Brenda was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. She graduated from Brattleboro Union High School and after college, she worked as a teacher, political intern, and choreographer. In 2002, she became a single mom and decided to open a small business and raise her child in Vermont near her own family. Brenda’s father was a commercial photographer and small business owner. Her mother was a dancer and is an American Sign language interpreter. As a child Brenda followed politics and the arts equally. Throughout her childhood Brenda was a competitive figure skater, as well as very active in her community.
Her paternal grandmother, Rachel Josefowitz Siegel, immigrated to the United States to escape Hitler and the Nazis after being driven from country to country during World War II. Rachel was at the forefront of the feminist movement, and was among a small and growing movement to obtain a Master's degree and fight for women to have a voice. Her paternal grandfather, Benjamin Siegel, was a professor emeritus of applied and engineering physics at Cornell University.
Her maternal grandmother, Barbara Powers Kinoy, was a multi-generational Vermonter, who grew up in Athens, Vermont and attended University of Vermont. Brenda’s great grandfather,, Guy Powers, was the Superintendent of Schools in Brattleboro for some time.
Her maternal grandfather, Ernest Kinoy, was a screenplay writer who focused on social justice and specifically civil rights, most notably writing the screenplay to ‘Roots.' His brother, her great uncle, Arthur Kinoy, was a well-known civil rights attorney on the team of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who also successfully appealed the verdict of the Chicago 7.
Throughout her childhood, Brenda was taught that there is no excuse to stay silent in times of injustice, and she was regularly reminded of the example that had been set for her by her grandparents. As a low-income single mom who has faced a lot of tragedy and adversity, as well as financial struggle, Brenda knows the importance of turning that adversity into action, and has done just that throughout her life.
Brenda Siegel is a small business owner and the majority of her work in the last 9 years has been a project to recover her local economy following a crisis that led to economic hardship in Vermont. Brenda is the founder and director of the Southern Vermont Dance Festival created as a long term economic driver in response to Tropical Storm Irene in which she and her son lost all of their belongings. Brenda teaches leadership, civic engagement and social justice courses in local schools. Brenda is Chair of the Newfane Democratic Committee and Delegate to the County Committee. Siegel began her political work as an intern in then congressman Bernie Sanders’ Washington D.C. office in 2001. Brenda is active with the Raise the Wage coalition and member leader at Rights and Democracy. Brenda is a member of a national cohort focused on addressing the overdose crisis with People’s Action and RAD, a citizen member of the Vermont Legislative Equity Caucus, and a member of The Putney Huddle. Siegel serves on the board of Community of Vermont Elders. She sits on the State of Vermont’s Public Transportation Advisory Commission. Siegel has been fortunate to advocate in the legislature on multiple issues, testify on important legislation for many years in the Vermont house and senate, spending much of each legislative session doing this. She also has been fortunate to speak at a legislative briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Overdose Crisis, as well as at press conferences and rallies on issues of health care, economic justice, racial justice, abortion rights and more.
Since her 2018 campaign for Governor, Brenda has traveled around the state and country speaking to states attorneys, police chiefs, legislators, those in active use, recovery and family members to advocate for progressive drug policy. March 8th of 2018 Brenda’s nephew died of a Heroin Overdose. He was the son of her brother who died just over twenty years ago of a heroin overdose. She released a plan to heal the Overdose Crisis during her campaign which has gained traction across the state and in parts of the country.
As a single mom, who has experienced financial struggle, Brenda has faced the challenges that Vermonters all across this state are experiencing. She has seen where the problems are and understands that when people that have faced these problems are at the decision making table, then real solutions emerge.
Brenda founded and organized the largest fundraiser at Neighborhood Schoolhouse in Brattleboro. She has sat on committees and boards for organizations addressing poverty, homelessness and substance use disorder.
As an alumni of Emerge and Run As You Are national training ,Siegel sees how much power the progressive movement has when we lift as we rise. Siegel is known around the state for her frequent political commentaries in local and statewide Newspapers.
In this time of crisis we need leaders who understand what Vermonters need and know how to act to ensure safety and stability in a rapid and informed manner. A leaders who puts first the needs of Vermonters and is willing and ready to direct their staff and resources to support ongoing relief efforts.
Brenda’s experience creating a successful long term economic driver, recovering herself from crisis and facing the challenges that everyday Vermonters face, readies her for times such as these. That is why prior to any executive order issued by Vermont’s governor, Brenda suspended all in person campaign activity and within twenty-four hours had organized a statewide mutual aid response to mobilize volunteers to support folks in need, ahead of the need, rather than catching up with it. Going forward, we must be prepared to build an economy on a stronger foundation than the one that we previously had. We need leaders who have experience in doing that. This has been Brenda’s life work and she wants to work with you to build a strong and stable economy.
Brenda Siegel decided to run for Lieutenant Governor after strongly considering how to create the best engaged electorate, make their stories and experiences heard and move forward a policy agenda that creates a state where regular people can not only survive, but also thrive. The position of Lieutenant Governor can positively work with legislative proceedings and policy debates, as well as sparking important policy conversations with the Governor and with constituents around the state.
Change must happen in every town, county, state and across the country if we wish to combat the crisis we face. We know that climate change is impacting the most marginalized folks across our state in a disproportionate way and threatening our children’s future. It is important to give young people the platform and microphone with which to build on the movement that they have created and it is important for us to make the change that they need for their future. We must prioritize renewable energy, transform our transportation system, introduce comprehensive weatherization initiatives and much more
Siegel’s work with the Southern Vermont Dance Festival and life experience has given her a unique economic perspective. In doing this work she has seen the research of the economic impact of events of all kinds in our state and knows that with a little vision and innovation we can build a much stronger economy that supports our small businesses and our residents.
Wealth does not trickle down and in fact, poverty trickles up, yet we keep making policies that support the top while leaving behind those who struggle and the middle class. It is in our best interest to make sure we build the economy from the bottom up instead of the top down. We don’t have to choose between supporting business and employees, we can do both.
Brenda knows that our state has the opportunity to be a leader in ending this epidemic. In an OpEd in the Commons written shortly after his death, she wrote: “REGARDLESS OF your opinion or belief, we have good evidence that what we are doing is not working. Our best chance at safe communities and raising children who don’t experience the death of their friends with great frequency is to follow best practices that lead to people having the tools for recovery or reduce the harm of their use. We know this; we don’t have another direction. The old way isn’t working. It is time to change it.” Siegel has successfully been fighting for and promoting evidence based policy shifts across the state and country.
As a teacher, Brenda is aware that education is the center of not only our children’s future, but the future of Vermont. Brenda has run programs and taught in public schools and colleges throughout Vermont and across the country. We must fully implement the Ethnic Studies Standard, move to Universal Meals in Schools, look at a more equitable way to fund education and find creative solutions to keep our small schools open and therefore the economy sustainable in those communities. For the climate, for the economy and for our children.
Every policy passed should meet a standard that ensures it does not add harm to the marginalized communities and climate that we seek to protect. We must expect our elected leaders to do more to support, reflect and make room for historically marginalized voices of black and brown Vermonters, transgender folks, LGBTQIA+, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and young people in our democracy.
After a lifetime of working on the ground as an administrator, community leader, and political activist, Brenda will bring the people’s voices into the People’s House. We are in a new era of politics where all voices and types of experience matter. Brenda is committed to bringing this kind of leadership into the Statehouse and state government.”