I’ve lived in Vermont since 1993 and in Waterbury since 1996. Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1961 and raised in Hamden, Connecticut, I am the third of five children. My youngest brother, Paul, has Down Syndrome, and my mother, Barbara, was a groundbreaking advocate for disability rights in Connecticut and Massachusetts. I have been surrounded by and learned caretaking and advocacy my whole life.
Between Connecticut and Vermont – a short, straight trip north on I-91 and I-89 but many years in the making – I have lived in Boston; New York; Brooklyn; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago. I was graduated from the Boston University College of Fine Arts with a degree in theatre perfomance; became a skilled proofreader and certified litigation paralegal, working at firms in New York and Chicago; and started writing fiction, earning a slot at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of Writing in 1994.
I married Liz Schlegel in May 1993. Soon after arriving in Vermont, our first child was born. We decided to have a parent stay home to raise the children, and it turned out to be me. Upon moving to Waterbury in 1996, we found the excellent resource that is The Children’s Room, which focuses on keeping caregivers of small children connected to the parenting community. I soon joined the board of The Children’s Room, and in 2000 joined Revitalizing Waterbury. In 2001, I renewed my professional career as director and production coordinator for QuarryWorks Theater at the Adamant Music School.
I recently stepped down as Education Director at the Waterbury Congregational Church, where I also served as historian and in 2001 directed a video celebrating the church’s 200th anniversary. In 2009, I concluded a stint as Executive Director of the Vermont Alliance for Arts and Education, supporting the development of arts education programs and professional development throughout the state.
I have a deep interest in preserving, renewing and restoring the vitality of Vermont’s small communities. While on the board of Revitalizing Waterbury, I was elected President of Waterbury Village and led an effort to expedite the leasing process for the dilapidated train station. Upon signing the lease, RW was able to move ahead to raise funds for the successful restoration of the station, which is now home to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Cafe. Also while Village President, I led an ultimately doomed effort to buy and restore the nearly destroyed Gateway Motel or, as we called it, the Wells House, an historic building in downtown Waterbury which was the boyhood home of one of Vermont’s greatest Civil War heroes, General William Wells. I was elected to the Waterbury Town Select Board in 2005, elected chair in 2006 and also served as chair of the Downtown Designation Committee of Revitalizing Waterbury, which was awarded in Fall 2006. I stepped down from the Select Board in 2008.
Finally, I was elected to the Vermont State House of Representatives in 2008 and won reelection in 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2018. In 2019, I was appointed chair of the General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee in the Vermont House of Representatives. Our portfolio includes veteran’s affairs, affordable housing, labor and working Vermonter issues, as well as Abenaki relations, trade licensing, and many other topics that don’t fit neatly in any other of the standing committees.
My wife Liz and I live with our dog, Nixon, in an old Victorian house in Waterbury Village.