Jericho, Vermont , United States
|| April 20, 1954
Dec 21, 2012 03:04am
Caucasian - Married -
|Info||Gaye Symington was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 20, 1954. She grew up in Tuxedo Park, New York, one of three children to Bailey and Charles Symington. Gaye graduated from Williams College in 1977 with a B.A. in Art and a concentration in Environmental Studies. |
After graduation from college, Gaye opened a whole grain bakery within a not-for-profit natural foods and energy products store in Princeton, New Jersey. She also became involved in community energy education projects and took classes in energy efficiency auditing and passive solar greenhouse design.
In 1979 Gaye returned to Williams College and worked at the Environmental Studies Center. For two years she coordinated student projects and was caretaker for the Hopkins Forest, bordering Vermont. With students in the Environmental Studies Center she designed and built a solar greenhouse. Always curious to learn more, she also took a six-week course in land use law at the Vermont Law School and lived in South Royalton.
Working at Williams, Gaye developed a life-long interest in food systems, energy conservation and land stewardship. Seeing the possibilities for new business models in these areas, she applied to Cornell's business school, the Johnson School of Management, where she received her MBA in 1983.
Following business school, Gaye worked as the finance director for Challenge Industries, Inc., a non-profit vocational rehabilitation agency in Ithaca, New York. The organization served adults who are developmentally or physically disabled or mentally ill. She established production accounting systems that turned the organization around and led to financial solvency, program growth, improved services and staff morale.
In 1988, Symington moved to Vermont with her husband, whom she met in business school. Her first child was born that year. She became chief financial officer of the National Gardening Association in Burlington, a non-profit organization that published a nationally-known monthly magazine.
In 1989 Symington left the National Gardening Association and became active in the Jericho community. Over the next six years she had two more children, co-founded the Community Center in Jericho, volunteered in library and school activities, served on the board of the Vermont Community Loan Fund and the Vermont Education and Health Finance Agency and was a founding member of the Mount Mansfield Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
In 1996 Symington first ran for the Vermont House, in a district that includes Jericho, Underhill and Bolton. She won her election and was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee where she served three terms. She was involved with reforming Vermont's education funding system to remove inequities from town to town.
For several of her early legislative years Symington worked in the off session in accounting for Ben and Jerry's Homemade Inc. In 2003 she began working part-time for the Intervale Center, a non-profit that supports financially viable and environmentally sustainable agriculture in Burlington, Vermont. Her work there included financial management and community-based fundraising.
In 2003 Symington was elected House Minority Leader. In that role she negotiated with a diverse coalition of legislators and the Douglas administration to pass Vermont's current school funding law, Act 68, with the support of the Douglas administration.
In 2005, she was elected Speaker of the House. During her two terms as Speaker, she focused on Vermont's energy future, containing health care costs and ensuring access to health care, and strengthening Vermont's rural economy. During her tenure as Speaker, she regularly traveled around Vermont to discuss Vermont's challenges and opportunities directly with citizens and business people.
Symington is married and lives in Jericho, Vermont, with her husband and three children. She can be found on the sidelines of AAU basketball games, Chittenden East Youth Football, and Mount Mansfield High School soccer and tennis, or on the Nordic trails at Bolton Valley Resort. Symington was a varsity rower at Williams and in national competition with Cambridge and Philadelphia boat clubs.