Kunin Lifetime Achievement Award

Awarded in honor of Governor Madeleine M. Kunin to a Democratic woman in Vermont with significant political achievements and work spanning at least 25 years.

The 2nd Annual Governor Madeleine M. Kunin Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce at the Emerge Vermont Annual Celebration of Women in Politics in March  2018.

Treasurer Pearce accepted the award with remarks that recognized her political role models, including her grandmother who was a voting rights activist in the early 20th century, and an enlightening story about the Women’s Portrait Monument in Washington, DC. We were thrilled to be able to honor Treasurer Pearce.

You can view a video Treasurer Pearce’s full remarks here.

Treasurer Pearce is serving her fourth term as VT State Treasurer, and served more than seven years as Deputy State Treasurer. She has almost 40 years of experience in government finance at both the state and local levels. She’s currently the only woman in Vermont serving in statewide elected office, and one of only ten women to serve in such a post in the state’s history.

As State Treasurer, Treasuer Pearce has emphasized the importance of maintaining Vermont’s bond rating. Vermont has the highest general obligation bond ratings of any New England state. She continues her advocacy for conservative and affordable debt practices, prudent management of the pension systems, and responsible use of reserves.

Treasurer Pearce is the current President of the National Association of State Treasurers.She also serves as the Secretary of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. In 2015, she received NASACT’s President’s Award for national leadership in state government transparency. NAST recognized her service in 2013 with the Harlan Boyles-Edward T. Alter Distinguished Service Award.

She was selected as one of ten notable women featured by The Bond Buyer in a special supplement on trailblazing women in public finance. Prior to joining the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office, Pearce served as Deputy Treasurer for Cash Management at the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office from 1999-2003.

Treasurer Pearce serves as a role model to younger women seeking to follow in her footsteps for a life of public service. She frequently speaks with groups of women and serves as a professional and political mentor to many. She has a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She has prepared financial reports that have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. She resides in Barre, Vermont.

Previous Winner

2017 – Sallie Soule – State Legislator and Commissioner of Employment and Training

Governor Kunin has had an expansive political career spanning nearly five decades, as a community advocate, member of the Vermont House, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Ambassador to Switzerland. She is the only woman to serve as Governor of Vermont, the first Jewish Governor of Vermont, and the first Jewish woman elected Governor of a U.S. state. She has worked as a journalist and college professor, and is the author of several books, including “The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family.” She founded Emerge Vermont and the Institute for Sustainable Communities. Kunin is the mother of four grown children, and has been a tireless advocate for the rights and opportunities of women and girls.

The criteria for nominees of the award are:

  • She must be a Democratic woman living in Vermont with significant political achievements and work spanning at least 25 years;
  • She should be viewed as a role model for other women and girls, who has maintained a consistent focus on mentoring and supporting other women in their political, professional, and educational pursuits;
  • Her focus has been on policy work that expands opportunities for others and/or focuses attention on important or emerging policy fields, especially as related to women’s rights, environmental policy, international relations, journalism, the arts, and education;
  • There must be evidence of her work having an impact on the lives of other Vermonters, at the local, state, federal, and/or international level.