Staff

STAFF

MAGGIE CAWLEY
Strategic Communications Manager

Maggie grew up in Central Vermont, attended college in rural Ohio, and spent several years living in Medellín, Colombia before returning to her home state in 2016 to complete a Master’s in Sustainable Development. She later moved to Central Massachusetts, where she worked as an advocate for food justice, canvassed for progressive candidates, and participated in state and community efforts related to workers’ rights, climate policy, and racial justice. Her background also includes online journalism focused on organized crime, government corruption, and related human rights issues in Latin America. You can reach her at maggie@radvt.org

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KIAH MORRIS
Executive Director

Originally from Chicago, Kiah Morris currently lives in Vermont, where she served in the general assembly as a State Representative from 2014-2016 and 2016-2018. She is the first African-American and person of color elected from Bennington County and the second African-American woman to be elected to the legislature in Vermont history. In that capacity, she served on the House Judiciary Committee and Vermont Judicial Nominating Board and was co-chair of the tri-partisan Legislative Women’s Caucus. Her groundbreaking legislative accomplishments include passage and advocacy of low to no-cost contraception for all; removal of statutes of limitations for sexual assault; fair and impartial policing standards; creation of a multisector panel to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems in Vermont. She helmed the historic establishment of board and cabinet-level, director position to address systemic racism in state government; the establishment of the most comprehensive ethnic and social equity in schools bill in the nation and medical monitoring for victims of corporate pollution. Her story of success and struggle have been covered in over four dozen media outlets including CNN, The Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Essence Magazine, Canadian Broadcasting Company, PBS, BBC Radio and Vice Media.

She is an award-winning, in-demand trainer, speaker and presenter. She provides consultative services, workshops and presentations on issues of diversity, equity and leadership for organizations across the globe. As co-owner of the TESA Collective cooperative, she manages marketing, communications, and strategic partnerships. She most recently served as the Director of the Vermont Coalition on Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools. She sits on the Board of United Children’s Services, is a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for Oxfam America and is on the advisory councils for Emerge Vermont and Black Lives Matter Vermont.

Kiah also holds an accomplished artistic career as an actress of stage, film and television, spoken word performance, as a singer, dancer and arts manager. As an arts advocate with a passion for community-based art, she has produced numerous special events, concerts and art exhibits during her career. Her work focuses on amplification of voices of the oppressed, issues of human rights and social justice. She is also the author of a recently published book of poetry Life Lessons and Lyrical Translations of My Soul. You can reach her at kiah@radvt.org.

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ALISON NIHART
Vermont State Director

Alison joins the Rights & Democracy staff after 5 years as a member leader, board member, and member of the Vermont Leadership Committee. She spent the last 9 years working for the University of Vermont, most recently as Strategic Implementation Specialist for UVM Extension. She has worked on state legislative electoral campaigns and while at UVM was a leader in the staff union, UVM Staff United. She holds an M.S. in natural resources from the University of Vermont. You can reach her at alison@radvt.org

ZOE SILVERMAN
Data and Technology Manager

Originally from Boston, Zoe came to Vermont for college, where she received a degree in Political Science with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Vermont. Zoe starting working for political campaigns, both local and statewide, before getting involved with RAD’s Data and Technology team. She is passionate about the intersection of data and progressive politics, and about working to dismantle the racism ingrained in the way data can be used and understood. In addition, Zoe works to encourage harm reduction practices and mutual aid in her community of Burlington, VT. You can reach her at zoe@radvt.org

ED TAYLOR
New Hampshire State Director

Ed is a South Florida native who has been in the Granite State for three years working to build people power in young and marginalized communities. Ed is fiercely passionate about empowering, educating, and mobilizing marginalized people to redesign the structures that were created to exclude them. Previously, he worked as Organizing Director with the ACLU of NH. Ed graduated from Florida A&M University, a Historically Black College & University, in 2018 with a Political Science and Economics degree. He can be reached at 

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FRONSY THURMAN
Director of Development and Communications

For over a decade, Fronsy designed and implemented climate education and advocacy programs for environmental nonprofits in New York City. During her time in New York, she was active in local politics and community organizing around local housing, immigration, and environmental justice issues. Fronsy received her Master’s in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute, where she focused on climate justice, labor issues, and policy advocacy. Since moving to Vermont, Fronsy has worked with racial justice organizing groups in Windham County. You can reach her at fronsy@radvt.org

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KIRTHANA VALLESI
Director of Operations and Human Resources

Kirthana grew up in Italy, where she later lived and studied international politics. She holds a Master’s in International Development from the University of Brussels, Belgium, and a Master’s in Global Health and Infectious Disease from the University of Edinburgh. Before moving to the United States in 2017, she traveled extensively throughout Asia and Africa and worked with international non-profits in Haiti, Ecuador, and Tanzania. She currently lives in Burlington, VT, with her husband and her 2-year-old daughter. She is passionate about cooking and studying.  

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MICHAEL WEISS
Environmental Justice Organizer (VT)

Michael is a young organizer with a deep commitment to making systemic change. While studying Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University in the mountains of North Carolina, Michael helped create an environmental justice organization where he worked for 3 years. Michael is also an advocate for cooperatives and the solidarity economy, working in agriculture and housing sectors to create an economy that benefits and is owned by workers and our communities. Michael sees all of his work as an effort to distribute power and build systems of radical democracy in all parts of our communities.

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