James Haslam: A Personal Letter to VWC Supporters

Dear VWC Members and Supporters,

Photo of JamesFollowing a great deal of consideration and with tremendous gratitude, I’m writing to let you know that I am leaving my position as the Executive Director of the Vermont Workers’ Center.

After fifteen years of throwing my heart into building a movement with you all, it’s time for me to pass the torch to the next generation of VWC leadership. I feel tremendously confident in our team of interim co-directors who will be taking the reins — longtime VWC organizers Kate Kanelstein, Megan Sheehan, and Matt McGrath, who together with VWC President Ellen Schwartz will guide the organization through the transition and months to come. I’m also excited to announce that I will be transitioning to a new project called Rights and Democracy, which through its focus on legislative policy and electoral strategies will be a strong complement to the grassroots movement we’ve built at the VWC to change what’s politically possible in Vermont and beyond.   

It is incredible to reflect back on what we have accomplished during these past fifteen years, and all the twists and turns of the organization. Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would have been on staff with the VWC for so long, and have had the good fortune to work with so many amazing people. The Vermont Workers’ Center has grown into a real statewide grassroots organization with hundreds of members and thousands of supporters across the state and region. Our work is seen as some of the most innovative for building power of working people in the country and I’m tremendously proud of what we have accomplished. It has been a true honor to work with some of the most brave, smart and committed people in Vermont and with partner groups across the country.  

I have an enormous amount of confidence in the current VWC leadership and am excited to see how the VWC will grow and thrive in the years to come. I’m particularly enthused about the new long-term planning process, which will ultimately chart a vision for strengthening our movement and winning transformative change in the years ahead. My hope is that through the combined efforts of the VWC, the efforts of groups in the Human Rights Council and other labor allies, and my new project, we’ll be able to shake things up politically and ensure victory on universal healthcare and other issues impacting working families in Vermont.

It has been an honor to serve the VWC and the best people I have ever known, and I look forward to building with you all on this uncharted road to win real change. Our movement is fortunate to have such an amazing collection of committed leaders and the VWC is bursting with potential for so much more. If you are not already, I hope you will join me in becoming a VWC member and hope to see you out sometime soon.

In solidarity and with big hugs,


PS: We all have so much appreciation for James’ powerful leadership over the years. Please join us to celebrate on August 29th at 6pm at North Beach Pavilion in Burlington and honor James’s legacy by contributing today to the James Haslam Movement Builder Fund.


Ellen Schwartz, President, Vermont Workers’ Center

Group photo at Membership Assembly