The 2020 legislative session began this past Tuesday and the Action Circles team dove right in to what looks to be a dynamic, election-year session. Advocates for school meals, older Vermonters and youth have already connected with legislators and made their voices heard. This year, we are pleased to introduce two new members to our team, who you will find representing Action Circles and our clients within the Statehouse halls. Chad Simmons joins the team as the Special Legislative Assistant and will support Amy lobbying in the statehouse. Meg Fuerst joins the Action Circles team as this year’s Legislative Appropriations Monitor.
Chad’s family recently relocated to Montpelier from Brattleboro. He’s thrilled to jump head-first into the land of policy making and shaping. Chad’s interests and experience are in environmental advocacy, social justice, equity and systems change.
Chad holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Sustainable Development and Policy Advocacy. His career experience ranges from environmental coalition building and advocacy to strategic planning, training and facilitation on issues concerning equity, substance use, and poverty.
Most recently, Chad facilitated a year-long planning and coalition building process to address the impacts of opioids in southeastern VT; bringing together a diverse group of agencies, organizations and individuals, prioritizing those most impacted by substance use. Chad was a member of the Equity Solutions team, providing training and consultation for organizations, schools and agencies to improve racial and class equity across the state. Chad also served as the southeastern VT regional coordinator for Building Bright Futures, Vermont’s early childhood council charged with monitoring the state’s early care, health, and education systems and advising state government on policy and systems improvements.
Meg Fuerst is a recent graduate of Vermont Law School, where she earned her Masters degree in Environmental Law and Policy. Combined with her undergraduate degree in Environmental Economics, Meg is passionate about holistic and systemic solutions for reconciling the tension between environmental justice and economic prosperity. This passion has driven her professional career, which has landed her positions in both nonprofit and government organizations from her home state of Ohio to her current residency of Vermont. Most recently, Meg completed a temporary staff position at the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm and Forest Viability Program, where she enjoyed visiting Vermont farmers to understand how the Viability Program has impacted their farm business.
Meg’s broad interest in the connection between environmental and economic justice often culminates in the food and agricultural realm specifically. Aside from work, Meg and her partner manage their town’s community garden and are aspiring farmers in the State. For work, Meg is absolutely thrilled to join the Action Circles team and experience the Statehouse action, particularly in regards to the budget process. Knowing that taking detailed notes for all House and Senate Appropriation Committee meetings is no easy task, Meg is excited for the challenge and especially eager to bring such value to the advocacy work of each of Action Circle’s clients!