Emilie’s Story

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Emilie grew up in suburban New York. She arrived at Marlboro College at age 17, determined to find ways to address the isolation and injustice she witnessed in the suburban environment. In southern Vermont, Emilie found a community where people talked to each other, supported each other, and worked together to make things happen. Except for short stints working in her early twenties, and a brief move to Burlington for graduate school at the University of Vermont, Emilie has spent her entire adult life in the Brattleboro area.

When she was 25, Emilie and her then-fiancé put down roots in Brattleboro, starting a business and a family together. Their business, the Weathervane Gallery and Performing Arts Cafe, was a welcoming space where people could meet their neighbors and build community. With the business just getting off the ground, and Emilie nearly ready to deliver their baby, her fiancé experienced a devastating mental health crisis that left him unable to support his business or his family. Suddenly on her own with a newborn child and a fledgling business, Emilie made the difficult choice to sell the business and declare bankruptcy. During this challenging time, the Brattleboro community rallied around Emilie and her child. With formal support from programs like TANF (“welfare”) and 3SquaresVT (“food stamps”), and informal support from friends and neighbors, Emilie was able to move through this crisis and eventually enroll in graduate school, studying Public Policy, Community Development and Economics.

During graduate school she began consulting with an International Development firm and spent the next five years working internationally, supporting government accountability and community and economic development from Afghanistan to South Africa. One day she found herself bringing last-mile connectivity to farmers in Tanzania, while remembering that many of her neighbors in Vermont still didn’t have high-speed internet access—she came home from that trip ready for a reset. Since then, she has focused on improving the functioning and accountability of community development, economic development, and support systems in Vermont.

Since she was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2018, Emilie has focused her service on the fight for a fair Vermont. She first served on the Committee for Commerce and Economic Development, and in 2020 she was appointed to the House Committee on Ways and Means, where she was mentored by and served as Vice Chair to Rep. Janet Ancel, the legislature’s leading tax policy expert. In 2023, upon Rep. Ancel’s retirement, Emilie was appointed Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. As Chair, Emilie’s job is to find fair ways to fund Vermont’s priorities. She focuses the Committee’s tax policy work on lowering costs for regular Vermonters and asking wealthy Vermonters to pay more of their fair share.

In her time in office, Emilie has worked to pass legislation that makes life more livable for Vermonters, including sponsoring legislation on establishing paid family and medical leave and universal child care, developing environmental resiliency, addressing the opioid crisis, increasing government accountability, creating the right to repair agriculture equipment, and enhancing public safety.

When she is not serving in the legislature, Emilie works as a consultant, supporting community and economic development projects in Vermont and across the country. She can also sometimes be found working as a server in local restaurants, which keeps her connected to the community and helps her make ends meet on a legislative salary.

Emilie lives with her family on Goodenough Road.

Committing to Community

Emilie attended her first town meeting more than 20 years ago, as a student at Marlboro College. In fact, this photo of her proud arm in a raggedy sweater is familiar to anyone who was on Marlboro’s mailing list. That first moment of realizing that her voice mattered—that by speaking up, she could change her community—it changed her. She wants everyone in the community to get that bug—to realize that their particular skills, interests, and perspective can and should be part of the equation, and that we are so lucky to live in a community that CAN be transformed to reflect the voices of everyone living in it.

Emilie has developed a reputation around Brattleboro as a person who volunteers, so when boards or organizations or people have a need, they’re likely to come to her as someone they know will jump in with both feet. That means she’s had the opportunity to step into organizations that are at turning points—organizations that need to show results or connect more deeply. Emilie’s strategy is to look at things from a wider perspective, survey the gaps, and serve as a bridge between people and organizations to build power and connection in the community.

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Paid for and authorized by the Committee to Elect Emilie Kornheiser.