Meet Brenda's Family
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 is the proud single mom of a now twenty year old, Ajna Siegel, who attends University of Vermont with a double major of Music and Agro-Ecology with a concentration on Landscape Design. She is proud to have passed on the values of her childhood, curiosity and community to her son.
Brenda Siegel is a small business owner and built a project to recover her local economy in response to Tropical Storm Irene in which she and her son lost all of their belongings. She teaches leadership, civic engagement and social justice courses schools. She is Chair of the Newfane Democratic Committee and Delegate to the Windham County Committee. Brenda began her political work as an intern for Bernie Sanders in Washington D.C. in 2001 and sits on the State of Vermont’s Public Transit Advisory Commission as well as DCF's General Assistance Program Working Group. She is a member leader at Rights and Democracy and amember of the national overdose crisis cohort with People’s Action. She is a citizen member of the Vermont Legislative Equity Caucus and serves on the board of Community of Vermont Elders.
Brenda is an advocate on Housing, the Overdose Crisis and Economic Inequality. She has worked successfully, both within Vermont and at the federal level on several pieces of legislation, often helping to move very difficult legislation, including; Minimum Wage, Medically Assisted Treatment and Housing infrastructure and access. Brenda frequently testifies on legislation, works with legislators as well as commissioners where there are differences and has participated in legislative briefings in D.C.
She works with states attorneys, police chiefs, legislators, those in active use, recovery and family members to advocate for science based drug policy. March 8th of 2018 Brenda’s nephew died of an overdose. He was the son of her brother who died just over twenty years before also while using heroin. She released a plan to heal the Overdose Crisis which has gained traction across the state and in parts of the country & was introduced in the Vermont Legislature this past session.
On October 14th of 2021, Brenda said that she would not leave the State House Steps until the emergency program that shelters Vermonters experiencing homelessness. was fully reinstated It took 27 nights & many thought they could not win, yet they won. Brenda has a long history of successfully making change where it seemed impossible
She has faced the challenges that Vermonters all across this state are experiencing and she knows how to fix them. She is an alum of Emerge and Run As You Are national training. Brenda has consistently worked to build from the bottom up and she will bring that to her administration as Governor.
We need leaders who puts first the needs of Vermonters and is willing and ready to direct their staff and resources to support ongoing efforts to make progress
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 Brenda fought and won, to ensure that our neighbors and community members were sheltered this past winter. That is why Brenda fought and won to decriminalize small amounts of buprenorphine, the life saving medicine for people with Opioid Use Disorder. This is why Brenda has fought and won, along side many across the country to move the MAT Act in the U.S. House to ensure access to treatment. This is why Brenda is always prepared with the what we need to do next to ensure the forward movement of the state and country.
Brenda in 2020 build up within twenty-four hours 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. Brenda is committed to moving forward a policy agenda that creates a state where regular people can not only survive, but also thrive.
We are all experiencing the pandemic and there was already a Housing Crisis, there was already an Overdose Crisis, there was already a Climate Crisis and we need leadership on those issues. All of which impact the most marginalized folks across our state in a disproportionate way and threaten our children’s future. 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.
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.
Brenda is ready to work along side community and elected leaders to move Vermont forward.