Charity Clark breaks ground as Vermont’s first elected woman Attorney General

  • Jun 1, 2023
  • Lesley Rivera

Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark (Class of 2022)As an Emerge Vermont alum, Charity Clark used the skills and tools she attained to run for Attorney General. She grew up in southern Vermont and attended the University of Vermont for her dual bachelor’s degree in political science and English and attended Boston College Law School for her Juris Doctor’s degree.

Charity has always had the drive to create positive change in her community. After completing Emerge Vermont’s Signature Program in 2022, she had a running start into office as the first woman to ever be elected Vermont’s Attorney General. When asked if Emerge Vermont prepared her for office, Charity said it was “perfect timing” since she had recently completed the program when her predecessor, T.J. Donovan, announced that he would not seek reelection. Ten days later, Charity launched her campaign to run for Vermont Attorney General.

Emerge Vermont’s Signature Training Program provided Charity with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to run a successful campaign. It also allowed her to create newfound relationships with like-minded women who supported her campaign and believed in her. “Emerge Vermont, with all the support and skills building, provided me with a platform to soft launch my interest in Attorney General without officially announcing a campaign,” Charity says. In other words, for many, Charity’s campaign for Attorney General was not a surprise. The press and many colleagues anticipated her campaign because she was training with Emerge Vermont. She said it “gave people the heads up” and “allowed me to feel out how the response would be before I publicly announced.”

Deciding to run

Since 2018, Charity had spent a lot of time in the Attorney General’s Office conference room, working as former Attorney General Donovan’s Chief of Staff. She could not help but notice that all the portraits of past Attorneys General were all men. It didn’t help that the room was tiny and filled with these photos – it gave the conference room an almost “spooky” vibe, she said.

Charity spent a lot of time thinking about women who might potentially bring more gender diversity into the office. She envisioned someone who had the strength, charisma, and qualifications to run, win, and serve as the next Attorney General. As she thought about the ideal woman to recruit, she realized she could be describing herself! She believed she had the qualifications, and she knew she had the passion and skills to make progress on important issues. Charity dedicated her time to ensuring she was ready to win and be the change she had long imagined for this position.

Dealing with adversity

Being a woman in politics is not easy, especially when you are the first to be in an elected position. Despite adversity, Charity doesn’t let anything tear her down as she strives to make a difference. Seeing a woman in politics is refreshing because it ensures that new vision, changes, and experiences are used to address important issues affecting underrepresented people.

Charity felt confident going into the Attorney General position because of her previous experience and passion to create policy changes. In the height of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, she prioritized abortion rights and domestic violence. Most importantly, she can speak to these issues because she understands their gravity and was prepared to address them as she stepped into the role of Attorney General.

Being a role model

For Charity, being a role model for Vermont’s youth motivates her. Growing up, she looked up to Madeleine Kunin, Vermont’s first and (so far) only woman governor and the founder of Emerge Vermont. Governor Kunin was the role model who helped Charity envision herself as Vermont Attorney General today.

Charity hopes to be a role model too, to let children know that they too can be in statewide elected positions. For Charity, it’s about recognizing that it only takes one person to make an impact on someone’s future, and it starts in youth. Throughout her campaign, Charity said, she admired the amount of joy and enthusiasm children had in her journey and to see kids wearing “Charity Clark for Attorney General” t-shirts because it reminds her that her work is long from over. Children are the future and Charity wants to ensure that she continues to be present for Vermont kids every step of the way as a leader and role model.

Emerge Vermont’s mission is to train and support women like Charity, who will continue to challenge policy issues and carve a path for the younger generation to fill her shoes. We can’t wait to see the change Charity brings while we train more women like her who will continue to improve women’s representation in government.

Lesley Rivera is a junior at St. Michaels College and served as an intern with Emerge Vermont.