Monique Priestley: Humanizing Politics and Technology for People

  • Mar 20, 2024
  • Hannah Warn, Emerge Vermont Intern

Monique Priestley, Emerge Vermont Class of 2022, is a Vermont State Representative for Orange-2, which consists of towns Bradford, Fairlee, and West Fairlee. Simply put, Monique is interested in people. Everything she does and all that she works on centers around human behavior and values. Grounded in core values of integrity and service, Monique strives to help better the lives of people inside and outside of her constituency. From owning and operating a coworking space to her tireless commitment to legislation protecting people from artificial intelligence (AI), Monique proves that politicians can be undeniably human, caring, and real. 

Monique Priestley

Rep. Monique Priestley (’22)

Coming from a background in the tech world, Monique is a leading voice in Vermont state government’s discussions surrounding AI. The tech space, above all, is her niche. Monique says she wants to help people be more comfortable using technology. Part of this battle takes place in conversations in the Legislature. Monique explains, “it feels like there is a misunderstanding—but also a lot of fear over tech policy.” Because many elected officials do not understand technology and AI, the tendency is to avoid legislation on the subject altogether. Monique wants people to understand technology as a consumer protection issue. She has sponsored legislation, tried to mitigate fear, and works to improve individuals’ relationships with computers. Ultimately, AI and the limits imposed on it are an issue of consumer rights. Not many legislators have the understanding or determination to work towards a better relationship between technology, government officials, and voters. Monique is paving the way. 

Beyond her work on legislation about AI, Monique has sponsored a bill to shorten the workweek to 32 hours. The inspiration for this was a tour of the Vermont State Legislature that she gave to a group of Cub Scouts. The Cub Scouts expressed their desire for a 4-day school week. The biggest barrier to this would be finding childcare for the extra day that the children are not in school. Thus, Monique started to think much more about the idea of a shorter workweek. Since the pandemic, Monique recognizes the pressing need to put people above profit. She wants people to be able to balance work, volunteerism, and leisure. Additionally, she recognizes the largely untapped potential of technology to lighten workloads. 

Her commitment to putting people over profit is also exemplified in her nonprofit community work space. The Space on Main is home to a variety of events, among them business planning classes for local entrepreneurs and youth STEM programming, such as Girls Who Code.

Monique’s commitment to humanizing politics and supporting people is clear in almost every aspect of her work. She even spends time working to bridge the gap between major political parties, and she was recently selected to be an Innovation Fellow by Future Caucus. Putting people first includes reaching across the aisle to work together. Monique exudes kindness while having an incredibly impressive work ethic and commitment to Vermonters that is recognized nationally