes emerged from the discussion, including implications for public health, the disproportionate impact of a lack of paid sick leave on children and mothers, and the costs and benefits to employers of providing paid time off.

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The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is a non-partisan state agency working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls. 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 800-881-1561 and many publications, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont.   For more information, visit www.women.vermont.gov.

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