When Jennifer Grant, a 2020 Emerge Bootcamp alumna, decided to run for State Representative in Windsor-1, she knew that her campaign would have to be much bigger than just herself, and bigger than just one issue.
“Rather than being just for one cause that is dear to my heart, I’m advocating on behalf of those that I serve, and that inspires my candidacy,” Grant said in an interview with Emerge Vermont.
Grant is a resident of Hartland, Vermont, and has served in numerous leadership roles over the years. She previously served as the Director of Community Impact for the Upper Valley United Way, where she worked to raise and distribute millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations. She also served as the Executive Director of the Springfield VT Regional Chamber of Commerce, was on the Board of the Springfield Workforce Investment Board, as well as the Board of the Greater Lebanon Chamber of Commerce. Grant currently serves on the Board of the Woodstock Rotary Club.
Business has been part of Grant’s life from the start. She helped manage her family’s retail business for almost a decade, and later founded a Main Street Program in her town to bring businesses together.
“I feel passionately about small businesses; they’re really the backbone of America,” Grant said.
Grant is interested in engaging with Vermont’s network of small businesses not only to support our state’s economy and local people, but also to expand access to healthcare for small business employees.
“One of the things that has been really hard on the business community is the loss of the ability to buy into more affordable healthcare through the [Chamber of Commerce] system,” Grant said. “The folks who don’t qualify for the subsidies are paying astronomical fees for healthcare, so I really want to work with the business community… [to see] how can we have universal healthcare in a way that works for everyone.”
In the age of a pandemic, health and safety is the number one priority. Grant advocates not only for a safe reopening of our state, but also for keeping Vermonters healthy through environmental policies.
Grant’s career started with work in lab science research and public health, which led her to coordinate studies around prevention in Public Health at Dartmouth Medical School. Grant spent almost a decade volunteering with elementary schools through the Vermont Four Winds Program, an initiative that educates students about the natural world.
“I think my diversity of experience allows me to hear the needs from different sectors,” Grant said. “I’m able to look at things with a scientific eye and analyze them, but also leave room in there for the feeling and the emotions that go behind challenges that we face as a society.”
I’m able to look at things with a scientific eye and analyze them, but also leave room in there for the feeling and the emotions that go behind challenges that we face as a society.
Grant says that one way to help vulnerable Vermonters who are facing challenges is to bring communities together to create networks of support. One of the ways this can happen is through mentorship programs. Grant served as Executive Director to Windsor County Mentors for five years, and continues to volunteer as a Youth Mentor today.
“I feel strongly that it’s important for our society to have that cross-generational contact,” Grant said. “We’ve increasingly become siloed in different age groups where you have senior housing or children just in schools or teenagers only hanging out with other teenagers…I’ve seen the positive impact of what being part of a multi-age community can have on young people, and on our adults as well.”
Creating avenues for community engagement and mentorship among Vermonters of all ages is a unique goal that not many other candidates share. Besides being motivated by creating community, Grant says being a person of faith has also inspired her decision to go into politics.
“My faith inspires me to live with integrity, give meaning to my work, and to bring my heart to whatever I do, [and] to be grounded in my strong values,” Grant said.
As a first time candidate, Grant says she is grateful for the Emerge program.
“[Emerge] gave me a chance to share ideas with other women across the state,” Grant said. “It has allowed me to approach the campaign in a different kind of way; really focusing on what issues I most want to be known for.”
Emerge is so glad to have Grant in our network, and we cannot wait to see what she’ll do next!
Emerge has one goal: To increase the number of Democratic women in office who are reflective of the incredible diversity of the Democratic party by recruiting, training and providing a powerful network.
To support more women like Jennifer Grant, contribute to Emerge Vermont today!