GWS News

GWS Alumna Kiah Morris wins Vermont State House Representative election

11/12/2014  8:00 am

 

Congratulations to GWS Alumna Kiah Morris, who won the Vermont State Representative election on November 7!

From Kiah's biography

For 38-year-old Bennington resident Kiah Morris, as a wife, mother and aunt, fighting for the voices of others is not simply a pastime or part-time passion; for her, they are a way of life.

Kiah earned her bachelor of arts degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a student, she worked full-time for the university in both the Women’s and LGBT Resource Centers, increasing awareness for both programs while taking classes part-time.

Her professional career spans work with major companies like Junior Achievement of Seattle, Principal Financial Group, Career Builder and Orbitz Worldwide. During those years she would volunteer with numerous local social service and arts organizations and served as vice president of Kuumba Lynx youth arts organization in Chicago for at-risk youth.

Always Engaged, Always Involved

Since meeting her husband James and moving to Bennington, Vermont, Kiah has quickly come to know and love the Green Mountains, warm-hearted residents and small-town charm of the place she now calls “home.” She began her relationship with Bennington as a hotline volunteer for the Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE) and eventually became a member of their team as a Domestic Violence Advocate housed at the Department for Children and Families.

Kiah was also the Community Health Improvement Specialist for Southwestern Vermont Health Care managing their wellness community health outreach efforts. While there, she helped to increase visibility for the health care system, collaboration amongst agencies and engagement in the region.

Kiah serves as the director of the Alliance for Community Transformations, a community-based, public health coalition. In this role she has brought over $225,000 in funds to the region to provide needed programs and initiatives in the including establishing the town’s first smoking ordinance for parks; earning of Healthy Retailer designation for the Elm Street Market, establishment of the Vermont State “Youth Appreciation Day,” as well as a “Recovery Day” in Bennington, Manchester and Arlington.

She also helped forge a unique relationship with the Bennington County Regional Planning Commission to work on projects like the development of the Applegate/Willowbrook Walking Path Project (making a safe walkway for children to get to school instead of walking on the highway).  Her work includes collaborations with over three dozen different agencies, organizations and businesses throughout Vermont, New York and Massachusetts.

She is the former Vice President of the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless.  Currently, she is a member of the Bennington County Prescription Drug Task Force and is a long-standing Policy Council member for Bennington County Head Start.  Additional volunteer work includes her work as Chair of the Bennington Recreation Center Task Force to expand the role and physical spaces of the center which also led to the development of efforts to establish a teen center in Bennington.

Inspired Leadership

Kiah is in touch with the needs of working families. As a new mother challenged with finding adequate healthcare, in 2012, Kiah received the Courage Award from the Vermont Oral Healthcare for All Coalition for her advocacy efforts that changed the legislation to provide comprehensive dental care for pregnant and post-partum women.

In April 2013, Kiah was selected as a Women’s Leadership Fellow (Women’s Executive Leadership Program) – one of 12 women chosen nationally “who will have an impact on the nation” by the Impact Center, a Washington DC-based leadership development organization.

Today, as a candidate for the Vermont legislature, Kiah aims to introduce legislative reforms that focus on the development and retention of Bennington’s most vital resource: its residents.