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Ellen Kahler, Head of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, to Receive 2015 Art Gibb Award

Ellen Kahler, the executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, will be recognized this week for her statewide work to promote green, sustainable jobs, and by extension, the farms and forests on which Vermont’s rural economy depends.

Kahler, of Starksboro, will receive the Art Gibb Award for Individual Leadership from the Vermont Natural Resources Council at VNRC’s annual meeting Thursday, September 24 at the Inn at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.

As director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Kahler promotes the development of sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and forest product jobs across the state. In particular Kahler has taken the Farm to Plate effort – Vermont’s statewide food system plan to increase economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and improve access to healthy food for all Vermonters – far beyond what was expected.

“Ellen embodies Art Gibb’s legacy because she is a humble but effective leader with the ability to bring diverse interests to the table,” said Kate McCarthy, VNRC’s sustainable communities program director. “She works with those interests to articulate a vision the future, and once she does, makes that future happen.”

Kahler is a graduate of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania with a BA in Political Science and from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a Masters in Public Administration. Prior to joining the VSJF, Ellen was the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington.

“Ellen is a giver of self, to the common and public good,” wrote Peg Elmer Hough in nominating Kahler for the award. “Peace and justice. Sustainable Jobs. A strengthened food system. Countless hours of dedication far beyond financial return, for the pure joy of making good things happen,” she wrote.

Previous recipients of the Art Gibb award (starting with the most recent) include Andrea Morgante, a citizen activist from Hinesburg; Bob Klein, long-time director of the Vermont chapter of the Nature Conservancy; John Ewing, long-time smart growth advocate and co-founder of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl (later known as Smart Growth Vermont); Gus Seelig, executive director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; Rob Woolmington, attorney, Witten, Woolmington & Campbell; Paul Bruhn, executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont; Robert Lloyd, Tinmouth, retired; Connie Snow, executive director of the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust.

The Arthur Gibb award has been given since 2006 to a Vermont resident who embodies qualities similar to those of the late Arthur “Art” Gibb, and has who made a lasting contribution to their community, region or state in advancing smart growth policies. 

First elected to the Vermont Legislature in 1962, Gibb was deeply involved in passing legislation to ban billboards, enact the state’s bottle deposit law, regulate junkyards and modernize statutes governing local and regional planning. He served on the commission that laid the groundwork for Act 250 and served twelve years on the Vermont Environmental Board, including one year as Chair.

For more information about the Vermont Natural Resources Council visit vnrc.org