SEMBA, Women Leaders Gather to Work for Change

This post was written by Karen Barnett, SEMBA ‘17

To enact change, you need to know the actual problem. This statement is far from revolutionary, and perhaps it even sounds a bit boring. Yet not every organization dives deep to fully understand the issues it aims to address. Change the Story VT, however, is not one to fly past the diagnosing stage. Instead, the organization knows that data drives effective goals, without which meaningful change is impossible.

Tiffany Bluemle, Director of Change the Story VT, shared her inspiration last Thursday night at a gathering with SEMBA women and the Vermont Chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), an organization that connects women leaders from all different fields to build better leadership for the future.

The change that Bluemle envisions: a world in which gender equality in the workplace is ubiquitous. Change the Story has released three reports that go into great detail on the statistics around women, wages, and working in Vermont. The organization is currently working on a fourth report. With the facts behind Bluemle, she is ready to take on legislation. For example, women in Vermont make 85 cents for every dollar a man makes. Bluemle is meeting with the legislature to discuss not only how this impacts the women of Vermont, but also the Vermont economy.

“This is how you make change,” said event co-organizer Dana Gulley, SEMBA ’17. “Before you can solve a problem, you need to fully understand it. These reports allow Change the Story to get buy-in from the legislature, business community and other stakeholders, which is critical to have a meaningful and long-lasting impact.”

SEMBA students dine with local leaders through the International Women’s Forum

Gulley worked with her SEMBA mentor Paula Cope, a member of IWF and President of Cope & Associates, to plan the evening as a way to further embed SEMBA in the thriving business community around Burlington.

18 women from IWF were present. Attendees came from a variety of backgrounds including Robin Turnau, CEO of Vermont Public Radio, and Nancy Mathews, Dean of the Rubenstein School of Environmental Studies at UVM.

“The cohort was really energized to meet some of the women leaders who are making a huge difference in Vermont,” Gulley said. “And it’s been incredible to see how committed they are to our success as we, too, aspire to be change agents here in Vermont and beyond.”